I guess am one of the lucky ones, and I don't have much contact with the job centre now am on UC and not being told to look for work, the only thing I do find a problem is you can only leave messages for the team at UC, some times it's just quicker to call then have to wait a day or so for a reply back.
It’s absolutely awful. They speak down to you like they are better than you, treat you like nothing and expect you to be able to get a job really easy despite having no childcare, lack of jobs and having disabilities. Sometimes they remind you that people in wheelchairs can get a job so so can you.. you do everything they ask and it’s not enough! They’re not compassionate if you miss an appointment due to kids being unwell or your disability, they pressure you by saying they will stop your money. They send you last minute appointments at stupid hours like 8am, they cancel and don’t tell you. You get attitude and made to feel guilty that you can’t work full time or that you need a crisis grant. I’d sooner starve than apply for another one.
When I first claimed universal credit I was sent on a course specific for call centre work. It was compulsory and I was told I was guaranteed an interview at the end. I fully engaged with the week long program but the interview turned out to be with someone on work experience and the jobs didn’t actually exist.
I felt like a pawn being manipulated in game. The threat of being sanctioned means adhering to the rules come what may. Fortunately I found work via an agency and then subsequent employment on a part-time basis a month after this awful experience. As I work in a school - and only get paid for 39 weeks per year, I’m terrified for when the new universal credit minimum hours come into force as I will drop below the threshold and will therefore be expected to seek additional work.
For context - I’m a single (solo) mum without a support network. I'm educated to graduate level and have previously earned 6 figures. I had a period of poor mental health which meant I was unable to work for several years. I’m currently retraining for a new career in a field I’m passionate about but unfortunately I’m not eligible for any financial help as a student. The struggle to juggle motherhood of a small child, studying and work is immense, particularly in light of the current financial climate. What keeps me going is hope for the future and that once I am qualified, my family will hopefully have a better life. I feel privileged that my situation is, fingers crossed, temporary, and for many who are also struggling - they can’t see light at the end of their tunnel.
Katie Farrington, Director General for Disability, Health and Pensions at the DWP has just described me & many like me as "the stock of existing claimants"... which I find a poor choice of words. In their eyes am I live stock or cattle market fodder? It's degrading & dehumanising. It's offensive. There's clearly no compassion or empathy in those words.
In my humble opinion they are using our complaints about the benefits system well & truly against us.
This whole punishing & demonising of claimants needs to stop. Enough is enough. Is wanting peace of mind & financial security too much to ask?
It worries me to death that thousands of people including myself will be subjected to punishment & financial instability or forced to comply with rules regulations & demands we simply cannot fulfil. All for the sake of proving to the ignorant section of the tax paying public who prefer to live in denial about how some of us simply cannot work.
Thanks for this question.
I work full-time and am on UC as a lone parent who rents.
I do not have a work coach. I have no commitments for UC (other than to jump sky high when they ask me to (see below)).
So I do not get this idea that UC gets you in to better paid work, or the government are trying to get people off benefits and in to work. I have been on UC on and off (mostly on) since 2019.
I am good at my job, I enjoy it - its what I want to do. UC isn't going to change my view on my job, or get me a qualification or promotion and out of benefits.
UC being used as a tool to get people in to work is only correct at one point - being out of work and going in. Its taper rate is slightly better than the old Tax Credits - but these benefits are much the same. They are a support to poorly paying employers.
The idea that UC gets you in to work or off benefits in to better employed work, is nonsense. Its system of commitments and sanctions simply puts people under pressure to do more, low paid, poorly supported work, so they are financed less by the government.
UC (and even the old Tax Credits) are needed. They support me and my two daughters. But to say they get me in to better paid work is rubbish.
I'm disabled, unable to work & in receipt of the legacy benefits - Income Related Employment Support Allowance (Support Group), including disability & severe disability premium & also Personal Independence Payment (PIP). I haven't had any interactions with a DWP work coach since 2013 when 6 months after spinal surgery, I was placed in the work related activity group, even though I had no idea if I was going have full restoration of neurological function (which can take up to 2 years to ascertain: SPOILER ALERT - I never did). As I was expected to take a job , I chose to become a term time First Aid trainer in my local hospital. It was insecure work as we were classed as temporary staff, we worked a permanent school timetable rota, year in, year out. My work coach at the time was brilliant - he knew I wasn't well & severely burned out due to having to cope with work & disability - for which no adjustments were made as, apart from a walking stick I looked ok on the outside. At the time, I hadn't applied for Disability Living Allowance as it was back then prior to the introduction of PIP, as I thought I wasn't "disabled enough" despite symptoms badly affecting my day to day activities of daily living. He encouraged my to apply for ESA Support Group & DLA, which, after winning 2 tribunals, I was awarded in full for both which enabled me to resign from my job due to ill health. I've never had any help & support from the DWP itself in terms of reasonable adaptations, as I no longer have to actively seek work. To be honest, my condition is so unrecognised, they probably wouldn't know where to start with me, so if I were able to work, I would choose to work from home where all my aids & adaptations are, which I do on a very limited self employed basis sometimes, because frankly, there's nothing worse than an able-bodied person with no lived experience of disability deciding what's best for you or what you might need. This is why it is essential that the DWP should employ work coaches with lived experience of disability themselves as they have some insight to some extent. Nothing about us, without us!
Came across this screenshot on social media, from written questions submitted to the Department of Work and Pensions about social security benefit disqualifications.
According to Guy Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham.
"There are no plans to automate decision making or the application of the sanctions regime which will continue to to be undertaken by Work Coaches and Decision Makers".
I should think so too. Appalling that they continue to sanction people full stop. UC pays the minimum amount possible already. Outrageous they want to try to reduce it further as a form of punishment.
We are unaffected by the Work Capability Assessment. However I do worry about those in receipt of ESA and what that entails for them when the government removes it altogether.
I've have lots of questions about the budget. Again it does seem they have not taken a few things into consideration. The lives of those on benefits will become more difficult. For instance, I live in perpetual fear of sanctioning and my work place have given me fewer hours next month. I work in care, and have a zero hours contract. As I am subject to conditionality, fewer hours will mean I will be visiting the job centre and searching for more work. The government have finally promised to pay for childcare upfront. Apparently this will effect only 700,000 families. Who this actually applies to is unclear. It would have been of great help when I started working.
According my circumstances (I am a single parent bringing 5 children all on my own in the UK) the DWP expects me to work full-time.
So there is that pressure on me to ensure that I work enough hours if I want a benefit top-up. This is fair however I feel that benefit system can be very rigid and fails to take into account people's personal circumstances adequately.
To be honest I do not know much about WCA however I have heard that removing it could have both positive and negative effects on people that it applies to.
I am not affected of this conditionality as everything has set by now. I am worried about some of mine eligibility criteria will be withdrawn soon then anyway I will get less benefits. I will need to be reassessed for my changing health conditions.
It is good to scrap the WCA (Work Capability Assessment). There will be only one assessment which is PIP (Personal Independent Payment). People can have less hassle for this scheme scrapped and smoothly can reply on PIP assessment. To see impact of What other changes Chancellor proposed in the last spring budget, we need to wait sometimes to see their effects.