#UniversalCredit rolls out in Stockport this week. Bloody battles loom over this disaster

Universal Credit rolls out here in Stockport this week. People making new benefit claims will have to claim Universal Credit from this Wednesday.

This will be a disaster. The whole benefits scene already is.

Readers of this site will know that I’ve been interviewing Universal Credit and other benefit claimants at Stockport jobcentre for much of this year. Stockport United Against Austerity holds regular demonstrations outside the jobcentre, which I join. I interview people who sign on at the jobcentre as they come and go.

Stories of sanctions (sometimes one following straight after another and lasting for months) are already all too common among people who use that jobcentre.

People already talk about delays to the start of benefit claims and problems accessing much-needed assistance. I’ve talked with people who’ve been years out of work and can’t get basic help to secure voluntary jobs. Some already claim Universal Credit. Some claim JSA or ESA.

Stockport jobcentre is the only jobcentre in the borough. You’re dreaming if you think that the jobcentre has the staff or resources to manage a tide of complex Universal Credit claims.

Funds for people in poverty are being targeted for cuts even as Universal Credit rolls out

There’ll be a great deal of local attention on Universal Credit in Stockport in the coming months.

Stockport United Against Austerity is campaigning to stop and scrap Universal Credit.

Last week, the Stockport council cabinet agreed to a SUAA demand for full council to vote to call for a halt to the Universal Credit rollout. Council votes on that motion at next week’s full council meeting.

The council needs to do a great deal more than that.

It is not. Quite the reverse.

As we speak, Stockport council is preparing to plunge the borough’s poorest citizens into further hardship.

The council is consulting on plans to close its local welfare assistance fund – the all-important stopgap fund for people who are in extreme financial difficulties and who can’t afford food or basic household items.

This is an extraordinary step to take at exactly the time when Universal Credit is rolled out locally with its built-in debt problems and inevitable setting up of people for serious rent arrears.

Protest this Wednesday

Join Stockport United Against Austerity, Charlotte Hughes and supporters from Disabled People Against Cuts at a protest calling for the scrapping of Universal Credit this week at:

10am-11am
Wednesday 21 November 2018
Stockport jobcentre
Heron House
Wellington Street
SK1 3BE

Regular demonstrations and interviewing will continue outside the jobcentre in the coming months.

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19 thoughts on “#UniversalCredit rolls out in Stockport this week. Bloody battles loom over this disaster

  1. And people who are long-term unemployed, veterans of this cruel system, know the reality. There is no real welfare safety-net anymore. If you volunteer for a couple of weeks Christmas temping, it means trying to get onto Universal Credit in the new year. A huge backlog of claimants, the Jobcentre closed until mid-January, and no money for weeks at a time. What use is two weeks minimum wage then ?
    These people will have to be forcibly dragged onto Universal Credit . Bullshit DWP propaganda won’t cut it.

    • I think that’s a very good point. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken with since about 2012 who had terrible problems over the Christmas-New Year time because their benefits weren’t paid for whatever reason and there was literally nobody around to explain anything. A couple of people were actually sanctioned over that time and didn’t receive the letters telling them why until February. Seemed that even the computer which guffs those letters out was on holiday.

    • Too true Jeff, I certainly won’t be breaking my JSA claim to do temp. work, it isn’t worth it. If I had some savings to fall back on I’d sign off altogether and just get a part-time job to pay the rent and wouldn’t bother claiming anything, no tax credits or housingBen. But as things are I’m living hand-to-mouth, got my fortnight’s JSA 4 days ago, now got 19p left in the bank.

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if the DWP had to give you notice of a sanction starting? Say 7 clear days from the receipt of a letter, meaning a claimant would be allowed money until the eighth day after they received the letter, and the date started on day eight. That would give most claimants a week to put in a contest against the sanction, especially if they never received an appointment letter to attend the job centre!

    I think there was a case where the judge said if a person doesn’t know of a sanction then it cannot be imposed so all those who didn’t receive letters to attend job centres have a case against the DWP.

    • It’d be nice if Labour grew a pair and stood up to this awful government and their pogrom against the poor and vowed to end the sanctions regime altogether. That’s what Scotland is doing with it’s benefits system. So what’s stopping Labour making a similar pledge for Wales and England?

  3. You’d think there would have been riots by now. In times gone by there were Bread Riots, and history does have an habit of repeating itself. What’s going to happen when the foodbanks run out?

