Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Ipswich Unemployed Action: Debate and Real News, not Alternative Facts.

with 46 comments

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Facts, Opinion, and Debate, Not ‘Alternative Facts’. 

Ipswich Unemployed Action’s policy on news is simple.

We are first and foremost the creation of our contributors, those who post in the Comments, and who provide us with the leads to follow up on the things that matter to the unemployed, and those on benefits.

So, for example, there is an important discussion on the use of personal data for Universal Credit, and the potential for Job Coaches (does anybody seriously use this term any more, it’s beginning to sound like a Butlin’s Redcoat…) to put pressure on claimants, to  misuse their power, and, at worst, bully people.

There is also debate about the “My Values” questionnaire, and other issues of private information.

When we come to hard facts we rely on our contributors to get to what we can be sure of. Our stories often begin with people writing things, and always end with people free to express what they think on them.

Behind this we use reliable sources, such as Welfare Weekly, The Mirror, the Independent, to cite only three, as well as a variety of campaigning groups, like the Trussell Trust, the CAB, and others, and, last but far from least  Parliamentary committees, like the PAC, and the Work and Pensions Committee for serious stories about the hard facts of what benefit rules are.

Oh, and sometimes the DWP – if more rarely Ministers – are forced to make clear statements as well.

What we do not do is repeat rumours, ‘alternative facts’ and the kind of self-serving stuff that has made SKWAWKBOX a hissing and a by-word for growing numbers on the radical left, and amongst campaigners more broadly.

Things are bad enough already; they do not need exaggerating.

This is the kind of  story that interests us:

People in Blackpool are “struggling” with Universal Credit a charity has warned, even though the full roll-out of the benefit has not hit the resort.

The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is asking the Government to look again at the benefit, designed to top up low paid workers’ income and help the unemployed after finding people waiting 10 to 12 weeks before their first payment.

It wants the roll-out paused until the problems can be ironed out.

By 2022, seven million families in the UK will get Universal Credit, which is replacing six existing means-tested benefits, and in October 50 new areas are set to be using the system.

Tracy Hopkins, chief executive of the Blackpool CAB said for many people the benefit works, but many others are in serious trouble.

he said: “We have not had the full roll-out here in Blackpool, just for young Aunemployed people, but we are seeing many people struggling and are very concerned indeed. “People are having to wait 10 weeks without money. It is too complex. “They have to claim on line, and many of the people claiming in Blackpool do not have access to computers at home.

“People are telling us they are having to make 10 calls to the helpline. We hear about people waiting 30 minutes for help on the phone. “Also there is a seven day waiting period before they can start a claim. We want the Government to remove this to stop these unfair delays. “We are talking about vulnerable people too, with health problems and working people on low wages who need extra help with such things as child care.” She said the delays were counterproductive since people were in danger of being forced out of their jobs by not being able to afford to carry on or by risking the sack by taking time off to get Universal Credit sorted out.

More here.


The 2 year job rule for disabled people on Universal Credit is not true!

Thank you to Gail Ward who put this together. You can read her blog here

In the last few days it has been widely reported by various bloggers that those disabled claimants claiming Universal Credit are subjected to finding a job within two years or face a 1 year sanction. This is utter fabrication and feeding many claimants fears which could potentially cause harm. So today I called Welfare Rights ,who called DWP while I remained on the phone, they denied that this information was correct and was downright alarmist and dangerous. That doesn’t mean I trust DWP and have submitted a FOI too given 7 years of shenanigans. So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts!


Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2017 at 4:37 pm

46 Responses

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  1. But peeps aren’t interested in “Families Struggling on benefits in Blackpool” of all places, we are interested in: “Six months to get a job or you will be boiled down into glue: Iain Duncan Smith gets tough on benefit claimants”. This is what is known as ‘clickbait’; it drives traffic to your website, gets “hits” on your ‘monetised 🙂 ” blog. You need to put down the ‘I’ and start adding Breitbart, Infowars, Guido Fawkes, Fox News and David Icke to your “reliable sources”. Just a few tips from a very successful (and filthy rich 🙂 ) web entrepreneur 🙂


    July 20, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    • Peeps – You mean pimp my wheelchair because you can’t get them free on the NHS.

      Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

      July 20, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    • Indeed.

      However I – like Swarky claims, though given his mealy-mouthed excuses I suspect he is not telling exactly what was said – asked a senior person in the civil service about their latest clickbait lie and they were shocked.

      This person, a lay official in the PCS, immediately said that it was scaring vulnerable people.

      That making these false assertions – and emphasised just how false it was – is totally wrong.

      Meanwhile we have enough to be concerned about:

      Andrew Coates

      July 21, 2017 at 3:23 pm

  2. Being asked about your values could lead to an ESA sanction

    BenefitsAndWork.co.uk – 19th July 2017

    New employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants subject to the Health and Work Conversation (HWC) should be aware that if they are asked to carry out a ‘My Values’ exercise then they are potentially being considered for a sanction.

    Health and Work Conversation
    Following a Freedom of Information Act request, Benefits and Work has received a large bundle of documents relating to the HWC currently being rolled out to new ESA claimants across the country. We’ve published these documents in the ESA section of the members area.

    Full roll out of the HWC is expected to happen by the Autumn.

    The HWC is a compulsory interview which new ESA claimants will be obliged to take part in at around week four of their claim, long before there has been any decision as to whether they should be in the support group and thus not required to undertake work-related activities.

    The DWP claim that the HWC is necessary because its staff do not not engage with ESA claimants until after their work capability assessment, which can take many months, but ‘People who have developed a health condition or disability are likely to be facing a stressful and challenging period in their lives’.

    In the view of the DWP, their early intervention will ‘help claimants identify small steps they can take towards their goals’ and this ‘will build motivation and resilience and increase the likelihood of work-related activity and ultimately finding work’.

    So, the DWP believe that the best way to help claimants deal with the stress of developing a health condition is to force them to attend an interview which can result in their benefits being sanctioned.

    There is a list of claimants who are exempt from the HWC, including claimants who: are terminally ill; have a life threatening illness; are full time carers or where there would be a risk to themselves or others if they were obliged to attend a HWC.

    The problem with health-related exemptions, however, is that it is likely to be a completely unqualified work coach who will have to realise that an exemption may apply and take action.

    Claimants who fail to attend the HWC without good cause or fail, in the view of the work coach, to fully participate in the conversation can have their ESA sanctioned.

    About Me
    Each new claimant will get a phone call from their work coach two days before their HWC. The work coach asks the claimant to turn up 10 minutes early for their interview in order to complete an ‘About Me’ questionnaire, which asks questions like:

    What kinds of things do you like doing in your life and at work? For example, cooking, speaking to people, being outside.

    How does your health affect your life and your ability to work? For example, you cannot sit for a long time, or you are nervous in some situations.

    What help do you need to get back to work? Tell us how and what you want to do and if you need support.

    The claimant’s ‘About Me’ answers are discussed with the work coach at the start of the HWC. Work coaches are told:

    “Start the discussion by acknowledging the claimant’s health condition but then quickly move onto something positive they have mentioned, such as an activity they enjoy doing.”

    My 4 Steps
    After the ‘About Me’ discussion, the claimant is required to undertake a ‘My 4 steps’ exercise.

    In this they think about something they want to do, say how they would feel if they achieved it, think about the obstacles that are stopping them achieving what they want and then make a plan to get over the obstacles.

    Clearly if the claimant is someone with a health condition that can only deteriorate, and which has already led to them having to stop work, this might be a rather distressing exercise.

    My Values
    Some claimants will be asked to complete a ‘My values’ exercise before moving on to their ‘My 4 Steps’.

    In this exercise they will be asked to think about ‘what they value in life beyond work and health’.

    Suggestions include:

    Being good at art.

    Enjoying sports.

    Following government or politics.

    Relationships with friends or family.

