There's lots of things I'd like to ask my MP given half a chance.
Primarily why is the benefit system so hard to understand or navigate and when will DWP employees learn to be more helpful and kinder and treat the customer as equals?
MP's don't see or hear about half the things people are going through. I'm talking about good hearted law abiding decent hard working people doing their best, but who are often held back due to financial physical, psychological and emotional circumstances far beyond their control.
Take the benefits systems for instance. Why are they so difficult to deal with for the customer? That's even before conditionality or sanctions come into effect.
DWP staff go on courses to learn how to implement and administer these systems.
The average individual who claims them doesn't receive any of this training to understand the decision making process.
I myself, like many other service users, haven't a degree, yet you need one in order to understand what our rights to it are, or what we are deserving of or how to apply for it.
"Consumers" have got none of that training or support. That's why so many people give up at the first hurdle.
Not everyone knows to ask for help from outside agencies or organisations etc. Even when they do, help is limited slow and appointments are few and far between.
Furthermore, it's widely known health assessments are more legal tests than health assessments. I don't have a law degree. It was lucky I met someone who did have one and was willing to help me understand these processes and get me through them. How is that fair to people who don't have that access?
I have had to seek out a whole variety of support for navigating my own claims. More recently, this even involved signing up and paying for online training in how to advocate for myself when making a claim. We looked at case studies, were given statistics, completed tasks and discussed scenarios printed in two workbooks.
I'm a reasonably intelligent adult, I still don't really understand any of it.
All parents want is a steady income that meets the needs of modern family life and provides them some dignity. When will that happen?
I don't have any specific question but I really hope that they MPs that CR participants go to meet are able to give open and honest answers to questions put to them. The MP for my area, only responds to me in the most obscure, waffling non specific way, never giving any detail and never actually answers any question nor seems to take action on anything. MPs are known for avoiding questions, they can't give a straight or honest answer to anything so I don't have any question for any of them because I have heard enough platitudes and generic responses to last a lifetime.
Housing support is a nightmare when you go from living alone to living with a partner, as when I moved in with my partner and had to join my claim with hers they left me with a excess rent charge of over £200 with my last HA and was told by UC it's not their problem but I feel they should help as UC is paid in arrears. I also contacted local council regarding this and they explained they don't help people with housing arrears. But these arrears were caused by UC. The only housing help I got that was really helpful was when I recently applied for a downsizing award and they gave me money to move and some money for carpets in my new home, but it was only enough to do the stairs, fortunately there was some carpets already here and we used old carpets from the last property just until we can afford new carpet for one of the rooms. All in all I have to say getting help is really hard and you have to jump through so many hoops, such as with the downsizing I had to get my old HA to apply on my behalf and we didn't get the payment in time so had to borrow from family and then pay it back when it arrived, also so much confusion as they said they would pay direct to people but then paid us. Very confusing all the time. Had to chase a lot also kept being told off by new landlord saying I should not have booked movers until they told us it would be ready, but they only told us 3 days before we moved. Such a nightmare really.
Here we go again in the news.
Interest rates have dropped however not on food. That's about as welcoming as a hole in a life boat!?
Also not great I hear is that whilst energy bills are due to drop from July, standing charges on gas and electric won't be budging.
It seems so unclear whether we will continue to receive the remainder of the cost of living payments to cover the extra in our bills & increases from the knock on effect of everything that's happened over recent years?
Hi - my local council has a household support fund. They bank transfer money during school holiday period if you have a child on free meals.
This does help a little towards food-bills.
I am not aware of any other help from the local council.
Really fed up with the cost of living, bills food everything is so unaffordable, debts piling up just so I can pay for school dinners/ packed lunch, no end in sight just more cost increases, £215 a month on gas and electricity payments and that’s through summer too, on a budget plan. Then to top it off council relooked at my housing benefit for 2020 but as it was covid they didn’t contact me, so have decided the cost of living crisis is the time to contact and tell me they decided they overpaid me so I have to pay it back, and I have 3 days to pay or set up a payment plan or they will go to my work for attachment of earnings order! With 3 days notice of it all! What a joke.
I did receive help under this scheme from my local council, but the process was not easy. I was only told I could apply by the diabetic nurse at a hospital appointment. After making the application and providing proof of my address and benefits that the council already holds on record I was given a £300 voucher which could be used in a variety of shops or online at supermarkets and other outlets for the purchase of goods for the home. This was a great help but should be made easier to apply, and more information about who can apply as the scheme had been running for some time before I found out about it.
The is no financial help from my council, get articles about help other councils are giving people and can read a report on how much the council have been given for support but as it is up to them how they spend it, people in need obviously aren’t a concern.
I wish I was supported by my council. As I am a single parent working full time however needs support from council. But I don't see any help offered or when I applied nothing was offered. Seems everything is in books or on their website. But in reality no help.
I reached out to my local council regarding the household support fund, as my sister mentioned she had received some support in the form of food vouchers. As we are on a low income, struggling with fuel prices and general food costs I thought I would see if my local council offered something similar. It turns out her local council made the scheme easier to access, and all the information was available and straight forward on the council's website. However, my local council when I spoke to them on the phone didn't seem to have heard of it, and passed me from person to person. Eventually I was told to get in touch with the CAB. I lost hope at this point and just gave up. It's disheartening to think that schemes have been put in place to support low income families, yet there lacks any clear guidance on how to access it.
You. Hello. With relation to the question of the week, have you had any help of your local council with the cost of living? I haven't personally, but in my job I have access to food vouchers I can get for people from the local council to help them have food from supermarkets like a voucher. Also in York there is the local WiFi you can apply to for anyone who might be struggling with financial crisis. You don't have to be on benefits, so you could apply to that for food or furniture or things like that. If you have a family with that one, you have to provide your proof of income. Sometimes the council will put on places where you can get free food that anyone can access. I've used that and gone on the council website and found places I can go and collect food from if it's been close to payday and I've been short. Also, you can ring up and ask and find out about Discretionary Housing Payment and other things on the website that don't always let everyone know about. But luckily during my job I get to find out most of that are available for people struggling with the cost of living crisis.
The Scottish Government, provided all 32 Scottish Councils with a Cost Of Living fund at end of 2022.
I saw via social media that other Scottish Councils were dispensing £150 gift cards to low income households who meet the criteria of being in receipt of housing benefit. There was anger from both those who received, as the card could only be used in certain retail outlets and cafes, not budget supermarkets; and others who claimed their taxes paid for "wasters and drug abusers" to get another entitlement.
Nothing was mentioned in social media or Internet searches of Aberdeenshire Council having this fund.
I contacted all local councillors, of which one replied (SNP). Yes the council had the fund, which the councillor claims she was unaware of until I contacted her. She said she would look into how it was to be dispensed. It took 3 months and 2 delays for the council to post out 12,000 gift cards with the value of £100 to low income households.
The shops that accepted the card were mostly tourist gift shops, although a budget chemist and small supermarket in the area accepted it.
The next issue was, these shops, could not yet accept the gift cards due to the council had not connected the online payment program yet.
This caused stress and embarrassment to many who filled their trolley with groceries and had to put them back on shelves.
No councillor can justify why every other council dispensed £150 per household whilst they dispensed £100. 12,000 x £50 = £600,000.
Where has the rest of the fund gone to?
This is the same Conservative led council that cannot account for £5.2 million spending to the auditors.
The same Conservative led council who the local community are asking how a promised £1.4 million extension and refurbishment of a leisure centre, tuned into a £300,000 disabled toilet in the run down leisure centre with damp growing on the walls from the swimming pool in it.