The Journey Begins @RespectIsVital

Soooooo, you said write a blog and here I am

Welcome to my blog

This is just a brief intro while I get the page up and running.

Some of you may have seen my now, much-shared thread on twitter about my life on Universal Credit. It’s my pinned post here @RespectIsVital

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To say it has created some debate would be an understatement. However, I’m pleased to say that 99% of the comments are positive. Even actor Hugh Grant gave it a comment and a RT. @hackedoffhugh

Anyway, many of the less than complimentary tweets stem from them not actually reading the thread, but only the 1st tweet.

Basically because of the way Universal Credit works when you first claim it, I get £95 a fortnight to pay my bills and buy food. Yes my rent is covered and most of my council tax too but, I still have to pay my bills, buy food for myself and my two sons whom i take on weekends, and somehow live.

A real bugbear with many is that I have broadband. Little do they realise that when you have Universal Credit, you are required to login daily to your account or you’ll be sanctioned (more on this soon). Then comes the advice to ‘use a library’, the problem with this in my case is that the library is 15 miles away so I’d use more money going there daily than paying for broadband.

My choice to pay the TV licence has many different responses from ‘TV is a luxury’ to ‘why are you paying for propaganda?’. Whilst I may not agree with it, I have no right to pick and chose which laws I follow. I use the BBC service mainly for my children but also myself too, and people forget the BBC has much more than just news.

When I debunk those arguments, then comes ‘get a job, then’. Now why didn’t I think of that before?


Changing to Universal Credit

Well, prior to being on UC I was on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), in the support group. This meant that I was deemed too ill to work. I’m in a wheelchair and suffer from neurological problems as well as mental health issues.

When you are forcibly transferred to UC you have to complete a new health assessment. Mine has deemed me Limited Capability, however UC removes the disability premiums for disabled people. so I’m entitled to about £73 a week. Fine. OK.

So why am I only on £95 a fortnight? This, by the way, you can get paid fortnightly. See section 7.2 here on gov.uk website.,

Well, when you claim you have to wait on average about 6 weeks, they say. In my case it took 8. I had no money and my housing benefit stopped, as UC takes over housing payments, and I needed to pay rent. I therefore took a benefit advance to pay rent and buy food. There was a delay and I needed another one as my claim took 8 weeks to process.

Councils require rent in advance and UC pays it in arrears so you need to find a months rent yourself or take the advance. I’m now paying it back at £125 a month despite begging for it to be lowered.

This is a very brief outline of my situation. All of my money was used up and I still have 7 days until my next payment. I have no food and can’t afford to use my heating.


The #FoodBankChallenge takes off

There is a silver lining to my story though. As I use food banks I wanted to raise awareness so that they can get more help.

Out of this spawned the #FoodBankChallenge. I nominated actor Hugh Grant who stepped up and took the challenge and donated to his local food bank. See here

hugh

He then nominated Gary Lineker who followed suit. See here

I’ve had a lot of support for this campaign with so many people joining in and many new friends helping me out, it has made it all worthwhile. See a couple of examples below

Sally

Pip

I urge anyone who is able to give even a little something, please take part. It really will help people less off.

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Credit goes to @The45Storm for making this promo poster for the challenge for me. You’re a star.

Anyway that’s all for today, and remember be grateful for what you do have not sad about what you don’t.

Thank you to all my new friends I’ve made, the really kind messages I get and the overall love. You’re all really appreciated

Alex

If you’d like to donate towards my project to raise awareness about Universal Credit failure you can do so below. I don’t get paid to do this so it’d really make a difference to me.

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7 comments

  1. Hi Alex loving your Twitter posts and your positivity in spite of the hand you have been dealt. People are mean but you know that already lol keep posting and do write the blog! Your a great dad and such an inspirational person let all our voices be heard all over the UK!

    • Thank you Kelly. The response had been massive. I’m truly humbled by everyone’s kindness.

      I’m just trying to raise awareness of an issue many feel unable or don’t want to talk about. People in the world’s fifth richest economy are going without food and or heating. A lady died last year. People with mental health issues are being victimised by the very system meant to protect them.

      While it is a very political topic I don’t care who fixes it or how. Just as long as they do. This isn’t about party politics it’s about humanity.

      Yes the Conservative government brought this about and Labour have said they’ll change it this is positive however, people don’t have the luxury of waiting until that happens.

      We need it now, so instead of just bashing the government and saying labour will fix it we need to lobby, protest and force the current government to act immediately. People are dying because of Universal Credit this I know.

      Your support is really really appreciated. I look forward to posting more soon, apologies it will be a few days just so I get I right before I go daily.

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