Apologies for being a Remainer – more stories from the jobcentre

Back to Stockport jobcentre for more leafleting with Stockport United Against Austerity:

I spoke with Stephen*, a man in his 50s who was signing on for Universal Credit some months after a job redundancy.

We talked about the coming election and Brexit. Stephen was shy: “normally, I’m not political.” Stephen was a Remainer. He seemed to feel he had to apologise for it – that his answer was the wrong one.

Stephen said he wanted England to stay in Europe, because his daughter and her children lived in France:

“…I’ve got different circumstances… I’ve got a daughter [who] is actually French and grandchildren who are French. She’s born and bred in France…I’ve got slightly different circumstances. My opinion revolves around my circumstances. If I didn’t have my family abroad, I might have another opinion…”

The day’s strong opinions were reserved, as they always are, for the wrecked public sector that people must rely on while Westminster frenzies over Brexit elections and drones the long route round its graveyard spiral.

There was Pam*, in her 60s, who’d made about 6 trips to the jobcentre and Fred Perry house, Stockport council’s nerve centre, to try and sort out her disabled son’s Universal Credit claim.

She said her son, who had learning difficulties, had moved into a flat several months back, but had only received about £300 in benefits, “with no housing benefit included.” Pam couldn’t use a computer, so couldn’t manage her son’s claim online:

“…I’ve been about flipping 6 times…it just started [her son’s Universal Credit claim] last week… he’s moved into a flat and he has learning difficulties, so that’s how he went onto Universal Credit… he works 16 hours…He only got £317 last week and no housing benefit included. I spoke to his work coach. He said you only get paid from when you apply – but my daughter went into Fred Perry house and they said I should come here [to the jobcentre].”

Pam also wanted to fill in an appointee form – to sign up as her son’s formal representative so that she could manage his benefit claim on his behalf. This had been no hayride. The application form that she’d filled had gone missing. Another copy had been sent electronically – not much use for someone who didn’t use a computer.

Pam was at the jobcentre, because an adviser had left a paper copy for her to collect:

“..they’ve left it for me. Everything is on the computer, but some people can’t read, or write. How can they use a computer? I’m not computer literate. They sent me an [appointee] form to fill in, so that I can speak for him. I did that. I signed it. They’ve said they can’t find it.”

Then – of course – there was the parking ticket Pam had found on her car windscreen when she’d parked in the lot next door to Stockport jobcentre. As per standard, the pay and display machine had been broken that day. Needless to say, Pam found herself paying for that:

“…the machine was out. I took a photograph of it and I went into [the jobcentre]. There was loads of people took a photograph of [the broken pay and display machine]. They still sent me a parking fine. My daughter wrote saying it was broken. They said you should go to another parking meter. I said there’s only one there. They’ve said you shouldn’t have parked there if there wasn’t a meter…”

We didn’t quite get round to talking elections. Maybe next time. I’m sure there’ll be one.

———————-

*names changed

Blogging will be light until the end of the year as am finishing a transcription project of interviews, and homelessness and jobcentre meeting recordings. Still available for contact here.

61 thoughts on “Apologies for being a Remainer – more stories from the jobcentre

  1. I was informed very recently by an Interserve course tutor that myself and the rest of the group on the course will be transferred from JSA to Universal Credit in January. She was very adamant about this, saying that she works closely with the Jobcentre and has inside information, so we were understandably quite concerned and worried. It turned out to be total bollocks, managed migration from legacy Benefits doesn’t even begin until November 2020 and takes place over a three year period until December 2023.
    Meanwhile, back at the Jobcentre, my Adviser/Work Coach person advised me not to waste money on printing out my jobsearch evidence at the library saying that I could print it in the jobcentre for free. So I went there this afternoon, walked there and back in pouring rain, about a mile & half each way, only to find that yes they do now have some fancy new computers in the jobcentre BUT the printer isn’t currently working. I will just show her the emails on my phone instead from now on as the two quid I would normally spend on library prints would come in handy for bread/milk etc. It’s just that I always felt more secure having it in print, safe in the knowledge that a possible Sanction would be avoided. I’ll see how I get on in the morning at my signing appointment, should be ok but all the same I wish they would just fuck off as I’m sick of dealing with this shit every fortnight for the sake of 70 poxy quid a week.

    • I know how you feel Trev. I’ve been presenting my evidence for worksearch for my UC claim on a tablet since I started claiming UC. I make kind of notes that are recommended, and the advisor briefly scrolls through them, but doesn’t really appear to take much interest. I also have a new advisor, as the number of Welsh speakers working in the JCP has doubled, and there are now two. As a result of my most recent appointment I’m now going to attend a information and appraisal session for social care work… That should be informative, but from the job outline description it seems that the work will involve manual handling, which I can’t do due to a congential condition, and also ‘personal care’ i.e. wiping arses. I know that it’s work that needs to be done, and I take my hat off to those who do that kind of work, but I think it takes a special kind of person – who deserve far more than the insulting pittance and work pressure they get.

