Exclusion and life below the poverty line. 

Hi folks, I’m writing an extra blog in response to feedback given to me on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I put out the question ‘Would anyone like an extra blog per week, something a bit different to the posts about the demos’. The response was unanimous. A big yes, if I have the time so here it is. 
One subject that I am constantly reminded about is exclusion.

 I know that this will also be familiar to my readers also, but at times it can be blatantly obvious, and at other times not so obvious. 

Before I start writing further, I should explain my position to anyone that isn’t aware. I have no magic money tree, I’m just like you, like millions of people living in the uk. 

I’m a single parent, I live way below the poverty line and have had first hand experience of the DWP system and illness. LIfe isn’t easy for most of us, but I’m not complaining even though I should complain more. I have a wonderful daughter and amazing friends. At times I must try their patience. 
Exclusion comes in many forms, and anyone living in poverty wether it be relative poverty or absolute poverty will experience this, although the severity of it does differ. To put it bluntly the less money that you have, the less you can do. 

I hear friends talk about trips out, I’m sure that you do too, it’s lovely to hear about their adventures, but a the same time it serves as a reminder that apart from local free days out in reality its not an option. 
The  other week I had to pay for a school trip for my daughter. Parents will be familiar with this scenario. The children are excited about the prospect of a day out with their friends, whilst we go into a state of dread and panic worrying about how we are going to pay for this. Many children don’t go, their parents keep them at home. And the school system punishes the child for having time off school. They won’t get their 100% attendance award, a punishment on top of their missed day out. 
As an adult being poor also excludes you from trips to the nearest biggest town, clothes shopping, doing what I call ‘big shops’ yes, Peter Kay is correct in stating that we say these things. I also say ‘big light’. I’m a northern lass and proud of it. Bus fare in my area is very expensive, so the only option is to walk unless you are lucky enough to have a bike. 
Trips to the Cinema, or ‘Pictures’ as I still call it are totally out of the question, going out for a drink is also and having a meal in a restaurant is the stuff of dreams. And yes we do dream about being able to do these things. 
A trip to the Supermarket, if it’s in walking distance becomes an obstacle course in itself. For many people, especially those living in rural areas, there isn’t any choice in where they shop. So they time it for when the yellow stickers go on the food. Believe me it can be a challenge trying to get the bargains that have been reduced, but when you do you hold onto them like they are gold, afterall they can keep a family from hunger for the week. 

It’s not just about material things though, although they do matter. Alongside this comes the loneliness, the isolation and the knowledge that you are ‘different’ than others around you. Taking part in something positive to do can stop a person from spiriling down into the depths of depression. But we just have to accept that we can’t do these things even though we would like to. And small things do matter. 
Friends become fewer, opportunities become fewer and health often becomes worse. 

With a poor diet, illness often accompanies it. It’s no surprise that there has been a return of victorian illnesses such as Rickets in children because children just don’t get access to a varied diet, and the sunlight that’s needed to prevent this. 

Adults and children have to deal with illnesses such as depression, anemia, insomnia, hypothermia, malnutrition, anxiety and many more besides. Whilst the government is busy selling off the NHS to the likes of Richard Branson, the demand is getting higher. We won’t be able to afford medical insurance it’s not an option. 


Why am I writing this you may ask? Everyone must know all this? The reality is, no not everyone does know this. The Tory Party is aware of this but choose for their selfish reasons to ignore it and make it purposely worse. There’s no use in asking for them to be sympathetic. They re created this cruelty in a very conscious way. 

I’m writing this to raise awareness, for people to be a little more understanding of each other. 

The next time a child’s parent’s can’t pay a school trip, don’t criticise and moan about it, instead understand the reasons why they can’t pay. No parent actually wants to exclude them from a school trip, and if a child gets a subsidised place, good on them, don’t hold it against that child or parent. It takes a lot to admit to a school that they can’t afford to pay for a school trip. 

If a child arrives at school in a less than pristine uniform show compassion instead of criticism. Ask the school if they can start a school uniform clothes bank. Some schools already have these. 

If a friend can’t join you for a night out, or a trip to the cinema, don’t show off about it in front of them, nor should you talk about them behind their backs. Instead ask them how they are feeling and be a good friend. 

If a person is hungry show them where the nearest food bank is, or offer compassion. Compassion costs nothing. If you can buy them a sandwich then that might just make them feel human again. Giving someone hope will also do this. 

