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Homelessness Poverty Universal Credit Crisis Causes

Universal-Credit-Gary-Knapton-Manchester-Writer-
Social housing tenant Universal Credit claimant Manchester writer Gary Knapton

 

 

 

 

 

Universal Credit | Increasing Poverty | Homelessness | Debt | Causing Poor Health | Early Death

 

 

CAUSES

  1. Higher housing costs.

  2. Social housing privatisation has impacted low-income families and pensioners.

  3. Poor quality jobs.

  4. Lack of social mobility.

  5. Cuts in families’ financial support.

  6. Debt.

  7. Poor health.

  8. Poverty catastrophically restricts people’s day-to-day lives and opportunities.

  9. Deterioration to physical and mental health, healthy life expectancy.

  10. Destitution and debt affect health and well being.

 

Source: Households Below Average Income (HBAI) and Family Resources Survey (FRS) 2016/17 (JRF Analysis)

Note: Subtotals may not sum to totals due to rounding except figures for persistent poverty which are taken from Persistent Poverty in the UK and EU: 2015 (2017) Office for National Statistics Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/ articles/persistentpovertyintheukandeu/2015

 

 

From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill

A free social media book about the new British social underclass.

 

Here is a Manchester Universal Credit claimant and writer reporting the truth.

 

‘It strikes me that media effortlessly promote their version of the
type of people we are and what universal credit does for us. But no
one knows how it feels and tastes and smells, and what the sense
of hope and shame and despair, and how it really is to be on this
benefit. But people like me do.’ 

 

Extract - Father Shaun 

Immediately to the south Briar Hill - all but adjacent to the markets that serve the precinct is the Catholic church of St James. It was opened in October of 1975 and is also designed in the modernist style. St James was built to replace a church by the same name that was demolished in 1973 in the redevelopment of the local area. The predecessor had served the local community for nearly one hundred years - first opening its doors in 1875. The first priest there, Father Saffrenreuter, was also a priest to the Salford workhouse. Somewhere underneath the concrete and tarmac of Briar Hill and its surrounding buildings lay an intricate network of foundations of terraced streets - one of which was called Church Street. 

The church of today, if you look carefully, contains clues as to this history. The stain glass window and a collection of statues inside have survived the redevelopment and are now living links to the Victorian past. The house where the Father’s reside - and where I’ve often enjoyed a cup of tea and the offer of biscuits, even cake, is another piece of the continuation. Such a building is known as the Presbytery. We are left with a juxtaposition of architectural styles as is so often found in

British towns and cities - yet here is found within one building alone - as the old priest house connects inwardly by a corridor to a superb modernist chamber of worship. As Mass is due to begin, the Fathers emerge from the corridor into the left-hand nave, by the organ grinder and then swiftly walk across the front and up onto the chancel to commence the service. My favourite features of the church are its “bell” - which sounds authentic but is actually a loudspeaker on the roof playing an audiotape of a ringing bell and the Mater Dei shrine to the front end of the right-hand nave - another link to the past. The full name of the demolished church was actually Mother of God & St James - and Mater Dei is the Latin for “Mother of God”. The exposed brickwork on the interior generates a distinct modernist feel to the whole experience of taking Mass there. 

I am not Catholic. I was baptised in a Church of England church - and so if you are inclined to worship in a Catholic church without faking it, there are various processes and ceremonies built into the service as it unfolds, where you get to declare your authentic status. My mum, who is Catholic, has taught me over the years, by providing handy little pointers when I have fallen foul of the traditional rules. 

The most obvious ceremony would be conversion - by becoming a Catholic. This is called Confirmation. I refuse to “become” a Catholic in this way as it would demolish my past and my real story. It would entitle me to engage in Mass in a fully inclusive fashion as if I had been born a Catholic. This re-writing of history and papering over the contradictions of my behaviour in favour of a more pleasing personal presentation really offends my sense of authenticity and reeks faintly of image management. 

Yet by crossing my arms and by placing each hand on opposing shoulders when I queue up for a blessing, by forsaking the Holy water wash on entering the church and by being open and honest about my religious status, the church next door lovingly creates a space for me to join in its practices. 

