Big Benefits Row

Ok have just tried to watch the #BigBenefitsRow. I know many others on twitter and other social media have done the same.

I make no secret of my physical ill health and disability nor my mental illness. I refuse to hide it because it’s part of me and I believe in honesty.

I am on benefits, no I don’t like it, yes I’d love to be well enough to get back into work. I do apply for jobs still, I do have a lot to offer but being realistic my health issues make it basically impossible for any employer to give me a chance unless I could do it all from home at times to suit me and my illness/medication.

I like many others want to feel useful and not surplus to societies requirements. I am able and do try to help people via e-mail, telephone, at times to suit me. It pays nothing but i do get that glow of satisfaction that I’ve helped make life a little better for another person or family.

Some people can’t do what I can for many reasons, they do feel down, it can lead to a spiral of depression this is one of the mental issues people want to talk about & get help via sorts of talking therapies such Psychotherapy. Alas access to good mental health help varies throughout the country. With help being so sporadic & ranging from great to being put on a waiting list for years! Surely it is better to treat the person via immediately accessible mental health services then they would be able to get well, have the help and return to some work slowly and eventually they would be able to work full time and not be reliant on benefits. All of these approaches must have a caveat, some people with all the help possible are simply not able to cope in the world of work. So this will work for some but not all.

I am all for working if you are able bodied and not suffering from a severe or mental illness. We have read and seen how people in a coma, in severe kidney failure and on dialysis, people who have had strokes, brain tumours etc who are told they are fit for work because they can lift an empty cardboard box, put a pen in their top pocket and hold a 2litre milk carton. This does not take into account the way the illness/disease actually prevents them from being available to work for certain amounts of time etc.

Yes there are some people who do abuse the system, yes there are some who pretend to be single parents when they have their partner live with them. This is because the rules make it financially beneficial to be “a single parent” rather than valuing marriage, cohabitation etc which is really the best for any kids to live in a two parent family.

Some people are told at the Job Centre they will be worse off by £x.xx if they take this or that job. That is wrong and people should be better off in work than on benefits. However, when we take a view of it like “if I take this job I will lose out on time with my child, most money will go on childcare, the cost of travel to work, and with all taken in to account I will be £3 per week worse or better off”

In the above scenario you will get many people who would rather be in work and will take it because being on benefits and not having a routine, a place to be, a reason to get up and get outside can leave a person really isolated. There are more than just money that is gained when a person takes employment. These other really positive aspects aren’t discussed. I humbly suggest they are.

I think people are brassed off with those people, small minority, who have never worked and seem to have a much nicer lifestyle than the person working on minimum wage. It can get vey upsetting and it can be irksome.

However, those people may have “invisible” health conditions that mean they cannot work, again this aspect is overlooked in any discussions.

I had until I got sick, 5 years or so ago, I had always worked and or been in education. I am only just coming to terms with the steep decline of my health and it’s still no fun and I don’t like being in this position. I’d give anything to be able to control my illness (there is no cure) so that I could maybe work part time. I know lots of others I a very similar situation.

There is no easy answer to this but I do feel that putting pensions into the same calculation does give a very warped view of the money spent on benefits. Maybe it would be helpful if the costs were put into their respective headings. It may help.

We have had a really terrible down turn, recession, double dip recession and during that time many thousands of people have lost their jobs, in some areas they have found it almost impossible to find any other job. Lots of people have moved to find work. Many cannot due to children being in eduction at a critical time such as SATS, GCSE’S or at College undertaking education or training.

Anyway remember 99% of people who are out of work, wish they were in work. We have graduates on the checkout at supermarkets, alas this is a state of the employment market BUT I respect everybody who takes a job they are vastly over qualified for because they would rather have some money coming in rather than being on benefits.

Benefits street as a programme focused on such a tiny microcosm that is it impossible to to actually use that as an example of the norm for all those who are out of work and claiming benefits.

Maybe there should be a programme on showing how hard many people try to get a job, any job. Showing the people who send off vast numbers of applications per day yet don’t even get an email/letter/phone call back to acknowledge their application or to say thanks but no thanks.

Most of all you must for the most part think “There but for the grace of god go I” because sadly illness and injury can change your life over night.

Well that’s my 2p’s worth if it’s worth anything at all?

Advertisements

Benefit Cap – Problems Inherent in the System, part 2

Hello everyone, here the latest instalment of my views regarding Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship benefit changes. The Benefit Cap, as with all the new benefits recently rolled out, was started in April 2013 but only in a handful of Boroughs around London. From DWP Website:

“How much is the benefit cap?

