Sanctioned for not being able to sign on on bank holiday Monday. Tears, frustration and rain.

Today’s demo started rather hurriedly and to be honest I didn’t know if I was coming or going. This feeling was amplified because it was cold, rainy and my daughter was a bit fed up. understandable of course. But she soon settled down into our usual routine and all was well.

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We are seeing a lot of new faces due to Stalybridge Jobcentre shutting. They don’t know us and what we are doing, and we don’t know them or their situations either. So we have to start from scratch, which at times isn’t easy.  But it’s a whole lot harder for them.

I started a conversation with a man who had been previously attending Stalybridge Jobcentre for his appointments. The first thing that he said to me was that he couldn’t believe how rude the front desk staff are at  Ashton Jobcentre, and how rude some of the advisors are also. He mentioned that some of the advisors at Stalybridge could be awful, but Ashton Jobcentre felt positively hostile. I had to agree with him. The frontline staff has a habit of making a person feel like they are guilty of committing some heinous crime, when in fact their only crime and it isn’t a crime is being poor.

You really have to experience this to understand what I’m talking about. I experienced the same treatment when I used to have to sign on there. It was awful, with G4S security guards taking personal details to check appointments. Of course, this is illegal but the DWP and their employees seem to be immune to any type of action being taken against them. One day I’m sure that their time will come.

He also explained to us that he had failed his ESA medical and was in the process of appealing, so until he can prove that he has launched an appeal he has had to submit a claim for JSA. He knows the score and what to do but it doesn’t make it easier does it. So he is now in no man’s land, waiting for everything to be processed and it is a horrible place to be.

Whilst I was standing outside the Jobcentre I spotted a man walk in, who was very obviously disabled and in discomfort. He didn’t want to speak on his way into the Jobcentre but chose to do so on the way out. He has an injury to his knee and it’s in a large knee support, and because he was claiming Universal Credit he was handing sick notes in to cover him for this period of time. I advised him that he could claim ESA if the injury is going to cause a disability that might take some time to recover from and he took that advice on board. The DWP hasn’t made his life easy though and they are continuing to mess him about with his payments. Unfortunately, he didn’t go into great detail but I advised him and gave him a leaflet. I also asked him if he wanted a food parcel. He said no, he would be ok but his father who was stood behind him said: “Yes we do, I’m having to feed you and I have very little money”.  Having been in this situation myself, I gladly gave him a food parcel and at least they will eat better this week.

This is another hidden issue that not a lot of people speak about. I’ve been in this position myself and it’s very hard looking after a relative who has had their lifeline taken off them by the DWP for whatever reason that may be.

I felt a lot of stress and hardship when I had to do this, so this could well be what many people feel like when they are in the same situation. Cooking for one extra person might not seem to be a lot, but it soon mounts up. Also, there are the extra bills that have to be paid such as gas, electric etc. Managing from day to day is very hard indeed and demands on food banks and similar organizations grow as a result.

If a person has no family then it’s a dire situation to be in, so please have sympathy with those forced into this awful situation which wasn’t of their choice.

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I spoke to a man who was rushing down the road to talk to me. He was so upset. His situation has spiraled out of control, and he hadn’t followed up our advice on what to do and where to go. Seeking help is often very hard. It takes courage and swallowing of pride. Asking for and accepting help is very hard indeed.

I told him of a local organization that he can go to straight away to get some immediate help and that he must go now. The nights are getting cold and with his health conditions, I didn’t want him sleeping on the streets. I gave him a food parcel and a colleague (Karl) gave him a lift up to this organization. It was vital that he went, so we made sure that he did. Thanks, Karl.

We then started talking to a lady who had also previously attended Stalybridge Jobcentre. She also informed us of how different Ashton Jobcentre is. She wasn’t happy. She had been diagnosed with Bi Polar years ago but is new to the signing on  process and she was understandably overwhelmed. It was then that she started crying, saying that she is 58 years old and cannot physically look for work eight hours a day. She doesn’t know how to use computers and the system has confused her.