      I’ll see if there is any kind of less demanding work with this company, but I suspect they are just another one of these private social care agencies that can’t get their heads around that the reason they struggle to find and retain staff is because they pay them so effing badly and treat them like dirt expecting them to fulfill roles that would have been at least two people’s job ten years ago. In my opinion this kind of vital work should be properly professionalised and paid acccordingly, at least £20 to £25 an hour. That might sound like a lot, but social care workers are far more valuable, and far more vital to society than any banker or Tory parasite.

      • For sure, the Care sector is grossly underpaid, and I too have the greatest respect for people who do that work but I don’t think I could do it. I used to do part time casual work for a business man I knew who owned three nursing homes, picking up litter, mowing the lawns etc. and not only was that hard work but it was a depressing environment to be in. The people there were very unhappy, some visibly distressed, and not looked after properly. Some were elderly, others had mental health issues, I found it upsetting. Some would be constantly asking me for fags, or repeatedly asking what day it was, “is it pay day?”, “do we get paid today?”, they were just given a bit of pocket money each Friday and would trot off to the local shop to buy a packet of cigarettes. One woman had wet herself when I arrived at about 9.00am and was still in the same clothes, unseen to, when I left at 3.30pm. It was awful. Another old guy used to throw shit out of the window. All of those homes are closed now as they didn’t pass inspections and the Council forcibly shut them down. I could go on. The buildings fell into dereliction and were squatted and ransacked by junkies, but that’s another story.

        • It’s probably time that the whole care sector was ‘nationalised’ and run by local authorities. It’s not a sinecure, as we know from Kate’s often critical coverage of the local authority run hostels for homeless families. Also, there was the scandal a few years ago of the horrible conditions and abuse found in council run children’s homes.

          Hand in hand with the setting up of these institutions, there should also be the setting up of a citizens’s inspectorate comprising of interested, concerned and trained citizen volunteers who have immediate 24/7 access to all such places, including prisons to ensure that the high standards set by society are maintained.

          I know, probably pie in the sky, but I find it appalling that so many of our ‘out of sight, out of mind’ are allowed to be run in a bad way.

    • There’s also that character Trev who interjects and diverts the conversation along the lines of literary criticism, philosophy, metaphysics and probably manages to create complete brainfuddle in the heads of the more hard of thinking who commented on that thread. Nice one Trev!

      It’s amazing how many complete fuckwits, morons, cretins or whatever you want to call them come out with the most absurd trash.

      There was one person who commented on an article in the Guardian yesterday claiming that they voted UKIP because she wanted a vacuum cleaner that sucked better – because they’d believed some crap about an EU conspiracy to put a cap on the power of vacuum cleaners. Like most of these things, there is a basis in fact, but there are very good reasons why this rule was introduced; it would save trillions of megawatts of electricity Europe wide. And, if that person had done a Google search as simple as ‘vacuum cleaner eu’ they’d have immediately come across Which? tests dealing exactly with the issue that showed that the vast majority of the reduced power vacuum cleaners worked just as well as the older, less efficient ones as they had been designed better.

      I despair sometimes that people can choose to be so fucking ignorant. They’re prepared to makes themselves look utterly stupid making unsubstantiated comments on the internet but yet won’t spend a couple of minutes reading so they actually know something about what they’re talking about, or whether they should actually venture that opinion in the first place, as they’d (hopefully) realise that they’d been lied to.

      And don’t get me started on those utter morons who won’t vote Labour because they don’t like Corbyn. I would guess that we could all level some criticism at him, but he still stands head and shoulders above Johnson, and surely they realise that it’s the policies that matter, not the personality. However, it would seem that kissing babies heads, or the equivalent is a heavy influencer of the way people vote. As you pointed out, if Corbyn becomes PM (and pray he does…) he’s not likely to stick around that long as he’s 70 and will be wanting to kick back a little and spend more time on his allotment before too long.

      It really pisses me off that cretins can diss Labour’s policies are ‘Marxist’ or that they’ll bankrupt the economy when they are only advocating that the UK has parity with Germany and France in terms of social conditions. Do these fuckwits realise that even a conservative government in Norway is more radically ‘left-wing’ in terms of social policy and welfare? They probably wouldn’t be able to find Norway on a map, let alone know about social welfare there.

      Another five years of the Tories is going to be very grim indeed and I predict that things will happen that will make the Winter of Discontent look like a kindergarten outing.

  2. Been away for a week, just picked this topic up in my Mail.
    I’ll say it again: I cannot imagine what this system is doing to you all. Given that, my situation seems petty, but it isn’t of course to me. I have given as good as I’ve got, ‘they’ have nothing left to throw at me. But I’m slowly crumbling. I have no choice but to move. I feel scared and insecure. How then do you guys and the examples put up here cope? Talk about human spirit.

