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Catch up and New Workfare Scheme, Same old slave labor.

September 26, 2014

Been another while since I last updated. That is because all hell has hit the fan in the past few months. Bedroom tax has us in a strangle hold that is looking to see us getting evicted, or FORCED out of a place I have community ties.
I’ve had the RSPCA alarmist inspector by the name of Jim Far have 1 of my dogs murdered because the guy jumps to judgments and assumptions and NOT listen to the situation at all, 5 gold fish he claimed had been re-homed turned up in a pet shop where if they were not going to be sold in one week would be killed because they could not afford to keep them. (aka they were taking up tank space for higher value stock. (I wont put the whole story of that here, because that is NOT what today’s blog is about.)
I’ve had Hastoe Housing trying to make me homeless because I do not have a freaking penny to my name because I’m endlessly jumping hoops for bleeding job center and ended up in debt all over the place because of it and now have a DRO that stops me from gaining credit of £500 in a month (aka I’m not aloud to work so to speak, because the job might pay to much, that is bleeding annoying.)
so Hastoe took out a county court judgement a few years ago against me one of those seeking possession order where I was told 3 different court dates due to weather conditions at the time as “no body could travel to Plymouth due to being snowed in” and then suddenly a seeking possession order turns up on a date never mentioned to me from a court in Cardiff! and when I ask about it apparently a court in Plymouth issued it, So I never had the chance to represent myself! But I did tell the housing officer at the time I could afford £15PMC on what I had to pay (at the time my circumstances allowed for that.) things have changed dramatically since then! job center endlessly forcing me into work I KNOW will not pay and will only make things worse. in 2011 I worked at a local theme park for a while, I never got the hours needed to get tax credit apparently, it always seemed to be just under or just over, so that sent our money into chaos. and since 2011 i’ve been looking for work, and refusing to take stupid jobs for 2 hours a day at a distance that wont pay for bus travel to it, after the theme park I wont take 0 hours contacts again their to unreliable, perfect for kids getting into work for the first time that still live at home as a summer job, Rubbish for anyone of any age with bills to pay.
most of 2012 was 6 months with job centre and until August when I got sent to that sham of a place working links for 2 years, that finished august this year, and I got put into the “intensive” job searching where I have to sing on every blooming week, and get sent on “work placements in my local community” eh huh, Except both myself and my partner do Community work at our local community shop as volunteers. (think something like Spa but no profit and a lifeline to a rural community.)
But that is apparently NOT good enough, Their sending me to sainsburys on a program called “feeding Britons future” same all rubbish with a new name, same Supermarkets involved as well. (Morrisons. Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys,ect) I’m not even in the accepted age group (16-25) I’m in the 25+ (being 32)  yet its still 1 month of the same old rubbished working links have just forced on me, only adding into it Slave labor! Were I go to a supermarket that SACKS people to put people on these unpaid “work placements”. I would not mind so much if it was a REAL job, but that I’m going to be forced to do 30h a week for nothing peeves me right off. its in a location I can not even get to very easily and is 3 hours away now (thanks to how stagecoach have messed about with the buses). I can’t drive and neither can my partner. So to say I’m a bit miffed right now is a HUGE understatement. Oh and we have to give them a weeks warning about doctors appointments. (because you know being ill gives you that much warning.)

As for my partner all the same stuff as me except different slave labor program, he’s been sent to Pathfinders, a bunch of utter twits! they can’t seem to think of anywhere out side of Torbay, its like their Brains just can not comprehend a world outside of Torbay. (a bit like MPs can’t comprehend a world outside of london.) they want him to be at places for 9am, that he will be lucky to get to before 11am thanks to once again buses. He phones in to book times to see them, they say something on the phone he tells them if he can or can not make it, they book it anyway and he gets the letter the DAY AFTER! so we are under constant threat of being sanctioned because of Pathfinders in Torquay. and again they want a weeks notice of Doctors appointments, they told him to declare bankruptcy, and have NO clue what a DRO is. They kept telling him he has to move house. (with WHAT MONEY!) and whole bunch of other rubbish.
Needless to say my partner has now gone to the doctors about health problems both job center and pathfinders are ignoring, to find he should be on medium level ESA due to his back, and naturally he suffers with depression. I myself am yet to see my Doctor not even sure HOW I’m going to do it since its on the same day as one of these work fare days 30/09/14 as my depression has come back with vengeance after the past year i’ve just come through with things only set to get worse, with my last cat in the vets with a life and death illness, add in this rubbish from job center the threat of being made homeless by Hastoe where the housing officers LIE even to CAB, its diabolical.

