I feel sheer panic when I think too much about the future. At the moment, my son is 2 so I have no work commitments. Once he's 3 I'll be considered gainfully self employed and hopefully will get a start up year, but by the time he's 4 I'll have to bring in a consistent monthly profit or the Minimum Income Floor will be applied and we won't be able to afford to live.
The pressure of making a business profitable, and not just profitable over a year but profitable every single month regardless of expenses being lumpy, is terrifying. But I can't go back to being employed - between my health and my son's health, it's not possible. The work I do is important and I love it, but all the DWP care about is profit. It's such an unrealistic and cruel standard to place on a small business when plenty of large corporations get lots of government support and aren't anything like as profitable, % wise, as sole traders are required to be.
I've had to think in terms of 3 months at a time maximum, because if I let myself see the bigger picture I get overwhelmed by the clashing priorities of building a sustainable, meaningful and successful business (and life!) versus meeting the DWP's capricious and unyielding requirements so that we can afford to eat.
From my point of view, six, seven years ago now, when my ex wife left and my circumstances drastically changed, we were on child tax credit and because I notified them that my wife had left me, that then called chaos. And I ended up with six weeks of no payments while I got full onto Universal Credit because I was a registered carer as well. I still am for my youngest daughter. That as well, when payments went down by 34 pound a week because I wasn't a couple. Which is a bit kind of ludicrous, really, because you're struggling on your own more than when you are the couple. So that was mind boggling. But no, I haven't had a good experience of changing over from one to the other or much support at all in the benefit system. I'm currently not able to work due to disabilities and because I'm on universal credit and I spoke to ESA and they went, 'well, you do qualify but universal credit would just take the money off you so you won't gain anything at all from that'. So I had the benefits of DWP. To me, there's no point claiming employment support long term sick because give it for one hand and take it with the other. And because I still claim carer's allowance because it helps me budget, they pay weekly so that's my weekly food bill when universal credit is monthly, which I use on my main bills and my rent, they also take off my carers allowance as well. So no, I've not had a positive experience of one benefit system talking to the other one at all.
Universal Basic Income: sounds like lazy thinking but really, you want people to work and be productive and get shit done, give them enough money that they can go "hmm, nice and relaxed, took time to care for my needs. Now I'm kinda bored, I know I'll go see what jobs are available, I get get myself treats with the extra cash and help the economy and help my community".
Real access to support - more funding to mental health services and social care services and charities that support families. Free breakfast clubs and after school clubs. Childcare support and/or legal protections in work for parents who need to be more flexible around school holidays. And free education for life, that means primary through to university through to additional learning or career changing in adulthood. The workplace would be far more productive this way and fewer barriers to entry.
Oh and seriously, ban 0-hour contracts, if you can't afford to properly employ workers with the proper legal protections and duties then don't have workers, it's not that hard. End exploitation.
I had access before to Jobcentre but my experience was not that good. Jobcentre people are always pushing and didn't give enough time to look for the job. They mainly focus on how to fill in their paper work, making CV staff but not linking directly to the employer. It will be best if they can directly link to local employers and secure some vacancy for their candidates. The people who are looking for a job and help, wanted to stay in their local area rather than travelling far which just cause them unnecessary travel costs.
I used to work full time in Admin, and started this work when my 1st child was 3 years old. I was on Benefits before I started work.
This was over 10 years ago, and the Government of the day enabled single mothers like myself to what they called at the time 'run- on' benefits.
An example of one of the run-on benefits that I received when I started work was that the Government paid 1 months worth of Housing benefit for me, just to make the transaction into work that little bit more easier, and also to enable the person to have a little bit more cash in their pocket in their 1st paycheck.
However, all of that has sadly gone, and even though I am currently not in work, I dread to think think of how much I would lose out financially (especially if your not going into a highly paid job).
I say this because, I've worked out that unlike in the past when benefit claimants would receive run-on benefits for their 1st month in work, nowadays you don't receive anything.
Furthermore, you would have to pay full rent, full council tax, full NHS Prescription charges (at almost £10 per medication) full Optician & Dental bills etc - in other words, there is very little to no support available for you, especially if you work full time time in a minimum wage job because you have to pay for everything in full- whereas at least if you worked part-time you will still get some support from the Universal Credit system, but, from my experiences Part-time work in my field (Admin) is very few and far between.
Therefore, for me, in summary- under the current system that we are in, more often than not, you're no better off working.
So I trained long and hard in order to secure my last job. It was my dream job. I was good at it and loved my work. I had hoped to progress in that field and was looking forward to where it might take me.
However, following a mundane accident at home, I had to put a complete stop on all things workwise. Even without the pain aspects, i.e. just the immobility/disability aspects, health and safety regulations would have meant there was no way I could continue to do the job I was employed to do, the job I loved and the job I was good at.