    Just before I went, I talked to someone official (I mindful of discretion here). That person was astonishingly candid and supportive, privately confiming my opinion; it was a fraught and tearful meeting. But that is not why I relate this. I relate this because I went in to h/benefits to assess what would be applicable if I made this or that move. When I arrived in this smallish area of Council, there was an anguished elderly man trying to make them understand that he did not have a computer to access a computerised application. It broke me, and I burst into tears and sobbed.

    The poor sod looked round, and as he left I wished him well; what else could do?
    In this situation all that we can do is support and sympathise. It was the bloody despair of this vile system, and undoubtedly my own situation that caused my making a twat of myself, -but that poor bugger was vastly worse of than I was.

    This past week I went to see the Loach film: ”Sorry We Missed You”. This one deals with the should be criminalised ‘zero hours’ contracts. I have ‘Daniel Blake’. This one is more subtle in how it shows the slow breakdown of a family unit because of this vile system. The woman next to me was upset; I told her that so very many will walk out of that cinema and vote Tory.

    I saw a post that said people will actually vote for those who keep them in poverty.
    They will.

    • Hi Linda. Thanks for sharing such heartfelt words with us. I too have been contemplating why people vote Tory completely contrary to their own interests. There is no simple answer, but at least partially they can be convinced to, say, not vote for Corbyn because they’ve been told, over and over, in the right-wing papers they read that socialism is bad, and that Corbyn is a socialist, so ergo Corbyn is bad. This is so obviously not thought through, as they mostly think the policies Corbyn is offering are just what they want to see implemented – they want a nationalised railway system, they want a secure and safe NHS that’s entirely in public ownership and they want a better country that offers a future to their children and grandchildren, all socialist policies, and yet they won’t vote for Corbyn, who despite anything else, would deliver them from the evil that is Tory government, because he’s a socialist – who happens to be offering a system of social welfare that would look lacking to a conservative Norwegian government! That’s how radical Corbyn really is, about as radical as a Norwegian conservative!

      You ask about how we cope. I guess that I’m fairly fortunate that up til now I’ve had a very professional JCP+ advisor who is very fair, and has always gone out of their way to inform me of what is available to claimants, to the extent that I could find some of the claims made about JCP+ advisors in other Jobcentres questionable – but for the fact that mine did mention, in an oblique way, that JCP+ advisors have a lot of discretion. To be fair, in the past I have challenged some of the things I’ve been told I had to do, my most effective was when I was initially signed up, without my consent or knowledge, to the Work Programme, aka Workfare. I rapidly read up on it and challenged it at the initial interview held with a JCP+ advisor, and I presented a Withdrawal of Consent letter. This halted the interview immediately and I was told to sign on as normal until the issue was resolved, which would take up to 28 days. I think I caused something of a massive shock to the system, as the next time I turned up at the JCP+ to sign on, I was met at the door by a Welsh speaking advisor. Up until this point I’d had trouble signing on in Welsh, as there seemed to be a shortage of Welsh speakers – but I was fine with that, and my jobsearch went through on the nod, because the advisors by and large didn’t read Welsh, and couldn’t challenge it even if they wanted to, as I have the right to deal with the DWP in Welsh, (at least in Wales). Long story short, the 28 days came and went, and even my new Welsh speaking advisor advised leaving sleeping dogs lie when two months had gone by and I’d still not heard anything. Eleven months later, my advisor almost apologetically informed me that his line manager insisted that it was time I was place on the Work Programme. They even showed me the e-mail. So, I was put on the Work Programme, and more or less instantly ‘parked’ as I’d insisted on my right to use the Welsh language, which the contracted out agencies were obliged to respect, but didn’t really have the capacity to deliver. However, an advisor who sort of spoke Welsh was found who was willing to take me on, who in the event used every meeting to give me the low down on how unfair and corrupt the system really was – safe in the knowledge that no-one else had the first clue what we were talking about. They eventually became so pissed off they found another job and the agency, Interserve, rather slyly tried to palm me off with an advisor who only spoke English. When I queried this, I was informed that they’d try and find me a Welsh speaking advisor. It was then that things started to get really farcical, and I was sent to another Interserve office in a different town a few stops along the railway line – with Interserve picking up the cost of the ticket, where there was someone who understood Welsh. It transpired that they had received their entire education through the medium of Welsh, but as is common in South East Wales, hadn’t used it in the 12 years since leaving school and so had lost the confidence to speak the language, though their understanding remained undiminished. soon my time on Workfare was over, a time, that unlike the vast majority of people, I had quite enjoyed simply because I had made demands that the system couldn’t cope with, even though it should have been able to. During that time I often used the knowledge I gained to oppose and subvert the system in aid of others, attending Workfare interviews with people and totally freaking these providers out as most people simply didn’t know about their rights to be accompanied, and indeed it often coming as an unwelcome shock to the interviewers that candidates had a right not only to be accompanied, but to being represented as well. I was also a union rep in the IWW at the time, and the last thing a Workfare exploiting slave driving organisation expects is a slave to be a member of a union with representation! I also have a habit of going to these meetings dressed to the nines in a suit with collar and tie and a briefcase. It’s all acting, with props, of course, but it does seem to work much of the time, but also exposes how many organisations are really so badly prepared when it comes to being robustly challenged.