We advised her to make a claim for ESA and advised her of how to do this and where to go to get help to do so. She also said that she had no friends, so I told her that I would be her friend as did other members of the group. The tears disappeared and she felt supported and loved. This is exactly why we are there every week and will continue to be.

I also spoke to a young man who had been given a signing on appointment for the previous bank holiday Monday. Yes folks, bank holiday Monday. Of course, he couldn’t sign on and he informed the Jobcentre of this. The DWP were totally unsympathetic of course and informed him that he was now sanctioned for not attending. You really couldn’t make this up, could you?

It’s not the first time that we have seen this though and it isn’t unusual. He is appealing and he will win and overrule this sanction, but in the meantime, he is without money. We gave him appropriate advice and signposted to all local groups. Let’s hope that he takes this up.

I and a colleague started talking to a man who was a former policeman. He had taken early retirement and was attending the Jobcentre just to keep up his national insurance contributions. He told us of his struggles and that he is really struggling to manage on the pension that he has been given. I advised him to go to the local Citizens Advice centre where they can do a full benefit check for him. He says that he has now been forced back to looking for work, and will hopefully get one within the police force. He didn’t have a nice word to say about the Jobcentre and I don’t blame him.

We started talking to a lovely young woman who had lost her job due to no fault of her own. She had been working at a children’s day nursery and had been exploited, both of the hours and work that she was expected to do, but also because of her good nature. I can’t elaborate more due to the fact that she might be taking further action about this through her union. She might not, but I don’t want to ruin her chances of doing so if she does.

This is another issue that is growing sadly. The exploitation of staff by management at some private day nurseries. They usually employ young staff members and overwork them. of course, some don’t, and kudos to those that don’t. But for a long time now I have been hearing these stories. The apprentice scheme at these day nurseries can also exploit them, I’ve heard some awful stories about this also. It’s about time that all apprenticeships are properly regulated because young people should not be exploited. Young people should be respected because they are, after all our future.

We also had a few people in cars shout over to us saying the old ‘Get a job’ as if they were the first people to say it. It’s not clever nor is it smart. And to drive away as fast as they can makes them cowards in my eyes.

If they actually stopped and spoke to us they would realize that most of us are working, but on very limited incomes or retired. Sadly I’m used to it now.

Today we handed seven food parcels out, many thanks to Pat and the gang at Glossop for that. Many thanks also to Tom for the sandwiches that he donated they made a big difference.  We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

We gave out lots and I mean lots of support and signposted everyone that we spoke to. I also confirmed arrangements for myself to support a lady through her ESA medical in a few weeks time.

It honestly never ends. The suffering never ends and it is getting much worse than it ever has been. Even if we by some miracle could change governments tomorrow it will take years and I mean years to rectify the damage caused by this awful government. I really don’t have a clue how people will survive.

Next week is our four-year anniversary demo and the theme for this one is ‘Prisoners of the state.’ Please come and join us 10-12 Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre 101 Old Street Ashton Under Lyne.  We also will hopefully have some special guests coming along. Tea and coffee will be available for all.

Please share my blog, talk about it, and there is a donate button below if anyone would like to donate.

Thank you.

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Today’s Morning Star article.

Heres a photo of today’s Morning Star article. They missed out our big group photo so I’ll post it. Thank you to everyone who supports us it means a lot. 

   

  

 

Please donate to keep our campaign going! We aren’t financially supported by anyone so every donation really helps. This has become more like a full time job to me! 

Please donate to help keep our campaign going. We work very hard at this and it has become more or less a full time job for me.

Many thanks

Don’t claim DLA claim JSA states Jobcentre worker to unwell lady. Striking Jobcentre workers and army recruitment tactics inside the Jobcentre.

I’ve been quiet for a while so many apologies for being away. Sometimes it just gets too much and last week was one of those weeks. I had to have a bit of time out and as a result I feel much better. When you are heavily involved with this type of work it can and does get to you. The injustice of it all gets too much. It seems like your fighting a lone battle, when in reality you aren’t. But you are stuck in a corner for a while screaming to be heard. 