The level of the cap is:
a). £500 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)

b). £500 a week for single parents whose children live with them

c). £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them”

Any new claimant would be put on the Capped Rate with others being “migrated” over as and when their number is churned out on the DWP Lottery Computer.

On a TV news programme last week, there was a lady who had been receiving £582 per week for her and 8, yes EIGHT, kids.

She is no longer with their father and she is unable to work. “Imagine the child care costs!” It was not discussed whether the father contributes to the children’s upbringing but this is a factor worth looking into.

She was recently migrated over onto the Benefit Cap. If we look at this one family in essence they receive £82 a week less than they did prior to the changeover.

If she wasn’t a single parent and the father of her children was in paid employment, working over 24hrs they would not be, as a family, subject to the benefit cap.

Is this a cunning ploy to encourage the together but apart families, who can get more money under the current system, to become a “legitimate” family? Maybe not, BUT if this is an unintended consequence then the winners will be the children and the taxpayers.

It may be that this family of 9 will be “signposted” (this week’s new buzzword) or told where the foodbank is, given the voucher and sent on their not so merry way.

Clothing can be bought from charity shops, there will no doubt be hand-me-downs and school uniform for the kids in Junior school is quite cheap in the supermarkets these days. There may also be access to what was the “Social Fund”. This is no longer a cash benefit claimed via the DWP, it’s a new benefit given out by local councils. They can give vouchers to purchase food, clothing and necessities in the home such as beds, cookers and bedding.

There are some people and families who will not be subject to the cap. Some of you may remember Heather Frost, the Mother of 12. She has never worked, had her first child aged just 14.

What do these two Mothers have in common and what makes them different?

Well they both have 8 or 9 kids living at home, they do not live with the father(s) of their children. One has to manage on £500 per week but the other one does not because she falls into the category whereby the Cap does not affect her level of benefits.

It is a legitimate reason, for the difference being that one of Ms Frost’s children has a disability. Simply purchasing the most basic equipment to help make the child’s quality of life and possible ways towards some independence is eye wateringly expensive!

For Those Not Affected by the Cap, I’ll quote the DWP Website again:

“You’re not affected by the benefit cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

1) Disability Living Allowance
2) Personal Independence Payment
3) Attendance Allowance
4) Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
6) Employment and Support Allowance, if you get the support component
7) War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
8) War pensions
9) Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
10) Armed Forces Independence Payment”

I would keep the cap but would reduce the amounts payable BUT I would not want kids to suffer though. So for children already living I would recommend that the families who would lose most (those with the largest numbers of children) be exempt, implementing the measure with respect to children born after a given date.

Those who have 3 children are likely receiving around £500 so there would be no changes needed. However should a family decide to have a 4th child then they would not receive any more money in benefits.

This is likely to discourage people from having extra-large families in the future, who could once have been “paid” for simply having babies. That “Career Path” would be closed to them!

It’s no fault of the children if their parents decide to have so many of them. I just worry that the kids living in a capped household may suffer and it may limit their life choices in the future.

The Government will not have considered the wider macro repercussions. The impact on the Social Services budget will be phenomenal as it is likely kids who are not in any danger of abuse by their parents could end up being taken into care, simply because they’re hungry.

We are supposedly living in in the 7th Largest Economy in the world yet some of our most vulnerable people are having to go to food-banks so they don’t starve. It is what you’d expect to hear about in a Dickensian novel not in 21st Century Britain.

So as with Universal Credit bomb and The Benefit Cap scud missile about to go boom, I fear the children will be the unintended casualties of this badly drafted piece of legislation!

20131211-075724.jpg

20131211-075734.jpg

20131211-075743.jpg

State Benefits – Problems Inherent in The System

Blog Number 1 – Universal Credit

I have over the past few months been looking at the system currently meant to be in use throughout the country, after pilot schemes there should have been a national roll out for all new claimants & for those reporting a change in circumstances etc.

What I have seen over the past year is sad, bad, embarrassing, upsetting, degrading, humiliating, heartbreaking, scary, incomprehensible plus many other things including complete and utter incredulity at the sheer lack of common sense and vilification of our most vulnerable citizens.

I’m sure you’ve all been aware of the stories regarding ATOS, Work Capability Assessments (WCA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Job Centre Plus (JCP), Universal Credit (UC), Contribution Based, Income Based, 365 day rule, and those are just off the top of my head without even looking at others!