      Being on JSA was something of a picnic, and most trouble emanating from the DWP was over unlawful sanctions where the law was clearly being breached. So long as a claimant abided with the law, i.e. they took two or more steps towards gaining employment they were in compliance and no amount of creative interpretation on behalf of an advisor or the DWP could change the law. Universal Credit is something else, and I think it’s still stumping those organisations that managed to combat JSA so effectively on how to counter UC. I know that Boycott Workfare are still active and trying to devise ways of countering UC, but the fact is a rather nasty mind is behind how the UC regulations have been framed, and I don’t mean that imbecile IDS’s mind either. The mind behind UC is very cold, calculating and sociopathic.

      I really find it very hard to relate to someone who is not computer literate, as I am far from being such, but as far as I am concerned it is clearly a breach of human rights to make such a system vital to people’s lives inaccessible in any way. Anyone with even only an ounce of compassion would understand that people are very often poor because they struggle with literacy, and that it would follow that they’d struggle even more if they had to use IT to access benefits. I also see the problem from the point of view of the DWP JCP+ or council advisor, they simply do not have the time to sit down with service users to help them negotiate the system. This is totally wrong, of course, but we all know that this is what it has come to. The only thing we can do is help where we feel able, as and when. I spent some time chatting to a homeless person last night who was sat outside the supermarket where I’d just been shopping. I gave a small amount of money too, and felt somehow that it was totally inadequate. If it had been £100 it would still have been inadequate, as this person should have a right to a roof over their head – even those who commit the most heinous of crimes doesn’t end up homeless, cold and malnourished.

      I’m now on Universal Credit myself, and whilst I don’t have any real issues with the system, I am still bemused by the system that seems to be set up solely to catch people out. The monthly payment isn’t too bad, but I have noticed that I do struggle a bit as the length of months varies and amount doesn’t. I’m also paying back an advanced payment I took out to cover the initial 5 week period, and as a result of a mix up, (read total fuck up) by the housing association over my rent, I’m in arrears, so I’m paying £20 over the rent every month until the arrears are cleared, and also the monthly rent payment is higher than usual, as there are 53 weeks this year as far as the housing association are concerned, but only 52 as far as Universal Credit is concerned – the Welsh government are looking into a proposal to cough up the cash to pay for that for us, as they also cough up the cash to pay for our council tax in its entirety. It helps, of course, and I am grateful, but we all know that £73.10 a week isn’t a lot to start off with, and when that’s reduced because of paying off rent arrears and advance UC payments, it leaves even less. I still consider myself fortunate though, as things could be so much worse. Some months I have to forego gas for a week or ten days at the end, which might become a bit grim as the winter progresses, but I am fortunate that I have a fairly well insulated flat and two computers constantly running in the living room, which, apart from keeping my systems running, also provides a significant amount of background heat. All my lighting is LED or energy efficient and my computers are modern, so don’t consume too much electricity. Also towards the end of each month I find that my diet is increasingly porridge or baked beans on toast. I eat a lot of wholemeal toast, it’s cheap, and nourishing, even better when it’s reduced to half price in Aldi because the best before date is immanent! A loaf doesn’t last me long, so it’s not often I have to contend with green bits!.

      Emotionally I find that I tend to rage. Crying would be just as appropriate. I allow my rage to subside enough, (usually) before I make probably futile attempts to counter the comments made by the morons, cretins or others who present as hard of thinking with reasoned and polite counter arguments, though sometimes the polite bit would need to be somewhat broadly defined. It’s a coping system, I can channel my rage. One of my latest comments on one social media platform is still getting likes two days later, so maybe some out there are taking note?

      I quite agree with you about attitudes. How can someone watch films like ‘Sorry We Missed You” or ‘I, Daniel Blake’ and still vote Tory? However, with zero hour contracts I do think the opposition needs to be more nuanced. Of course the zero hour contracts that are exploitative need to be outlawed, but there are some zero hour contracts that allow worker flexibility where the worker is as much in control as they ever could be in that they are free to turn down the offer of a shift because maybe they have something else to do, or maybe have already agreed to work a shift with a different employer.l Having worked such a contract, where I wasn’t obliged to take a shift if it was inconvenient, and which also wasn’t exclusive meaning I could also accept work from other sources meant that I felt liberated from the normal work treadmill, where I had a lot of flexibility and choice about where and when I worked .That kind of zero hour contract can be very positive and empowering. So let’s be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      You didn’t make a twat of yourself, you merely expressed normal human emotions, something those who devised the hateful systems oppressing us clearly don’t have. No one with any kind of humanity would devise such a system. They are the kind who thought up the system of oppression and ultimately of eradication in 1930s and 1940s Germany, with equal dispassion. You are head and shoulders above them, and you know it Linda. Take pride that you ‘made a twat of yourself’!