    Claimants are asked to spend 10 minutes on the ’My Values’ exercise and are assured that they don’t have to discuss their answers if they don’t want to.

    The theory is that the exercise ‘helps people to feel more open to taking on challenges by placing those challenges in the broader context of other things that matter to them in their lives.’

    Work coaches are told to use this exercise with claimants where, in the work coaches opinion:

    ‘The claimant is quite defensive – they really aren’t engaging with me.’

    ‘I think the claimant would benefit from spending some time thinking about what’s important to them.’

    ‘The claimant just doesn’t want to open up to me at all and have this conversation.’

    Given that you can have your ESA sanctioned if the work coach considers that you have failed to participate in the HWC, you should be aware that being asked to do the ‘My Values’ exercise could be an indication that the work coach is considering a sanction unless you participate more fully.

    Action plan
    Finally, the claimant is required to create a ‘Labour Market System Action Plan’.

    This is a list of at least two or three actions the claimant can take ‘to move closer to goals that relate to work or health’. The actions are supposed to relate to ‘external obstacles’, such as training needs, housing, debt, health management or child care.

    The action plan has to include :

    1 Action (what you’re going to do).

    2 Where you’re going to do it (for example “at home”).

    3 When you’re going to do it (for example, “this Saturday”).

    Examples of actions given to work coaches are:

    “On Friday morning I will call at least two course providers and discuss doing partial study from home. I will do this at home.”

    “I will call the number for Mind that my Work Coach gave me at 10am on Tuesday. I will do this at my mum’s place.”

    Claimants should be told that the action plan itself is voluntary, they do not have to carry out any of the actions if they do not wish to.

    However, the work coach is also expected to arrange a follow-up activity, which may be another interview or a phone call to discuss how the claimant has got on.

    Clearly this will put considerable pressure on claimants to carry out the agreed actions, even if they have been clearly told that they are voluntary.

    Reinventing the – square – wheel
    The HWC bears considerable resemblance to the work-focused health-related assessment (WFHRA) which was an interview which used to take place, in theory, immediately after a WCA.

    The purpose of the WFHRA was to “assess the extent to which your capability for work may be improved by the taking of steps in relation to your physical or mental condition.”

    The WFHRA was abandoned in July 2010 due to having achieved only “mixed results”.

    We suspect the WHC will go the same way before many years have passed. However, many claimants may have suffered sanctions or undertaken steps that put their health at risk before that happens.


    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    July 20, 2017 at 6:35 pm

  3. Some help for a few homeless people.

    A new “village” for homeless people is set to open in Edinburgh by Christmas of this year (2017), and will provide vital housing and support for people affected by homelessness in Scotland.

    The innovative project is run by the sandwich chain ‘Social Bite’, who also employ homeless people, and aims to build two ten-bedroom homes to house up to twenty people from a homeless background.

    “In the immediate term, lifting the freeze on working age benefits would help to stop people’s incomes falling even further behind.”



    July 21, 2017 at 3:53 am

    • But it would cost money like to end the benefit freeze, innit?

      White Van Driver

      July 21, 2017 at 7:28 am

      • White Van Driver

        Actually you would save money on what got transposed towards the NHS, pharmaceutical, GP surgeries police,courts,tribunals,prisons, ineffectual government sponsored schemes and ventures, etc and got amplified cost wise.


        July 21, 2017 at 10:14 am

    • The number of homeless children being housed in temporary accommodation rose by more than a third in the last three years, according to official figures.

      Council leaders are also calling for an adaption to the implementation of welfare reforms to reduce the risk of homelessness and for access to funding to provide settled accommodation for families that become homeless

      The LGA sets out the lengths that councils are going to in order to tackle homelessness in their area in a new report.

      Examples include innovative modular housing, dynamic purchasing systems and offers of housing in private rented sector.



      July 22, 2017 at 8:07 am

  4. Reblogged this on michaelsnaith.


    July 21, 2017 at 6:58 am

  5. Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden tackled the Prime Minister about problems with Universal Credit. He pressed Theresa May to make the telephone helpline free to help struggling claimants after charities said the benefit was failing.



