We’ll find you intentionally homeless even though it’s our fault you’re homeless

So.

To the housing frontline again – where a Greater London council officer I interview tells me about another senseless intentional homelessness threat (you can read earlier interviews with that officer about intentional homelessness cases here).

The officer gives this story as another example of the shambles in council homelessness departments in austerity. Staff shortages, extreme caseloads and a mass of application forms and paperwork created by personal housing plans mean that officers in under-resourced housing offices can too easily lose the thread.

The officer talks about a recent case where a Greater London council threatened to find a woman intentionally homeless. The council made this threat even though the council itself was completely responsible for the woman’s homelessness. The council denied the woman housing benefit for 12 months, because it failed to keep proper track of the woman’s supporting paperwork and evidence. She was ultimately evicted for rent arrears. Brilliant.

The officer was responsible for reviewing the woman’s case.

The woman worked as a cleaner. The officer said that she “worked all hours,” to make ends meet. She still didn’t earn much. She claimed housing benefit to help pay her rent.

Just over a year ago, the woman changed jobs. She let her council know about this change.

That’s when the problems began.

For reasons that the woman never understood, the council shut down her housing benefit claim completely. The council wouldn’t restart her claim, or even set up a new one quickly.

Instead, officers subjected her to a year of a common torture. They demanded that the woman prove her housing benefit entitlement from the very beginning. They kept asking her to send paperwork that she’d already sent. Officers seemed to have terrible trouble recording or recognising this evidence. They kept going back to the woman for more.

The officer says this is par for the course – a comment which won’t be news to anyone who has repeatedly sent paperwork and medical evidence to a council or the DWP, only for it to disappear. There’s a mass of paperwork and not enough people to keep on top of it. Different officers pick up evidence on different days. Officers and agency staff come and go all the time. Readers of this site will know that it’s full of interviews with people whose sick notes got lost, or whose emails were never answered, or whose personal files were mixed up with someone else’s. You can imagine what some of these back offices look like.

Officers in this case kept demanding that the woman supply her tenancy agreement – a document which the council had a record of for her previous housing benefit claim. They asked for this document several times, so the woman brought it in again.

The council demanded a back supply of bank statements, too.

The council also wanted to see the woman’s new wage slips. “Fair enough,” you may think. A council needs to see wage slips to if it’s going to calculate a housing benefit entitlement.

The problem was that the council took issue with the wage slips. Officers decided that they didn’t like the look of them.

It seemed that they thought that the slips were too basic. They weren’t convinced that the woman’s new cleaning job was a “real” job – a “real job” being a job with a well-known company that produces payment advices on letterhead with a recognised logo.

You hear this sort of thing a lot. People work as cleaners, or carers, or in admin for small companies that authorities don’t know, recognise, or rate. Councils demand proof of earnings from people who need to claim housing costs, or homelessness help. Then, councils cast doubts on the paperwork and say they’re not sure the employer exists.

Often, these employers do exist. The problem is that they can be shonky – particularly when it comes to HR. Their systems are poor. Their paperwork is basic. Their practices are dodgy. By comparison, people who work for big, recognised companies don’t know they’re born.

I wrote recently about a young homeless mother who had a hard time convincing her council that she was on maternity leave. Her boss refused to write a letter to confirm her leave. He didn’t want to write the letter, because he didn’t want to draw the council’s attention to himself. That was because he was in trouble with another council department about standards in the business he ran. He was giving the council a wide berth.

So, there’s all that going on at this end of the scene. The person who is trying to get council help is the one that suffers, of course. The officer in this story says that the council’s demands for paper evidence from the woman who’d changed her cleaning job continued for a whole year. A YEAR. The woman didn’t receive a penny in housing benefit in that time.

The upshot was, of course, that she lost her flat. She was evicted for rent arrears.

That’s when the woman turned up at the council’s homelessness office to ask for housing help. That was when she was told she would probably be found intentionally homeless, because she’d been evicted for rent arrears.