      Yes, people who are in poverty will vote for those who keep them in it. We could refer them to quotes like this one from George Orwell:

      “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.”

      Or we could live in hope that this, one of my favourite American sayings, comes true:

      “Stupid should hurt”

      It probably will, but I suspect they’ll still vote Tory.

      • That is a very good article Trev. Sadly very few seem to be using the technology available at their fingertips to fact check any of this stuff.

        If they did, they would indeed discover that a fair amount of the support Corbyn receives in terms of press or online articles is from writers who are Jews themselves, and they are hyper critical of the whole business. The truth is that the establishment are terrified that Corbyn could be PM as he has the integrity and humanity, as well as the uncorruptability to call out the wrongs of those who would seek the UK government’s connivance in inhumane acts.

        Last week I found this monstrous article in Haartez, an Israeli newspaper that often publishes articles critical of the Israeli government policies towards the Palestinians. I read the article with increasing incredulity as the article went on to distort the situation more and more. We have to remember that this newspaper is targeted at an audience perhaps not familiar with the UK. I am unfamiliar with the picture painted of the UK in that article.

        You can find the article here, but it’s more than likely that you’ll need to register to be able to read it:

        https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-anyone-but-corbyn-for-uk-jews-fear-of-a-labour-government-is-now-overwhelming-1.8185321

        As I finished reading the article I noticed the writer’s bio. Noted there was that they wrote for the Daily Mail, The Spectator and the Sun, amongst others – quelle surprise!

        • Good grief, that’s a sickeningly terrible article, riddled with untruths. I don’t think the writer has any grasp of the situation, or is being deliberately obtuse, either that or not very bright. An astute analysis it isn’t! She describes Corbyn as “extreme Left”, no he isn’t he’s moderately Left, none of his policies are all that Radical, just Socialist policies that the Labour party are supposed to stand for before they were infiltrated by neoliberals like Blair. She says he (Corbyn) has allowed antisemitism to”flourish”, not true, it has declined under his leadership. It’s a very confused and badly written piece. If I’d have submitted an essay like that as an Undergraduate the Tutors would have torn it apart.

          • Well, she does write for the Daily Mail Trev, so what do you expect? But, yeah, it’s even worse than the kind of bilge that’s been churned out recently by the mainstream media in the UK. For some reason this mild mannered, caring septuagenarian has them all terrified.

            However, I’ve just finished watching something that everyone should see – it explains a lot why they’re all shit scared of Corbyn, as he threatens to upset their whole applecart:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwlvLe-X27o&fbclid=IwAR3J3su7YamVXs1ZqjWyMG-LDF24dKv0K88SZYmNRokgX-FfoLVgyrrUL6s

            It’s two hours long, but it demolishes all the Tory pretence that the NHS is safe in their hands.

          • No Trev, it’s not that one, I haven’t seen that one, but as it starts with Fellow Worker Chomsky speaking it looks as if it could be a riveting watch. If you’re having trouble watching it I could do what we’ve done before. I’ll message Kate. It’s a bugger not being able to watch things.
            Another video that’s a must watch, a lot shorter this time, but it gets right to the point!

          • Oh that’s ok Padi, thanks for the offer but last time it used all my monthly data up watching it on my phone. I got a free tablet last week courtesy of Interserve but seeing as I don’t have broadband or a wi-fi hub and no free wi-fi signals where I live I flogged the tablet the very next day for £50 as I was also skint and needed money to get through this week and the Council Tax and Water was due.

          • Sorry to hear that Trev. I didn’t think. It must be a bugger not having access to decent and unlimited internet connection. I wish there was some other way I could get this kind of stuff to you. I’d be completely lost without mine. Okay, it costs me £24.95 a month, but that I consider a price worth paying, though I don’t have to pay any council tax here, so that helps.

            Let’s hope that Corbyn gets in and we all get free gigabit fibre broadband!

          • Yes, free broadband would make a massive difference to peoples’ lives. I used to have broadband years ago but which also involved having a landline installed and a phone, though at that time I had a pay-as-you-go old Nokia for my mobile, so I tended to use the landline phone. The monthly bill for internet + line rental + call charges used to come to about £50 per month, and there’s no way I can afford that now. Where I live now there is no landline installed, and I have a smartphone, for which I pay £12.50 per month SIM deal that covers all my calls & texts + 4 gig of internet data. I can’t pick up any free wi-fi signals from home, they’re all password secure. I use my phone for jobsearch most of the time but also use the computers in the library now and then, or can use the jobcentre ones but tend to avoid that place if possible!