I’ve attended Mass at quite a few Catholic churches over the years, but St James is uniquely noteworthy. It is usually busy with a lively mix of people from Briar Hill and the streets that fall away from it. All ages. All ethnicities. Exquisitely turned out families of Afro-Caribbean origin in their Sunday best. Strapping local lads covered in tattoos adorning closely shaven hairstyles and toying with their phones, having just clocked off a night shift. Children running around. Babies being held. Whole four-generation family chains commanding aisle to aisle benches. Young married couples leaning into each other to share a hymnbook. Polish, British, Spanish, Baltic, Jamaican,

Ghanaian. It’s pretty awesome. If you think churches in this country are on the slide - and they are

- here is one that creates quite the opposite impression. 

Father Shaun has been working in Salford for fifteen years and the vibe he has created in his church is probably the most noteworthy quality of all. There’s a tension in church gatherings - particularly Mass - between relaxed and formal. Between engaging and spectating. The urge to “be on your best behaviour” is a throwback to a disciplinarian and stricter, more rigid past - and although humility and reverence are obviously vital attributes, they can spill over into a fear or at least a discomfort that still runs through many people when they take their pew. In some churches I visit, this makes for a very wooden service where the sharp corners of ceremony drown out the gentle curves of personality and creative expression. A childish obedience is not what is required of churchgoers. More precisely, an adult emotional submission and intellectual engagement are required. 

There’s a practical necessity for quietness and order which runs up against the modern values of individuality and personal freedom. So, as church numbers are dwindling, how do you pull people into line without sending them packing? In a fast, noisy, always-on world of peak privilege and individual entitlement - how do you get people not just to be quiet for a short while but to genuinely listen to your sermon - not just to hear your words but somehow to muster up enough concentration and effort to intuit the message that lay beneath the words? The menu is not the meal,

after all.

Father Shaun always leaves me feeling deeply appreciative of all the obstacles he faces since he appears so effortlessly to overcome them. He will tell jokes, make people smile, referring to members of the congregation by name, mid-sermon. He will ad-lib and yet he will command an utmost respect from everyone in the house. Some parts of Mass are about citation and paying lip service to mantras, hymns and responses. But Shaun will always add colour to these parts of the programme by making key points in his own style. Using his own words and telling a very unique, personal story - calling on local tales for analogy and really making the point of why we are all gathered in his church. Bringing the Mass to life. 

Only somebody who has every facet of the more serious side of this art mastered can relax into informal, light-heartedness and good humour without losing reputation for their command of the more challenging parts of the work and this is Father Shaun indeed.

For me, nothing caps the sense of community here on Briar Hill, nothing brings it all together, quite like receiving the holy blessing from Father Shaun on a Sunday morning when I stand before him, head bowed, my posture indicating that I have no Catholic affiliations, while he gently places his hands upon my head and states “God bless you, child” and then swiftly mutters “Good to see you Gary, mate.” 

I am never urged or pressured to consider conversion - even when I am sat in his Presbytery drinking tea and putting the world to rights, blaspheming as I do with a healthy dose of “God knows” and Jesus! 

Father James

I first encountered Father James while working out on the free weights in my gym. I was on the smith machine. He was doing bench presses. 

James is in his twenties and as a young man of the church was still learning the ropes at that time. He’s a good soul. A deeply conscientious man who gave every second minute of the day to the higher cause. He really knows his stuff and his sermons at Mass when I attended were carefully prepared, articulated, inclusive and effective. He was great to listen to. Like Shaun in this respect, yet equally the individual.  

When our friend Richie died, James turned up at the funeral to lend a hand. He doesn’t drive and this was a little out of town but James made it all the same. If he wasn’t burying someone or marrying somebody he was doing Chaplain work at the University or deep in thought of how to make next week’s Mass the best it could be. He’d invite me round for tea and ask my advice on something he was involved in. One week he was counselling a sex addict. The next he was investigating measures for effectively getting people to turn off their phones in church - not by so bluntly as telling them, but by considering how changes to the order of the service, time slots or flow of traffic through the church and the way worshippers were greeted on entering the building might assist in the matter. James was forever thinking of how to make things better in non-confrontational ways. Often, in the middle of our discussions, he’d jump up, grab a pen and scribble something down into a large notepad if we’d broached a subject that he considered worthy of fuller research later. 