The whole situation with Hastoe is stupid, since feb this year I’ve had a DRO because I just can not make ends meet AT ALL, when the DRO came in our legal adviser told us not to pay -anyone- until they contacted me to make a NEW agreement on sums I could afford. Hastoe did not contact me at ALL on anything to do with rent until recently. Telling me their going to replace some old rotten windows, and that I’m getting a plum tree are NOT rent related at all, I’ve not so much as had a rent statement until just recently. I have tried to phone them, only to be told we have yet another new housing officer, Their not dealing with my rent any more, Or that they don’t know who our housing officer is at the moment, or their not in office, or I leave a message (that never seems to be got), this left me unsure WHO to contact or talk to within hastoe until VERY recently. And Hastoe claim I’ve been hard to contact?! my details have been the SAME for the past 7 years and my postal address the same for the past 11  years! (and the postal address they should know!) but that said its only the housing officers that seem to have “trouble” contacting me, their housing Maintenance team have NO such trouble, they phone, e-mail or mail me and bamph they get a reply the very moment I am able to, but apparently NOT their housing officers who only seem to contact me with a bully boy attitude. “do this now or we will take you to court” Or “your braking your court order” and as for the DRO its like they’ve tried to stick their head in the sand with it! Now their trying to wriggle out of it by saying the amount on it is wrong. WELL DUH that’s because I’ve been getting the local council to get on top of it for me! They said some of the arrears were their fault and have tried to help! They are also working to try and stop me from going homeless so they can Safely downsize us and give them TIME to help us find some where to downsize to that is near or in to our community, but even they said there is NO WHERE! even outside of our local community.
Then there is the fact that when CAB call our housing officer is always out of office. (fair enough they have to do walk about) but at least make sure the one left to handle things is told the TRUTH! the one we spoke to yesterday was Very rude (again) extremely unhelpful and told the CAB person trying to help me get back on top of all of this that “I had no intention of paying” THAT WAS AN OUT RIGHT LIE! I’ve been trying to contact Hastoe for MONTHS trying to come to a new agreement with them about paying it!

So as you can see I am utterly FUMING as well as feeling the bite of depression, but more over you can see WHY.
Please find attached the PDF’s of my partners Pathfinder welcome pack so you can see for yourself just how bad it is.
pathfinderInitialassessmentrecordPDF   Welcomepackpdf


from bad to worse. (warning its something of a mini life story)

December 5, 2013

This may seem a bit of a rant or a rolling around in self pity today. maybe it is I don’t know, but its also a cry for help I’m at wits end now, if job centre weren’t going to get me the bedroom tax, and debts left to me by my Ex some years ago seemed to set to snag me instead.

Today I got a letter from the people I rent from. Its not privet letting as I got made homeless from that when the landlord wanted to sell up on the flat I was renting from him, and the new owner didn’t want to rent out he wanted to live there. I was with my then husband Alex, we’d run into arriers due to cock ups from our local council on housing benefit, they wanted us to send in our pay slips each week to make sure we were not over claiming then they claimed they arrived the day AFTER they calculated such things. (even if we took them in in person 2 or 3 days before!) and south hams are known for playing this BS. so they claimed and overpayment