People shouldn’t be tossed aside because they supposedly dont ‘fit in’. Everyone is important, and so are their right to a decent standard of living. 

More and more people are excluded from housing, vulnerable people left on the streets to beg whilst low funded organisations try and help them, try to keep them safe and feed them. The government has completely absolved themselves from any responsibility, nor do they care about how many people die as a result. 
People are made to feel worthless, subhuman and unimportant by the DWP system of sanctioning and failed medicals which are still being conducted by the likes of Atos. People are dying everyday as a result, but the government just shrug their shoulders and look the other way. 

A WASPI lady committed suicide after the general election because she felt stressed, unworthy and unwanted. Isolated at a time when she should have been enjoying her retirement. Once again the government don’t care. 
On Friday I had to travel to Manchester, something that I don’t do as regularly as I used to. I had to use the public loos and I started a conversation with two young homeless women. They were lovely women, bright, bubbly and friendly. They told me about their life on the streets, and the difficulties they face every day. Both told me that they had been begging all morning and hadn’t got any money, they needed a pound so I gave it to them. They also needed a hairbrush so I gave them mine. I got hugs from them, and smiles that I haven’t seen for a long time. I couldn’t change their situation, but a little bit of kindness gave them hope that people do care. And thats all it takes sometimes. 
In an ideal world we would have a society that wouldn’t exclude anyone, where everyone would have a home, money in their pocket, food and have the support that they need. It’s called socialism and this country is crying out for it. 

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What is poverty? And does it define us?

This is a question that I get asked often. People ask me if I can define it. In reality  its very difficult to define. There are three definitions of poverty in common usage, those being absolute poverty, relative poverty and social exclusion.

Absolute poverty defined as having the lack of sufficient resources with which to meet basic needs. Relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average income. But how does poverty define us?

According to the Joseph Rowntree foundation there are more than a million people living in poverty in the UK. I’m sure that figure is lower than the actual figure due to the level of people finding themselves without work etc rising everyday. They say that 184,5000 households have experienced a level of poverty that has left them with no choice but to resort to charities for essential things and shelter. The Joseph Rowntree foundation also say that three quarters of people living in poverty go without meals and half cant afford to heat their homes. These are some very basic statistics, but how what does living in poverty mean to those living in poverty?

I live in poverty, I’m not ashamed to say it. I don’t think that it has ever left my side except for a very brief moment a long time ago. So I can say this out of experience. I live in an area that is one of the poorest in the country, and a lot of my neighbours live in some kind of poverty.

Poverty can be very restricting and isolating. It defines how you can travel and relate to others.   Socialisation is limited to mainly your local surroundings or your own home. Public transport is expensive and is often off limits. Walking distance is often as far as you can go. So you often only see your local area and your own home, and slowly you begin to isolate yourself. You might  stop talking to people because you feel ashamed that you are poor and you certainly don’t want to be reminded that you are. You avoid people and places, its easier that way because it numbs the pain. This very often starts a cycle of depression and illness, often from a very young age.

The media bombards the public with advertisements and television programmes promoting a richer, happier lifestyle. They also promote the scrounger rhetoric with programmes such as Benefit Street. Discrimination against the poorest in society has never been this bad. Names such as scrounger, fraudster, single parent, immigrant are thrown everywhere with such hatred and disgust. I see this a lot whist helping claimants, no one bothers to ask what their story is, they are given a label.

When you live in poverty debt becomes your worst enemy. High rents, the bedroom tax, council tax, sanctions, benefit delays, low wages all ensure this. Charity shops become your best friend that’s if you can afford them. Food and heating becomes a priority, often its a choice either heating or eating. Its a tough choice because both are equally important.

Poverty defines your every move, children grow up knowing no different but the gap becomes clearer the older they get. They will soon be growing up to accept name calling and discrimination, after all the media have done an extremely good job of turning neighbour against neighbour. People cant just snap out of it and find a job that doesn’t exist.

Everyday I’m reminded of the film Cathy come home. I have a daughter who lives with her partner and children in a privately rented house. The house is very damp, it floods all the time, but the landlord refuses to help. She cant move because she cant afford to pay the £1000 deposit upfront, she doesn’t have a guarantor and she owes rent from her previous sub standard flat which was a housing association flat. She manages, keeps the damp to a liveable level. She lives in relative poverty.  She says that she is lucky to have a home, and she is right, but no one should have to live like this. Sadly its not unusual, its commonplace but it shouldn’t be.