If he was giving a speech at some society he was unfamiliar with or working on a cornerstone event within the church calendar he would freely disclose how nervous he was. He made me laugh when, having delivered a very confident, smooth and charming talk or sermon he would turn up afterwards with no idea of how he had come across. 

“Was I alright?” he’d inquire. 

He was still learning his trade so his self-awareness was still formulating. But he was never alright.

He was always first class. He seemed destined for the calling. A natural. 

About eighteen months after we met, James took a parish in California, US, and these days I see him only occasionally when he pops back for a week or so. He’ll WhatsApp me ahead of the flight and should I see him in the street, we hug. 

Father Shaun and Father James are upstanding, decent, compassionate, dedicated, authentic men and I love them both dearly. 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

#universalcredit #sanctions #universalcreditadvice #heartbreakhill #garyknapton #universalcreditsupport

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Universal Credit Increasing UK Poverty

 

Universal-Credit-Payments-Advice-Gary-Knapton

Universal Credit Increasing UK Poverty

 

1 in 5 of our UK population (22%) are in poverty.

14.3 million people in poverty.

8.2 million are working-age adults.

4.1 million are children.

1.9 million are pensioners.

8 million people live in poverty in families where at least one person is in work.

4 million workers are in poverty.

In-work poverty has been rising even faster than employment.

Due to increasing poverty among working parents.

Can you live on £1.34 a day? Hard working lone parent.

 

 

Universal Credit Increasing UK Poverty from Eddy Jackson on Vimeo.

 

 

Source: Households Below Average Income (HBAI) and Family Resources Survey (FRS) 2016/17 (JRF Analysis)

Note: Subtotals may not sum to totals due to rounding except figures for persistent poverty which are taken from Persistent Poverty in the UK and EU: 2015 (2017) Office for National Statistics Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/ articles/persistentpovertyintheukandeu/2015

 

 

Extract

 

From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill

A free social media book about the new British social underclass.

 

Here is a Manchester Universal Credit claimant and writer reporting the truth.

 

‘It strikes me that media effortlessly promote their version of the
type of people we are and what universal credit does for us. But no
one knows how it feels and tastes and smells, and what the sense
of hope and shame and despair, and how it really is to be on this
benefit. But people like me do.’ 

 

Helen is highly qualified. Over cups of tea, she produces a blue binder of laminated course awards and I look at her BIIAB Level 2 National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders, Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Management and a whole host of City & Guilds. Following these are a handful of personal testimonies and character references - some typed and some lovingly handwritten in flourishing penmanship - from key industry players and previous employers and clients. All confirm a range of much sought-after modern day business skills on my neighbour - communication, team building, creativity, business insight, vision, calmness under pressure.

But Helen has been diagnosed with an illness that has taken her temporarily away from the workplace and a combination of derisory welfare payments and haphazard sanctions seemingly for no good reason have left her, in the mid-term, with not enough money to even get by on a day to day basis in a manner that you and I would consider being the absolute minimum standards. Helen often has to queue up at the library for electricity coupons and like most of us on the block, she wraps up in gloves and hats and a duvet while sitting in the lounge just to keep warm in winter. 

Tracy is sofa surfing in Helen's lounge - just as Lee is sofa surfing at his dad's and as Lucy is at Olly's. It occurs to me that after two years on the block, half the people I have come to know as my neighbours are only worthy of the name in actuality. They are technically homeless. And living alongside them - literally right under their noses, I had no idea. So how could you? 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

#universalcredit #sanctions #universalcreditadvice #heartbreakhill #garyknapton #universalcreditsupport

 

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Universal Credit Claimants Under The Cloud Of The Benefits System In A Social Housing Fire

 

Unoccupied-housing

Social Housing Fire and a Universal Credit Claimant

 

 

From Under A Cloud At Heartbreak Hill  - A social media book telling the truth about the Universal Credit crisis

 

Fire!