I’m writing this on the day the some Jobcentre workers in Bolton are striking over their conditions whilst implementing universal credit. Whilst I fully sympathise and support them I can’t help to wonder why on earth aren’t they making a bigger noise about the way they are being forced to treat innocent people? They are also victims, indeed they are the bigger victims. Solidarity to those workers though. If I could be there I would be to show my support and to share the pain of the members of the public entering Jobcentres up and down the country. It’s a pity that my local Jobcentre didn’t see fit to strike… Maybe that’s a question that they would like to answer? 

Whilst handing out leaflets a very disabled lady came out of the Jobcentre. She was very upset and was close to tears. I handed her a leaflet and asked her what was wrong. She said that she suffers from a congenital medical condition. It causes her joints to unlock constantly and as a result she struggles to walk and depends on crutches and her friend to take her out in her car. She was obviously in a lot of pain and the struggle in her eyes was very obvious. She told me that she is on DLA but the Jobcentre had called her in. She showed me the letter, it was a compliance letter. The anger in her voice then became apparent. They had told her that she must come off her DLA and claim JSA and look for work. This woman is incapable of holding down a job. Why? Because she can’t sit down, she can’t stand up she can’t lift, she’s in constant pain and she survives on a mixture of very strong painkillers. She also is a regular attendee of the local hospital often spending nights in there and has to have operations etc. I told her not to come off her DLA, she has been awarded that because she obviously needs it. If we weren’t there she could well have done as they said. And that’s a very scary thought.. 

A man then walked out of the Jobcentre, he looked harassed and said to me “you’ve got to do something about the staff in there”. I asked him what was wrong and he said her went to sign on as usual and had complied with everything on the job search list. The advisor kept trying to trip him up and said ” if you ever fail to comply I will sanction you” with that he gave a smile… You know that sort of smile that’s half way between a smile and a sneer? He said it happens to him everytime he goes in and it feels like they want to sanction him every week. We advised him that he can change advisors, he said he would do.. But it isn’t right that they can be allowed to behave like this. The advisors that do should be challenged. 

We had the usual complaints of advisors being purposely rude to clients… There’s no need for it. They need to remember that if it wasn’t for them they wouldn’t have a job!!!

A member of the public was refused to be allowed to change his signing on time because he had a job interview…. Can’t win either way. If he doesn’t sign on his money gets stopped if he doesn’t go to the interview he gets sanctioned. It’s a loose loose situation. 

The other week we had the army recruiting in the job centre. Now you might think that this is ok, that’s a matter of opinion. However the tactics that they were using were shocking.. A member of the public enlightened us to what they were doing.. The officers that’s they sent to the job centre were junior members of the army and not qualified to recruit members…. The tactics that they were using went like this…. You aren’t going to get a job so you’ve got to join the army…. Now this is where I disagree. Joining the army is a personal choice often a vocation. You should never be forced into it, and this should never be allowed. Trading on the vulnerable to enrole.. What next compulsory signing up? Makes you wonder doesn’t it. 

A workfare provider happened to walk past our demo. She started to get very irate at the oldest member of our group, who works tirelessly to help others. She’s seen it all before but shame on this lady for her attitude. She was not willing to discuss any issues at all, she just kept repeating workfare is right, my company benefits from it. Of course they do… They profit by not having to pay a member of staff.. All I can say is that she lives in a totally different world than many people and didn’t have an ounce of compassion. Shame on her, maybe one day she will suffer like she makes those that slave for her do. Make no mistake it’s a modern form of slavery and needs to be stopped. Everyone deserves a decent days pay for a decent days work. Bring back properly paid work trials. They do exist but very rarely these days..also the number of people being employed after being on a workfare programme by the company they slave for is very very low.. We need to outlaw workfare. It does nothing to help, only to demoralise. It also is damaging the local economy. Less paid work, less people contributing to the local economy. It doesn’t make sense to anyone but a workfare provider.  

I run this blog on a shoestring and I would love to keep it going. Please donate to help keep our campaign going. We work very hard at this and it has become more or less a full time job for me.