happened and so on and we had to make up the rent difference they were not paying ect.. that should have been the end of it right? NO not only did they make us pay the difference they decided they wanted it paid back and worst of all they would NEVER give it in writing.
So upon being made homeless we managed to land a social housing house with Hastoe housing. Little did we know about the above antics of south hams council at this time, they like to keep these things hush hush until your 1 month to challenge them is up then they tell you, and claim they’ve tried to contact you about it. (they had lots of chances for that via post and in person visits). so we moved into our then lovely new home close by to my disabled family so I could go help out between work, except the stress of it all coursed me to have a miscarriage at 6 months of being pregnant and I ended up becoming unemployed because I was so ill after, my old boss well  he just wasn’t willing to wait 6 months for me to return at the time (he was a small business so it was understandable). So we claimed housing benefits to cover the rent, they still hadn’t told us about a claw back they where intending to do. so we went on thinking they were paying full rent at the time while I was looking for work, and my then husband looked for work he was permitted to do on because he was an american so it was me supporting him mostly and he was in charge of the money because I’m dyscalculer (Dyslexic with numbers) as well as Dyslexic. so I trusted him with all of that, but I’d still read the letters and so on when they came in.
It was about 6 months after having moved into the house I’m in (at the moment) before I found out south hams had NOT been paying full rent when we got a visit from our housing officer telling us we were in rent arrears and that they were taking us to court that was in 2004. they put on us a seeking possession court order where I had to pay £15 on top of rent to clear the arrears. Things were balanced enough back then for me to be able to pay that each month.
I’ve been in and out of employment since then and had my life turn upside down and go though hell and back more times then I’d like to remember. in late nov 2004 I made a move to divorce my husband things were just not working out for us, for a lot of possible reasons. He returned to the USA, and I suddenly found myself in Debts I didn’t know we had. Housing arrears of £1000+, bank over drafts and store tabs to pay off. I was up to my eye balls in it and for a little while I had my parents to help. I was only 22 going on 23 at this stage. Soon as I hit 23 in feb well things got worse from there, My dad died of a heart attack just 2 days before my birthday so I became my mums full time carer as well as my younger brothers, but that only lasted for 3 weeks or so as my mum became very ill with pneumonia and died in march leaving me with a infighting family (coursed by 1 older sibling who screwed the rest of the family over and made everyone hate each other with her lies!)
I suddenly found myself lumped with my mums pets, and a 15 year old brother to take care of. My mums dog turned from 1 dog to 3 dogs as it turned out she was pregnant despite the fact vets from the animal shelter said she’d been spayed. I had to quickly engage legal stuff so I could claim money for my younger brother to try and keep in him school, and so on, deal with my own emotions from a brake up with my husband and the loss of my parents and the worry of money, along with he bickering and aggravation from family only to find out our older sibling had run off with my mums little money that was going to pay for their funeral (still not paid off now and they still don’t have a head stone).