And so on and so on – and on and on and on.

Resources, you know – or lack of them. The officer in this story says that in one London council they’ve worked in, homelessness cases in recent times have languished in inboxes for eight months and more, because there aren’t enough officers to take them forward – to find permanent housing for people who’ve been parked in temporary flats and emergency housing and all the rest.

Questions and emails go unanswered. People can go for months without hearing from a council officer. The officer says that the homelessness reduction act can only improve this part of things if money is found to hire a lot more homelessness and housing officers.

Anyway. That’s where vital frontline services are at while politics divert all attention and resources to Brexit. Nothing works. Nothing even makes sense. It’d be a joke, except that homelessness isn’t. You can imagine how thrilled I was to read this week that £100m had been blown on consultants for Brexit. What a great investment that’s been. Suppose that just continues until everything’s gone.

78 thoughts on “We’ll find you intentionally homeless even though it’s our fault you’re homeless

  1. Councils are as bad as the dwp I learned the hard way years ago I keep every letter and if I take forms into a life centre I make them either sign or stamp it as proof of receipt because these forms have a habit of disappearing, even when they admit it’s them in the wrong you don’t get anywhere in this day and age there should be no homeless people there isn’t enough council houses so if you have to rent private you’ve got deposits, bonds and a months rent in advance who has £1000.00 spare I know I haven’t it’s a dire situation

  2. A lot of this official lack of interest is deliberate. It represents a planned change in attitude on the part of the state, towards people claiming benefits.
    As Philip Alston said in his recent United Nations report on poverty in the UK, ‘..it is the mentality informing many of the reforms that has brought the most misery and wrought the most harm to the fabric of British society.
    British compassion has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited
    and often callous approach apparently designed to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping, and elevate the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest economic levels of British society.’

  3. Always photocopy and evidence you send whether it’s DWP, council or other agency and if it was hand delivered send the same department an email with a copy of the evidence. If they say they haven’t received it you then tell them you also emailed them a copy.
    The council are always saying they never got emails from me for repairs until I tell them the date and time of day it was sent then they suddenly find it and say it was in the junk folder or some other folder

  4. Councils should at the very least issue a receipt listing the evidence supplied, plus also any evidence still required and also inform the claimant what that evidence is, plus a reminder how long the claimant has to present that further evidence. All councils are affected by this ideological austerity, but it seems that some handle it better than others.

    Where I live, I can’t say that the council doesn’t lose things, (in fact, one of the frustrations that confused the heck out us who worked in the same council’s homelessness provision how efficient the housing department was at losing things. But at least it does issue receipts to all claimants who present their evidence at the hub where it is scanned in front of the claimant and a receipt issued with the original documents returned immediately.

    Part of a wider problem is that when physical paperwork, which can, and does get lost in the sea of paperwork on people’s desks, is sent in support of a claim. Much better that everything is entered onto a digital system ASAP. Of course, this too isn’t infallible, but at least the fact that the evidence, and what evidence was produced and when, and with any system there is bound to come a point where the logjam is down to a lack of human resources, or human resources that in large measure are temporary agency staff on short term contracts, who don’t know the systems they’re trying to operate well enough. Full-time staff are stretched beyond belief and stress is going to have an effect: stressed workers are not only not efficient, but tend to take more time off sick, thus introducing further delays and logjams into the system.

  5. What do they mean they don’t like the look of them? A wage slip is simply a receipt, it could be hand written on a piece of Izal so long as it is signed.

    • Fuck knows what anyone is talking about. I’ve had this before though – sat at council meetings (and a couple of jobcentre ones) with an adviser looking at a wage slip or a letter from an employer and saying – yeah. This looks authentic. I can’t see what the issue is especially if a payment advice matches up with a bank statement but seriously – some of these people talk absolute shit. They don’t even look at the paperwork properly a lot of the time. I once sat at a jobcentre meeting where an adviser kept saying that they couldn’t accept a woman’s tenancy agreement for her Universal Credit claim because her landlord’s name and the name of the letting agent who managed the place and took the rent were different. That one was unreal.