New targets for DWP compliance interviews.

Sometimes I’m taken by surprise. Mostly I’m not. But this is a new tactic. A new target driven tactic employed by the DWP. 

For anyone claiming JSA, ESA Income Support or universal credit you might be familiar with a local service compliance interview. They send these letters out usually on a random basis or sometimes on the say so of a suspected fraud taking place. Now these interviews are compulsory and if you don’t attend then your money will get stopped. 

Whilst attending one of these interviews you are normally treated like a criminal, guilty before being proven innocent, most likely innocent of any wrongdoing as you have been randomly picked in the first place. You are taken to a room which looks just like a police interview room. They record everything like the police do, only in this case you are most likely innocent. You are asked to bring with you all documentation and proof to say you are who you are. This is what happened to a local lady who will remain anonomous to prevent any harrasment from the DWP. Here is what happened.

 After being admitted to hospital for an operation, she returned home to a “compliance interview” letter.Now the only “crime” that this lady committed was to become ill. She is claiming ESA and was previously claiming JSA. There has been no other change in her circumstances, but she is regarded as a criminal and will be treated as such. 

The lady concerned phone up the DWP on the number provided.To ask why she has been asked for an interview (interrogation ) and to inform them that as a disabled person and therefore classed as vulnerable she will be bringing an advocate with her. Here is a summary of the conversation. 

It took her a while but she eventually got through to a real person. This chap sounded quite nice apparently but wasn’t expecting any questions. People normally just comply, they don’t question the DWPs decisions he said. He sounded compassionate for a DWP worker, that he was under great pressure to perform these interviews. He didn’t say he was under pressure but I am presuming that he is because he has been told that he’s got to claw £1000 back from innocent people, people that have been claiming the correct amount of money and have committed no benefit fraud. So she is just a person on the list of targets for this clawback. He said that the DWP had supposed to have sent her a previous letter, which surprise surprise they didn’t. He didn’t argue the case for the DWP as he believed that she was knowledgeable and it was pointless doing so. She asked him why he had given her all this information… He said that he did because she had asked lots of questions and his tone wasn’t of a person happy in his job. She also informed him that she will be taking a witness into the interview and that she wants proof of all said letters from the DWP to herself that hadn’t arrived. After all it’s a well known fact that these letters don’t get sent out in the first place and the onus is on them to prove that they sent them and not on her for not receiving them. 

There are several issues that need to be spoken about here. The first is that these compliance letters are now being used as a form of target for the DWP. Never before have I heard of this. We all have heard about sanction targets, but compliance targets? Wow. That’s an all time low.

The second is the fact that you are proven guilty before you are even seen and are even interviewed in police like surroundings. This is shocking because even in a court of law you are supposed to be innocent before being proven guilty. The DWP doesn’t see it this way. And now they have a £1000 target to aim for innocent victims are going to be fraudulently accused of committing benefit fraud and will be asked to repay money that they do not owe, and have never owed. After all the DWP will want to reach that £1000 target so the most vulnerable will be targeted for this. 

The third is that the DWP are openly committing fraud. It’s much the same as demanding money with menaces. A very vulnerable person sitting in a compliance interview hosted by usually two very hostile DWP workers will agree to anything just to get out of the building. Their money will stop and they could well loose their home. 

The fourth and the last for now because I’m sure that I could think of more is that the decent members of staff working for the DWP are being put at risk by being forced to comply to enforcing these actions. The man concerned knew it was wrong but because he most likely he knows how bad it is to be unemployed, he has had to choose to enforce it. This is very wrong. Not all DWP workers are bad but the good ones tend to be the exception to the rule these days. They end up leaving or becoming ill because they cannot stand the stress and the wrongdoings anymore. 

Please share this blog. Let the DWP know that we are aware of their latest trick. If you receive one of their compliance letters always question it and demand a witness to any interview. That is your right so use it. We cannot allow them to get away with this fraud. Making the poorest pay for the banking crisis which was created by the richest is never acceptable. 