People are trying to get by, its not easy and the unemployed and the working are stuck in the same situation. I say that we will soon be back to the 1930s poverty levels, but I fear that it will be more like 19th century poverty levels. Poverty does indeed define us, we might try to deny this, but it has defined my life and it will continue to do so.

I urge the public to use compassion and kindness instead of hatred and discrimination. After all this can happen to anyone and everyone is three pay slips away from being in the same position.


 

 

 

Why do sick notes go missing?Aggressive G4S security amongst other issues.

Whilst I was handing leaflets out i was asked to go and speak to a man who was stood round the corner. This happens quite a lot because they feel that they can’t be seen talking to us.Why? The fear of sanction and discrimination by DWP staff members. The threat of a sanction is enough for anyone to comply with their wishes. So i went over and spoke to this man.
He was in a very agitated state, he was very articulate but also very angry. He told me that he had worked all of hi life and had had an accident requiring several painful operations on his knee.He had received a letter from the eSa department to remind him to send his sick note in, but they didn’t include an envelope. So thats what he was there for. He asked to speak to an advisor but was stopped by a G4S security guard. given an envelope and was told to leave the building. he was shocked, all he wanted to do was to speak to a front desk advisor.
He came outside with the envelope and realised that it was the wrong envelope. The G4S security guard had given him the wrong envelope.. so he questioned this and was welcomed with a tough thats all your getting response. We helped him but this left me with these questions;
G4S security guards are not trained benefit advisors and should not be handling any personal information or handing out advice. The are not fully trained security guards therefore have no right to do so. Why are they being allowed to do this?
How many sick notes go missing in this way? These payments are a lifeline for ESA claimants and it shouldn’t be happening.
Is this a tactic deployed by the DWP deliberately or is it simply the DWP allowing unqualified G4S guards dish out advice ensuring that mistakes are made and wrong advice given?
Answers on a postcard please, although I will be enquiring bout this and monitoring this situation.

A young girl with her mother stopped us. She was shaking with fear and close to having a panic attack. She is on ESA for severe anxiety and the Jobcentre have felt that it is right to force her into the Jobcentre for an interview. I looked at the letter and she did need to attend, however she was far too ill to go in on her own so we advised her mum to go in with her. She is clearly not ready for work. No one should have to feel this scared of a building and the people inside. Its disgusting and we need to stop this. The government have created two monsters. The DWP and Jobcentre plus. Both equally evil.
I hope that she managed to recover from this ordeal.

This week G4S decided to be rather aggressive and have it seems taken ten paces back in their attitude. A young woman rushed out of the building wanting to speak to us. She said that she was sat waiting for her appointment and a G4S security guard was shouting “Im going to snap the strings on that guitar if they don’t shut up” she said that he was very menacing in manner and she was scared of him. She said that she would make a complaint lets hope that she does. Threats of violence should always be taken seriously. Our crime was to be playing songs of peace on a guitar played by a woman who is no threat at all. Shocking.

Events this week.

Wednesday 5pm Market street manchester a demonstration in light of the budget. I will be speaking t this event and will be announcing my own budget.

Tomorrow (Sunday) Greek solidarity demonstration 1pm Piccadilly gardens Manchester.

11th July Manchester’s March for the homeless 12.00 Piccadilly gardens manchester.

If you would like to donate to this blog to keep it going my Paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com this is not just a few hours writing its become more and more full time as time has gone on and any donations are more than welcome to keep it going. Rather than have to put ads on here which Im against doing. Many thanks

Another pregnant lady sanctioned and an altercation with a PCS union rep.

Im late in writing my blog this week due to unforeseen illness, but here it is.
Thursday was certainly an eventful day. The weather was lovely for a change and we were all in good spirits. That was blighted though for reasons that I will explain.
The first incident occurred when a lady who was heavily pregnant informed me that both herself and her boyfriend had been sanctioned on their joint claim. The reason why? Because Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre had refused to transfer their claim to a Jobcentre nearer their home in Bury.They couldn’t afford the Tram fare to Ashton so got sanctioned. They had lived in Ashton but had since moved. Thankfully the had applied for hardship payments but these go nowhere when you have a child to support as well. I advised her on what to do and to say and she went into the Jobcentre. A little while later she returned after speaking to an advisor who had agreed to transfer the claim and lift the sanction. They will receive a proper payment the week coming. She said I don’t know if its because you lot are stood outside but they seemed nicer today than they have ever been. She also said that she had seen a different advisor this time. I hope that all goes well for them, she’s had very tough time and this certainly shouldn’t be happening.