      • That’s bollocks. My landlady has a different name to the name of the property company, and she employs an agent who tenants deal with to pay rent and repairs etc. There are also 2 or 3 other people who are partners in the property company, all of whom obviously have personal names that differ from the company name. I once had difficultly in explaining this to a police woman who frankly seemed a bit dim, when she called at my door asking for one of those partners and couldn’t even pronounce the name and couldn’t understand that I don’t personally know the man in question, didn’t get the fact that he doesn’t actually live here etc. FFS.

  6. I’m an advice worker and recently was helping someone with their universal credit claim. It came to light that the DWP had the number of the persons flat down wrong which was why their UC50 form hadn’t got to them through the post. We told UC on the phone the right flat number and the worker changed it on the system but then said because it was a change of circumstances a tenancy agreement had to be produced! I tried to explain that there was no change of circumstances as the person had lived in the same flat for years it was the UC department’s admin error. They still insisted on seeing the tenancy agreement as ‘the system’ now showed a change of circumstance. The person has a chronic illness and had not long been discharged from hospital and had no money for the bus or a taxi yet still they insisted and so I took it for him to Stockport job centre and let them know in no uncertain terms how crazy and inflexible their systems are, if not inhuman.
    Have had loads of trouble with council tax section at the town hall too who won’t put council tax support in place until they see the universal credit payment breakdown page although a person can’t get this until a week before they receive their UC approx 5-6 weeks after you claim if you’re lucky. I asked if they couldn’t just contact the job centre to verify it, after all the DWP are pretty quick at letting the council know if your benefits have stopped and was told oh no they couldn’t do that. They said a person could come and show it on their smartphone if they had no printer. I said what if they have no smart phone or are housebound due to illness or mental health problems. Honestly these systems are designed to bugger people up and put them off claiming. It is purposeful and it’s an agenda.

    • I’ve had lots of DWP letters in brown envelopes sent to my address but for people I’ve never heard of, who don’t live here and to my knowledge have never lived here. I opened one of them and it was informing someone that a Universal Credit payment had been made. I’m still getting them, got one last week, despite me writing on the envelope “not known at this address – return to sender” and posting them back in the postbox for the past year or so. The DWP system must be in one hell of a mess.

    • Perhaps surprisingly I was informed about making a claim for Council Tax reduction when I went for my initial UC interview, and was informed to make a claim for it, but advised that it wouldn’t become ‘active’ until I’d confirmed to the council that I was in receipt of UC. The rules allow a claim to be made, and up to a month, (28 days I think) for supporting evidence to be provided. The biggest difficulty I experienced was persuading the council agent in the webchat that I wasn’t claiming a single person’s discount, but the reduction for people claiming UC or other benefits, which in Wales means we have the full amount covered. The council, typically, then sent me a form by snail mail which I completed and decided to take in to the hub and have it processed in front of me…

      Apart from having to wait for about 45 minutes whilst they found a Welsh speaker, (which is another story entirely!) it took about 5 minutes to have it all scanned into the system. I was even asked if I wanted the claim backdated to when my UC claim became live, which gave me a couple more weeks of Council Tax Benefit. I didn’t initially apply for it as there were large sections on the form where I would have needed to justify why I was late in claiming etc. But it just went through. All I need to do now is provide the evidence of being in receipt of UC and that’s it sorted.

      It would seem to me that the way people are treated by the DWP or their local council is very arbitrary, as there seems to be very little consistency around the UK in how people are treated. At a very least, politeness should be a given, as well as treating people with a fundamental level of respect. Actually doing the job and not being a morally judgemental jobsworth seems to come quite low on the list where some public servants are concerned.

      • Morally judgmental jobsworths seem to be the type of Advisers I keep getting in the Jobcentre lately. Anybody would think the money is coming directly out of their pockets. Set of bastards. They are fucking scum.