In the summer of 2016, we had a fire on the block. A flat on the 20th floor burnt through and that flat along with the one above had to be evacuated. The tenants were rehoused while the flats were repaired. There were no injuries.   

We are living in a period of media hype in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Grenfell Tower in London in 2017. That, to some extent, is understandable - yet it can also be damaging by unwittingly or otherwise pumping misinformation around a subject few have knowledge of.   

The worst aspect of this, for me, was of witnessing arguments gain momentum that pointed the finger at the inherent design of the tower blocks.   

The fire at Stanley Tower was brought under control with minimal fuss. I was home at the time and although I decided to leave the building many of my neighbours stayed home. If Alan hadn’t have knocked on my door to alert me of fire, and if I hadn’t noticed a small crowd of people massing on the ground down below - some of the kids shouting “Get out. You’re on fire!” - I would not have been any the wiser.   

 

 

 

 

I saw people panic and people remain calm. Steve-Boy stayed in his flat with his mates, drinking beer and watching the telly. I left - grabbing my wallet and phone and deciding to use the occasion as a social opportunity - given the unique circumstances of a big bunch of block residents all being in one place at the same time with an icebreaker topic freshly supplied.   

I descended the stairs without having to slow up or queue - which is a good job as our staircases here are very narrow and turn back on themselves twice per storey. The stairs are little and awkward to negotiate - the design hallmarks of a bygone era. I only saw one or two people on the way down. As I passed through the glass doors of the precinct entrance - I was met with a bunch of firemen - one of whom pointed out that since I had left I could not be allowed back in until they gave the word. I appreciated his advice, and seeing as it was a half nine on a balmy Sunday evening - I strolled onto the concrete subway passes to head for The Church before last orders.   

There is no cladding on our block - and we also have a clear, operational dry riser - which was not the case at Grenfell. The dry riser is a pipeline that runs the vertical length of the building and can act as a ready-made water hose. Firemen simply connect their hoses to the dry riser port that is always found at ground level and then connect again at the level of enquiry.   

Too much debate after Grenfell centred on sprinkler systems and helicopters and such nonsense. Typical media histrionics instigated by people who have scarcely been within a mile of housing built for the social welfare system.   

Our block and Grenfell and many such structures were put up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This was the age of people smoking cigarettes in bed and using chip pan fryers in their kitchens. The fact that all our blocks remained standing throughout and beyond that period is testament alone to their innate resilience. They are not inherently dangerous and too often the people implying that they are so are far removed from this world and they are most likely putting the case to further a more insidious political agenda.   

Being under the cloud of the benefits system means that when tragedy strikes, we alone are the sufferers yet we alone are singularly excluded from the ensuing debate whose agenda, discourse, conclusions and action points are managed by the media class. The middle class. Charming!  

The Church is one of the few remaining public houses still open for business within walking distance of Stanley Tower and it affords a view of the block from about five hundred yards across a concrete labyrinth of elevated walkways and urban expressways for cars that put me in mind of Gravelly Hill (Spaghetti Junction) on the M6 and those long fallen dreams of motorcar utopia that coloured the lives of our parents and grandparents. I ordered a drink and sat in the dying embers of the evening sun, watching oranges flames lick the southwest corner of my beloved block. It was right then I took a call from Father James. 

 

 

Universal-Credit-Gary-Knapton-Manchester-Writer-

 

 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

 

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Universal Credit Social Housing Without Social Safety Net

 

 

Social housing Universal Credit payments support Gary Knapton

Universal Credit Social Housing Without a Social Safety Net

 

 

From Under A Cloud At Heartbreak Hill  - A social media book telling the truth about the Universal Credit crisis

 

Stanley Tower is a first class example of a very modern dilemma that runs riot through the heart of social housing and the lives of its dependents without anybody on the outside having the first inclination that such an anomaly even exists. I speak of an administrative structural anomaly - not this time of bricks and mortar - but of bureaucratic process and systemic organisation. Something you can't even see with the naked eye.   

There used to be two types of rental housing; private landlords for tenants who could support themselves financially and pay the rent independently - and social housing for those who could not. Social housing was open to anyone needing it and you simply joined a list or a queue to have your application dealt with on a needs basis.   