Oops forgot Working Tax Credit (WTC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), Pension Credit (PC), Housing Benefit (HB), Council Tax Benefit (CTB) and The Removal Of The Spare Room Subsidy (AKA “Bedroom Tax”) ok think that’s them all oh blimey no it’s not last one Benefit Cap (BC)!

I feel like I’m in the No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition sketch of Monty Python Fame! Sadly though there is no comfy chair, soft cushions, cup of tea at 11am with chocolate biscuits nor a nice warm fire to sit beside.

So all these changes have been rushed through. Yes changes can be good but so many, so fast at a time of great upheaval? Well that’s not my place to decide but it could have been a sensible idea to stagger these changes in a more measured way. All of these changes all at once leaves the staff administrating them confused because there is simply too many things. Some people on the old system (which if we are honest not all JCP workers were really, hand on heart, fully knowledgable or expert in; no disrespect but it’s the truth).

Let’s take a look this evening at Universal Credit (UC); I had to start somewhere & this was the lucky topic. hastily adds in the intro *whistles* aha done.

Universal Credit is in theory a good idea. All benefits for which you are eligible are paid in one monthly payment. Bit like a salary, so far so good wake up it’s not that boring I can see you nodding off oops talking to Siri not you.

That seems logical, from this amount you pay your;

1. own rent direct to your landlord,

2. Council Tax
(a percentage depending on your council)

3. Pilot schemes were started in certain areas of the North West on April 15th 2013. The full national roll out was supposed to start in October 2013. It hasn’t!

The problem is that so few new people went to claim this benefit and of those who did found during the mandatory way to claim via computer/online, saw the programme crash!

It couldn’t even cope with a limited number of users in a small area. The JCP staff were then having to write down all of the claimants answers and then input manually after the client had left!

This was supposed to be a benefit scheme to make claims easier & faster.

This has not happened, here we are almost into the festive season and there are some people claiming under Universal Credit but their neighbour is claiming under another system & may be in receipt of a differing amount when the circumstances of these neighbours are virtually identical.

Another possible problem could be the people receiving the rent money in with their benefit instead of it going directly to the landlord. In winter months when it’s cold would the person pay the rent over or would they spend it on heating their home?

This would by no means be every person but if you’re kids are cold & hungry would you put the kids needs first or paying your (possibly very rich) Landlord?

Obviously in comparison to the situation of the claimant & their perception of the Landlord’s situation then it is likely that the claimant would (wrongly in law but rightly in respect of their children) think the Landlord can afford to wait, arrears could mount up quite swiftly!

This is an ethical dilemma in my humble opinion; if the claimant is dealt with under the old system then the rent is paid direct but they are at risk of using loan sharks or payday loan companies in order to feed & keep their children warm in winter.

Conversely the claimant on the new system may see the cash available in their account & rather than resort to loan sharks and payday loan companies they decide to use the rent money & then go into rent arrears.

Being in rent arrears is a less scary option (well it would be to me) because the landlord is unlikely to come round & beak your legs but a loan shark would.

So we have a few thousand on this scheme and very little in the news to tell us how people are legitimately coping with the system. Is it better? Is it a much easier & better system for the claimants? We really need to know about these facts but again the media is silent, the Government are silent.

Is this silence an indication of the fact the system is not working or is it so they can use it as the results as political ammunition as the elections approach?

Ok that was my whistlestop (Yes it was don’t be cranky I’m doing my best) basic explanation of Universal Credit.

What do you think?

Are you on that benefit? If so please let us all know what you think about it & is it working for you & your family?

Ok that’s my first of what could be many blogs on each of these welfare systems.

I’ve said what I think it’s all about if you know more please share & help us understand because I could have interpreted it wrongly. I’m not perfect & by no means do I ever want to be – what fun would I be if I were perfect I think my wheels of steel would rust up in protest lol.

Ok hope to hear your views & experiences.

Happy Thursday 😃⭐️♿️💜

20131128-235210.jpg

20131128-235222.jpg

20131128-235235.jpg

20131128-235249.jpg

20131128-235303.jpg

20131128-235315.jpg

20131128-235329.jpg

20131128-235549.jpg

20131128-235559.jpg

20131128-235618.jpg

20131128-235628.jpg

20131128-235637.jpg

20131128-235647.jpg

20131128-235701.jpg

20131128-235716.jpg

20131129-000010.jpg

20140106-102727.jpg

20140106-102856.jpg

20140106-102919.jpg

20140106-103054.jpg

ESA – jargon explained

I have copied and pasted the reply from the DWP Ministerial team. I thought this would be useful information for those who have been timed out of Contribution ESA whilst in the Work Related Activity Group but who are then successful at an appeal and are put into the support group.