Before I knew what was going on my arrears had claimed so High by this point £2600 because I just didn’t know if I was coming or going or where I was in my own head, Everything was Chaos. it took me a few months to get on track and start paying rent properly again and getting on top of all my out going bills, changing of benefits from JSA to income support and child tax credits (which also got screwed up by DWP) and I had to send back repayments which screwed up other things. Then I think I must have been so close to a mental brake down but still holding it somehow together for the sake of my brother, except he wasn’t, he’d become addicted to the internet and that erupted into a Violent argument because the router had shut down for some reason knocking my younger brother off line from some unknown life important event going on on the internet. It had also knocked me offline while talking to a then very close friend who was trying to help me though my emotional hell from all the way in Sweden. as a Result my younger brother wound up finding himself in Care of family friends until they got him into Youth care in Torquay. I was left on my own by this point, no money at all! no electricity,  my 1 remaining bank account became so over drawn with bank charges they closed it, so no phone line, no internet and the only food I could get was when my dog managed to catch rabbits when I went out walking, this went on for 3 months before someone realised I was missing from my usual social gatherings and decided to track me down and find out what was going on. Then I found myself back on JSA, where I languished for a while and then was sent t A4E, My head was still all over the place and my self esteem shot to hell, not very employable to say the least.
I had legal battles with south hams trying to prove to them I was in a time of no income, CAB were less then helpful as they gave me appointments to get to and we got snowed in and couldn’t get to them that was it, they wrote me off as being someone who doesn’t show up to appointments, never mind I PHONED them and asked for a new appointment due to the weather conditions, so I was once again on my own with no help at all and still no idea how I was going to pay things. South hams council then said they’d write off the housing benefit claw back. Again wouldn’t give it in writing and once again proved true to their practices not their word as they carried on running me even deeper into arrears. it went on like that for another 2 or so years and in 2007 I met my current partner at A4E who could not believe how I was living, he told his friends at A4E and be for long they’d started buying me lunch when I was there just to make sure I’d have something to eat at least once each day, and he started coming around to my house and bringing food with him when he did and would not take no for an answer. We both finished our A4E time in the same year within a week of each other in fact. He uped and moved in and we turn our JSA into a joint claim and that started the process anew we spent 6 months with out money while they worked out what the hell they were doing with our claim. (they did back date it) we must have taken out a number of crisis loans and budget loans at that time and if it wasn’t for His mother I don’t think we’d have made it at all she gave us the odd £20 and south hams lifestyles the odd £10 here and there and sometimes food parcels as well but only after they found out how bad things were. But I’m still thankful for all that small help because it helped out big time at that point. when the JSA was finally sorted there was still a claw back attached to it for crisis loans and child tax credits. we struggled to pay off any basic bills but little by little we got a few things back, we got the electric changed to key meter so I could pay for that at a pay point and thus get electricity. then we got a phone line up so we could start making those important legal phone calls, but we still spent 5 of 14 days in the dark ages with out electric (can only top it up as much as I can afford).
then we had to change our claim to housing benefit and so on, they stopped that while they made a decision  on the amount we should get being both on JSA and living to together and south hams took their sweet time with that. and before long we had another court order slapped on us from Hastoe housing. the’d taken us to court to force us to pay £15 on top of rent. needless to say I couldn’t get to Cardiff to represent myself! So my struggle with arrears continued. and things have been going on and on like that with us managing to work in 2011 at woodlands for the summer which made financial problems worse because our pay slips got lost in the post to south hams council, no one told us about tax credits so we never claimed those when we could have. and we found ourselves much worse off as a result as we’d run into massive debt with south west water as well as housing and council tax and its been one thing after another. and this year 2013 has been as bad for me as the year 2005. my neighbours have taken it upon them selves to course me trouble. up until june this year I had 3 cats and 2 dogs. next door love to call the RSPCA for the most tiny thing they can think of. my dog ebby had skin problems these problems had been known about when she was adopted from rescue and she was under life long treatment for them, which with her age was making her loose her hair. in the end it resulted in the vets bullying me to have her put down (but only because the RSPCA had forced them to come out to me) in July we lost 1 of my two old cats to heart problems. (I had him PTS as it was getting unfair on him) then just a few days ago 1/12/13 I had another one put down after she went into fits we couldn’t get her to wake up from. in the space of 6 months I’ve lost 3 of my furry family members who have helped me battle with my own mind and kept me going, but the pain is the same as the loss of any human family member.  and to ad into this whole hellish mix my Partners dad has leukaemia and things are looking very bad for him due to his age, so we can’t contact his mum and dad very often as she likes to turn the phone off to get 5 mins to herself. (VERY understandable).
now topping that off with having to dodge Job centre at every turn trying to sanction us for any reason they can think of rather then helping us to FIND work, jumping the hoops working links put in front of us I am now being made Homeless by Hastoe Housing because the council wont send us a discretionary housing payment form to beg for help they just say we’ve sent one” but I’ve never SEEN it. and now I’ve got to find £294.30 in 7 days and I’m at a total loss, I’ve been bled dry and not even had the chance to get on my feet. not even once and when I have tried I’ve been kicked back down again before I can even stand I haven’t even had the chance to learn to drive properly in all this time, just never been able to rub the copper coins together to save for it.