Elements of this system still exist, but there is now a third type of housing which is like a "worst of both worlds' hybrid of the other two systems. Many social housing blocks were sold off to private landlords with covenants attached. But the covenants are riddled with loopholes. The upshot is places like Stanley Tower, where a private landlord owns the entity and collects the rent and seeks to maximise profit even though the building is still the only thing between a large group of vulnerable tenants and homelessness. Only 38% of Stanley Tower residents are in employment. Some are ex-convicts who get settled here after serving their term in prison. More are of the type that I made reference to earlier.   

 

 

Universal Credit Claimant Social Housing Tenant

 

My own story is that upon being made redundant in 2014 and losing another job when my employer shut down in 2015, I was served an eviction notice from my private landlord on a flat I had lived in for seven years two miles down the road in the posh waterfront part of town called Salford Quays. I had no savings and no family in the area so I made a round of applications to get on the housing lists until I found my feet once more. All these failed as there is, in fact, no obligation upon housing associations to take on new applicants - despite the commonly held view that there is, in fact, such an obligation. In the nick of time, I got a flat in Stanley Tower. I responded to an ad on the local rentals website.    

I am on a benefits payment called Universal Credit 

The point is that we are social housing tenants in all but name yet we have no social protection from an unscrupulous landlord. The next step is homelessness and in my two years here I have seen numerous neighbours turned onto the street. I have seen and heard them protesting outside the building at nightfall in the winter months, huddled on the benches in the park opposite and drinking alcohol to keep warm. Making a racket in a bid to try and get arrested and thereby get a roof over their heads for the night.   

Whereas social housing tenants enjoy protection from such a fate, we do not. I have had meetings at the local Citizens Advice Bureau and at the local housing office to get professional guidance on what would happen if I fell out of favour with my landlord or they decided to serve me notice on my one-month rolling contract. Beyond a token appeal against a Section 21 eviction notice, I am advised to find a friend with a couch and a kind heart should that day come to pass.   

Don't be under any delusions about some perverse rebellious choice fuelling the rise in doorway sleepers. Check out the brochure handed out on a visit to the ironically named Housing Office.  

The general public tends to believe that the social housing system is a safety net at the bottom of the housing crisis. It is not. There is a rung lower and it has no safety net at all.  I’ve a photograph of my copy of a document that my landlord’s managing agent, Stanley Lettings, submitted to a 2016 tribunal hearing. It's the kind of information they don't like airing. I have taken the liberty of red-inking the important bit, which amounts to my landlord's own admission that it bases its rent levels here in Stanley Tower on the private professional market and ignores, as it is well within its rights to, the Local Housing Authority guidelines. And there you have it. The worst of both worlds. Legal loopholes are like waiting rooms in dental surgeries. They built it. They’re gonna use it. 

 

Universal-Credit-Payments-Advice-Gary-Knapton

Universal Credit Housing Advice by Gary Knapton

 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Job Centre Universal Credit Sanctions

 

Universal Credit advice guidance support Gary Knapton Manchester Writer

 

The Universal Credit Crisis and Job Centres

 

 

When go to the Job Centre, I'm warned, like everyone else is, that if don't make my appointment within 10 minutes of the arranged time, get sanctioned. 

Sanctioned means my rent and my food is cut off for six weeks. I'm effectively potentially evicted and starving

Yet when get my letter to tell me when my appointment is, it always arrives two days after the appointment date. And if take the trouble to look at the stamping on the envelopeit's been stamped after the day of the appointment, which suggests they'redoing it on purpose. 

Now, this is happening to everybody. And it's been happening for years.

 

From Under A Cloud At Heartbreak Hill  - A social media book telling the truth about the Universal Credit crisis.

 

 

 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Universal Credit The British Social Underclass By Gary Knapton A Manchester Writer

 

 

Gary Knapton Manchester Writer Universal Credit Advice Support

 

 

 

Here is a Manchester writer advocating positive action to address the Kafkaesque deep state machinations against the sick, poor, disabled, single parents, the unemployed, and their children. The narrative captures the Zeitgeist in reflecting the findings of authoritative reports.

