Resettlement support; what’s that all about then? Well, here’s a snapshot of a ‘normal’ day, last week…
“Christ, Chris, you’ve just kicked my Dad into the wall”.
Er, well, I was as confused as you are.
The Wi-Fi had just gone down during an online counselling session, and I had charged into the counselling room to try and restore it. One should never burst into a session; I do know that. But in my haste to help, my left foot had connected with an unseen stone (I later discovered he had spread pebbles out to represent family members) and I had booted it with some force, smack into the wall.
Wi-Fi issue resolved (family issues perhaps not so) I hastened back to a discussion in the resettlement office about budgeting.
It was not going well. Universal Credit in some ways does help people back into employment.
In other ways, it is simply not designed for folk who are not, or have never been supported, educated, or trained in budgeting skills.
Jack (52) was struggling. Monthly payments make his life difficult. Like so many on UC, he takes to borrowing here and there, to get through.
Then, as Jack puts it, “come payday I’m f#*ked”, as the sharks swim in for the kill.
That was not what this meeting was about, we were discussing Jack’s PIP (Personal Independence Payment), which is a long-term benefit if you have difficulties with daily living and/or getting around.
And one of the assessment criteria is the capability to ‘make decisions about money’.
So together with the Citizens Advice Bureau, we work hard to support these PIP applications. We knew the application would almost certainly be turned down (a cynic would think they have a target of high rejections), and most are.
The appeal process is long and hard (not everyone is capable of this). Interestingly another of the criteria for getting PIP is your ability around reading and communicating.
Jack’s appeal (after 6 months) was successful… Hooray.
But DWP didn’t inform him… Boo.
A large back payment was made (as if by magic) into his account… Hooray, but with a note of concern!
Jack finds this pot of gold (6 months of PIP) in his bank and goes straight to the pub. To demonstrate to his new group of ‘friends’ just how poor his budgeting skills really are… Boo doesn’t really do it!
PIP is a progressive benefit designed for people with identified low life skills (e.g. capability to make financial arrangements) who have proved they are not best equipped to deal with daily living in the first place.
So, Department for Work and Pensions, could you please stop making large back payments. Please, it’s unhelpful and in a few cases life-threatening.
These back-payments need to become forward-payments, spread out over an agreed period or used for a one-off payment such as a deposit on suitable accommodation. Also, DWP while you’re about it, stop the loan shark’s activity and make benefit payments weekly (supposedly fortnightly payments exist but all our applications have been rejected) for those who need it.
Alternatively, DWP, I am very happy to visit, with a bag of pebbles, to explain…
10th June 2021