Our next incident occurred a little while later. We were all in good spirits. A friend had travelled to meet us and he was playing a little music. We are not a violent group of people and we are peace loving. We are at the Jobcentre to help people and have done so since August. We know that the Jobcentre staff are under enormous pressure and some are unhappy in their work. Whilst I don’t condone their actions at all I understand the culture of fear that runs through their offices. If indeed they wanted to join us on our protests we would welcome them. They know this and were told this at a previous meeting that was held in the Jobcentre last year between ourselves and them.
We were stood outside peacefully holding our placards and listening to the music when a lady burst through the Jobcentre doors with a G4S security guard. She made a beeline for me and she was very aggressive verbally and with her body language. She informed me that she was a PCS union rep and did not like a placard that we were using. The placard concerned has been used nearly every week since August and no one has ever taken offence to it. By then a crowd of 5 people had gathered round peacefully to hear what she was saying. She went on to say that she did not like the fact that a member of our group had recycled a PCS placard picked up on the anti austerity march in manchester in 2014. What is ridiculous is the fact the most of the PCS logo was covered by a stick and there was already notes on it stating that it was not being used as a PCS placard. The G4S security guard was stood behind her about 2 feet away smiling. He certainly didn’t feel threatened by the situation. She went on to say that we cannot use this placard. We pointed out to her that it had indeed been used since August at this Jobcentre and Stockport Jobcentre and no one had taken offence to it. The member concerned said that he would tackle this officially, but she then became abusive towards him.
I myself am a union member and I have never seen behaviour like this before. After many many months of peaceful protests she had taken it upon herself to try and disrupt the peaceful relationship that we now have with the Jobcentre, the police and the PCS union.
She then went on to phone the police which was uncalled for. A PCOS attended as we were packing up. He informed us that she had thought our behaviour was threatening and intimidating!! We informed him that it was actually not the case and it was the union rep who was threatening and intimidating. We advised the police officer to go inside and advise her about her behaviour because it was her uncalled for actions that started this whole chain of events.
What is quite ironic is that 40% of Jobcentre workers wages are so low that they themselves will qualify to claim universal credit. They might need our help one day. I think that the union rep should remember this. She should also remember the resolution that was made at their recent conference. A motion was passed to;
Raise the profile of the Governments war upon the poor,
Encourage campaign activity with local groups on this issue,
Support initiatives that seek to undermine and expose the draconian sanctions regime that exists in Jobcentres,
Actively support staff who are targeted with discipliners and reduced box markings for using their discretion when considering decision maker and sanction referrals.
Surely they should be supporting us and showing us some kind of comradeship rather than being abusive? Maybe she thought better or maybe she wasn’t aware of her unions own actions. We certainly are.
We all left shocked that this had indeed happened, but determined and resolved to attend again next week as usual. We are there to help and support people and come in peace. Is that so hard for people to understand?

Events coming up next week.
Tameside against the cuts strategy meeting, Tuesday 12 noon. Meet in Ikea Ashton Under lyne to discuss our strategies and actions for the coming year. Please attend.

Please if you can donate to keep this blog going. I would like to carry on blogging. My paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com

Can I state that this persons attitude is not representative of the whole of the PCS union. Many of which I know and who also think that her actions were uncalled for. In times of austerity we need to support each other and not become divided.

The Queens speech… and what it will mean to the people of England. What can we do now?

The Queens speech this year wasn’t expected to be a kind one, I knew that it would attack the poor and the people of England and indeed it did. She has created a smokescreen for this Tory Government to run havoc on the poorest in England. Does she read what she’s saying beforehand? Indeed she does. She’s a very intelligent woman who knows exactly what she’s doing, and who also holds more power than people realise.