 

From Under A Cloud At Heartbreak Hill  - A social media book telling the truth about the Universal Credit crisis,

 

 

 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Universal Credit Mental Health Report

 

 

Social housing Universal Credit payments support Gary Knapton

 

Mental Health and the Universal Credit System

 

 

"They advanced me through from basic psychotherapy services for mild depression through to specialist services, saying I need stronger treatment. My conditions getting worse. But when I go to the job centre, they overrule this and say, we're just going to ignore it. You've got to look for work."

 

From Under A Cloud At Heartbreak Hill  - A social media book telling the truth about the Universal Credit crisis.

 

 

 

 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Gary Knapton

 

 

Universal Credit Housing Payments Salford


Gary Knapton's Universal Credit Story

 

 

"When Job Centres send you letters insisting that you turn up at their job centres within 10minutes of a time or you'll lose your rent and your food money, which really means eviction and starvation, then the letter that comes telling you when to go to that appointment is two days late every single month and it's stamped later than it's written--so I would argue that this might be a strategic intention from the authorities to cleanse the underclass and put them onto the streets. And this has been happening for quite a long time now."



From Under A Cloud At Heartbreak Hill  - A social media book telling the truth about the Universal Credit crisis,


 

 

 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Articles and videos featuring From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill:

https://www.communicationuk.com/universal-credit-on-heartbreak-hill-gary-knapton.html

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Universal Credit Payment Advice

 

Universal-Credit-Housing-Payments

 

From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill

A free social media book about the new British social underclass

 

‘It strikes me that media effortlessly promote their version of the
type of people we are and what universal credit does for us. But no
one knows how it feels and tastes and smells, and what the sense
of hope and shame and despair, and how it really is to be on this
benefit. But people like me do.’ 

Gary Knapton

 

Here is a Manchester Universal Credit claimant and writer reporting the truth.

 

#universalcredit #sanctions #universalcreditadvice #heartbreakhill #garyknapton  #universalcreditsupport

Join the conversation on Twitter @newsverify and blog

4

My Universal credit monthly payment is £729.48. This arrives in my current account on the nineteenth of every month or the workday that precedes that date, should it happen to fall on a weekend. In return for receiving this I am required to attend two job centres - one standard classic "Job Centre" - or so it would appear from the outside - and one private sector service called PeoplePlus which is owned by a business entity named StandGuide. The Job Centre is part of the governmental Department for Work and Pensions, while PeoplePlus is funded by a collection of bodies including the European Union and The Skills Funding Agency. 

This is my total income for the month. Out of it, I pay £411.66 in monthly rent to Bracken House via Sterling Properties. I pay £30 in council tax which is made up of £20 in arrears to a debt collection agency called Jacobs that is fond of bailiff-styled MUST PAY NOW letters fashioned primarily in red ink which I find quite amusing though I'm sure they are designed to scare people into sleepless nights. And I'm sure it succeeds. 

 

Work Poverty | Low Incomes | Universal Credit Crisis from Eddy Jackson on Vimeo.

 

I manage to combine my mobile phone, landline and fibre connection down to a total cost of around £50 per month. I pay a whacking £39 a month to Aviva for home contents insurance yet I consider it well worth the peace of mind. I have a handful of small payments going out which include Netflix (£7.49), Amazon Prime (£5.99), Apple iCloud data storage (£1.58), union membership (£2.17), an incoming and outgoing telephone call recording phone app (£3.79) political party membership (£2.00), and the water utilities bill (£10). In total these amount to £33.02 making my sum total of expenses, as mentioned above, work out at £563.68.

This leaves me with £165.80 for the calendar month which comes out at £5.45 per day. 