Nearly 9 years later, it is difficult to imagine what employer would hire me given my limitations, or what job I could possibly do to the best of my abilities that would allow me to earn what we have to live on now, if not more.
Pain is a huge attention magnet, I may look ok and sound ok but there's nothing in law which says pain must have a visual component and there's nothing worse than feeling as though all you want to do is get as comfy as possible so your body isn't screaming out stress hormones round the clock. It's very draining on my energy to be hobbling about 24/7.
Research into chronic pain conditions can demonstrate that those living with high level pain are are less likely to report other pain levels even though they just as painful. Think about migraine sufferers, you can't see a headache yet symptoms can be equally excruciating.
People living with debilitating pain conditions become very good at covering it up, even functioning despite it because they have to, "if you don't use it you loose it". Trying to assess people living with high persistent pain levels visually or physically is very unreliable. Responses to familiar pains are low key for those with this type of condition compared to responses of people without the condition when experiencing pain on a matched level. Even when the extent of the pain isn't as severe, the longevity of it can be equally debilitating.
Also, there is a whole list of further health conditions which begin to develop as a consequence of the original diagnosis. It truly is the gift that keeps giving.
It's enough to function as a human being let alone be a reliable employee to anyone with has expectations in return for a realistic wage.
If there were a cure for this condition, there'd be no stopping me in relation to finding work again.
I wish I was able to get and keep paid employment. I would love to be a wage earner again and be able to provide a better standard of living for myself and my family. Unfortunately having BiPolar made that impossible for me when I took a pharmacological cocktail of mood stabilizers, anti psychotics, antidepressants, sedatives and sleeping tablets. Now I am not taking any medication, I experience mood swings much faster, more frequently, more intensely and painfully than ever before and this is also not conducive to turning up for work every day.
My ideal job would be paid fairly but not excessively, it would challenge me and require me to continue my learning, allow me to work mostly from home and permit frequent time off when I was ill with no notice or explanation ever required. I would like occasional (optional) travel opportunities, friendly, fun colleagues and a chilled boss. Most importantly I would have to feel valued, that what I was contributing was worthwhile and complied with the Buddha’s teaching of Right Livelihood.
If you know of any vacancies which fit the criteria please tell me ;)
I have worked since I was 14. Sometimes I've had as many as six different jobs at once. I love my work (well, most of the time, most of it). But it feels like all the odds are against me at the moment. My toddler is off nursery for the third time in two months due to vomiting. Even the small amount of self-employed work I'm trying to do is difficult when I can't know from one week to the next whether I'll have any childcare, or be sick myself.
Apart from the fact that our income is lower when I can't work, it makes me feel horrible about myself to keep cancelling plans and just lazing around the house doing endless laundry. I want to do the work I'm good at! My goal with being self-employed was to get some balance but it doesn't seem to be working out that way.
The only blessing is that I can't be fired, because I certainly would have been by this point if I were employed.
I've recently been awarded Limited Capacity to Work (LCW) after waiting 2 years for the decision, only to find that there is still a lot of conditionality on being awarded it.
I also receive PIP.
I initially thought that once you were awarded these benefits, that you wouldn't have to look for work as intensively (because of your health restrictions) and that you couldn't be sanctioned- but I was wrong.
I sharp learned that my assumptions were wrong when I recently had a face-to-face interview with a work coach who questioned me intensively about what I was doing to find work, because I hadn't reached the threshold of 35 job search that week.
She was about to sanction me, and when I told her that I was in receipt of PIP as well, she said it didn't make the slightest difference, and did not stop me from looking for work.
A manager intervened and said I was pardoned for that appointment for being none the wiser about the system, and the confusion many claimants find themselves in, but she then referred me to my Work Commitments, stating that I still had to carry out work searches.
The irony of the whole situation is that even when you do your work searches, look for a job, secure an interview - employers then make it hard for you to get the actual job by being so picky with their selection processes.
Furthermore, the very fact that certain aspects of UC are still unclear to many claimants adds to your mental health causing stress and anxiety, especially when your told your about to be penalised for something that you didn't even know about in the first instance - as was the case with me.
It feels like I am always making decisions with money at the forefront. There's what could be a really good opportunity for work, but trying to balance the logistics of childcare, pet care, train travel, and cost is making my head hurt. If I could know that it will cost £X to travel from place A to B, I could work it out. But the different prices at different times, and variables of where and when, plus the fact that a single error would mean all my carefully calculated costs would collapse and I'd end up paying twice as much, mean that I'm probably going to have to skip it. I know that this was the choice I made when I moved North so I could afford housing - getting to London is not as easy any more. But the system sucks. The cost of transporting a train passenger surely doesn't vary so much!