        • It’s the way they are trained Trev. And a whole new generation of Work Coaches are coming in now.
          Often younger, they have only been trained to sign-on UC claimants. To them, Jobseekers Allowance is history.
          A lot of these new DWP staff are on fixed-term contracts. Contracts that may, or may not be renewed, depending on individual performance.

  7. In ~2009 I moved into a flat we called (without any affection whatsoever) The Mould Palace (but that’s a different story). I was the tenant of record, so I got all the utilities, etc. put into my name. I went to the Council to show them our paperwork (25% deduction, baby), at which point I was informed that we owed them over 1000GBP in council tax. I explained that we had just moved in, so it wasn’t our debt. There was a lot of confusion, kerfuffle, and eventually a few international calls (landlords should mention it if they’re leaving the country for 3 months!). I had to bring in the previous year’s tenancy agreements for both my housemates, to prove that they’d lived elsewhere, which took some doing. Unfortunately, I’d spent the previous year living with my parents in Canada while recovering from surgery-gone-wrong, so I had no proof of where I’d been. (My Dad joked that he’d write me a note. 😉 ) This has been the cause of years and years of trouble.

    For some reason, every so often, the debt reappears and attaches itself to my old council tax account. In the years since moving into the MP, I’ve had my council tax benefit and HB stopped multiple times as a result. I’ve also been taken to court by the Council twice without my knowledge because they persist in sending all paperwork to the MP, and I haven’t lived there for… 6 years? Every time it happens, I have to take the same paperwork to the Council offices and explain it all over again. Every time they ask me for proof of where I was living the year before, and I have to explain that yes, at 34 years old I was living with my Daddy. :/ Embarrassing. Also stressful.

    As the paperwork gets older, I’m also becoming worried that they’ll want corroboration. I’ve lost touch with one of my MP housemates, and the other housemate died…

    Currently haven’t had HB for 2 weeks. Again.

    • They do this on purpose. There is a thinly-disguised level of official non-cooperation with benefits, housing etc.
      In the same way, people can’t get benefit advances without making a direct request. And this has to be done using the ‘correct’ words.
      So saying ”Is there anything you can do ?” won’t work. But taking a deep breath and saying, ” I’m transferring to Universal Credit from Jobseeker’s Allowance, can I have a Benefit Transfer Advance for which I understand I am now eligible ? ” Should do the trick. The problem is there are so many people who don’t understand the system, and many others with literacy problems, whose first language is not english, or have learning difficulties.
      These are the people who struggle to put things in the ‘right way’, and in the Jobcentres and Housing Offices, you see this all the time.

      • I once overheard, whilst sat waiting my turn, a JCP Dole Clerk Adviser attempting to dissuade a young woman from claiming the JSA to which she was entitled. She was a young Asian lass probably aged about 17 or 18, with her mother who didn’t speak much English, and the guy was asking if she lives with her family and do they support her, and said something like “you don’t really need to be claiming do you?” , and went on “your family can just keep you couldn’t they?”, “you don’t really need JSA” ..etc. I was astonished and bloody fuming to hear the way in which he was bullying this shy young lass out of claiming her dole. I didn’t attempt to intervene though as it would have been pointless and security would have thrown me out. But I just thought you twat.

        • Exactly Trev, and there we have a case in point.
          Goodness knows how much of this sort of stuff the DWP get away with. Alongside the many unfair sanctions which people give up trying to complain about. Because the process is so complicated and difficult.

  8. Mass demos against Trump, pity that people can’t be motivated to stage mass protests against the Tories.

    • Yep I was thinking that yesterday…ok, so fair play to people protesting, but if only we had the same thing and media support for protests against Universal Credit, sanctions, disability cuts etc. It shows where the political liberal-left priorities and heart are, really. I often think that very big sections of the middle class are quietly fine with austerity.