Now, although I don't smoke or drink alcohol, or care to eat out or buy new clothes or even watch television - which is a good job since I'd have to buy a TV license - I am human and I do need to eat food and use things that are powered by electricity. OK. Maybe the electricity is a bit showy. I'm pretty sure they'll be some guy in a doorway in Soho reading these words on the eBook software of a stolen Nokia phone that he charges up in Starbucks when nobody is looking and a family of eight grouped into a tight huddle in an Indian slum tin hut reading this off a solar-powered lap-top bought with a micro-loan which will take thirty years to pay back in cash and buffalo milk - both these audiences shaking their heads and tutting (actually I believe the Indians would be nodding their heads - which is a charming cultural inflection that oft amuses me) and thinking "Electricity! Tah. Sheer decadence you big western Dandy Boy". Well, the Soho person might be western but I'm sure he or she would find a suitable pejorative that makes reference to my sheltered housing status. 

 

Gary Knapton Universal Credit and Job Centre Sanctions

Also, I don't have a washing machine so I do need the odd spare couple of quid for the laundry and to wash things in the kitchen sink. (Cue the Indians "What's wrong with the Ganges, man!").  Electricity in Briar Hill is on a meter with a plastic key that you take down to the off license on the corner and top up with cash. The hardware and general heating infrastructure in the building are not modern enough for what is known as a SmartMeter to be installed - which enables customers to manage their account online.  The system suits me, however, since I soon realised that it is the best way to minimise my spend. I've perfected the art of letting the meter run down to about 14 pence (a couple of light switch flicks away from power-out - definitely not a stove burn. Forget heating the water.) By keeping a vigilant eye on the meter I found that I can micro-manage savings into my lifestyle that you haven't even heard of. Well, maybe your parents and grandparents have post-war and war-time austerity tales to regale you with - but otherwise - you can't imagine. 

Add to this that I do not use the heaters - even in winter. I just put extra layers of clothes on - and I've got the monthly electric bill down to £25 a month. This chiefly consists of heating the water, using the stove and running my desktop computer and related hardware. 

I'm good with food. I'm a bit of a health freak so besides running about sixty miles a month I like to eat a primarily sugar-free diet. I have no microwave oven or freezer and my fridge is tiny. Like a portable camper van edition. My food bill comes in at about £100 a month. 

So add these into the maths and I'm now down to £40.80 per month remaining - or - £1.34 per day. 

 

Universal-Credit-Housing-

 

If you ever wonder why people who have been long-term unemployed appear a little scruffy around the edges - perhaps unshaven and with holes in their shoes and lacking social confidence because they haven't been out even to a coffee shop let alone a pub or restaurant - for months or years nor ever travelled on a bus or train or been able to buy anyone they care for as much as a birthday card - ever - I hope I'm solving the mystery for you.

Fortunately, I have Mum. Mum is a pensioner and not flush but she's the kindest person in the world who would give me her last penny - and often does - and she pays for my monthly gym membership and covers my food bills such that the hundreds of pounds that frees up enables me to buy a few books, catch a movie, enjoy a coffee each morning in a local cafe - that kind of thing. 

 

How the Universal Credit catastrophe has increased poverty, eviction, and ill-health

But take me out of the equation for a moment because this is not my tale of woe - I am one of the lucky ones. One of the survivors. Just imagine how most people go to pieces, financially, socially and psychologically, in the mid to long-term under these conditions. Think how you would deal with it. Imagine the sense of shame that we as a society casually stack up at the door of these poor people - making them feel like they are not worth the life that is taking place all around of them. 

Most people don't have guardian angel mums like me.

 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video


Universal Credit Benefits System Gary Knapton Social Media Book

 

Unoccupied-housing-black-white


From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill

A free social media book about the new British social underclass.

#universalcredit #sanctions #universalcreditadvice #heartbreakhill #garyknapton #universalcreditsupport

 

Here is a Manchester Universal Credit claimant and writer reporting the truth.

 

‘It strikes me that media effortlessly promote their version of the
type of people we are and what universal credit does for us. But no
one knows how it feels and tastes and smells, and what the sense
of hope and shame and despair, and how it really is to be on this
benefit. But people like me do.’ 