          • P.S.
            My Council Tax is £18 per month but tends to go up by another quid each year, so I bet it’ll be £19 or £20 per month before long.

          • Thought about moving to Wales Trev? The Welsh government pays our council tax for entirely, which is a great help. In all other things though, it’s as bad as in England – and recently the Labour Welsh government voted down a proposal to devolve welfare, and, as has been widely publicised recently, has refused to implement free social care for the elderly in Wales, despite it being UK party policy and them having the power to do this in Wales.

            Did a quick check on broadband prices, and the post office is offering a 11 mbps average service with unlimited downloads for £15.90 a month with no setup costs on a 12 month contract (that goes up to £30 a month after 12 months, but negotiations can usually be brokered to change that… they want our business) – that includes line rental, but these days it’s wise to avoid using a land line unless you pay for an ‘all in’ call package as landline calls are now phenomenally expensive now.

            I use 1p mobile for my sim, which works out, sort of, but I just don’t use the phone that much and I’m now in the crazy situation where I’m building up credit all the time as I have to periodically top it up to keep the service going. I currently have over £30 credit on my phone. I can’t use it, as the reception where I live is lousy – thick Victorian stone walls. I use Skype to make calls to friends and family, and put £20 on that about 18 months ago – I still have £12.90 – calls are really cheap!

            I also share my broadband service with a friend, and have a rather long ethernet going from my living room window and up three floors and in through a friend’s kitchen window and into a router set up as access point so she has wifi in her flat. I’m probably breaking some Terms & Conditons somewhere in my contract, but I don’t charge her, and I’m not telling anyone. Occasionally she’ll give me a few quid to help out, which is nice, but not neccessary really. It’s a shame that people aren’t more willing to share their connections more. Many of us have sufficient bandwidth to be able to do that.

          • I once had a similar set up, with a very long ethernet cable out the kitchen window and up the side of the house and through my friend’s bedroom window to share his broadband, but he charged me £5 per month for the privilege and then when I started to make a couple of quid selling T-shirts on Redbubble he put the price up and wanted to charge me a tenner but we settled on £7.50 !

          • P.S.
            I do like Wales but am not in a position to move anywhere at the moment, and whenever I’ve visited Wales in the past it has usually rained, I think it’s about as wet as Yorkshire! Years ago me and a few mates used to head to Builth Wells in Powys for the annual Welsh Motorcycle Show, a weekend of camping and a few beers, I always enjoyed the ride down there, missing out all the motorways taking the back roads and country lanes down through Derbyshire, Shropshire, Oswestry, Welshpool etc. on my trusty old Triumph. Ah, those were the days.

          • For crying out loud Padi, you just told everyone!

            I am always checking in to read the stuff you guys put up, but life and times…………

            I am still so lucky compared to you two, and like you Padi I will join any group. that takes these dictators on. Please God for a hung Parly.
            I got through the campaign crap unscathed, because I put a note on the door that election material was to be left on a hall cupboard; -they complied! I caught the LieBoring DemoRats sorting through it and taking back their crap; they dominate in this area; even the local press is in their pocket.

            So tomprrow a better day; -or a horror day?

          • I am in total despair Trev, as I’m sure you all are.

            I did not watch any of this, but decided before switching the light off, to see if these dictators were at least contained by a hung parliament.
            I saw what you saw, and again I wept. I wept because you know and I know that this Regime has not only caused many deaths, and will now continue to cause them, but I have little doubt that this result will remove the last vestige of hope for many at the end of their rope; and there will be suicides.

            I will read the rest of the posts here now. Utter, utter despair and sorrow.
            i am so damn sorry for all of you who struggle against this.
            My profound respects to you.

          • It’s bad. Will push on as I know that it’s at least possible to make a difference on the ground by accompanying people to jobcentre and housing meetings, etc and I think that’s the way to go on from this end 🙂

          • Good Kate. It’s crucial; and now it’s critical to do what can be done to counter this.

            I don’t think that most people realise that the politics of bullying and domination, spread out like ripples and effect system after system.

            My bureaucracy has behaved the way it has because it can; -and it gets worse and worse, with quite open corruption, and the ‘you can’t touch us’ thing just hanging in the air. And they are right.
            That attitude has pervaded so many systems and services.

            I wept not because of depression; I’ve had that, and this is not it. I wept because this is so saddening. I wept because so very many people in the UK who went to bed (if they have one) last night with despair and hope for change, -have woken to see that crushed.
            I wept because it’s a human thing to do.

            Good luck. Keep on keeping on.

          • Yep, my immediate thought was of the many people I deal with who just about can’t take any more of this. Can’t give up until that’s fixed.