She said that her government hopes to raise the “productive potential of the economy” then she said “there will be more jobs with shirkers ordered to earn or learn, and more apprenticeships. Whilst saying this this government have also committed to a harsher welfare regime .  This means more sanctions because it is the DWP who decides if you are a shirker or not. Working 55 hours on a zero hour contracted job and being unable to fulfil your 37 hours a week job search because you went to sleep labels you a shirker in the DWPs eyes. Apprenticeships are very poorly paid and the young are exploited and finish these apprenticeships often without a qualification or a job prospect. Does she realise this? Im sure she does, but in her world where she doesn’t have to deal with tedious issues like money or hunger it seldom if ever crosses her mind to think about this. She’s in the club that enables her to think like this, much like David Cameron, born into wealth, and looking at the poor as shirkers. This club is exclusive though. None of us can join. We aren’t welcome.

She said that they want to control immigration, by what means it isn’t very clear yet, but they will do. However they will do this it will be cruel. Life for an immigrant in the U.K isn’t an easy one by any means. Please don’t believe the stories in the Murdoch owned press. Instead look at the troubles at Yarlswood a detention centre in Bedfordshire. It states that it is an immigration removal centre. Those very words send a shudder down my spine. Immigrants are living breathing people with feelings and emotions. Not something to be got rid of like yesterdays rubbish.  Most immigrants work, and immigrants that have entered the U.K illegally out of fear or harm in their own country are treated worse than a criminal. Many are held in detention centres which are worse than prisons , others are crammed into one room bedsits living on food tokens. Rules that state that they can’t work are already in place. I bet many wish that they were back home. This April they already brought in harsh and cruel immigration rules for immigrants from the E.U making it impossible for anyone to stay here if they aren’t working for longer than 6 months. If they loose their job they get nothing not even housing benefit and most have to return home. They can only return home if they have a passport thats valid and the money to do so, which proves impossible for most. Thus the homeless population will be increased yet again.

They want to secure the NHS… what she didn’t mention was that they will secure it through privatisation. They’ve stripped the NHS of its life force already, its existing by a very thin thread and if we don’t fight for it now we will loose it. Can we afford to lose it? No we can’t. I know that a trip to the doctors will become near impossible because of the cost. Will we see a system similar to that in America? Almost certainly, we are modelling the privatisation of the NHS on their failing healthcare model. And do we want to model our new system on an already failing system? We don’t. The mortality rate for the poorest in America is rising everyday and its shocking. We cannot loose our N.H.S to a system like this and I cannot believe that I am writing these words.

She promises to push forward devolution in a spirit of “mutual respect” how can this be done when there hasn’t been any respect given already? The “Northern Powerhouse” failed to consult the people of the north, infact they’ve been completely neglected and refused entry into the consultations. Indeed, local authorities are already using the paper letterheads of the combined greater manchester authorities. Do we want this? Well the public don’t know enough if anything about this to make a decision about devolution yet. What the people of the north are demanding is a referendum so we can be consulted and then make our minds up. Ive seen and read the documentation and  once you look below the surface its a very dodgy deal indeed, one not to be trusted at all in the state that its in. The public want consultation on this and a referendum would be the perfect opportunity to do so. For the Greater Manchester councils to think this is already a done deal is a shocking attitude. There would be outrage if this attitude towards devolution was carried out in an area like London. But the so called Great Northern Powerhouse is treated with such disdain its shocking. The north isn’t desolate its a beautiful, thriving friendly place to live. So please help to support us on this.

She also mentioned the push for the EU referendum. Yes we may need a referendum, but how this refurendum will be taking place and handled is a very different issue altogether. Do we trust a Tory government to do this when their attitude toward the E.U isn’t the best already? i know that it would be silly to do so. I shall be watching this very closely.

The scrapping of the Human rights bill has been downgraded to a wish rather than promise . Phew you might say, but when a spoilt child has a wish they normally get it. So rather than being forgotten about it will be put to one side. The E.U referendum will come first I suspect then this, so please don’t forget about it. They will throw this one out again when we are least expecting it.

She promised “one nation” reforms to help those struggling with childcare, workplace skills and access to their gp. Maybe they have forgotten that we aren’t one nation anymore and scotland will not agree to most of this.

The trade union reforms that are promised will impose oppressive restrictions on the long attenuated right to strike. As a member of a trade union myself I find the governments plans unimaginable. We have fought very hard to actually have trade unions in the first place, but the Tory governments of the past and now have always hated trade unions. Why? Because they are there to support workers when they are being badly treated. A tory government would ideally like to see all workers being exploited so the rich get the benefits. Look at the horrifying zero hour contracts and the workfare programmes. Yes slavery was abolished but it now has returned in new guises.

