‘This is our country, this is what the government are doing: targeting the vulnerable’, says Charlotte’s mother

Caroline Austin says: “This is Charlotte, my daughter, who has severe multiple sclerosis. She cant walk. She has a catheter, she can’t hold anything. She can’t feed herself, she’s weak. She has days where she can hardly talk or breathe properly. She is heat sensitive, the list goes on.

“I want as many people to see this …. universal credit has not given Charlotte any money since 29th September, despite me telling them [DWP] how severely disabled she is … even if she gets her money, she still will lose the severe disability allowance of £120.00 per month. I have to produce another sick note and they have said she could still be assessed for work. Our government should be ashamed.

“Charlotte could not go to a food bank even if she wanted to. Although I’ve tried to help as much as I can, she’s now fallen into arrears with some of her bills. It is shameful that the government will not accept her sick note been indefinately signed off. Our country should not be driving people into poverty because the system is failing the wrong people.

“I’m sure if given the choice of spending most of her time in bed or going to work, I’m sure Charlotte would love to work. As a mother, dealing with her illness and watching her suffer is hard. I’m now trying to sort this out too. All I can say is I stay strong for Charlotte, but some people don’t have this strength and that’s when they give up.”

Only around 1 in 10 universal credit claimants are unemployed, and those that are out of work typically get a job after 12 weeks. This was also true of unemployed people claiming job seeker’s allowance.

Universal credit is mainly a support for low income workers and people unable to work due to illness or because of caring responsibilities. Its scale is enormous, encompassing around 7 million families. These are people who cannot change their circumstances, yet the benefit conditionality of universal credit is extremely punitive. As families need more support because of extra costs, around half of all children in the UK will live in families exposed to the system of universal credit.

When universal credit has been rolled out in an area, Trussell Trust says that foodbank use goes up 52%. Rent arrears also increase.  It is patently obvious that universal credit leads to huge increases in hardship for many families.

It is undeniable that universal credit causes hardship, anxiety and distress for many.  There is a 5-week initial wait for a payment and other delays designed into the system. It’s apparently acceptable to the government that people spend 5 weeks with no means to meet their basic survival needs for food, fuel and shelter.  

There are other delays and stoppages because the bureaucracy is failing citizens and is difficult to navigate. Budgeting problems arise because of the wildly varying payments and deductions.

And when people do get the benefit successfully, they are shocked to discover that actually, the amount is simply far too little to meet even their most basic living costs.

It’s almost as if the government have intentionally created a system that ensures people don’t have a moment’s peace. It’s as if Conservative ministers believe that keeping people in a state of profound anxiety, and in circumstances of uncertainty and precarity, with the constant threat of absolute poverty, it will all somehow combine ‘help’ people into work. Even though a large proportion of those claiming welfare support are actually already in work, yet these families are still very unacceptably poor.

Poverty and the threat of even deeper poverty has never ‘incentivised’ anyone into work. Abraham Maslow explained all to well that unless people meet their basic survival needs, they simply cannot fulfil psychosocial ones. Not only is universal credit making people’s lives unbearably awful, it is destroying their human potential, too.

Many problems are fundamentally designed in and are ongoing throughout the claim. As I’ve stated, most of those affected are disabled people who can’t work, those with caring responsibilities, in the longer term, and low paid workers with families. The problems are not going away and the government aren’t listening to legitimate concerns being raised over and over.

They are not putting safeguards in place for very vulnerable people like Charlotte. 

Those who are yet to move onto universal credit are the longer term claimants. That includes lots of low paid families with children and, really worryingly, people with the most debilitating long-term health conditions, like Charlotte. The problems are going to become catastrophic unless the government listens and makes changes to the existing system. But to date, the Conservatives have fundamentally refused to take any responsibility for their own punitive policy, and the DWP have developed a ‘fortress mentality’ when it comes to legitimate concerns and criticisms being raised.   

A recent devastating National Audit Office report into universal credit concluded that Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was institutionally defensive and prone to dismissing uncomfortable evidence of operational problems. Welfare secretary Esther McVey felt the need to make a speech in July in which she promised that where problems arose in future the department would “put our hands up, [and] admit things might not be be going right”.

It’s also clear – in the words of the public accounts committee – that there is a “culture of indifference” within the DWP and wider government.

It’s time that government ministers started to listen to citizens’ voices, to service users – as well as campaigners, researchers, charities and the opposition. And the United Nations. 

Universal credit’s malign effects are obvious to anyone who actually looks, and is willing to listen to the voices of those affected by this punitive, mean-spirited and fixated, theory-laden, ideologically driven, miserly provision, that was, at the end of the day, paid for by the very public who are claiming it.

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18 thoughts on “‘This is our country, this is what the government are doing: targeting the vulnerable’, says Charlotte’s mother

  1. “The system is failing the wrong people”

    Which begs the question, Who Should be Failed? Those who spend most their time in bed? Some disabled people Can’t get out of bed!!!