      • Think I’ll mow a gigantic cock on IDS’s lawn…or better still draw it on his head in marker pen 😂

        • Just listening to live questions put to Trump &May by journos, hearing a lot of guff about Brexit, Trade deals, immigrants and Mexicans, and national security, but nothing about solving poverty or the exponential rise of foodbanks, nothing about disabled Rights, homelessness, or ending inequalities. Surprise, surprise. Mind you, did discover that both Saddique Khan and Jeremy Corbyn constitute a “negative force”, oh and the NHS is up for sale.

          • You’d think world leaders would be able to get their heads together and solve the real day-to-day problems that people face…wait, it’s them that cause our problems in the first place with policies deliberately designed to further enable the rich and disable the poor.

          • Leviticus is boring, and Old Testament, so we can safely ignore it! And besides, I think even Leviticus would allow an exception in the case of IDS.

          • Well he is a Roman Catholic after all, despite my request to the Pope to excommunicate him.

      • I’m sure that’s true. Some people have made a great deal of money during these years of austerity. Landlords for example, and those who own property. And it is easy to forget that a large number of people don’t claim benefits, are not disabled or homeless, and don’t know anyone who is. It is not that they are particularly nasty, these are often moderate Tories in a sort of ritual sense. Without any particular interest in politics at all.
        So these things seem like minority concerns to them, inevitably. And the right-wing press continues to present the idea that everything is basically fine.

        • Yeah, you’ve got something there Jeff. I don’t think everyone has suddenly turned into a bastard. Its just that for most people some of these things seem a long way away. Like being homeless.

  9. Many of the jobs I have to apply for (as a condition of continuing to receive my JSA) are quite a few miles away from where I live and would involve a bus and a train journey. I’ve just looked up the cost of a Metro travel card for the applicable zones in the West Yorkshire area, that can be used on both buses & trains, and it is £43.70 for a weekly or £165.20 for monthly. That’s a big deduction from the min. wage I’d be likely to earn, especially when you also factor in other expenses I’d have to pay if working full time; rent, full council tax, medical prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests & spectacles, vet bills for my cats (rather than pdsa). I’d be worse off than on the dole!

    • Cheap labour Trev, thats all it is. And in the Tory view better than being unemployed, however crap the job and the wages.
      If you were a pound a week better off after all of this, then they would think it was great.

      • Last week the jobcentre told me to register with a local employment agency, which I ve just done online this morning, and just now only moments ago have had a phone conversation with them as they had emailed me back asking me to ring them, so I did. They asked what experience I have of Assembly work and I told them I did some in the late 80s, they weren’t interested and asked what recent experience work experience i have and when I said none other than voluntary work, and told them how old I am, they couldn’t put the phone down quick enough. They’ll be in touch…yeah right, don’t hold your breath.

        • Which is why, if and when we get a Labour government, plenty of government work schemes will need to be created in order that discriminated against groups gain employment.

          Some might suggest that such job creation schemes just creates consumers of wealth, but I’d say, dependent on what exactly it is that people are doing, (and it has to be something worthwhile, as no-one likes to do pointless work) the work being done is more important than what bankers or most politicians do, and anyway, any job that makes our society a nicer place to be is making a far bigger contribution than landlords.

          And I’ve always felt that those who make that silly argument against public sector workers who don’t ‘create wealth’ as they put it would all look as sick as parrots if there were no police to protect their ill-gotten gains, or medical people to heal them when they are sick, or wipe their arses when they become old and senile…*

          Trev, you sound as if you’re a bit at the end of your tether, but you’re already doing far more than you are legally required to do, so please relax – any threats they make are empty. You’re on JSA, so no matter what they say, they can’t act outside the law in which it is written, as if in stone, ‘two or more steps’. If you want to retain evidence of any phone calls, (could be useful to shut MsAdvisor/SlaveDriverPlus up) there is an Android app that I use that automatically records all calls you make or receive:

          https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.appstar.callrecorder&hl=en_GB

          A very useful little app indeed! (Though I’ve heard it can be a little flaky, I’ve not had any issues)

          *I don’t think anyone should be wiping any arse but their own for less than £20 an hour – I’m not convinced that it’d solve the huge shortage of applicants for this kind of work, but it would help a lot.