As my comrade States “With every twist of the screw that takes place it becomes more urgent that the jobcentre workers stand shoulder to shoulder with the claimants. Each generation has to relearn what solidarity means – that what the power of capitalist ideology does to us!”

Quick note. ESA is employment and support allowance. JSA is Jobseeker’s Allowance. Universal credit is what it says on the tin. 

  
It would be wonderful if anyone could donate to keep this blog going. I’m on a very low income and I need to continue this blog. My Paypal add is seercharlotte@gmail.com thank you! 

Please note none of this is hearsay it is based on good evidence from genuine people. 

For anyone who thinks this isn’t a true account of events, it was. I was accompanying this person and I have mentioned that it is a compliance letter. I have also attended many of these meetings with claimants. Some go ok, some don’t. It’s pot luck with who you see at the interview. I will not edit it because it a truthful set of accounts. Thank you. 

No money, JSA claim not even processed yet forced to work for nothing.

This happens all the time now. Even before your claim is processed people are forced to go on work placements miles away from their local town. Here’s what happened.

A lady that comes along to our demos occasionally contacted me yesterday. She lives with her partner and both were previously claiming ESA. Their claims were stopped because they missed attending an interview because they went to a babies funeral. This baby was a family member and they were heartbroken. They had informed the Jobcentre who said that it was ok to go and that they had noted it. They hadn’t noted it. Instead their money was stopped. As a result their claim was stopped and they’ve been made to make a new claim. They were also persuaded not to claim ESA but to claim JSA. And to add insult to injury they were asked to produce the babies death certificate that’s terrible and is also against data protection rules. Disgusting but I wasn’t there to advise them, otherwise I would have told them not to do this. So here’s what the Jobcentre expect this lady to do from now on, bearing in mind she hasn’t recieved a penny yet. They have no money, I’ve been helping them with food. If this doesn’t make you angry I don’t know what will. This is in her words and she will remain anonomous out of fear of repercussions and respect for her privacy.

The Jobcentre are getting me to work for 6 hours a day all next week knowing full well that I haven’t had any money for over a month. I’ve asked them for bus fares and money for dinners and teas, but they have refused. They say that I’ve got to work from 7pm until 3am and I have to walk home in the dark on my own. It’s too far to walk it’s more than 2 towns away. They have also told me that I’ve got to go to another Jobcentre in another town which again is too far to walk to. This is for a work experience open day. They said that it’s not mandatory but if I don’t attend then they will see it as I’ve turned a job down so will sanction me. Unless they sort the bus fare out I can’t go. How can I? I don’t have any money and it’s too far to walk to. There’s not a lot that I can do. I feel so fed up, I’m not a scrounger I’ve always worked until I got ill.

This is terrible. She hasn’t recieved a penny yet is being punished for being poor. They know that she hasn’t got any money but they choose to send her to job centres and work placements that they know she can’t get too. It’s an old trick now, a good way of getting the unemployment figures down.

I know that this is wrong, I know that this must stop, but to get this whole regime to stop we as members of the public need to start standing up and say that this is wrong. We aren’t going to put up with this anymore. But people won’t. Why? Because they are scared, because they read the Murdoch press that demonises the poor to such an extent that they are seen as the enemy when the real enemy is this government.

The BBC want to make a new programme based upon the hunger games…. Britains hardest worker. Pitching working poor people against unemployed poor people against each other. Poverty porn taken to a whole new level. I have already boycotted the BBC and I urge you to do so as well. We are not objects to laugh at, we are living breathing human beings that have feelings and emotions. We are not animals in a zoo to be looked at and laughed at. In the old days the rich used to pay to go and visit prisons as a day out to look at the prisoners insode suffering. This is much the same.  And for anyone reading this that says it’s ok, remember that everyone is only 2 payslips away from being in the same situation. We need to stop this trend of poverty porn, programmes that mock the poor. Let’s make them so unpopular that they stop making them. We can do this.

Remember the people have the power, we are many they are few.

Please donate to keep this blog going if you can. There is a donation button hidden at the top where the black box is at the top on the right hand side. Many thanks

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