    July 21, 2017 at 7:39 pm

  6. Charity’s concerns over Universal Credit before full West Dorset roll out

    BRIDPORT and District Citizens Advice is calling on the government to fix the Universal Credit welfare scheme before it fully rolls out in West Dorset.



    July 21, 2017 at 7:44 pm

  7. Extra protections are being put in place for people receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) who have a mental health condition or are homeless and had their benefits reduced because of a sanction, Minister for Employment Damian Hinds has announced.

    Hardship payments act as a safety net to cover day-to-day living costs. The changes, detailed in new regulations being laid today, extend the number of people who can access this help immediately, rather than waiting for 2 weeks.

    The regulations will come into effect from October, and are expected to help around 10,000 jobseekers over the next 4 years.



    July 21, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    • The DWP are very quite about hardship payments.What help is available needs to be searched for.An example is shifting responsibility onto a local authority.



      The way forward is not to apply sanctions unfairly and failing vulnerable people.


      July 21, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      • You only get hardship payments if you’ve got no money in the bank, and they take several weeks to arrive.

        The Rani

        July 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      • To qualify for hardship allowance have to attach a print-out from the cash machine showing a balance of £0.00. You also have to have exhausted all other avenues of support such as family and friends. You really need to be on your upper to qualify for hardship allowance.


        July 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      • To qualify for hardship allowance have to attach a print-out from the cash machine showing a balance of £0.00. You also have to have exhausted all other avenues of support such as family and friends. You really need to be on your uppers to qualify for hardship allowance.


        July 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      • The DWP also ask what will be the likely effect if you don’t receive hardship allowance. You have to say that you will be unable to feed and clothe yourself, pay for electricity and other essentials If you don’t receive hardship allowance the consequences are that you will fall ill and die.


        July 22, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      • Plus, “A hardship payment is usually a loan, so you’ll have to pay it back when your sanction ends. The Jobcentre will usually get the money back by taking an amount of money from your Universal Credit payment each month until it’s paid off.”


        Andrew Coates

        July 22, 2017 at 3:14 pm

  8. Five year old girl having an early start to her career! stopped in her tracks.

    Council shuts down five-year-old girl’s lemonade stand and fines her £150

    But within 30 minutes of setting up, four council enforcement officers approached her table and read from a legal letter – no permit.



    July 21, 2017 at 8:26 pm

  9. Don’t hand any cash over to any so called charity.

    A greedy charity boss has been jailed after stealing £1.3million from the homeless to fund a lavish lifestyle of private jets and flash cars.

    Finance chief Robert Davies, 50, set up bogus firms to forge invoices for his charity to cover a string of foreign jaunts.



    July 22, 2017 at 4:02 am

    • Seen in ipswich yesterday ”Student” with duffle coat and blue bucket with lid. ”Collecting for homeless young people” No label on bucket or id card visible. Student stands in front of and blocks you

      Philip B

      July 25, 2017 at 8:21 am

  10. enigma

    July 22, 2017 at 4:05 am

  11. Risky business.

    Norway: The country where no salaries are secret

    This week the British papers revelled in news about how much the BBC’s on-air stars get paid, though the salaries of their counterparts in commercial TV remain under wraps. In Norway, there are no such secrets. Anyone can find out how much anyone else is paid – and it rarely causes problems.

    “At one stage you would automatically be told what your Facebook friends had earned, simply by logging on to Facebook. It was getting ridiculous.”

    “We [need to] have trust and confidence in both the tax system and in the social security system.

    People now have to log in using their national ID number in order to access the data on the tax authority’s website, and for the last three years it has been impossible to search anonymously.

    “Since 2014 it has been possible to find out who has been doing searches on your information,” explains Hans Christian Holte, the head of Norway’s tax authority.

    There have been other stories about children from low-income families who have been bullied in school, by classmates who looked up their parents’ financial situation.



    July 22, 2017 at 8:17 am

  12. ‘The dead don’t want you’:Grenfell Tower survivors hit out at new council leader.