  3. When I signed on yesterday it was another Group session, in which they were trying to convince us of the benefits of UC, really trying to sell it to us. As the woman was talking about how much better off you’d be by doing part time work on UC I was reading a notice on the wall behind her that gave an example of someone earning £200 per month in part time earnings, and it said that you would be £74 per month better off in that scenario, BUT it didn’t take travel costs into account. A weekly bus ticket for my area costs around £15, so over a month that’s going to be around £60, so that £74 suddenly becomes just £14. It didn’t say how many hours of work were involved in the example, just earnings of £200 per month, I’m assuming that’s net income, so probably about 9 or 10 hours per week, so after doing that you will be let’s say about 15 quid a month better off. And they’re sitting there with a straight face trying to sell that to us. No mention of the UC deductions for advance payments that people have been forced to take, or random deductions for alleged overpayment of Tax Credits, and certainly no mention of the fact that since UC was partially introduced in my area two years ago (for new claims and changes in circumstances only) the local foodbank has seen a 300% increase in referrals.
    They also informed us at this Group meeting that as of January 20th all JSA signings will be done as a group, and on the ground floor, as all the staff except for one will be transferred to the UC floors, so just one Adviser for JSA at my Jobcentre. So much for the myth of “tailored one-to-one support”. They also made a point that we should all take advantage of the “Provision” available, at Reed or something else in my town called “Works Better” (no apostrophe). I’ve only just finished an Interserve course, and prior to that was on the Right Steps To Work course run by Standguide for 12 months. They never give it a rest.

    • I watched that Panorama episode where that Flintshire village was revisited and ended up angry again! As is to be expected these days, the BBC ‘investigative journalist’ did the rounds of the ‘experts’ (CAB, Joseph Rowntree Foundation) who all extolled how wonderful UC was – and how it hadn’t worked out to expectations. FFS, they seem to be people who are totally disconnected with any kind of reality that most of us would recognise. They’re either terminally naive, or just plain stupid! Surely, the fact that someone like IDS was behind Universal Credit should have started all sorts of alarm bells ringing. They seem to be completely incapable of conceiving that a politician could deliberately come up with such a punitive scheme, and persist in the delusion that UC contains ‘shortcomings’ or ‘teething troubles’ when it’s pretty obvious to anyone on the sharp end that the whole system was thought up by a very intelligent and sociopathic mind indeed, that more or less made the system free of both loopholes or clauses subject to challenge. That mind wasn’t IDS and the guy is as thick as two short planks. If it had been the fruit of his mind in its entirety it would have collapsed long ago. UC is simply a trap in which to catch the unwary poor.

      To be fair, for balance, the programme did interview a few people, who had mostly had their problems dealt with, but didn’t make any attempt at all to connect with self-help organisations such as the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, or even fellow journalists working in the field such as Kate.

      Let’s not forget that organisations such as the CAB have compromised themselves through taking government money, and all charities have been legally gagged from making politically motivated statements, so anything they say on the record is going to be seriously muted.

      I wasn’t too saddened by the programme, but felt that it once again missed a great opportunity to ask benefit recipients themselves what they’d like to see in terms of a benefits system, and what kinds of help they’d like to be able to access. But instead we get people who seem to be middle-class and probably somewhat judgmental talking for us and influencing policy, supposedly on our behalf, but failing because of the fundamental culture rift that exists. They’re well-meaning, but I tend to dismiss them usually because there is just no way they can appreciate just how life is when you’re faced with the complications and poverty.

      You and I Trev, we can manage the system, but the sheer bloody pointlessness of most of the system gets us down.

      I’m hoping that at the very least by tomorrow Johnson will be out of office, or at least have been denied another majority and there’s a hung parliament again. Hopefully the youth vote will have turned out and done the country proud. Whatever, I’m going to stay as positive as I can, and if we have another five years of Johnson, I’m going to do my bit in being part of the grass roots opposition. I am looking for an independent foodbank or some other such local, grass roots advocacy group for the marginalised where I can help out. Cardiff is remarkably weak in those kinds of things, in marked contrast to Bristol where there are a lot of such initiatives. The trouble with Cardiff is that those kinds of initiatives are soon inundated by the Socialist Workers Party, and soon become just a mouthpiece for them, sod everyone else. I can’t work with them, and have always refused in the past – and I have better things to do than assist with the rehabilitation of a party that tolerates rape denial, particularly as many of those in Cardiff endorsed the SWP leadership at the time. (Plus the one who usually inveigles themselves in anything vaguely austerity related here is an absolute tosser in my humble opinion!).

      A couple of us did sort of start an organisation, which still has an online presence and Facebook page, (that still gets an amazing number of hits) so maybe we’ll try and resurrect that. It’s a bit difficult when there are just two of you and you live a two hour bus journey apart, and have had difficulty in finding anyone else who actually wants to do something other than just moan. We all need to have a moan sometimes, that’s allowable, but actually doing something positive is what can make a real difference.