  2. This is deliberate nasty Tory Party Bullying. In all my 72 years I have never known such corrupt, dishonest and thoroughly nasty politicians – they don’t even try to hide their corruption and dishonesty.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wiki: “Hypocrisy is the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious and moral beliefs; hence, in a general sense, hypocrisy may involve dissimulation, pretense, or a sham. Hypocrisy is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another.”

    Church of England still ‘Tory Party at prayer’
    “Church of England worshippers are more likely to vote for the Conservative Party, according to new research.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25889828

    One wonders who they are praying to and what they are praying for.

    Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report
    “The Conservative party is seeking to avert one of its biggest rifts with the Church of England for decades as an all-party report on food banks warns that Britain is stalked by hunger caused by low pay, growing inequality, a harsh benefits sanctions regime and social breakdown.

    The church-funded report says voluntary groups have been courageously fighting “a social Dunkirk” without the assistance of the government, and calls for urgent action to ensure ministers do more to combat hunger, including joining a new coordinating body and asking supermarkets to do more with surplus unsold products. (Even in the church report they want to give the unfortuate the dregs and the shit)

    The initial Conservative reaction to leaks of the report – which is formally published today – was hostile, with one minister claiming the increased use of food banks was due to greater publicity about their existence.” https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/08/tories-avert-rift-church-food-bank-report

    For those in pain:
    “Drugs minister Victoria Atkins has been accused of “hypocrisy on a grand scale” over her husband’s involvement in a legal cannabis farm.
    Paul Kenward – who is married to the MP for Louth and Horncastle – is managing director of British Sugar, licensed to grow non-psychoactive cannabis.
    The Home Office said Ms Atkins declared the fact in parliament when she was appointed minister in 2017. (Aparently they have been growing cannabis in the UK for years.)
    She has previously spoken out against the Class B drug.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-44109060

    Tories blasted for links to medical cannabis industry despite UK ban on “life-saving” drugs

    Brexit: Having Their Cake While Eating Yours
    Scroll down to “Comments” and: “The 40 “Hidden Horrors” Of Theresa May’s Brexit Deal” ZeroHedge.com – Tyler Durden – 17 Nov 2018
    The video above it is also interesting as the Tories seem to have been busy selling off UK armed forces to the EU without the knowledge of most MP’s.


  4. You say:”It’s almost as if the government have intentionally created a system that ensures people don’t have a moment’s peace.”
    I’ve always suspected that this is the case but could I never figure-out why they are doing something that would make them universally unpopular. A few days ago I was reading a blog on WordPress (Unfortunately I can’t find it) that claimed all Tory benefit policies are based upon a fictitious lazy and work-shy claimant, someone who is capable of work but refusing to do it. And so every claimant is treated as if they are this person. If this person were real then it would be true that the Tories are doing a good job. All that’s required is for them to believe it and they feel safe and secure. In fact it’s a kind of extreme prejudice that lives in the addled minds of those who don’t do much thinking apart from wishing for the next stock market dividend. We have a mindless and idiotic dictatorship living in a world of it’s own making.

    Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

    Do Racism, Conservatism, and Low I.Q. Go Hand in Hand?
    Right-wingers are less intelligent than left wingers, says study
    Children with low intelligence grow up to be prejudiced
    Right-wing views make the less intelligent feel ‘safe’
    Analysis of more than 15,000 people


    1. The ‘lazy, workshy’ scrounger narrative has been around for a long time, it’s trotted out whenever a government wants to cut the welfare state down. I wrote about it many times, but this one parodies it, from 2016 https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/the-benefit-cap-phrenology-and-the-new-conservative-character-divination/

      Yes prejudices make the right wing feel safe and secure. The Tories also re-order the world into hierarchies of worth. Human worth. They think inequality is fair and down to each person’s worth. The mythological, ‘meritocratic’ ‘market’ decides…

      And yes, prejudice fills the void that a lack empathy with your fellow humans, of self reflexivity and the incapacity for analysis creates

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Kitty. I’d like to reblog your “The benefit cap, phrenology and the new Conservative character divination” on my own site in the ‘Forgotten and Debunked Science’ department. I particularly like “Allport’s ‘Dehumanisation’ Scale” used to eliminate whole populations in the US, Canada and Australia etc.., let alone minorities.

        Also the best evaluation of the Brexit (Conspiracy) I’ve seen to date: Sputnik “Brexit ‘Right Deal’ and traitors of WWII” https://www.rt.com/shows/sputnik/444781-brexit-deal-eu-houseofcommons/

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been struggling to pay council tax but I have and the council have sent a letter that I owe 3000 and going to take me to court for prision I have a debt relief order in place need help


    1. You need support from Citizen’s Advice or a welfare support organisation, also it may be an idea to see if there are any solicitors who work pro bono in your area. Have you asked for a mandatory review?You need to do that first, within one month of their decision. Tell them why you think their decision is wrong, then if that doesn’t work, you may be able to appeal at tribunal. But you do need to ask for support on this from someone who specialises in welfare rights x


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