    July 22, 2017 at 11:26 am

  13. “Things are bad enough already; they do not need exaggerating”.

    And that is the crux of it. The ‘left’ and those who campaign against welfare cuts should not, and do not have to stoop to the levels of their counterparts on the right with fake news and unsubstantiated claims. The facts are already on our side. SKAWKBOX should hang their heads in shame over this.

    The claims were clearly nonsense anyway. Why would the DWP implement a time limit for disabled claimants but not able bodied people? It would be legally unsound anyway.


    July 22, 2017 at 3:31 pm

  14. High living charity boss who fiddled £1.3 million donated for the homeless to pay for boats, bentley rides, foreign holidays and trips to the savoy and ritz is jailed for five years.



    July 22, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    • What’s new, thought that’s how charity bosses spent the scrounged money!


      July 22, 2017 at 6:19 pm

  15. A record number of renters are being evicted from their homes, with more than 100 tenants a day losing the roof over their head, according to a shocking analysis of the nation’s housing crisis. The spiralling costs of renting a property and a long-running freeze to housing benefit are being blamed for the rising number of evictions among Britain’s growing army of tenants.

    More than 40,000 tenants in England were evicted in 2015, according to a study by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research



    July 23, 2017 at 8:06 am

    • Enigma

      Its too late now as the start had already began years back but i would have liked to know what happen to those very properties. What was the type of tenant that came next, did it lay abandoned or did the house eventually get sold ?


      July 23, 2017 at 10:53 am

    • Trouble is that councils have a responsibility to house the evicted in temporary accommodation which is costing them a fortune – millions and millions of pounds. Central government is also reducing grants to councils making them more and more cash strapped. Something will have to give soon or the system will implode.

      The Rani

      July 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      • The Rani

        And that’s another interesting thing as in where did all these temp accommodation spring from. Prior to the welfare reform there couldn’t have been that many as where would they have got there tenants from if they hadn’t been evicted yet.

        This was all pre-planned ahead of schedule be it governmental, business opportunists or both. There is no doubting this government profited hugely from a lack of housing and the lack of assistance they gave it early on to kick start building, what with the hard working public having to pay more as well as be in more debt mortgage wise to get on the ladder, not to mention how this all looked good on paper deficit wise.
        What with effectively assisting in the kicking out of a certain class of tenants by using the cap and welfare reform, they freed up more properties to be rented or sold at higher cost and thus enabling both markets to raise fees and thus produce more revenue for both the owner and government. They also managed to create a tap to let out the over spill they faced in London what with everyone staying where the money and opportunity is and ship them to areas they knew produced low tax revenue and had large out of town warehouse sweat shops and other ZHC, self employed low paid jobs.

        Now i suspect a whole lot of readers here didn’t think that far ahead so it probably comes as a shock to hear the cap wasn’t all about saving money but also making it by effecting markets. Are you getting it yet as every move this government makes has nothing but ulterior motives, none of which that include you benefiting from them beside scraps and that includes the hard working tax payer whose the biggest mug of all when they vibrated perfectly to the strings this government caressed on their harp.


        July 23, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      • It’s very bad, doug, very bad. I can’t imagine how this will play out over the next few years, particularly if Brexit goes belly up or we end up slipping into another recession with unemployment rising. I never imagined that the Tories would be quite so bold in their cruelties. I can’t remember another time in my life when they could have got away with it.

        The Rani

        July 24, 2017 at 2:05 pm

  16. its like cut everything to pay off the debt we owe pmsl tho where is all the money going!

    The UK national debt grows at a rate of £5,170 per second!



    July 23, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    • Superted

      If i was a greedy selfish bastard i would say bravo, tip top. They pulled off unarguably the greatest theft and what did the public do, zip, nada, nothing. Now with billions of schmucks like that whats a business minded person to do but hit them again but this time, lets make it everyday life, its not like there going to notice let alone actually do something about it.

