Two weeks – £6.89 for food & no driving licence for at least 4 months
So I need to write about what’s been going on in my life over the past two weeks, it has been busy and testing to say the least.
Universal Credit Update
Well I got my £95.34 Universal Credit Payment on the 6th June. Last month it was 10.50 for two weeks this time it’s £6.89. I’ll lay out why now.
- Gas an electric for a fortnight – £30.00
- Water and Sewage Rates – £30.45
- Child Maintenance Service – £28.00
These are the bills that were paid immediately. There are others such as, Broadband, TV licence and oh, food, that just won’t be able to be paid. This is because Universal Credit is calculated monthly and some bills are four weekly.
Now when I say I’m paid fortnightly, that’s not exactly correct. Because I live in Scotland, I can have it paid twice a month instead of once. Excluding February, months are not 28 days, so one payment has to cover 16 – 17 days instead of 14. They don’t adjust the amount to take this into account either so I get £95.34 each payment regardless of the time it must cover. They also don’t have a system to calculate when the second payment comes, sometimes it’s 14 days once it was 18. This may not sound significant it’s only 4 days right? 4 days with no food that is.
Due to the bills I mentioned going unpaid, I will certainly accrue bank charges for unpaid direct debits. But it’s OK, my bank recently sent a change to terms and condition letter advising they’ve decided to cap it to £30 per failed direct debit so, I’m sure I’ll be fine.
This just highlights what Work and Pensions Committee chairman MP Frank Field said when talking about the inquiry in Universal Credit roll out.
“Huge delays in people receiving payments from Universal Credit have resulted in claimants falling into debt and rent arrears, caused health problems and led to many having to rely on food banks.
It is bad enough that UC has a built-in six-week wait between someone applying and them receiving their first payment, but we have heard that many have to wait much longer than this.”
In my case if was 7 and a half weeks I waited which resulted in a lot of problems that I have highlighted before and led to me needing the advance.
I also asked again for the amount I am having deducted for my advance, £125, to be reduced. This was the 6th time in less than 3 months. I explained my situation in detail, my lack of food, inability to even afford nappies for my children whom I have every weekend. Response?
Sorry we are unable to reduce the amount you repay, we can arrange a “debt management session with your work coach” if you like. That is twice in the space of 2 weeks they have offered this despite me being clear that the Citizens Advice Bureau have already completed this.
A DWP spokesman told the Independent in February : “The best way to help people pay their rent is to help them into work, and under Universal Credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.
“Our research shows that the majority of UC claimants are comfortable managing their budgets, and after four months the proportion of surveyed UC claimants who were in arrears fell by a third.
“We are aware there have been some issues as we roll out this full scale reform to the benefits system. However, by working with local authorities and landlords, we’re providing extra support to those claimants who need it and are sorting out any issues as quickly as possible.”
I do not know about their claim that most “are comfortable managing their budgets”, especially when recent studies show a massive 70% of new claimant to Universal Credit are falling into debt.
Next UC statement arrived and update
DVLA lied to me 13 times
So I called the DVLA again on Monday, 4th June. I was enquiring as to whether the forms I had returned had been scanned onto their system. This was important as, on 13 occasions I was told:’once we receive the forms and they are scanned onto the system, if they are all in order we can reinstate your licence whilst we contact your doctors again.’
Now I sent these forms by 1st class recorded delivery around the 24th May. I called on the 28th and was told it takes “5 working days to be scanned on”. OK, no problem that’s fair. I called on the Wednesday and Thursday of that week, still nothing. On the Friday suddenly it was 2 weeks to be scanned on. I was annoyed but they still insisted that my licence would be reinstated. Fast forward to 4th June.
I call to check again, the call centre adviser looked at my case and then advised me, “I can see that you sent them in May, it takes 21 working days to reach our system”. I was losing my patience now I told him that having no licence means I cannot get to a shop as the nearest one is 15 miles away and I have no bus service.
His reply shook me. “I can see that you were advised we could reinstate your licence but I’m afraid that is simply not the case, it will take on average 4 months for the Medical Group to make a decision.”
