On Monday morning I was both excited and proud to be able to attend an in person meeting with my local MP accompanied by a team member from CPAG. This was a continuing part of the London lobby day earlier this year.
We took along with us a copy of the zine booklet and some other information about the Changing Realities programme, along with some local child poverty statistics for the area I live in provided by CPAG. In my mind he showed a good interest in the situation that families face.
He also has clear thoughts on what the Liberal Democrats would like to help change, for example, Free School Meals for all school age children and an end to the child benefit cap.
There were also longer term changes that he would like to push for including social tarifs for utility bills. I hope that with all of our efforts being involved in Changing Realities can help bring around change for families living on a low income. Every single MP or member of this government should be looking at the work we are all doing together to help bring about this change without delay. So hopefully all is not yet lost.
It's been a while since I've added another entry to my diary.
I'm too scared to check my bank balance these days. It takes real courage to face up to your finances when there's not enough to cover costs. It's easier to be ignorant in the hope it will all sort itself out on its own.
I've been unable to sleep ... I gave up trying to & have made a cuppa. The early morning stillness is just as restfully so I can think more clearly which has allowed me to reflect on the past few months. I've been so preoccupied during that time.
In July I eventually received the dreaded dwp envelope with instructions to complete another assessment form.
It's a much shorter form this time. Still I'm not attempting to fill it in myself no matter how knowledgeable I've become regarding these processes. Following a recommendation from my MP, I called the professionals in to help me with it. The appointment date to see someone was well after the return date for the form so I immediately needed to call up the dwp to request a return extension.
To begin with it was ridiculous that the form had a date which showed it took 2 weeks in the post to receive it which left me 2 weeks to return the darn thing ordinarily.
At least on this occasion I was ready to go to all out war with them if I wasn't given what I'm perfectly entitled to. Once the call handler told me I could have the usual 2 week extension I immediately informed her I couldn't even get an appointment to have help completing it until well after that date. She then told me she needed to speak to a manager & as quick as that she came back with a date to return the form some 6 weeks later.. Technically I've had about 2 months grace to complete & return it, which is incredibly long. Although I guess it's due to the fact that in some parts of the country the dwp have backlogs of work to process. In some regions people are waiting 12 to 18 months for their applications to even go through before further assessment.
This form, has meant I have had to dig long & deep into my mountains of medical records, past applications, new medical information about my health conditions, etc., in order to evidence proof & facts. Not simply a case of "innocent until proven guilty" more "guilty of fraud until proven otherwise".
Alongside all the effort to get my medical notes in order ready for scrutiny by the dwp - who are by no means medical experts, for if they had all the answers about my condition they'd be earning millions in medical research sharing their findings, not working as civil servants, (medical assessors earn £46,000 p/a alone, possibly before bonuses), we also had to hide from the bailiffs who turned up at my door for my middle son. So that wasn't very pleasant.
He uses the house as a care of address but hasn't made that clear to his creditors. So my youngest & I have been virtually like prisoners in our home until he eventually called up a debt helpline. (Only after nagging him to do so for months on end.)
After seeking advice on the issue myself, I only need to show any bailiffs a council tax bill - to prove he has never lived here - through a window rather than opening a door to them. I've found out bailiffs are supposed to exercise more understanding to vulnerable people. Nevertheless I still remain weary of unexpected visitors ready to point out the facts as they are.
Also I was in a dilemma with my car last month. It needed major repairs. It had to go. I had to look for another used car. Amazing that I found something suitable & managed to sell the old car too. This took a big chunk of my money to fund the change over. Still trying to recoup the costs. It will take a while for that to happen, obviously.
About the same time I also received a parking charge notice. Forgot to display my blue badge in a disabled parking bay. I was horrified. I immediately panicked & sent in my appeal to the agents ... which got knocked back. Next tried to call the landowners but no joy there either.
It was only in a casual chat with the MP's caseworker that they offered to chase it up for me & managed to get the charge dropped! I was over the moon. Could well do without paying £60 - £100 in fines! Told the case worker that's easily 2 weeks shopping!!
With all these things going on weighing heavy on my mind as well as family issues to help out with, it feels like there's hardly been any time to enjoy the school summer holidays.
We did manage a week away in a caravan. However I was wrapped up fighting the dvla to reclaim car tax exemption for the new used vehicle I recently purchased. Along with family demands we were expected to sort out even though we were on holiday, my son & I were left feeling harrassed & upset with everything that went on during the week.
So much so my son has recently suffered nightmares about another ongoing issue we face. We've been trying to find suitable alternative accommodation with social housing. Decent homes are few & far between.
This summer has felt like our worst year by far. As much as there is to be grateful for, there's equally as much I'd rather forget or not have to deal with.
I hope we can try to enjoy what time is still left before the return to school in a few weeks but given the friction between my immediate family, it's not likely to be easy going over a bank holiday weekend unless we hide or switch off the phone.
There was a story on my internet homepage this morning stating that an MP had said you can tell why people are obese by what is in their shopping trolley. If the government were to give people on a low income a bit more money we could buy healthier food and look after ourselves better, which would mean a saving for the health service.
I used to plan for the future a lot, especially when I was younger and had the optimism of youth.