Hastoe letter

I don’t know where out government get the idea from that people can possibility like living like this. I HATE it I’ve tried going self employed, they put stoppers in that when ever we have tried, When I find work everything demands money so fast and they want it “now” that I end up financially worse off at every turn. I’ve been stuck in what can only be called the poverty trap for some time, I’ve eked out an existence and found work from time to time, but nothing I can sink my teeth in long term. I can’t move because of the arriers (And  I’ve tried) I’m very latterly trapped and I want to get out there and live.

Watch out for this Universal Jobmatch scam

November 21, 2013

Watch out for this Universal Jobmatch scam.

Watch out for this Universal Jobmatch scam

Much has been written, both on this blog and elsewhere, about the serious problems with both the security of the DWP’s ‘Universal Jobmatch’ (UJ) system, and with the quality (or lack of, to be precise) of the jobs posted up there.

Many have commented that many of the jobs on the system are fake – but the DWP, via its Jobcentre Plus (JCP) centres, continues to pressure jobseekers to use it, even though they have no legal power to do so, even regularly going so far as to ‘direct’ jobseekers to do so.

Those concerns about the genuineness of jobs on UJ appear to be entirely justified, and the SKWAWKBOX has received an example which I’m posting here so that others who are being forced or pressed to use this woefully inadequate and insecure system can watch out for it and not fall into the trap.

A couple of days ago, I received this by email from one of a professional, unemployed couple who are both facing severe pressure from their JCP adviser to use the system:

On Monday was I got a phone call  and email to go to XXXXXX to have an interview. The ad is in all the usual job agency lists, so it is quite numerous on the internet.   It is offering an entry level position in IT support, and I applied for it last week.
When I turned up, it was a nice office in a nice location, but it seemed to me that perhaps the room was hired perhaps for the day.  It started with regular questions but it went on to basically offer me work once I have spent six weeks doing Microsoft Certified Professional qualifications which cost £750 (but I would put down a deposit to show my commitment and only when I started work properly, would I repay the rest.)   Once I had passed the two exams, then I would be employed for the man who was interviewing me and he would send me to his clients.
Well, I finished my interview in good faith, but was worried about paying anybody any kind of money for very hurried training all at my own risk.
I left it that I would speak with my husband about it, and that he would send me an email with all the details, including a copy of the contract that I would be asked to sign.  So far I haven’t received his email, however I saw the same job re-advertised again yesterday, through computer weekly the online jobs list, where I found the first one.  I guess that he managed to get enough people to sign his contract straightaway, that it wasn’t necessary for me to receive his information.
Anyway, I think it is another scam, but obviously I don’t know for sure.   He took a copy of my CV (which I already sent with my application anyway) and a photocopy of my passport details page.
I think there’s very little doubt that this is indeed a scam – one designed to extort money from vulnerable people, and to obtain their private details in a way that makes them vulnerable to identity theft. Here are some excerpts from the job ad in question:

XXXXXXX has some very challenging growth targets for the next few years so we’re really looking for someone who can hit the ground running and who has the knowledge and passion to drive efficiencies, make changes and grow with the business.

Qualifications Required:

You must have at least 5 G.C.S.E Grades (C and above) or equivalent, Maths and English is a must.

Training to be provided:

Systems and Networking Apprenticeship – • Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA)• City and Guilds certificate in IT Systems and Principles• City and Guilds Level 3 Diploma in IT Professional Competence.

Weekly Wage £: £150.00

‘Hit the ground running’ – in other words, ready to make a fast start and an immediate impact. Hardly consistent with looking for an ‘apprentice’.

‘Training to be provided’ – a company providing training to its new employees does not mean ‘we’ll train you and charge you a sum equal to 5 weeks’ wages for it’, nor does the qualification offered at a cost match the full list of training the employer commits to in the ad.

None of this is in line with an ‘apprenticeship’, which is what the company claims to be offering. Instead, the company – which has but a single director – appears to be relying on pressure applied by JCP advisers and the threat of sanctions to manipulate people into first attending the interview and then into handing over money for training that would be provided at the company’s expense if this were a genuine opportunity.

