Meadows Advice Group AGM 2019

“The ‘normal’ work of delivering advice in The Meadows and elsewhere is still being driven by the joint forces of poverty and the ongoing changes to people’s benefits and by repeat demands on clients by the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs.
“Universal Credit began to affect people in Nottingham in a major way in October We are not yet seeing the longer term problems as most people are just starting on it. The immediate problem is being without income for several weeks or taking out an advance payment which then reduces the amount of Universal Credit received for up to 12 months. As we expected many people are struggling with dealing with everything online. The Department for Work and Pensions are already struggling to cope with replies to online queries taking weeks to be dealt with and the advice given to us is to use the phone!
“We identified a problem in The Meadows with the amount of help given to people with their rent, who have a private landlord. The amount has been frozen for several years and rents have risen considerably. This means even the poorest families having to pay towards their rent. This was identified first as a Citywide problem and was taken up by Advice Nottingham and then as a nationwide issue which was raised by Lilian Greenwood MP in the House of Commons
“Our fuel debt project continues to provide extra support for people struggling to pay for gas and electricity and, increasingly, water charges as well.
‘This year we helped 624 people, raised a total of £922978 in additional benefits for them and managed £177182 in debts for them.’

Special AGM at Meadows Advice Group celebrates 40 years.
Although the names of those involved at the outset are known, none could be found to be invited, although Paddy Tipping sent a message and former local City Councillor Di Clausen attended.

Meadows Advice Group AGM 2018

The advisors have served more clients in 2017-18 than ever before and helped bring in more extra benefit than before.
902 clients.
£1,707,056.
This for an operating deficit of £966.
Been helping elsewhere, e.g. Clifton, too.


But it turns out that the extra benefit raised is cos DWP have been more awkward in accepting claims.  One of the daft things has been making venues for processing appeals more distant – at the end of a bus route in Strelley, and even in Leicester and Derby, instead of the previous venue in the city centre.  And being able to make the more difficult locations has sometimes been suggested as reasons as to why they don’t need the benefit.

The rock bottom benefits are to be frozen for another year – that’s 4 years at £73 a week.
Meanwhile, the Conservative government have announced that tax allowances and the tax threshold will be raised in a ways which gives most tax reductions to the better off.
20181029 153000 budget redistribution of tax cuts to the rich DqsbnOcWsAIREf-
There’s been some surprise that some Conservative MPs have only just realised that Universal Credit means people will lose out.
Meanwhile gratitude to the 3 Nottingham Labour MPs and Vernon Coaker MP for attending a CAB 2-hour briefing 11 days previous.  Concern was expressed that the disabled and children are the ones losing out most.

My concern remains how the poverty is not visible enough.  Health visitors and schools report the issues, but the public awareness and concern is muted.
Unemployment is down, except suspicion is that it’s the ability too claim that explains the reduction.  For instance, you are punished if you don’t answer phone calls, and DWP expect you to have a phone, and what’s the cost of that?

Meanwhile, people need help for money to get a bus ride for a job interview, or even money for new clothing, and organisations like the One Stop Shop ate Bridgeway Centre try to help with that.

I tried to explore whether Brexit and new less helpful trade deals threaten the kind of jobs low income families rely on.


Having brought down the mood of the meeting by exploring all the problems we face, I dud take the time to thank the advisors of Meadows Advice Group, and the volunteers on the board who serve most, those who are in most need.
TO BE REVIEWED.

Lilian visits The Meadows – August 2017

IMG_2465mc1389h LGMP in Bridgeway Shopping Centre
Lilian Greenwood MP cames to The Meadows as part of the annual Summer tour of the constituency and held coffee morning in Brookfield Court to hear of local concerns including construction timetables and crime, and visited the Community Information day run at Bridgeway Shopping Centre.
Highight was beating a team of 6 in Connect 4!
170810 MPT Meadows community info day ab0775h v0731

Financial resilience briefings

Groups from across Clifton and The Meadows met at Queens Walk Community Centre to discuss the challenges the poor and the workless face, and what more can be done to help them and help them help themselves.
IMG_9128b0273h QWCC financial resilience CllrLA
One of the speakers was Nottingham City Councillor Leslie Ayoola.