However, to be honest, as time has gone by, and I've seen how sometimes the people we look up to in society, like some of our politicians, break some of the promises that they make to us, I became less optimistic, and now just take each day as it comes, and hence now, very rarely plan for the future, because too much can change by then, especially as our world has becone more and more volitile.
It’s been a busy month, I was part of the london lobby day and it was fabulous to have the opportunity to speak with my local MP. My MP was very oblivious and seemed to not really grasp what was being asked or (more likely) trying to swerve the questions put to her but i am persistent and as a mother of boys whom regularly try to swerve questions I put on a polite smile and reworded many times until my MP got what was being asked.
Just sent my letter to the MP, let’s hope we can make a difference. Support is desperately needed.
I would like to ask my local MP to lobby or campaign to government for more housing who were in the housing waiting list for more than expected. Build houses and rehouse people from waiting list and then provide opportunity for employment and other support.
I would like to ask the MPs what they really think and how they think they could help people in certain circumstances.
What would they do if they’d fallen on hard times?! How would they cope?
Thanks so much for this bug question. I'll like to tell them to please look into the eligibility criteria of a lot of supports in the UK. People with NRPF are really suffering with this.
What evidence and lived experience have you more personally immersed your understanding, experience of the truth of poverty for the working general public and that who are trapped in the benign system as there's no support to become off benefits?
Have you been judging the public via fake narastic media stereotyping exposure to influence your policy's, aids and support framework?
It seem you have and how to do plan to fix the UKs and people in power judgment and stereotypical influence to better the support such as getting off benefits for single parents, people who need flexible working patterns throught the means of disability act inclusion and equity. We should not have to fight for our rights, be trapped in benefits when the people in power (you) say we can come off them thought the jobcentre framework that only fits for old fashioned stereotypical un-educated and possible neglected family's.
How do you plan to stop the increasing needs of unofficial food banks and offical food banks etc?
Where is your empathy and care for the wellbeing and future of the UK and the child of our next future UK?
Question for MP's
Why were businesses receiving grants of up to £2000 in lockdowns whilst children in single parent families whose ( mostly fathers) are business owners, received nothing?
The DWP workers were taken off caseloads of the Child Maintenance Service to trace non payers of Maintenance, to process Universal Credit.
My ex husband already had savings and investments, lives in a luxury house, top of range car etc... boasted he received 3 payments of £2000 in lockdowns.
The Child Maintenance Service informed me these grants were not to be used in calculating his income in lockdowns.
My daughter had no financial support throughout lockdowns from her father and I had to use foodbanks. As we became homeless due to private landlord selling up the flat, my ex husband thrived, and still does as he takes advantage of tax and child maintenance loopholes.
My MP is a Conservative. I am a Socialist & would never vote Tory - ever. So already I don't feel represented by them. The few times I've contacted them previously, I have received generic party-line responses, which is disheartening. Secondly, even though I m a Socialist - I am not against people being wealthy. What I am against is the taxation system not being equitable. Poorer people bear a disproportionately higher tax burden compared to wealthier people, not by direct income tax, but mainly through poverty premiums - when they pay more for essential goods & services due to their location or lack of income. Furthermore, there is far more tax avoidance than there is benefit fraud, but we in receipt of Social Security are demonised far more than those who avoid paying their fair share. What dismays me the most is that my MP voted against free school meals for children in the holidays, thus contributing to worsening holiday hunger. I feel their stance was totally unjust given the ever-increasing wealth gap between rich & poor. I want to remind my MP that the centre of their constituency is extremely deprived, unable to withstand the ever-increasing tide of the cost of living crisis, whilst the more comfortable & well-off are high enough above the waterline to withstand the oncoming tsunami. We are in the same storm but not all of us has access to a suitable boat to survive. Help support us so we can not only survive, but thrive - it's the right thing to do, not as a politician, as a compassionate human being. Redesign the Social Security system so it works for everyone if they fall on hard times. In addition - I want to remind my MP that those of us living in desperate times didn't plan to be living this life. Absolutely anyone can be swept into poverty through circumstances beyond their control - even them. For me it was escaping domestic abuse whilst on unpaid maternity leave, becoming homeless & having to live in a hostel with my 3 children back in 2005. I tried to go back to work but became permanently disabled in 2011. I'm still trying to hang on in 2023. How can that be right? Yet even though I cannot work, I am still worthy of respect, support & have worth. I am a former Registered General Nurse with a wealth of knowledge, skills & expertise that I can impart to anyone prepared to listen. I also have 3 children who are contributing members of society - my eldest son, now 26 is an technician in the RAF. My middle son is 24 & has 2 jobs whilst he pursues his dream of being a musician with his band. My youngest son, now 18, even though disabled himself, is still studying for a career in welding at the local college & hopes to go into the industry. Support your constituents rather than sanction them. We need stability & security, not sticking plaster solutions. We need you to understand the intersectionality between poverty, health, ethnicity, disability, family breakdown & crime. By solving poverty through fully impact-studied, well considered design, you may find that citizens' physical & mental health improves overall and some folk less inclined to resort to desperate measures to survive. Now that would be an achievement to be proud of.