Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Department for Work and Pensions is putting us back to the street

It seems that once again the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is putting us to the street, less than three weeks after Jim Fetzer, a NAC Honorary Associate, who is Distinguished McKnight University Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, found us a place to stay, through the generosity of Belinda McKenzie, who was reached by a friend of his in Ireland (all is explained in the previous blog of 26 July “We are interviewed on The Real Deal”).

With respect to the DWP, this is the background: We came to England in 2003 and for two years attempted to get NAC up and running; we went on benefits in July 2005; the DWP terminated our benefits on 27 September 2006 because Declan did not “sign on” two days before he was due to do so on 29 September. Declan exhausted the appeals process: the case was dismissed by the High Court (Judicial Review), Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights, despite that we were denied the internal appeal process by procedural impropriety on the part of the enforcement authority (see, for example, blog of 12 July “Police threaten us with physical force at the place we sleep, Salters”).

Anyway, in an email dated 13 July, the same day Belinda McKenzie took us off the street, Superintendent Lorraine Cussen of Snow Hill police station advised Declan to engage with Broadway Homelessness and Support, which we have been doing. Nonetheless, it seems that not even with their assistance are we going to be able to keep the flat Prof. Fetzer found for us. Declan’s email this morning to the CEO of Broadway, Howard Sinclair, can be read below. Just now Superintendent Cussen emailed Declan, stating: “Thank you for taking the time to copy me into your current situation. I hope that Broadway have been able to assist you.”

Our flat is in a house which was the focus of a 2006 article in the New Statesman, “Meet the No Planers”. It says that the house “doubles as the hub of the British and Irish 9/11 Truth Campaign”. Our landlady, Belinda McKenzie, is described as the “tea-maker and dishwasher of the movement”. This is not the first time that this courageous woman has provided shelter for those in need.

Former MI5 officers Annie Machon and David Shayler – who blew the whistle against the British state’s intelligence services, MI5 and MI6 back in 1997 – were given sanctuary in the house and stayed with Belinda for almost three years. Machon is also a prominent member of the 9/11 Truth Movement. (Oh, a FB friend from America has donated a laptop to the NAC cause; we are keeping, however, our fund raising campaign for a laptop going for the time being, just in case of problems.)

This is a YouTube clip featuring Machon – the event took place in 2007 at the Charles Wilson Building of Glasgow University:

And this is the email Declan sent to Sinclair this morning (Declan was subsequently refused the “crisis loan”):

Subject: Broadway assistance in claiming Jobseeker's Allowance

Dear Mr. Sinclair,

Previous correspondence refers. I reattach copy of my email of 14 May 2009 to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, in his capacity as Archbishop of the Diocese of Westminster, to which belongs the Dellow Day Centre of Providence Row Charity run by the Sisters of Mercy. Paragraph 3(2) states as follows:

18 June 2008: I was robbed in the canteen of the Dellow Centre of all my and my wife's money and documents (crime reference no. 4215697/08); 24 June: I was informed at Bow Street police station that the case had been struck out due to the police being unable to obtain any CCTV footage whatsoever from Providence Row Charity.

With regard to the reinstatement of my joint claim for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), which originally ran from July 2005 to September 2006, I reconfirm that last Friday Broadway Homelessness and Support gathered more specific details from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about my benefits claim of 17 July 2009. As I stated in my email to you of 4 August, I was informed by Broadway City Outreach team that although my part of the claim has been processed and payment due to me no later than close of business yesterday (not received), my wife's part of the claim is currently suspended because the DWP has lost her National Insurance Number (NINO) and, as a consequence, she needs to be issued with a new NINO before her part of the claim can be processed.

I can confirm that as at 9.30am this morning no payment has been received by me from the DWP. Moreover, I am in receipt of a letter from Haringey Council dated 4 August advising that the Council cannot process my claim for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit until they have more information to work out my benefit. I must (i) tell them my partner's National Insurance Number and provide proof that it belongs to her/him, for example, a letter or form issued by the DWP or HM Revenue and Customs, and (ii) provide current proof of my partner's Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based)/(Contribution Based) in the form of a recent letter from the DWP showing my current address or a recent bank statement showing the most up to date payment being paid directly into their account.

The Council also states that I must give all this information to them within one month of the date of same letter, or my claim (to be treated as made on 17 July) will not be paid and I will have to reapply. (You will note that this email to you has been copied to my Landlady, Mrs. Belinda McKenzie, and a hard copy of same will be presented by hand to Haringey Council first thing tomorrow morning.)

I reconfirm that on Tuesday I met again with Broadway City Outreach team. As I also stated in my email to you of 4 August, it is my understanding from this meeting that (a) Broadway Homelessness and Support expect to hear from the DWP with an appointment for my wife to attend an interview for a NINO "as soon as possible", given that the DWP "lost" her original NINO, and (b) the Broadway City Outreach team has been informed by the DWP that the fact that we were unable to retrieve any personal identification documents following the aforementioned robbery at the Dellow Centre will not militate against her. Should I be mistaken on personal identification in particular, and my wife's Big Issue vendor badge (badge no. 1170) will not suffice in the circumstances, please would you so advise at the earliest possible opportunity.

That we are dealing with an obvious "mistake" (however deliberate) - namely, the losing of my wife's NINO by the DWP - I cannot imagine what would motivate the officials to deny my wife and me benefits to which we are entitled. I have an appointment to meet with Broadway City Outreach team at 11.30am this morning to apply for a second crisis loan, failing which my wife and I may be forced back to sleeping rough at Salters' Hall (see attached email of 13 July 2009 from Superintendent Lorraine Cussen of Snow Hill Police Station). We have already accumulated a debt to the DWP of £210 as from 20 July 2009.

Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey

cc The Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
Mrs. Jo. Ansell, Chief Executive of Providence Row Charity
Superintendent Lorraine Cussen, Snow Hill Police Station
Mrs. Belinda McKenzie, Landlady