The snoopers charter has returned, with no one to stop this now I expect this to be one of the first changes to be made. This government doesn’t want us to have any ideas, plans to even have any contribution towards a positive world. Instead it wants compliant, obedient workers that are easier to control. The snoopers charter will help to achieve this. The freedoms that we once have will be eroded even more.

The right to buy housing association homes is only going to further the massive homeless problems that we already have. This is opposed by both sides of parliament, but they are carrying on regardless. Thatchers legacy still lives on, and hasn’t left since she left. Progressive governments have just continued with her plans.

They are also committed to welfare cuts that will hurt the vulnerable and the working poor even harder than before. How much more can we take? The cuts that have been made previously only targeted the very poor and the disabled, I use the word only because that was jus the start. Those that were standing back and saying that they are ok and that those affected are scroungers will be affected this time. More homelessness, more sanctions, more working poor. The list goes on.

Recently I attended a meeting talking to fellow trade unionists and people who read and contribute to the paper that I write for. I said to them that this isn’t the first time that we are here. Indeed we have been here before. Every time a tory government gets elected they do the same thing. They attack the poor and they attack the north. I reminded them about the miners struggles and the poll tax struggles, and indeed the protests against the Iraq war. I said the way to combat this and to fight against this is to remember what worked then and to transfer those ideas to the present day. We managed it without the aid of the internet and mobile phones, but we were more active on foot and face to face. I’m fortunate to remember those days, and even though I was only young I made the poll tax my first protest. I refused to pay. The riots didn’t stop the poll tax, but they helped. What really stopped the poll tax was the defiance of the public. People refused to pay. This is what we should do now. As well as our on the street and online writing and protests we need to form an attack like this. Like any rich corporation, those in charge of the U.K and those who are benefitting financially from Austerity should be hit in the pocket. We need to take a stand. We cannot afford to pay for Austerity anymore. The poor didn’t cause this, the government and the corrupt banking system did.

Any foot protest should also be followed up by ongoing actions. One big march can be ignored and forgotten in many ways by the government. Ongoing actions can’t be forgotten. Please don’t give up, the battle hasn’t ended its only just begun. We are many, they are few.

Please donate to keep this blog going if you can!Im on a very limited income and I need to keep this blog going. Many thanks!! My PayPal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com I did try to add a donation button but it just won’t work! Thank you 

1,743 jobs applied for…. and still not good enough.

Yesterday was the day of our weekly demonstration outside the Jobcentre. We look forward to Thursdays because we know that it is the one day that we can make a difference. We have become quite well known now, and people pop along to say hello and to get advice.

We weren’t sure of how the atmosphere would be this week. We had the devastating election results and deep inside I thought that the people using the Jobcentre would be very downhearted. I was right. There was lots of frustration and anger yesterday, people holding their heads down as they walked in. They didn’t want to be noticed, and the atmosphere wasn’t brilliant. Their last hope of freedom from the tyranny that they are undergoing had gone. Knowing that we are going to have to undergo five more years of this is perhaps more than some can take.

One man stopped and spoke to us. He had applied for 1,743 jobs in a few months. The Jobcentre had told him that this wasn’t good enough.. why? Because only a few potential employers had emailed him back to tell him that he wasn’t successful. Of course this wasn’t his fault, but the Jobcentre in their infinite reason think that it is. The poor man was at the end of his teather. He said that all he wants is to get a job. He said that he remembered the old days when potential employers used to reply to your job application to tell you if you were successful or not. Though days are long gone. A few potential employers send out an email, but to most even sending out a standard acknowledgement email is much too much effort. People are far too disposable these days. A big thanks to the employers that do actually recognise their Job applicants.

A man stopped us and told us that what we need to get this government out of power is another Oliver Cromwell. Whilst I understood what he meant I know thats not possible. This government will try and get rid of any loophole that enables anyone to protest and campaign against them. I noticed that the snoopers charter is one of the first bills that they want to pass through parliament. Also the stopping of protests. I don’t think the public will let them get away with this. Well not lightly anyway, some of us will oppose this.

This got me thinking so I did a bit of research into the levels of benefit fraud. Just because Im sick of the demonising of the poor and immigrants. We get blamed for everything.

The total cost of benefits and pensions £180 billion.

New impact and benefit pensions £25 billion.