I was furious. I asked why I had been lied to on every single other call I had made. He apologised but wasn’t having any of it. I have contacted my MP again to help me as they made the mistake of sending the original forms to the wrong address.
I have also submitted a Data Subject Access request to the DVLA for all data and recordings that they hold on me. I will keep you updated when I know more.
It’s been a fairly hectic week if I am honest, from trolling to medical appointments for my children. Their mother has asked I don’t talk about the latter publicly anymore, which I will respect. We do however thank everyone for their extremely kind words of support and the advice some have given. I totally understand her wishes for this to remain private.
My Mental Health
My Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has had an effect on me this week. I’ve been up and down and it just shows no matter how well you think you have it under control, sometimes it just isn’t. Having BPD is difficult, you only have two emotions, happy or sad. Sometimes what seems like light criticism to others is like the end of the world for a BPD sufferer. Like me, they then act what looks to others as, out of proportion. The support I have had on here and social media have been outstanding and really helpful. It really helps me carry on.
The foodbank challenge is doing incredibly well. There’s been a few more high profile donations including former Inbetweener actor, (Neil), Blake Harrison. The release of the JRF report showing that 1.5 million people in the UK experienced Destitution last year has also helped raise awareness of the plight that foodbanks are facing. Hugh Grant popped down to his local foodbank, Hammersmith and Fulham, to learn about food poverty and the work that they do.
I wrote an article about St. Andrew’s Primary School and Nursery Class in Airdrie and how they took part in the challenge. Not only did they collect food and other supplies, they learnt about social issues, volunteered at Airdrie Foodbank and held a special assembly too. You can see the song that they sung about it on their twitter page which is accessible on the article linked above.
I’d like to thank everyone who has continued to support me and encourage me to move on. All I can do is just battle on through the tough times and eventually I’ll reach the light at the end of the tunnel. I has been a busy week, I can’t afford to have my children this weekend either so I am just having a quiet one.
Also my physical health hasn’t been fantastic this week so I need to take it easy and get back to a better place.
I hope everyone has a good weekend and week ahead too. God Bless you all and take care. Remember it’s better to stay respectful than lower yourself to their level,
Feel free to read the other articles I have posted. I hope that you find them informative.
You can find me on Facebook now too by searching: “Universal Credit Sufferer“.
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Please if Bank tries to take any charges go into branch & lift ALL your cash & give them thishttps://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=1629177
Thanks I’ll definitely look into this.
Be strong Alex. You have inspired me to donate to my local foodbank and also to volunteer there. Thank you for the inspiration.
I used to work for a well known scottish bank and at that time (2 years ago) it was a policy to give people who were suffering thier bank charges back. Phone your bank or instant mesaage them, be patient explain your situation and they could help you.
Thanks that’s great advice I’ll look into that straight away.
I read your article and fully understand the issues you face and wanted to help you. Up until a few years ago, I was on JSA, having to sign on for a mere pittance every fortnight, after enduring the stress of the mind-numbing task of jobsearching – which I absolutely hated. Trying to pay for day to day bills and expenses was like a juggling act that I found impossible to master. And even then, there was no guarantee I would actually get paid, all thanks to their ridiculously petty rules. The whole experience was a living nightmare I was desperate to escape from! One of the worst parts, was being sanctioned without being told, and then being at the checkout and finding there was no money to pay for food shopping. But even trying to just get an interview to try and escape from all this – let alone a job – was pretty much out of reach, as there was a seemingly endless vast supply of competition. It was absolutely hopeless.
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Why you need broadband?
To login to my universal credit account daily. I’m housebound due to disability so have little other option.
Keep going with your writing! You are writing beautifully from the heart and backing up your facts! Have you ever thought about it as a career option? How about writing a book or trying to get a column in a local paper?
Best of luck…life sucks for so many people right now, but chin up buttercup I think you have what it takes to come through this!
BT basic + Broadband is £9.95 per month you get 15GB data allowance and £1.50 calling credit includes line rental