'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

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Sunshine Meadows

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 11:24AM
Lankou,

It is like you are not listening to what I am saying so I am going to drop it there.

Monic,

I hope one person's opinion does not put you off posting. Your experiences need to be voiced here because you are at the coal face.

Monic1511

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 11:31AM
Lankou I issue food vouchers as I am a WRO, but that doesn't mean that I'm not aware of the people who do swap and sell the food, our office issues more than 3 vouchers a year - one client has had 8 so far and we will not say no until the food bank tells us not to give mr so n so any more, so your way off.
I'm allowed to be aware of the real world and I have plenty of fights with dwp but am aware of a few of my guys getting vouchers, telling us they have kids and getting a parcel worth £30 with a resale value of 10, they do fess up but it's not my concern that they do that, I just wish they were well enough to get off drugs altogether.

Also food banks are not all trussel trust ones, the churches have been doing they for decades, the ones I email vouchers to are all in churches and one week you go and get a cuppa and a cake depending on what the volunteers have made. In winter they were giving folk soup and a roll before giving them their parcel.

As a WRO I know why benefit cards wouldn't work for my people and I also know the ones who milk the system, doesn't matter I am there to do as they ask and as long as it's not illegal I will do what I can to help them.  I would never phone dwp and say a client shouldn't get money, and it's only when the food bank says Mrs X has had 12 vouchers so far, is she taking steps to correct the situation? If I can say yes then the food bank takes the choice as to if they are issuing another parcel not me.  I do recall one time when we were told not to issue a voucher and then lady from the food bank got the person to call on her mobile to say issue a voucher cos we need it for the paperwork and they were giving out the food anyway. So you can talk about the food bank in your area but I know what mine are up to and it's never been strict with the 3 only.   Would never work for universal credit clients anyway cos they get a special voucher that gets them food for the 5 -6 weeks it takes to progress their claim.

I don't need to look at stats although I do use the unclaimed benefits one when talking a client into claiming benefit, it's a good part of the job

Politics I'm not getting into cos I have to deal with everyone from public to the local MPs and the councillors who are from 4 different parties, I can't be anti Tory if the wee old lady I'm doing an AA form for is a Tory, I just have to do the best for her as she's my priority not her politics.
Happy now or do you want to name call me some more?
Sorry away to my 2nd job as a church cleaner you can have the next several hours to draft your response if you want

Sunshine thank you I will respond later on but the above is my gut response - sorry need to go out soon  >bighugs<

lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 11:58AM
Lankou I issue food vouchers as I am a WRO, but that doesn't mean that I'm not aware of the people who do swap and sell the food, our office issues more than 3 vouchers a year - one client has had 8 so far and we will not say no until the food bank tells us not to give mr so n so any more, so your way off.
I'm allowed to be aware of the real world and I have plenty of fights with dwp but am aware of a few of my guys getting vouchers, telling us they have kids and getting a parcel worth £30 with a resale value of 10, they do fess up but it's not my concern that they do that, I just wish they were well enough to get off drugs altogether.


Sorry but your checks on people in need are in no way of the same standard that operates where I live.  The vast majority of food bank users are issued a food ban voucher because their state of destitution, (usual a direct result of the DWP or JobCentre Plus,) has come to the attention of someone like the police, social services, , their GP practice, or the church/chapel.

To suggest that people are flogging food issued them by a food bank to buy drugs is quite frankly ludicrous.
Someone with a drug habit is going need £100 a week at the low end to up to £2000 a week at the high end.

I have to put up with suggestions/implications  like yours on other forums, the press, and blogs by people who should be prosecuted.
I do not expect them on this forum.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 12:36PM
Lankou,  I think you and the others on this thread, including me, agree more than you think, because your entirely understandable anger over the way poor and disadvantaged people are portrayed and treated in the UK may be causing you to put an interpretation on what others are saying that I don't think they are.

I think we all share an anger that anyone should need to go begging for food, that anyone should be hungry.

I think we all share an anger at the way that people on benefits or not on them but in need of them have been portrayed by politicians and mainstream media for some time now as scroungers, cheats, parasites.

So why are we apparently at odds?  I think it's because some things are different in different places, including people and community resources. 

As has been mentioned above, there are different sorts of foodbanks.  I got caught out elsewhere making assumptions on this when someone I trusted told me their church issues far more than 3x3 days' worth a year.  Asking around, I found that at least 6 local mosques and churches do, and 2 local gurduwaras put no limit at all on how many free hot daily meals you can have.  You're hungry?  Turn up and eat.