Tax fraud £15 billion

Unclaimed entitlements £17 billion

Benefit fraud £1 billion

Don’t you think that the tax fraud should be dealt with as a matter of great importance? i do but you can bet Cameron and co will not deal with it.

Lets put an end to this poverty prejudice that has taken over this country. Most people forget that whilst watching these terrible tv programmes and reading the gutter press that the could be next. Cameron has a list of his next targets and he’s ticking this list off one by one. He’s confident that he can demonise and punish the poor to such an extent that they won’t be able to fight back.

So lets challenge him. Stop watching these programmes, stop buying Murdoch empires newspapers. Stop funding and enabling this Tory party dictatorship to destroy the poorest and most vulnerable like never seen before.

Remember the people have the power, theres more of us than there is of them. Be kind and not judgement to those suffering.

Single parent? Attend the Jobcentre and get referred to social services as a troubled family. New trial at Ashton Jobcentre.

Yesterday I heard something very disturbing. A lady contacted me, she was very upset. She attended the Jobcentre for her signing on appointment and was confronted with something totally unexpected. She’s a very intelligent lady and thankfully she acted quickly and appropriately. She said hello to the advisor or job coach as they call them now. I don’t know why because they don’t coach you into anything except desperation. She’s been attending a mandatory work related course and had despite this completed all her Job searches correctly. The meeting then took a totally different atmosphere. The advisor suggested to her that she should be willing to get involved with a trial that they are running with Tameside Council. They are asking single parents   to be assigned a social worker and a key worker so they can keep an eye on her… The reason for this? Because they said she hadn’t been doing enough to look for work. This is shocking enough. Women have a raw deal of it in society especially single parents and of course this can mean single dads. They have bared the brunt of any change in government legislation and it looks like it is happening again. Not happy with this I decided to investigate further. I’m not ashamed to say this shocked me, even though I knew that they would soon be targeting families.

How and why are they able to do this you may ask? It’s all part of the troubled families wave 2 joint investment agreement. On the surface of it this seems like a good idea. Helping families until you read further. And read I have done. This was only agreed to do so why were they suggesting it yesterday?

The council have approved a new investment agreement approach to working with a minimum of 1,750 families. This won’t only affect single parents it will affect couples with children as well.Here’s their target figure, they have to reach this target. The government provides a fee called the attachment fee £1000 per family .Encouraging the local authority to engage with families, it then provides a result fee which is £800 per family, which is provided by the government to an agency who are working with that family. This agency it has been decided will be a local housing trust. New Charter Housing. They did not allow any other outside agency to apply and they made a special exemption for this.

They have also created new positions within the Jobcentre. They are called Troubled Families Employment Advisors as a result Tameside Council have employed two of these. They are classing single parents and couples with children  who aren’t in full time employment as troubled families if they fall into two caterogies on the list. This is very easy to do. For instance one category is being unemployed another category is having an illness or your child having an illness. If they agree to comply with this scheme they will be watched and monitored by social services and a social services case worker until they find employment. Because they are classed as unemployed and most likely in debt they will be classed as troubled. They will have to undergo interventions, either themselves or a family member will have to attend a voluntary placement, undergone training to improve their skill levels and placements that will last for 13 consecutive weeks. I must stress that they will be monitored continuously and will be dragged into meetings. There is no statement for a minimum age of the children either.

You are also expected to reduce your debt. How can you do this when the money that you do get just about enables you to survive? You are expected to make a measurable increase in your household income. You’ve got to be seen to be reducing your debt, again impossible. You’ve got to be seen to be able to sustain your housing and to make a positive move into more sustainable housing. You’ve got to show improved budgeting skills… not hard when you have no money. If you manage to pass all these measures then they will take you a step down from intensive intervention but will still be monitored.

This is wrong on all levels. They say this is a trial, but I’ve never known them to withdraw a DWP trial and I believe that they will make this compulsory in the next year or so. Classing all single parents as troubled families is very wrong and is discrimination at its worst. As a single parent myself I find this very scary indeed. Being forced to comply with these rules will be impossible for most. Poverty already controls the people that this will affect.

Who decided that this should be allowed in my local town? One councillor, the executive director of Governance, the executive director of finance and the Department of work and pensions. They haven’t considered the feelings of the local people and they have allowed this discrimination. Do you find this shocking? I do and I intend to oppose this as much as possible.