Had to attend a meeting at the job centre. I will now be expected to attend weekly appointments until my next set of wages are released, and then wait until my UC award has been calculated - A further 2 weeks after my wages are received.
The work coach was sympathetic to my situation as explained. She admitted the weekly appointments and the cap were punishing.
I have picked up more work hours. That’s another struggle.
Before we were on Universal Credit I always planned to home school our children when they turned five. Even when my husband was made redundant and we started UC, I hoped his business would have grown enough for us to be off UC. However, Covid happened, and my husbands business struggled.
Theres is no room to home-school on universal credit. Both parents have to work or be looking for work once the youngest turns 3. In fact my work coach had me preparing for work and pushed me to send my youngest to nursery when he was just 2 years old.
I would have loved to home school. I’m still sad that we haven’t and we can’t. That parenting choice has been denied for me.
I've done alright on UC as a lone parent who is fortunate enough to be in full-time work. My UC works for me because a) I am left alone by the work coaches and b) the taper rate moving down in Dec 2021 was a massive help.
That is when UC works - when you are in full-time work.
I think the improvements needed to the social security system as a whole come down to:
1. dropping sanctions. There is no real evidence that these work and they just hurt people affected by them;
2. Incentivise people back in to work by increasing rates, and increasing rates when in work - UC benefit rates are still woefully short compared to 10+ years ago. The LHA has not moved in the last 3yrs. If people felt their ability to pay their rent was more secure even when returning to work, they would.
3. Change the perception of the social security system. Make the benefit system more like how the NHS is seen - as a help, not a stick to beat people with. Practical effects would be open up the DWP to doing proper benefit checks so people could feel they trust what the DWP say about returning to work. Simplify the system so people can easily see the benefits of working. Stop hassling people who are ill or carers or old or young. Teach more about the benefits system at school. I think this would take a longer time to shift people's opinions but I have known the benefit system since the late 90s and never once are the good things it does shouted out loud.
People need tailor made support ,the coach must listen to their clients and do not force them or make them feel down as if they do not want to work.
People who are on benefits looking for time being support to get back to work.
Understand the difficulties they face. Especially if it is a neuro-unique family. Some times the DWP only look at the adult, ignoring their neuro divergent needs and also ignoring their children having neuro divergent needs. Each one unique makes it a whole neuro unique family they need to accommodate for.
I had an appointment with my work coach recently, and she did a 'better-off' at work calculation for me, for a job I was interested in.
Once the calculations were done, it turned out that I would be only £200 a month better off!
This is after paying for childcare, medication, travel, clothes, food, etc.
This made me think to myself - are some of us really better off when we work, when those of us on Universal credit stand to lose so much when we do?
I think they should bring back the Work Trials, back to work bonuses and run-on benefits that they used to have.
The work trials were great because they gave both the employer and the employee the opportunity to explore whether the job was right for the employee, and also whether the employer felt the same way.
The trials were great because as a potential employee, you got to get a feel of the job, within a 3 month period, without losing all of your benefits.
Equally, the Back-to-Work bonuses were good too because it gave you the finance needed to pay for your first month of travel, new clothes for the job, etc. This was paid to people that were out of work for 6 months or longer.
Furthermore, the Jobcentre used to give people 4 weeks worth of run-on benefits, which gave you a head start with your first pay check.
I think all of the schemes that I've mentioned above, were great ways that the Jobcentre used to help and support people get back into work, but they no longer run, but should bring back, because they were really supportive and beneficial for many people.
I think the job centre and work coaches need to be more accommodating to peoples skill sets and interests. Not just throw “any job” at them, it’s demeaning and makes you feel invisible. I would like to see more effort made to develop training workshops and for job centre staff and the DWP to be retrained in how to respectfully engage with people.
I would like to say they really need to rethink how they support people. The following points would be good to consider.
1 have a people centred approach.
2 don't have a judgmental approach.
3 treat people as individuals, we are all unique with our own life experiences.
4 offer tailored support to people
5 offer flexible, well organised training programmes in dual languages, easily accessible to gain work skills.
6 be consistent and clear with information. Provide easy read documents.
7 People want to progress when they have genuine dedicated support.
I'm unsure how to answer this question.
With low wages and the increase in inflation since lockdowns, being in work that pays enough to cover costs is a necessity rather than a want.
For single parents, an assigned support woker to help find childcare that suits working hours of a job they applied for would be good.
It's an extra chore to find appropriate childcare , and to do visits to see if the child feels comfortable, usually within a short timescale and often a childcare setting is quickly picked by the parent , but does not work out, as the child is unsettled.
There is no compassion in "care". It's what's convenient and affordable.
Before I had started working I had contact with the DWP. At one point I had monthly meetings at the job centre with my work coach. This was difficult, as it was scheduled during school pick up time and I had to collect my youngest child from the school earlier. The school were understanding. My son had to accompany me and I had no support around.
There have been times where I felt so pressured to find work by the DWP and even judged by the coaches. My regular work coach often seemed rushed by his work load. When I asked for help at points, they could not find a solution. I have eventually found work to fit around my family commitments after a few years. It has not been an easy journey. When I started working, I continued to receive calls from the DWP at work until my first pay was received, two months after I started work. This was inconvenient, but the calls have stopped now.
I consider myself very lucky not to have the need for regular contact with the DWP or job centre staff.
I appreciate the fact that these civil servants are mostly human beings themselves, trying to do their jobs, nevertheless, I also often question how some of then do actually even sleep at night, given what they subject people to when they enforce regulations on their fellow beings. That same subjugation can sometimes even apply to their fellow colleagues. It's a well known fact the DWP recruit disabled people for amongst other roles, public facing ones, some of whom have to meet certain targets themselves and failure to do so, carries consequences, so there are times when DWP staff are subjected to sanctions alongside other claimants.
One reason I am opposed to contact with the DWP is for one thing, they use tactics to intimidate folk for a start. On journal entries they use first names to address you with, as if that implies they are your friend or breaks down barriers. Their letters and forms are written in such a way to imply threat and gain compliance. I dread those brown envelopes dropping through the letter box. Further more they regularly, break their own laws and regulations. For instance didn't apply correct legislation when calculating benefits along with many more legal errors they made during my assessment phase. They state on the Work Capability forms and PIP forms "You do not need to send us XYZ", when legally you are permitted to send in whatever the heck you like in support of your claim. Everything "has" to be considered as evidence. They just don't read everything properly. No wonder they have a reputation for being lazy.
In addition, I'm fully aware they receive tons of post each day, however, they very often seem to loose documentation posted to them, which is why it is always imperative to send anything to them via track and trace delivery options. Again, this creates an immense lack of trust and dishonesty with them.
At health assessments, which are referred to as "Medical assessments", (even through there is nothing much medical about them as they are more legal tests than anything health related) they have a huge tendency to spin what people tell them about themselves, or fabricate things altogether, I know this is standard practice, they are trained to do this and incentivised to reuse benefits to claimants under the guise of saving government funding. It's common knowledge that more costs are fraudulently spent and lost elsewhere in government corridors!!
Overall, I feel the vast majority of DWP are either poorly trained in their jobs, don't care about the folk they are there to help, for instance, telephone helplines often take far too long to be answered or staff carry an air of authority over claimants. I even find it remarkable people are not being signposted towards benefits they are more than eligible to claim for then going without, so no I wouldn't welcome regular contact with the DWP due to a distinct lack of trust between them and myself.