Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Skint Britain

Nightmare on Universal Credit.

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Image result for nightmares classical painting

Universal Credit Money Management.

A few weeks ago we posted this:

The alleged simplicity of Universal Credit and the lived experience of benefit claimants Kate Summers and David Young 

It noted the following,

Moreover the earmarking tools and short-term orientations are sometimes seen as deficiencies to be fixed with money management education and training. Instead they should be recognised for what they are: astute responses to managing on a very low income.

All of this was blown sky high when the series Skint Britain was shown on Channel Four.

What struck this writer in the last episode  was the entirely predictable way that some claimants immediately spent their monthly payments and had nothing left for rent. Conveniently now directly paid out, instead of to the landlord, the result was huge debts, which the letting agencies were left with, and evictions.

The Hartlepool Mail notes,

6 minutes in: Sad scenes show a tenant being evicted from a property for failing to pay their rent.

Letting agent Billy says the tenant owes him more than £2,000 in rent arrears, so he has been forced to come down to the property to change the locks.

This  problem about Universal Credit ‘money management’ is unlikely to be sorted out by pious ‘education’.

Then there was this, from the excellent coverage in the Hartlepool Mail.

Skint Britain: Police vow to investigate latest episode of controversial documentary filmed in Hartlepool

The last episode of the three part series showed people on the benefit system using loan sharks as they struggle to cope – but repaying debts sees both those borrowing money and the loan sharks themselves resorting to violence.

Scenes show people on the streets with knives and guns and now Cleveland Police have confirmed that they will be investigating the latest episode.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “Cleveland Police will be investigating the Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits episode from Wednesday night.”

Today we have more on “money management” on Universal Credit.

‘Universal credit is a nightmare – the stress is overwhelming’Guardian.

Jacqueline Widick, 47, on how osteoarthritis has left her struggling to pay her bills.

I receive £732 a month through universal credit, with £400 of it going straight on my rent. Apparently I was overpaid my jobseeker’s allowance five years ago so they’re taking £75 a month from me. So I have about £235 left to pay for gas, electricity and any other bills. It’s left me suicidal. I tried killing myself in September and tried again when I found out how much I’d be receiving a month. Thankfully when I called my best friend he came over and stayed with me. People like me used to receive severe disability premiums on top of JSA but they took that away under universal credit. Now I receive about half as much as I used to.

I live in a bungalow owned by a housing association that costs £400 a month. If I’m working I have to pay this; I get no help with rent. My bills come to about £200 a month. I can’t really afford food. My friend drives me once a week to a supermarket and pays for my food bill which comes to £20. I limit how much I eat to just once or twice a day. I can’t afford days out or to go for a meal.

I’m caught in a perpetual cycle of having to do contract work because I’d lose my benefits if didn’t. The issue with universal credit or JSA is if you don’t take a temp role you get sanctioned; you lose your money for six weeks if you don’t take it. And they check everything, all the interviews and jobs applied for, and contact the agencies. My list of jobs is enormous because if don’t take a temp role I lose my benefits. Now I’m trying to find a permanent role and the potential employers question why I’ve had so many jobs – they’re worried I’ll leave.

This is also in the news, as flagged up by our contributors.

Universal Credit claimants lose High Court ‘discrimination’ case They argued they were worse off after being moved on to the new system from their previous benefits

Three Universal Credit claimants who said they were “unlawfully discriminated against” under the controversial welfare scheme have lost a High Court case against the Government. In a test case over Universal Credit, the claimants argued they were left worse off after being moved on to the new system from their previous benefits. Patricia Reynolds, 51, who is disabled and lives alone, said she lost £180 a month, while a 38-year-old woman identified only as TD and her severely disabled 12-year-old daughter received £140 less a month for 18 months. They argued that, having been transferred on to UC because of “errors” made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they were unable to return to their previous, higher level of welfare payments.

As always Amber Rudd is ahead of the curve.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 2, 2019 at 10:51 am

Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits. Review.

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Abbey and Nathan are forced to rely on their dog to help them catch food (Mirror).

Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits.

Not that long ago Channel Four put on one of the worst series about people on benefits, the wittily named Benefits Street. White Dee and the rest of the Brummie crew were a barrel of not-unlovable rouges playing the system. Some said it was a modern freak show. That may be insulting to the people shown, but not far off about way they were shown.

How we laughed!

Channel Five’s the Great British Benefits Handout and others followed – like rats excited at easy prey. It looked like the telly had become screen version of the Sun, the Express and the Mail. It was open-season on scrounging idlers.

How things have changed. Last night Channel Four put on Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits. In the first of 3 episodes there not many chortles. We saw people struggling with the rollout of Universal Credit in Hartlepool. Emphasis on struggling.

We got the message about the new angle right from the start. A couple of gammon talked about people having to work to eat. Switch to the “35 hours a week job search” and the Universal Credit Journal. The youngster who couldn’t read or write, having to cope with that. The fact that, in Hartlepool there weren’t jobs there for the taking.

Then there was woman juggling with paying either gas or electricity. We saw what it means for the under-25s who get less than those who’ve reached the magic age. Somebody made homeless because he couldn’t get the rent together. More juggling, ducking and weaving. Tracey, who managed to survive cancer, is the carer for her husband, who has multiple sclerosis. Single mum Terri, out desperately trying to get proper work.

David “fucking” on-Hold Music.

“Some of the most affecting moments in the programme were about David who had severe problems with his eyesight – a major, and rare, illness, keratoconus. He had got his PIP removed and is found fit for work. Now he is left with a fiver for a whole month to feed himself. He had to phone up the Dole for an appointment. On a pay-phone, outside the Food Bank. As he said, the waiting music alone was designed to fucking drive you up the wall. He gets told he has to do 5 days Job search…..

The poor sod, driven from pillar to post, was left in a world like Jo the Crossing Sweeper living in Dickens’ Tom-all-Alone.

The programme did not fail to mention that crisis loans no longer existed, and the ‘local’ (‘devolved’) Council fund, Local Welfare Assistance, couldn’t help those who asked.

Or to put in clips of Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May praising Universal Credit.

The “safety net” of the old welfare state is so full of holes it is starting to disappear.

Nathan and Abbey, waiting – how you wait! –  for the first payment on Universal Credit,  had one way of getting food when they were broke. Nathan got his dog Twister out tracking down rabbits on the local heath. There are few scenes on telly sadder than seeing the new hunter-gatherers preparing the cony and chucking the faithful hound a choice morsel. At least they had a bit of good cheer.

The world of Universal Credit is not just Dickens sprung to life. The homeless, who we only just glimpsed in this episode, have become like the street urchins of Les Misérables. Some would hope that like Gavroche they would rise on the barricades….

The series is a must-see.