          • Yes you’re right Padi I am getting a bit stressed out and allowing them to get to me, sorry about that and thanks for your advice. It’s just that I am highly susceptible to stress and after the confrontation that takes place at every signing session it takes me most of the following fortnight to get over it, then it all happens again. Stress itself is a killer, and I reckon those bastards in the Jobcentre have probably shortened my life expectancy by a few years. The trick is to remain more ‘Zen’ about it, but it’s a difficult headspace to maintain, to remember to bear in mind that it’s all an illusion and not get caught up in the Maya, I have to remind myself that the Jobcentre itself doesn’t even exist, it’s merely a pile of vibrating atoms held together by thought, and that I’ve been here on this earth plane many times before and shall be again, temporarily engrossed in matter for the duration of this particular incarnation, and nothing is permanent and all things shall come to pass. It was easier a few years back when I smoked weed, prior to my life-changing psychotherapy that fucked me up no end. 😵

          • It’s a pity that we don’t live closer to each other, as I’d be able to accompany you to those interviews, as you have a right to be accompanied – they hate that, as they know they’re being monitored! My usual thing is to get dressed up in a suit and tie when I accompany people, that really discombobulates advisors and suchlike!

            If you do know of someone who would be willing to accompany you, that’d really help with your anxiety. Also, if you were accompanied, I doubt very much that you’d have to deal with such confrontation. It really is quite strange how these minions react to this kind of thing – some become really obsequious, and some become really resentful, especially if the person doing the accompanying knows the system better than they do! I’ve also had training as a union rep, so that’s helped me a lot.

            I don’t get anxious at all now, but when I was on Workfare, I used to suffer from something very like panic attacks and was short of breath, always when I was on my way for the fortnightly meeting – it was totally crazy, as I’d sewn it up so much that there was literally nothing they could do, but yet I still had these symptoms. I arrived one day at the Interserve office in such a state that all the staff there were very concerned, and my advisor even made me a cup of tea! They also laid it on thick that I should seek medical attention, which I did, which involved getting X rays, twice, which revealed nothing untoward.

            It’s still too early to tell whether or not I’ll start to get stressed out about my UC meetings at the JCP+ but so far, it’s all been good, and no worries – but I’m pacing myself and I have all my activities logged. But you’re right, it is all an illusion, and I’ve more or less had that confirmed by my advisor – who I’ve had in the past. He’s very professional, and hasn’t tried to pull the wool over my eyes, and if all JCP+ advisors were like him, I suspect that UC wouldn’t be anything like as bad. But he’s still a JCP+ advisor. I’m supposed to be on weekly meetings in the first three months, but so far I’ve been on fortnightly meetings – but my advisor told me that this kind of thing is largely down to individual advisor’s discretion.

            I hope your next appointment goes well and you find that your regular advisor has had to take some time off due to blowing a gasket, as it sounds to me that she is pretty stressed out and on the edge.

  10. Well thank God for D-Day, it saved the world from being taken over by Fascists and Nazis. Wonder if Trump, Farage or any of the Tories can see the irony in that?

    • You and me both Trev, if that were so, the buggers would owe me £20,000!

      A friend of mine frequently posts about this on Facebook, though these posts have increased in frequency of late as he’s just had his 60th. His latest post points out that German pensioners get £26,000 pa and French pensioners get £24,000 pa, (and retire at 62) but in the UK pensioners only get a very generous £8,000 pa. I’m sure that if the very rich and the big corporations paid all their taxes we could have both decent pensions and a retirement age of 60. At the very least it would give younger people a chance in the workforce.

    • And not often mentioned, this has also screwed the unemployed who would have retired on Pension Credit at 60. With no work requirements under the old system.