It essentially means that you will be put into the same position you would have been had the Assessors and Decision Makers took into account all of your personal circumstances and care needs.

I know that this may only help a few people but it’s better than none!

Keep up the fight; you’re not chronically sick or disabled for fun & I know more than 99% of those claiming ESA, DLA, PIP etc are doing so because they have absolutely no other choice.

Remember also in the support group you are allowed to undertake permitted work without it affecting your benefit (up to a certain earnings level).

If in the support group & receiving contribution based benefit then the earnings of your spouse/partner are not taken into consideration. This will only become relevant if you have to claim Income based/means tested benefits.

I have put it into words we all understand rather than the DWP Language only understood by the Sir Humphrey types of this world!

**(Watch ‘Yes Minister’ on you tube or on a satellite channel; it is very true to what goes on in the Civil Service etc; a more sedate version of ‘The Thick If It’ – both equally worth watching)**

Let me know if this is useful….. Thanks 🙂
my website

Continue reading

Lies, Liars & the appeasers

This week has seen the culmination of a very long, very lengthy trial costing us the taxpayers in region of £5m pounds!

I am unable to comment on the person who was found guilty on one count & may well possibly face a retrial due to a certain person who should have known better! The concept of subjudicy appears to have escaped pone who should know better but of course the MSM too!

They have hounded, harangued & essentially, I could well be argued, put themselves & a certain person who is at the top of the political monkey puzzle tree; in a position to force a possible retrial or as is very likely to happen a complete vindication on 2 of the 3 charges they were being tried for!

So this £5m show trial has a scapegoat BUT the person found guilty of the first act is likely never to have to face any further criminal proceedings on 2 other very important & serious charges.

So the media have their sacrificial lamb but he won’t be sacrificed in the usual way he is likely to limp around the field with one of those little wheelchair harnesses for his back legs! So no likely he’ll face no prison time due to the actions of a former employer! Hack on Tag – possibly a new column in the Phoenix from the ashes “News Of The World”!

All of this sorry & distasteful costly trial could have been better used to get rid of the Under Occupancy Charge, sanctions on disabled people, big families caught in benefit cap (it shouldn’t have been retrospective as the children already exist & they will be the ones to suffer) and/or any manner of things. It would also have been better remaining, for the most part, in the Budget for Criminal Justice or better known as Legal Aid. So many people now do not qualify & are unrepresented in court! As happened to an octogenarian accused of murder in the past few weeks!

so much for the great work done by Garrow a few centuries ago which instead of assisting the accused to fight their case; it appears now to be sadly returning to the style of justice often portrayed in period dramas.

Sorry about that side step, as you regular readers will no doubt know I am a bit of an Anorak on certain things.

Back to the ex-employee of extremely high standing who could have possibly used his contacts or lists of who is who to seek out information which may or may not have allowed them access to the personal telephone number of others working in the same “Mother of All P_R_I_M_N_T’s” (bit of an easy crossword to break up the monotony of Sudoku – play on again now) whom they could hack then more easily? It’s possible, don’t you think??

Now back to our very prominent person, whom is disliked in all of the EU countries including the UK. Yesterday he knowingly gave an interview about how he had been taken in by this Swiss Tony of Fleet Street, given him a 2nd chance (wasn’t aware he’d been previously been caught, cautioned or indeed prosecuted when asked to do the job he did inside 10 Downing Street). It shows such people & an associated agencies (Not in an outside manner) in their true colours!

However, this interview has basically been given and has thus automatically has scuppered any chance of getting a “fair trial”! Or indeed a retrial! Funny how things pan out when your sibling is the Counsel for one of the accused, one could jump to conclusions of words possibly said over Sunday Lunch but we wouldn’t do such a thing because we mere functionaries and taxpayers wouldn’t dare think such a thing and if we did we know better than to comment.

I shall leave you to the inevitable media scrum or three to make your own views. For this is my mere 2p’s worth and no doubt some will likely reply saying it’s not worth tuppence, I take such “constructive criticism” with the pinch of salt each deserves by the rate of salt collection I dare say will keep my path free of snow for a while in the winter months.

20140626-074846-28126808.jpg

20140626-074847-28127046.jpg

20140626-074847-28127128.jpg

20140626-074901-28141845.jpg

20140626-074901-28141750.jpg

20140626-074902-28142001.jpg

20140626-074901-28141927.jpg