    • Signed and shared the campaign on Fakebook. Hopefully it’ll get the numbers it needs, but the momentum will need to be kept up. Even Labour has been a little stirred out of it’s lethargy – though the cynics amongst us, (me included) will suspect that it’s the fact that she has a very small majority that they are focusing on. Those on Universal Credit are just useful cannon fodder.

      https://www.facebook.com/labourparty/videos/284091968891652/UzpfSTY5MjcwMTUyNzoxMDE1Njg4NTA4MDUwNjUyOA/

      • The Government are still in total denial mode and refusing toaccept the UN findings, and Labour don’t seem to be saying much about it. An official report of this magnitude cannot be just ignored like this and simply swept under the carpet. It’s unbelievable.

  4. Labour are going to lose the next election if they don’t wake up.
    I don’t know what it is, Post New-Labour apathy, Milliband Syndrome.
    Or maybe that old Private Eye favourite, the Curse Of Kinnock.
    Once again Corbyn spectacularly under-performed at Prime Ministers
    Questions. Got confused over the Irish Border issue, and had to admit
    that he had not even read the Brexit Agreement !
    What does he think he should be reading then as Leader of the Opposition,
    Gardening Illustrated ?
    Somehow the Conservatives are losing, but managing to win at the same time.
    A bit like Dunkirk.
    After years of forced austerity, large sections of the country are in social ruin.
    We are about to leave Europe, perhaps the most major political event for the UK
    in the last forty years. The Conservative Party is split down the centre, over the whole issue.
    Yet Labour can make nothing of it. With Corbyn’s poll ratings consistently less
    than Theresa May’s. It is unbelievable.
    And if Labour can’t do it now, how are they ever going to win ?

    • It really does beggar belief that Labour can be so appallingly bad. Government at UK level isn’t like here in Wales where you could put a donkey up and people would vote for it if it was wearing a Labour rosette; in Wales they can afford to be totally crap and still get into government. It comes to something when we have what is probably the most crap Tory administration in power at Westmiminster there has ever been, and still Labour are totally incapable of being an effective opposition. With an ‘opposition’ like this, the Tories don’t need to win an election, they’ll get in by default, just as Labour does in Wales, and for similar reasons.

    • Politics is a bloody shambles altogether, none of the jokers in Westminster have a bloody clue, cushy 78 grand a year, what do they know of austerity? It doesn’t affect them. Politics has failed us. It’s like the Middle Ages out there, people living rough under bridges, sanctioned for 2 years (like one young man I just spoke to). Reminds me of a Python film, “King of the Britons? Who’re they? Didn’t know we had a king”…We might as well not have a government or an opposition for what good they do.

      • I think that tells us something Trev. I personally think we could get along far better without a government, given that as far as people like us are concerned they are no earthly use whatsoever. In that sketch you mention, didn’t a further part of the dialogue contain the words, ‘Ain’t no king around ‘ere, this is a worker’s co-operative mate’ ?

        Practically, the way things are going we’re going to have to take control of our lives anyway, as increasing levels of austerity are meaning that even the police can’t do their job properly and people are having to take that job on themselves. Unless things change pretty soon we will be faced with a choice of either anarchy or chaos, and I don’t think most of us want chaos. Even the former might scare some people, and they’d probably be surprised that most people are anarchists in reality, even if they don’t choose to call themselves that, or think anarchists are purveyors of chaos, like governments of all stripes try to tell us. One of the first acts of the Bolsheviks in the early years of the Soviet Union was to get rid of the anarchists.

        Likewise in Spanish civil war era Catalonia, the commies saw to it that the anarchists were suppressed and literally disarmed, probably contributing to the loss of the war to Franco. Indeed, an ultra-conservative regime in Spain suited both Stalin and capitalist governments far more than a regime where anarchists were in a controlling position,

    • I think Corbyn’s Political heart is in the right place but he’s a useless Parliamentarian and a damp Squibb of a Leader. I always thought Dennis Skinner the best of the bunch but he’s too old for it now. I imagine a younger Skinner as Labour Leader would be screaming blue-murder at the Tory scum. All we can do now is sign bloody petitions and vote Labour, crap as they are, in the hope of change, and protest outside Jobcentres and volunteer at foodbanks, etc. And just try to survive in the meantime.

  5. Pingback: Got a voluntary job – and then sacked from the voluntary job, because someone “better” came along… how unemployment rolls. More on #UniversalCredit… | Kate Belgrave

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