    • That certainly is quite a lengthy article, I got through it however and it raises some interesting points. Personally I don’t see Taxation as “theft”, but it has to be done fairly, and in the case of forcing the unwaged to pay some Council Tax (for example) it simply amounts to a cut in Benefits. I’m more tempted to side with Marx in that all property is theft, at least philosophically speaking, though on the other hand I also believe that personal individual circumstances might in part be dictated by Karma. It’s entirely possible that I am poor in this life because due to my foolhardiness in a former life I inadvertently committed my mother and sister to a life of destitution reliant upon alms (because I was the bread-winner but I got myself killed at the age of 24 by messing about on the river in my mates’ home-made boat). If that’s the case then wouldn’t it mean that those who do have wealth and success in this life have so because they’ve earned good Karma? Well in some cases that’s possible, but for those who have acquired wealth unfairly, or by devious means, then they have earned themselves some negative Karma in a life yet to come. After all, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven!

      • P.S.

        I’m not definitively saying that is the case, more just exploring the possibilities and putting the thought out there, because the article mentions (and dismisses) both the notion of “luck” and “hard work” as reasons behind material success, but doesn’t consider the possible input of Karma as a causational effect. Regardless of Karma, however, there are some things that are blatantly unjust, e.g. Universal Credit….

        https://drive.google.com/open?id=12XXQDqzVm2UVexcO2Gli1DltuN0mzHbp

        https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/06/06/campaign-groups-latest-research-shows-the-cruelty-of-universal-credit/

        Unless of course Buddha was right and Man is indeed born to suffer?

          • I think that part of the usual communist revolutionary rejection and suppression of religion was because it tends to teach that the poor should be happy with their lot, and merely look forward to a better life in the next world. I guess a secular equivalent would be comments about ‘Jam tomorrow’. This was especially galling when they saw that religion was just part of the system that oppressed ordinary people..

            https://imgur.com/r/SRSAnarchists/MnGk7

        • I don’t think that the role of religion could have any place in what is, essentially an appeal for scientific rigour. Indeed, the whole luck and hard work thing is down to notions encouraged by the Protestant Work Ethic that says to people that they’ll get their reward in heaven, whilst the exploiting bastards will be rewarded by your work!

          I’m very much with the IWW on the issue of religion, and sometimes politics, which regards both as personal, private matters. I personally have no religious convictions these days, though many years ago I did. however, for me life has just confirmed that there are no gods so much as science can confirm, but of course the existence of a higher being or not cannot be proven one way or the other, so I guess you could call me an extreme agnostic.

      • I can’t comment on the metaphysical stuff there Trev, but it was Proudhon the anarchist who said that property is theft – but he was talking about things like real estate, such as large land holdings or the ownership of industries that create wealth. Things like houses, your toothbrush and your clothes, and any land that you use to grow food are personal possessions, which are yours as of right. Marx obviously nicked a few ideas from the anarchists before he fell out with them! (Some anarchists are still adamant that a Marxist with ideas is an oxymoron 🙂 )

        Anarchists do sometimes go a little ballistic about taxation, but those of us with a little common sense realise that we can’t really do without government, and that requires taxation.

        I don’t think anyone would disagree with you about UC claimants having to pay a portion of Council Tax, as that is just an underhand way of reducing people’s money, upon which it’s hard enough to live on as it is, without those kinds ot ‘thefts’. I can remember thinking when the Trots were celebrating ‘their’ victory over the Poll Tax that they’d been outmanouvred by Thatcher, who simply brought in Council Tax, which was effectively no better than the Poll Tax, and was in effect as unfair, apart from people on benefits at the time exempt. I actually liked the LibDem idea of a local income tax, as I worked out that it would cost me a lot less than Council Tax, as the cut off is actually at quite a low level – you don’t need to be earning that much before you’re required to pay full Council Tax, and even back then, 15 or 20 years ago, I was paying far less income tax than I was Council Tax.