Also you mention how basic the food parcels are and many are indeed basic, but not all  are.  They vary.  Here's just one reason why.  Let me paint a rather rough and ready picture for you.  Imagine, if you will, collection points for donations in two areas.  One is run down, poor, people themselves struggling to get by on what they have.  The food bank collections there may be rather basic.  Now consider a wealthy area.  It can be very different.  I've seen the collection trolleys in some supermarkets with some pretty expensive items in them. 

Also, whilst it's disgusting the way people can be so readily portrayed as scroungers etc., if you think there are none, then your  circle of acquaintances is, dare I say it, socially limited.  Of course there are scroungers and cheats where welfare is concerned, just as there are in relation to anything else and anywhere else.  Do we condemn all shop assistants as dishonest on the  basis that a few have a hand in the till?  No.  Does that mean that none are dishonest?  No.

Your anger is understandable, and we need that anger to keep up the fight against hostility and stereotyping.  But please don't let it cloud your willingness to take on board that there are some scroungers out there.  A crude analogy - it wouldn't be fair to characterise all TV personalities as kiddy-fiddlers, but as we all know, the Savilles and Harrises of the entertainment world exist.  If we deny that there are people out there doing wrong as well as all the many people not doing wrong, we won't win the fight back against the poisonous propaganda.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 01:05PM

Also, whilst it's disgusting the way people can be so readily portrayed as scroungers etc., if you think there are none,

Had you read my last few contributions I am FULLY aware there a benefits and I have a 100% track record of reporting frauds.

What I CANNOT stand is people on this forum using the same implications as the DWP and the gutter press about fraud.
I really expect this forum to be a haven free of that nonsense.
It is a nonsense thinking that people will submit to the humiliation of an in depth investigation into their personal circumstances just to get a food bank voucher, in order to make a very few quid selling the food, plus the similar humiliation investigations into their private life after they have been issued with a food voucher.
In the last few years I have ended up knowing far more about  number of people than I wish to know about anyone in order to help them.
That includes an in depth investigation into their personal circumstances, finances, background, (including criminal records.)
I have also found out issues about people I have no intention of mentioning on an internet forum.
I really did not want to sit in a solicitor's office to "hold someone's hand," or do similar in a police station.
The VERY few frauds pale into insignificance against the sheer weight of numbers of the "disappeared from the benefits" not in work or on any benefit, or the numbers of deaths and suicides as a result of DWP JobCentre Plus action.

Sunshine Meadows

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 01:33PM
Quote
What I CANNOT stand is people on this forum using the same implications as the DWP and the gutter press about fraud.

Ahh I see okay so we are not taking in the same terms. Giving examples of how benefit claimants circumvent the rules or how charities such as food banks give more than three parcels a year to some people is not us point fingers at poor people saying they are fraudsters. From what Monic has said I believe benefit cards wont work so why would I back the use of benefit cards. It will cost millions to create and manage a card system that wont work. In real terms we need to discuss this topic in terms of what real people do in the real world.

It is interesting to me that you are happy to report a fraudster you know is committing fraud, and that your 100% guilty record proves the rightness of what you did. Some people do not believe in shopping fraudsters because it supports a process that many completely innocent people are caught up in.




Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 01:48PM
But it isn't necessarily humiliating to get a food voucher.  Many people would find it humiliating, but not all.  And you don't necessarily have to have a voucher to get food, it just depends on the food bank or other food source.  By way of analogy, many people would find it humiliating to sit on the ground outside one of their local shops begging for money or standing next to the door of the local takeaway asking customers to buy them food, but not all would, and I know people who've been doing it for years.

I could walk down the road on a weekend evening and get free hot food from outside the local Buddhist centre and then pop into the mosque during the week for a food parcel and there'd be no humiliation.  I could ask people at the tables outside a local café to buy me a hot drink and a snack or pastry and there'd be no humiliation.  I could go to a local church for some free toiletries and clothes and there'd be no humiliation.

I've bought food for others, both individually and collectively, and vice versa, and there's been no humiliation.  Years back, when I hit hard times, colleagues at work gave me leftover food for months but there was no humiliation involved.

So it's not the same everywhere.  That's the point I'm making.  A food parcel where you are may be a difficult and humiliating thing to get, but that's not the case everywhere.

As to its being a nonsense to get free food to sell it, there are people I know who'd do just about anything to feed an addiction, and once they've been barred from all the local shops for shoplifting, they are left with things like begging and selling any freebies they can get. 

I can think of someone round here who sells used bus tickets, i.e. day tickets that people have made their last (home) journey on but that others would pay a quid for in the evening rather than spending the best part of a fiver on a legit one.  She does sell a few legal bits and bobs, albeit without a street licence, but with her entrepreneurial skills and energy she could make lots of money with a small legit business such as a market stall.  E.g. why walk from stop to stop asking for used day tickets and groping for dropped ones when you could walk round the area picking up the stuff people put out on their front walls for passers-by to take and sell it on a market stall or gumtree or ebay? 