    • FFS Has the world gone fucking mad? WHO in their right minds would willingly re-elect that shower of shit?? I might as well curl up and die.

      • I’ve read them now.

        This was effectively a civil war. This was a war between those who edged across the line on leaving Europe, and the ‘minority’ who got dragged along for this ugly ride.

        The people voted this filth to even greater power. The people. The people, -so many of whom will be kept in even greater poverty, voted this garbage in because of ‘Brexit’: -code for sanitising racism and intolerance.

        The only hope left now is a bottom of the barrel principle; -that the people will rebel when it gets so out of hand; as it will. Since Thatcher though, ‘the people’ have been taught to be obedient sheep, only having an interest in what benefits them.

        The interest and overpowering influence of those who have so skillfully returned us to master and servant, was such that even blatantly exposed lies were ignored.
        The triumph and crowing of these dictators and their Brexit scumbags, is going to be hard for a while. The disloyal filth that will now blame Corbyn for everything will be hard to take, but life goes on, though I sometimes wonder why.

        I have a ‘friend’, more an acquaintance now, who is a hard Brexiteer Conservative. She wanted a wall built around England!
        I hope she does not contact. I am in a no prisoners mood. That friendship has ended. If she contacts, I will flay her.

        Perhaps we should all cling to the fact that there ARE good people out there/here, decent human beings. So many with kindness and integrity. These scum don’t control our souls; our minds.

        Sorry, I needed to get this of my chest. It is a black time in our history.

        • I’m not sure if I can survive another 5 years of Tory rule. The chances of me living long enough to see my Pension are minimal.

          • It IS bad Trev, but you and I must go on with this, as hundreds of thousands of others must, because we have no option.
            There ARE going to be those in a desperate mental state who go for the rope and the chair.
            We musn’t because we, like Kate; like Padi; like so very many, must be around to counter this.
            If we are beaten; they have won.
            There HAS to be people around to counter this.

            I admit I would give up if this was permanent; if they were here for the rest of time. They are not. If this gets so bad; so very bad, then maybe those voters who sold their integrity for bloody Brexit, will turn on these dictators.

            I cannot imagine given what’s coming, -that after the sheep get their Brexshit, they will become permanent CONservative voters. They elected these scum out of one issue selfishness. I have little doubt that that same self interest will be used AGAINST these dictators at the next election.

            It’s the getting there. It’s this next five years.
            We have no bloody choice Trev. Be as strong as you can. You have to be; you need to be.

          • You are right Linda. I just read the following quote by Tony Benn:

            “There is no final battle, there is no final defeat. There is the same battle over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up!”

          • You had me worried for a bit! I know how I reacted; and then saw how you reacted.
            It is much harder for blokes to have a bloody good blether!

            (I’ve c/p’d the Tony Benn quote. I like it. He always called a spade a bloody shovel! I like that!)

            We have to get up from our knees and brace ourselves to deal with these c**** Trev!
            It’s going to be bloody hard; much harder for you; but there is no choice; there is no bloody choice.

    • If this is accurate that’s it then, the country is fucked big style; mass homelessness, mass unemployment, mass starvation, mass suicides, no NHS, no industry, no jobs, just Dictator Boris for ever and a day. Prepare for the imminent deployment of Operation Yellowhammer /Redfold = Martial Law. We’re all fucked (‘cept the rich).

  4. Newcastle and Sunderland both Labour, as expected, should think all the North East will be same, as will South Yorkshire and Liverpool, don’t know about the rest of the country.

    • Unbelievable. Tories in South Yorkshire. Unheard of. And other areas of England too. Just goes to show the power of Racism and Xenophobia in this Godforsaken shit-hole of a country. Brexit won this election. Shocking and shameful. Wish I could emigrate 😭

      • I’ve heard that many are planning emigration to Scotland after independence, or maybe even to ensure that it’s a done deal!

        I think there are minds thinking along similar lines in Wales too, but our journey hasn’t progressed as far. Sadly the Tories have gained ground in Wales, and have taken places like Wrecsam, which has been Labour for 100 years. They’ve also taken Bridgend, a town with considerable social problems. Anglesey too, but there, like the North Wales Coast, or Costa Geriatrica as it’s known has experienced considerable influxes of English retirees, some of whom are not only true blue Tory, but ‘white flighters’ too (those who have moved to Wales because there are fewer people with darker skins) who express some pretty unsavoury sentiments about Welsh people, especially those of us who speak Welsh.

        It’s uncertain that Wales could ever become independent as now a full quarter of the population were born outside of Wales, most often in England. Some respect they are now in a different place, but most are either indifferent, or hostile to any notion of Welshness, which makes it highly unlikely they would vote for Welsh independence – and it would be dubious that we’d want many of them as citizens either, to be quite honest. Many have an attitude that is commonly found amongst the British expats inhabiting the Costa del Sol.

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