  11. So Gove sniffed coke, what next, is Rees Mogg about to get a lip piercing and reveal that he enjoys a little M-cat now & then? Tories trying to look cool and portray themselves as human doesn’t fool me. Fucking hypocrites. It’s ok for posh people to use drugs whilst others sit in prison cells, because posh people don’t have to live in neighbourhoods where drug wars are fought out on the streets without a copper in sight until after the shooting has stopped.

  12. To my huge relief this week’s signing appointment at the dreaded Jobcentre was a breeze 😃 Phew, thanks for that! Panic over. It was another late afternoon appointment so the stress and anxiety levels had been rising all day as the moment of doom approached, but I needn’t have worried. It was a quick-fire signing with a male Adviser that I haven’t seen for a long time, not either of the usual women who have been giving me a hard time of late, and he was in a big rush to just get me signed and out of there. He didn’t want to see my jobsearch evidence, or didn’t have time to look at it, and then said that my next appointment will be a group signing session, probably with him but upstairs on the top floor. He said it’s just something they’re trying out, but I recall them doing something similar last summer, some bollocks called the “Job Shop”, and the only reason they were doing that was because they were short-staffed due to staff taking their summer hols, so I’m guessing it’s the same situation again. That means I should have an easier time of it for the next 2 or 3 months, with a bit of luck. Thank God for that.

    • I hope it does go well for you for the next two or three months Trev.

      So far with my UC ‘signings’ things have been good, as I’ve been on fortnightly signing. Usually it’s weekly signing for the first three months, but as I sign on with a Welsh speaking advisor, it’s been fortnightly as he is very busy, and I think they’re going through a periodic shortage of staff who speak Welsh.

      I signed on last Friday, and don’t now have to go in until July 5th as my advisor is on leave.

      So far UC is going pretty smoothly, but then I am a simple case, (and some of my friends would agree about how simple I am!). About the only bad bit is the crazy work search/preparation bit, which is absolutely ridiculous. Get rid of that, and sanctions, and make the application process a little clearer/accessible, and it wouldn’t be too bad.

      • Well so far so good, but you’ll have to see how it goes in the long-term, will your money come through, will deductions screw you up, will you get sanctioned for falling short on the jobsearch rules, or forced into some shit part time or zero hours job that leaves you no better off? I hope not, but it’s all to be expected on UC.

        • Well yes, there are the less than savoury aspects of it all, but I’m unlikely to fall short in the Jobsearch department for obvious reasons, and there are ways of avoiding even shit jobs even if I get sent to interview, I can still perform well and mess up chances of getting the job through asking questions about the existence of a union etc. Most employers offering shit jobs are terrified of unions or at least don’t want the hassle of dealing with them. Money has so far come through, though it’s early days, and deductions I knew about, and relate to the advance payment, which I deliberately kept as low as possible.

          I’m sure there are probably other pitfalls, and I’ll have to watch out for them, but so far, so good.

  13. Austerity will never end so long as the Tories remain in power. Their post-Brexit plans will strip further money from the poor to benefit the rich. Wales in particular will be very hard hit:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/conservative-brexit-funding-regions-tory-leadership-contest-structural-funds-a8952186.html

    https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/06/11/tory-post-brexit-spending-plans-strip-cash-from-the-poor-and-give-it-to-the-rich/

    • Wales is already pretty hard hit, as more than a fifth of those in work are in insecure temporary part time and zero hour jobs.

      Places like Cardiff won’t fare too badly, but those areas that received the most support from EU structural funding will just collapse, as they are pretty close to that already anyway, and have been pretty dire since the coal and steel industries closed down.

      In places like Caerphilly and Pontypridd, and even well up into the Valleys there is a saying, “You either work in Cardiff, or you don’t work at all”. Of course, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but in many of those places outside of Cardiff it’s employers like the local council or the NHS who are the biggest employers, and the councils have shed thousands of jobs in the past ten years here as well as everywhere else.

      In many places hope has been pretty much destroyed and communities abandoned to poverty and crime. I struggle to imagine how much worse it could get.

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