As they say, there's nowt so queer as folk.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 02:13PM
But it isn't necessarily humiliating to get a food voucher.

The process involved in getting issued with one is a VERY degrading and humiliating process, as are the back up investigations.
Quite frankly I am astounded and shocked at even having to discuss this on this forum. There are more than enough problems locally as it is, Toby Hines was not and is not an isolated case:-
http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/call-for-action-after-car-boot-businessman-escapes-hate-blog-punishment/

Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 02:39PM
"The process involved in getting issued with one is a VERY degrading and humiliating process, as are the back up investigations."

Not everywhere.

Not at every foodbank.

Not at every provider of food parcels.

I can't get my head round why you seem to think it's the same everywhere. 

Not everyone that gives out free food requires a voucher.  If I needed food, I can think of over a dozen religious places within easy walking distance where I could get food without any proof of ID, official paperwork, national insurance number, proof of Right to Reside.  I wouldn't have to be registered with a GP.  If I was hungry, someone would feed me.

Also what one person finds humiliating, another won't.

Let me take a  non-foodbank example.  Some people would find it humiliating if they went out on a stag night and were left tied up to a lampost in just their underpants, and others would find it a laugh.

Or a different example.  Some people might find it humiliating to have to admit in a job application process that they had a string of convictions relating to prostitution, theft, and possession of drugs, and others would see it as an opportunity to demonstrate to an employer their ability to survive and overcome and change.

People aren't all the same

People aren't all humiliated by the same things.

(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Sunshine Meadows

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 03:52PM
Sunny,

I am so glad you are here and posting  >thumbsup<


lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 05:20PM

I can't get my head round why you seem to think it's the same everywhere. 


Because in most food banks it is. (Charity suppliers of hot meals are different issue.)

It is the implication of fraud by people who end up at food banks that REALLY annoys me. I did not expect that on this forum AT ALL.

There is more than enough of that Daily Mail propaganda fuelled nastiness on other forums.

The biggest food bank locally is NOT Trussell Trust but operates in exactly the same way.


Sunshine Meadows

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 05:53PM
Quote
There is more than enough of that Daily Mail propaganda fuelled nastiness on other forums.

Personal experience which is different to your own is not automatically propaganda.

There are regional differences across the country,I am from the North East of England and your assumption that all or most people feel humiliated when asking for a food bank voucher is offensive to me. We have a right to help and we also know we have to answer a bunch of questions to get that help.

I am not even sure if a person who sells someone their food parcel to someone else is committing fraud.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 08:27PM
They're probably not and I want to address a simple everyday reason for selling one.

Here goes.  (Icky feminine stuff.)  For most of my adult live, I bled about one day in three (which is rather more than the average for women).  I could not, for the first week of each period, make a single towel last a whole night.  If I used quality towels, maybe I could get through a period with 50-70.

You don't get sanitary towels on the NHS.

They're not on your typical foodbank list (although some foodbanks supply them).

So if you're sanctioned or your benefits don't come through, what do you do?

I've used the classic folded flannel approach, but it didn't really do the job and left me with a lot of clothes and bedlinen laundering.

Ok, so not everyone has that problem, but having some sort of need that not everyone has is not unusual.   Maybe you wear out your stick ferrules frequently.  Maybe you need more heat than others.  Maybe you need more incontinence products than your local NHS incontinence service sees fit to provide.  You get the picture.

Basic benefit levels barely cover people's needs, but if there's a problem with them or you have a crisis that they don't cover, you may need to get creative, maybe selling your foodbank food on the basis that enough to eat is less important than, say, the bus fare to visit housebound granny and do her shopping or fix the door after you got broken into.

And yes, some people do work the system and if we pretend that none do it simply on a scrounger basis, all that we do is to undermine the important message we need to get across, which is that they're not typical.

However, being blunt, to some extent, survival means working the system, and somehow that needs to be addressed in a way that separates impropriety from ingenuity, and getting that message across to politicians and the public isn't easy.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Monic1511

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 30 Jul 2016 09:25PM
Lankou

I never said that the people trading their food parcels were committing a fraud, nor do I think of the few who swap parcels for cash as fraud, its a different survival technique. 
There are the EU workers who rely on the foodbank between casual labour jobs, many of the ones who get regular referrals have no entitlement to JSA, some have been here for years and a few of them even have an alcohol habit.  They are not going to return to Europe cos they have no money, so they get a food parcel, have had their maximum crisis grants and then need fuel, if 5 of the men get a voucher each and we will give them this, they group the food they get and trade the better stuff for some cash and then its up to them if they pay for power cards or get some booze to numb the pain.   Its not my place to judge as I'm not in their shoes, when they use the free phones in the council to phone for another voucher I'll chat to them and then issue another voucher, until the foodbank tells me to stop - which they wont.