It was already obvious that the DWP under Smith and Hoban are ignorant of – or prepared to forget – the limits to their own powers over benefit claimants. The more evidence and examples come to light, the more obvious it is that they are reckless with regard to the wellbeing of those who are forced to ask for financial support.

Watch out for this scam and others like it. And if you’ve ticked the box on the JCP form agreeing to use UJ and to give the DWP access to your account, rescind that permission. If you were told you must accept, you were given incorrect information and did not therefore give informed consent, and you have a right to withdraw it.

The DWP/JCP do not even have a right to specify how you report on your jobsearch activity, let alone which system you use to carry it out (or for that matter whether you use any kind of online platform).

They won’t, of course, volunteer this information to you – but don’t let them infringe your legal rights by ignorance, misdirection and unethical pressure.


Record Numbers On Workfare and In-Work Housing Benefit Claims Top One Million – They Call This Recovery

November 21, 2013

the void

workfare-isnt-workingThe number of unpaid workers rose by over 10,000 people in the three months to September yesterday’s Labour Market Statistics revealed.

The number of people in “government supported training and employment programmes” – climbed by 11,000 to reach 175,000 – the highest figure since workfare began.

This could be due to an increase in unpaid work for young people with the launch of Traineeships in August.  These schemes involve a period of up to five months working without a wage and are designed to ‘prepare’ people for taking up Apprenticeships, often at below the minimum wage.  Predictably several major companies, including Boots and Kwik-fit, have been only to happy to take up this tax payer funded offer of free workers.

Young people cannot currently be forced to start on a Traineeships which are officially voluntary (UPDATE: at least the work experience element is).  Such is the toxic regime…

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Welfare Reform Blamed For Soaring Malnutrition

November 21, 2013

the void

IDS-malnutritionCuts to social security, stagnating wages and high fuel bills have been blamed for a trebling of hospital admissions due to malnutrition in Leeds.

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, 93 people needed hospital treatment for malnutrition in 2012, compared to just 30 in 2008. These tragic cases could represent the tip of the iceberg says Councillor Lisa Mulherin, warning that the number of hospital admissions: “tells us something about the changes to the welfare system, wage stagnation and the way fuel prices have gone up out of all proportion with people’s pay.”

A shocking 27,000 people across Leeds were estimated to be suffering from or at risk of clinical nutrition said health professionals in the city last year.

Appalling the situation is likely to become far worse as a wave of cuts to benefits begins to bite.  The Bedroom Tax is just a few months old and 9000…

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Universal Jobmatch Wins Worst Website Award

November 21, 2013

the void

universal-jobmatch-do-not-tickIn yet more humiliation for Iain Duncan Smith’s bungled welfare reforms, Universal Jobmatch was judged the worst online jobs website at a recent industry awards ceremony.

The government job-seeking website, which has been plagued by spam, scams and spoof vacancies, won the ‘Wooden Nora’ at last week’s National Online Recruitment Awards.  730 online recruitment websites were considered for awards with Universal Jobmatch being judged the worst.  According to The Guardian’s Diary the website was described as a “mongrel of a recruitment website” that “commits almost every online recruitment crime, and then some.”

Universal Jobmatch was designed at huge cost – believed to be approaching almost £20 million.  Despite this the site has been plagued by technical problems as well as becoming home to thousands of flaky self-employment schemes, pyramid scams and fake job adverts used to harvest CVs and even commit identity theft.  It is hard to understand…

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The Tory Party’s Breathtaking Benefit Cap Lie

November 21, 2013

the void

The Tory Party Press Office have resorted to bare-faced lies to defend the vicious Benefit Cap which could lead to 200,000 children becoming homeless.

In a tweet accompanied by the ludicrous graphic above, the Tories claimed that Labour voted “keep unlimited benefits for those who can work but don’t.”

The Tory press team are referring to the Benefit Cap which will mean many low income families are no longer able to live in many parts of London and other cities where rents are high. There was never any intention that the Benefit Cap was aimed at those who ‘can work but don’t’. Benefits were already capped at £71.70 plus Housing Benefits for single unemployed people without children or a health…

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