 

Gary Knapton

 

Many people suffer bad luck and wind up in the benefits system. I know. They are my neighbours. Injured soldiers. Factory workers suffering asbestosis. And many more than you’d imagine are highly educated victims of economic recessions, doctors and scientists from far-flung war-torn lands or simply your average workaday citizen managing to keep their head above water until personal tragedy strikes, such as an acrimonious divorce, bereavement or individual personal trauma. Some carry a short or long-term mental illness. Many are young single mothers who are constantly finding ways to make ends meet and hold it all together. There are young fathers deprived of child custody who are wrestling with depression and self-loathing. There are blue collar workers such as airport customs officials whose demanding work and long hours have driven them to abandon their personal health for their jobs and are now struck down with acute obesity and heart problems. Some, many women, have found themselves on the wrong end of a violent relationship or abusive treatment in the recent past. And often in the present too, as new marks and bruises on their faces and arms testify. In the last two years, I have met them all. They have become my neighbours and friends and in this book, you’ll get the chance to meet some of them. But the point here is that people who have been knocked back by trauma, mistakes, bad luck, or a poor start in life lack confidence, right now in the present moment when the benefits system receives them. And as a result, they lack the sense of self-worth and self-value that we all normally take for granted. They need guidance and they need a break. 

This, then, nurtures a culture of learned helplessness which means that such people tend not to stand up for themselves. How can they? Where has it ever got them? They rely on authentic support and compassion. They would be an easy target for less scrupulous interests. 

 

 

I am a person who is both within and without. Mine is at once a message of hope and optimism as well as an evidenced diary of personal truth. This book may be taken as a stand alone campaign and research project. Not so much inspired by real events as a direct report of real events as personally experienced, very often I have backed up my claims with real evidence which appears throughout the book in the form of photo images. Of course, there is a narrative style to my coverage but only in the interest of readability. Some of the names have been changed to protect the residents. 

This is not an out and out political book although there are clear political ramifications to the content and what the content implies. I am interested in architecture and the sounds and sights of the inner city and how it feels to receive a life of inner-city habitation in acute poverty.

How it looks. How it sounds. How it tastes. How it feels. How it really is, sensationally. These interests influence my reporting. I am grateful for being alive and I am a keen observer of small details - what many people may classify as the mundane and the every day, I find myself examining and reflecting upon. This attitude bears an influence on the book and the findings contained within it.   

I firmly believe that things can and will change for the better and that in time we as a nation and society will rise again to be the best that we can be by affording the most vulnerable people amongst us the financial, social and psychological help they need and deserve. All that is required to get things in motion is a shift in cognition. We shall vindicate and accept our more needy brothers and sisters for what they are and upon sensing this the needy will, in turn, grant themselves permission to live happily and free from shame and worry. They will return to collect the sense of value and self-worth that has been stripped from them. They will embrace their personal agency when society at large indicates to them that they are worthy of doing so.

The Outlier Within

How should one shine a light into such darkness and let what was hidden be seen?

What is required is a dedication to the truth and an acceptance of responsibility. An observant, confident and system-savvy person on the inside. An individual with a half an eye on the grand design and with a streak of cynicism coupled with a rough working knowledge of media, the law and corporatocracy. An outsider on the inside. And not somebody just dipping their toes in the water for a short spike of caprice. Tokenism is not what I speak of. A long-term bona fide benefits claimant living on the wrong side of the tracks, deep inside what might be dis-tastefully referred to as “Grenfell territory”. Somebody who has known a good life. A university educated person with a long career in the digital and creative ad industries behind them. A positive individual with a loving supportive network of family and friends. A clean living writer and life-coach with a keen streak of longing for social justice and the requisite political engagement. Deep within the system yet refusing to be eaten by the system. Just biding their time. Watching. Learning. Recording. Not smoking weed. Not drinking alcohol. Not sleeping until midday. Not letting personal health and positive outlook slide. Not rebelling against their current plight by constructing a castaway image and identity redolent of so many poor souls who have long since become invisible to eyes and hearts. Somebody who feels that they may have found themselves in this very position at this particular juncture at this particular time for a reason bigger than a corrupt boss, an economic recession and a long-since spent redundancy cheque.  

Somebody with a clear head. An iMac. A fibre connection. And a point to make. 

 

Surviving Universal Credit | Check out Gary Knapton's Book

https://heartbreakhill.home.blog/author/garyknapton/

Eddy Jackson | Shreditor | 54° North Video