There is free food available in my area every day somewhere except a Thursday which is depressing day to be on the helpline cos then the person is at the mercy of the duty social work system.

As for a degrading process - yes a lot of people feel humiliated but a few don't, one caller who got 3 days of food the day before was very irate when I had to ask what had happened to the parcel they were given yesterday,  I've eaten it all was the response.  you said that last week as well was my reply.  But I'm entitled to a food voucher was the irate response, EH no there is no entitlement, so If I go into the jobcentre will they give me one there - they might but you need to understand that the foodbank can only give out what it gets in, its a charity, not a government body.  Eventually they calmed down and a voucher was issued as its the foodbanks decision not mine if they want to give the parcel over.   As advisors we have a duty to ask why they need a parcel, get them the help to sort out the financial situation, try and get a crisis grant to get them fuel and email the foodvoucher to the foodbank.   You also get asked if they can take the voucher to asda, tesco, morrisons etc, last week one of the staff was asked if the foodbank delivered.
The foodbanks in my area are according to the users nice as the volunteers chat with the users, and get to know the ones that want to speak and the terrified ones or embarrassed ones are treated respectfully, you see when you have been reliant on a foodbank and get back on your feet you often become one of the donators

Referral processes differ depending on local council opinion and the attitude of the food bank managers
Food vouchers are issued in my area when a person phones or meets with the welfare rights team / social work / GP / Jobcentre / churches that don't have food on site.  Normally they are referred to the welfare rights team and we ask them - Why do you need a voucher today?  Low income, benefit problems, family emergency, that's the stat they get listed under but the information given by the person is different each time.  No benefit, benefit sanctions, robbed in town, had to pay bills, lost money, access to my kids but no benefit for them, lost job and benefit not processed yet.  all of them will get a voucher at least 4 times in a month and if they haven't come to see the WRO to get the root cause attended to then we have to warn them they can't get another voucher until they engage.

engagement allows us to apply for PIP/ESA or sort out the dwp issues, get other services involved.
Some regulars do abuse the system and we are aware of it but until the food bank says no more vouchers we can only challenge then to come and see us.
I also issue vouchers for home owners who are paying mortgages from their JSA and not eating cos they're not due mortgage relief yet.
As for my addicts who get vouchers I am fond of them and their ingenuity but get exasperated with them and their inability to change, All of us are told when your seeing a person to check they have enough food and if they want a referral to a foodbank, some don't want it and that's fine the offer is there and if they change their mind just phone and we can send the email away. 

The use of foodbanks is a morally repugnant fact of life in my area, its wrong that they are there and that they have become so structured that they are now part of the system, benefit cards wouldn't work cos people would get together and pool their cards to get the stuff they really want - no matter if that's chocolate, sugar, booze, cigs. 

I don't think of any of my people as benefit cheats / scroungers or any other terms that are abusive - they are people, customers and sometimes clients, most of all they are people who are in need of a compassionate friend but being compassionate is also about challenging destructive behaviour. 

" I have a 100% track record of reporting frauds" Well bully for you -  You appear to like to report people you say are committing fraud - even as a WRO we don't report them, we tell them that we think they are getting too much benefit and they should really phone the dwp to check the information that DWP has is correct.  If they refused to do that and are aware they are getting too much we will speak to the bosses to say why we can't work with the person and then tell the person we can't help them continue to get extra money until they inform they dwp of the situation.  They have to do it not us.  We won't put down fraudulent info on forms.  We tell them when you get the overpayment letter come to see us and we will do your appeal/reconsideration and take it to tribunal.

I wasn't making any implications about foodbank users but you seem to have deduced some, I mentioned that a few of my guys have admitted to swapping their parcels for cash, they tell me they do it knowing I won't grass them up but will just remind them that they're not being fair to the service volunteers -
I know what goes on in my area and was commenting on that - obviously its not the same everywhere but since I aint there I can't comment on that.

gnight
Monic

lankou

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Re: 'Benefits cards' back on the agenda

  • on: 31 Jul 2016 08:17AM
 

" I have a 100% track record of reporting frauds" Well bully for you -  You appear to like to report people you say are committing fraud

I do not like reporting people but when it is a group if people being paid a high wage as well as claiming JSA and their employer is complicit in the fraud it is my civic duty to report it.
What I do not like is people maliciously reporting people as frauds when they are not.
I know several people who have been victims of that.
As for NOT checking exactly why people are destitute and not doing follow up checks, any organisation not doing so would not get a penny piece in donations from me.
It is not helping the people in need in a responsible way.
Because often the reason they are destitute can be sorted, in my experience often by giving a government department a virtual kick up the backside.