Linda’s story

“Behind the scenes with frontline service users in austerity: excerpts from interviews and covert videos and recordings

The post below – Linda’s story – is an excerpt from a story in a collection project Kate Belgrave is working on. The project collects covert recordings made from 2014 when she accompanied people to jobcentre meetings, ESA and PIP assessments, and council homelessness meetings.

See Linda’s story HERE

Video: Learning and literacy difficulties and need to drop a sick note to the jobcentre? Too bad. You’re banned. Get out

from Kate Belgrave’s blog:

Here’s one you should see: a recent* video which shows a woman with learning and literacy difficulties being told to Get Out of Kilburn jobcentre – even though she needed to drop off an all-important sick note at the jobcentre.

I post this to show you how unpleasant things can be at these places for long-term unemployed people who have support needs. People in these situations really are at the bottom of the pile. They have no power and absolutely no means of challenging the DWP.

I hate that.

The woman, Linda (name changed. I’ve written about her many times) is in her 50s. The day I took the video, Linda, as I say, needed the jobcentre to accept a sick note she had from her doctor. She risked sanctions if the jobcentre did not accept the note.

Nonetheless, the jobcentre adviser we saw refused to take the sick note.

Read more, and see the video here:

His diabetic mother was found dead in her home after being sanctioned for being in hospital with heart problems.

This was posted on Facebook today.

Peter Urbacz

My mother Ruby Urbacz age 59 was found dead at her home on the 6th September as a result of a heart attack. She had been admitted to hospital a 01/08/15 for chest pains where they found she had had three minor heart attacks. Even though my mother had poor mobility , type 2 diabetes, very basic numeracy and literacy skills and mental health problems including depression, she was deemed “fit for work” by the DWP. She was put on JSA and hounded to show evidence of looking for a job she struggled to write a shopping list and thus constantly worried about money and if her benefits would be stopped.

Her benefits were stopped without without any investigation as she missed her jsa appointment whilst in hospital, after her discharge she had received no money for five consecutive weeks of the £50 per week she would have normally received she was also paying £20 per week in bedroom tax. On only £30 per week She could not afford to feed herself properly as bills were her main priority, so was living off food bought from poundland which obviously worsened her diabetes.
She was getting carer visits from the red cross.

After her discharge from hospital. On the the 4th September the carers notes say “Ruby is worried about money, still waiting for benefits to be sorted.” She died less than 48hours later.

I’m writing this not because I want sympathy but to make you aware that Ian Duncan Smith’s policies are directly contributing to the deaths of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Please do not comment with sympathetic messages as this will not change anything, instead share this post and make as many people aware of the contemptuous nature of our self serving government who punish the poor and give to the rich.
Thank you for sharing.

When exactly did it start being okay to treat people with learning difficulties like trash?

Here’s a story about one person who is caught in a sort of three-way systems meltdown. God only knows how many times this sort of situation is being replicated across the country:

Yesterday, I visited Brent Council with Eddie* (name changed), an unemployed 51-year-old Kilburn man who has learning and literacy difficulties. I’ve been accompanying Eddie to his various council and jobcentre meetings for months now. The whole thing has been a right eye-opener, for me at least. It has certainly opened my eyes to the various systemic meltdowns that austerity has left us with, and the people who are on the rough end of the whole shambles.

This guy definitely is at that rough end. Last time I wrote about Eddie, I explained how he’d been shouted at by a jobcentre adviser at his latest appointment. The adviser had signed him up for a work choice course without telling him what it was about, or how to organise his travel to it (it’s on the Caledonian Road somewhere) and then took exception when he started to complain. We’d both sat there as the adviser listed his sins (loudly) as the jobcentre saw them. No concession was made to his learning or literacy difficulties during that unpleasant exchange.

Read the rest of this story from here:

You must do your JSA jobsearch online, even though we know you can’t

This is from

…………….Eddie must go to the jobcentre every fortnight to sign on and to show that he’s searched for at least 14 jobs. This post will show you how difficult and pointless this jobsearch exercise is for him. One of Eddie’s main problems is his struggle to read and write. He can write letters out if people tell him which ones to choose (for example, he asked me how to spell “Customer Service Advisor” when applying for one job, then wrote it as I spelled it out), but has trouble with more complex words. He also finds computers challenging. He doesn’t have a computer at home, which means that he rarely uses one. He wasn’t sure what a browser was when I took my laptop around to his flat to help him with his jobsearch (you’ll see some of this in the videos below).

Nonetheless, a couple of weeks ago, Eddie’s jobcentre adviser instructed him to choose and apply for at least three jobs online as part of his fortnightly quota………..

Read what happened next in the full article on Kate Belgrave’s blog here:

Judges rule that Disability test is unfair.

Victory for welfare campaigners as judges rule controversial disability benefits procedure is unfair

22 May 2013 0 Comments

Victory for welfare campaigners as judges rule controversial disability benefits procedure is unfair

Three judges have ruled that the procedure currently used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to decide whether hundreds of thousands of people are eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) disadvantages people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism.

The judgment, which was made public at a high court hearing today, is the result of a judicial review brought by two anonymous claimants with mental health problems.

The charities Rethink Mental Illness, Mind and the National Autistic Society intervened in the case to provide evidence based on the experiences of their members and supporters.

The case centres on how evidence is gathered for the controversial Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the process used to determine whether someone is fit for work.

Under the current system, evidence from a professional such as a GP or social worker is expected to be provided by people themselves. There is no obligation for the DWP to collect this evidence, even on behalf of the most vulnerable claimants, apart from in some rare cases.

Seeking evidence can be very challenging for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities or autism whose health or condition can make it hard for them to understand or navigate the complex processes involved in being assessed.

As a result, those who need support the most are frequently being assessed without this important evidence being taken into account.

It was ruled that the DWP had breached its duties to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 and that the Department must do more to ensure this sort of evidence is collected and taken into account. This means the current procedure for the WCA puts some groups at a substantial disadvantage.

The three charities have hailed the ruling as a victory for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism who are being put through a process which puts them at a disadvantage. 

Read more here.

More on DWP cruel and unusual Jobseeker Directions


Last week I wrote about ‘Maggie‘, and the fake psychometric ‘test’ that she’d been ordered to take by the DWP under threat of losing her benefits. That series of posts has been one of the most read since I started this blog, getting picked up by a number of mainstream news sites and sparking a huge amount of comment.

The vast majority of this comment was as outraged as I was, although some didn’t see what the ‘big deal’ was, and a small number of posters (primarily on the Guardian‘s version of the article) took the line of ‘Why not? Anything you do to encourage/force people to get a job is fair game‘, which was no less depressing for being unsurprising.

One theme that came through strongly in the comments was from psychologists with experience of conducting (ethical) trials – that of how crucial it…

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