Rona’s poor health meant that she missed too many college courses and lost her bursary. So she left college and signed on. But the DWP won’t give her any benefits because she hasn’t produced a letter from the college to say she is no longer a student. The jobcentre did ask her for a letter, but that was two days before she had an operation, and she had other things on her mind. So she was left to rely on her son for support. She will arrange for the letter, but she doesn’t feel strong enough to fight for any back payments. We suggested she ask the council for a Scottish Welfare Fund grant to help until her benefit is sorted.
John and Amy had had to get professional help to sort out another muddle due to the DWP using out of date information. They have been living separately for three years and had informed the jobcentre about this – but the records had them still living together and they were being treated as a couple.
Kirsty has multiple health problems and gets help from a support worker. She is on ESA but her boyfriend has moved in with her and wants to claim Universal Credit. We explained that they would have to make a joint claim, and that because that is a change of circumstances that affects her benefit it will mean a new claim in the Universal Credit system. It’s not easy stuff to explain out on the street, and we urged her to go to see a welfare advisor who can look at their situation as a whole.
Kirsty faced being moved to Universal Credit because of a change in her claim, but sometimes the Jobcentre’s eagerness to transfer people to Universal Credit causes them to overstep the mark. Bob and Gemma had been made to apply for Universal Credit without having had a change of circumstances. They were getting help from Welfare Rights in challenging this.
Outwith all these muddles, and despite the appalling system, we are aware that the Jobcentre is generally trying to treat people in a more civilised fashion than in the past. Often this is reflected in positive comments when we ask people coming out if they have had any problems. Today, though, one person responded cheerily ‘No problems – she’s a bitch though.’ While another remarked that the place should be blown up!
Thanks to Tony, Jonathan and Kat for help with the stall