      Did anyone seriously believe all these financial institutions didn’t know what they were doing back then, don’t know what there going now. Here’s a heads up, there spending and accumulating your money you haven’t even earnt yet, they’ve mapped out and booked every penny your ever going to earn. I wouldn’t be even surprised if they’ve done that for ex amount of kids that haven’t been born yet.

      They’ve (government and business) got the public exactly where they want them, and i for one just cant wait to see there faces when the final penny drops quite literally.


      July 24, 2017 at 12:10 am

  17. For those who don’t yet know.

    The government’s review proposes a new timetable for the rise to 68, in line with continuing increases in life expectancy.



    State pension changes will cost 7 million people £10,000 each

    Analysis shows each person affected may lose £9,800 after government announces raising pension age earlier than planned.



    July 24, 2017 at 8:17 am

  18. Electricity shake-up

    Consumers in the UK could save billions of pounds thanks to major changes in the way electricity is made, used and stored, the government has said.

    New rules will make it easier for people to generate their own power with solar panels, store it in batteries and sell it to the National Grid.

    They will reduce costs for someone who allows their washing machine to be turned on by the internet to maximise use of cheap solar power on a sunny afternoon.

    And they will even support people who agree to have their freezers switched off for a few minutes to smooth demand at peak times.

    The government has realised that this rule must change because it deters people from using power more flexibly in a way that will benefit everyone.



    July 24, 2017 at 8:38 am

    • Day and night doesn’t equal power.

      Ive been down this road with many a UK public years gone by so its surprising to see we are still flogging this currently dead horse.
      Like putting a pair of shades on, you get an overcast sky or even passing clouds, you get a reduction in potential energy for conversion. The UK isn’t the far east, the Nevada desert so potential energy is not as gainful a venture as you would imagine. A clear sunny sky generates 100’000 lumen where as a overcast day or long passing of large clouds reduces this to 15’000 lumen (15% of original sum). Basically for a fixed size panel what one sunny clear day produces, it takes near 7 days on an overcast period to produce the same potential. If that wasn’t enough, different periods of the year give different amounts of actual daylight.

      There is more contributing factors that negatively impact this process but you can easily see just from what i have mentioned, such a form of energy production in the UK isn’t as fruitful as it is elsewhere on the planet.
      Now im very aware of public opinion towards nuclear as an option but as i have said many a time, thorium fission is the way forward globally yet try and get your local minister let alone government to acknowledge it and that goes for anywhere in the developed countries and it falls into a abyss of silence followed by absence.

      Lastly most products contain whats called a smart chip, you know them as a means to control appliances via the net. Well you arent the only one who can control them, im not talking hacking although possible, im talking about the authorities who through power companies can switch your appliances on or off at will should a more authoritarian approach be needed. Anything that produces temperature be it a fridge, a washing machine or even a kettle uses far more energy than over appliances utilizing energy on a micro or less scale. These chips are going in everything so please understand all that glitters is not gold.


      July 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

    • Enigma

      Its hardly fair to place this on Hammond considering it all started under Cameron and Osborne and yet again has blown up in there face should the outside world turn ugly. In one respect it did reduce our involvement, a positive sign considering what Blair got us involved in and the terrorism that has extended from it as a consequence. On the other however reduces the ability for us to defend ourselves however unlikely that may or may not be.
      Its worth noting the saving grace of the great depression was WW2 as war does on the flip side if successful, a potential money spinner like say freeing Iraq that permitted the ability to offer money (loan/investment) for reconstruction and the handing out of contracts to western providers to effectively suck it back out and leave a country in debt far bigger than it need be.
      I consider this business approach immoral, what you decide is your cross to bare.


      July 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

  19. Sorry last post typo in email

    Philip B

    July 25, 2017 at 8:22 am

  20. Have seen on various properties on http://www.gatewaytohomechoice.org.uk covering most ”local councils and ha’s in the gwhc area AFFORDABILITY CHECKS will be carried out


    July 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    • And if you are on benefits you can’t afford it… 😉

      Tee Nant

      July 27, 2017 at 12:22 pm

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