Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Westercraigs Nusery School saga continues (now 7 years and counting)

I have lived in Meadowpark Street for 17 years now. 

Having the secondary school opposite was an advantage as it meant an almost open outlook and barring the odd issue with vandalism and litter there was never really a significant problem. 

With the arrival of the so called 'temporary' Westercraigs Nursery in summer 2007 all that changed. 

The 'temporary' Westercraigs Nursery School in 2007
With the secondary school the times when there is noise were limited to morning before the pupils went in, lunchtime and also when the pupils finished. 

With the nursery the noise levels are much greater, and can last all day. To get away from it I moved my main bedroom to the back of the property which has the drawback that is comes directly off the kitchen but this inconvenience is less when compared with being disturbed if I sleep later in the day as I am long term unwell. 

I have also had to invest in double glazing at the front to reduce the adverse noise pollution which was a financial outlay I could well have done without since I am living on benefits of about £100 a week, but the resulting reduction in noise has been terriffic. 

Of course I can do nothing about the visual polution - rather than an open space used for car parking during the day we are now faced with straggly bamboo trees and half broken bamboo fencing both placed there temporarily after a meeting with the Council in 2011 in front of a grey portable cabin structure which never melts in the background as it is so in your face.

Even if it is warm I don’t usually open my front windows (particularly in the room I am in) as otherwise I frequently cannot hear people speaking on the phone or indeed concentrate on anything (even with them shut this is difficult). 

I now also feel really uncomfortable being in the my front garden during the day as I was told on arrival by an employee of the school that I was not to disturb the children by cutting my grass! Nice to know that they consider their neighbours (not!).
The playground for the Nursery School children

I now keep my blinds largely shut during the day and as a result live in twilight world most of the time, but it better than looking out right into to the office of the Nusery School.

I don't really understand the positioning of this school here. It is far too close to homes and is therefore bound to cause disruption. It is also not a suitable location due to the shape of the site. Looking at the picture on the right it can be seen that the playground is divided off from the main school grounds by an access road to Whitehill High School campus. The needless additional hassle to the staff must be considerable on a daily basis as they must accompany the children between each half on each and every occasion. It also must be costing Glasgow City Council a fortune to rent the temporary buildings. They have plenty money for needless alterations to George Square that they can see from their windows but don't seem to care very much for what the residents can see from theirs.

I continue to look forward to the nursery being moved although by the looks of things despite it being considered ‘temporary’ it is becoming more and more permanent by the day (and I also have to say more and more unsightly). So I think I shall probably be dead before it moves at the rate Glasgow City Council moves.

It really has ruined staying in this street as previously it was quiet and tidy looking. I would never have moved here if that had been directly opposite the flat I intended to buy. If my circumstances had been different I would be moving to get away from it, as several of my neighbours have done all ready.

Temporary. 7 years and counting!

I don't think there should be a time limit on justice. With Friends like Friends Life who needs enemies?

Well it seems that #compensation for my mis-sold #endowment mortgage policies is not for the likes of me.

The #FinancialOmbudsman agrees they were mis-sold, but I did not apply for compensation within the required time. I knew that I hadn’t applied within the required time, and I had good reasons for not doing so (one being I didn’t know anything about it due to circumstances beyond my control) but unlike the UK Government who created this problem by lax financial regulation, and produced and enforced the compensation rules I don’t think there should be a time limit on justice.

My reasons for believing I was mis-sold these policies were as follows…

  1. I was a first time buyer and had no previous investments.
  2. At the point of sale I was a single person with no dependents and had no need for life cover.  
  3. I was not prepared to accept any risks with the repayment of the mortgage.
  4. Other options for repaying my mortgage we not fully discussed - This was the only method mentioned. 
  5. I would have chosen a repayment mortgage if correctly advised as it is quite clear given the information I now have that this was the most suitable at the time, and now. 
  6.  The term of either of the endowment policies is not the same as the mortgage as can clearly be seen from the dates quoted.
  7. I was told that the endowment policies would repay the mortgage loan and that I would also get a lump sum in addition to this although the amount of the lump sum would vary according to the value of the investments. This has obviously proved not to be the case. 
  8. I was advised to start an endowment more that 6 months prior to taking out a mortgage. In my case this occurred for the initial one about 10 years before the mortgage, and in the case of the second one within a year of taking out the mortgage. I understood from previous advice on this subject that I should only ever have had 1 policy – I should never have been sold 2 to cover the same mortgage. 
  9. I do not feel that the advisor discussed what kind of risks I was prepared to take with my mortgage and I was not advised that there was a likelihood of a shortfall so that I would have to find other money to cover the mortgage. As it is when I was made redundant I used the majority of the enhanced payoff (enhanced because I was ill due to company negligence and inaction) to pay the majority of the mortgage off.

So there was never any argument with the policies being mis-sold. They most definitely were, clearly and inescapably.

The Financial Ombudsman did not accept my illnesses at the time (i.e. work related stress, #anxiety, #depression, #ME/ #CFS and #fybromyalgia ) as a good enough reason for my non application within the required time. I do have the letters from Friends Provident (now Friends Life) which mention the compensation offer and the date by which it had to be applied for. However I did not see this because…
  1. The application for an appeal regarding my incapacity benefit was made on my behalf by someone else, as I was not capable of dealing with it. I just wanted to hide away and not deal with anything, and couldn’t have dealt with it anyway even if I had wanted to. I was told that this was happening and it was done for me. 
  2. I required to be represented by someone else in the actual tribunal and shook as I felt I was on trial. 
  3. The tribunal was successful as were nearly all of the others for incapacity benefit for the understandable reason that I was actually ill!
Therefore compensation is available for all but ill people for mis-sold endowment mortgages.

This experience has only lost me about £20000 and I am still paying for one of the flaming policies (it earned a £1 last year in addition to the money I paid in). This may not be much to someone on a MPs wage but to me it is now an unimaginable amount of money to have lost, given that it looks as it will be quite a while until I can work again, if indeed I ever can.

With friends like #FriendsProvident (#FriendsLife) who needs enemies? 

With Friends like Friends Life who needs enemies?
Why have the Financial Ombudsman if, due to the rules they are required to follow, they are incapable of rectifying blatant and confirmed wrong doing? What is it they are actually for, except to be window dressing to placate those worried about a monetary system which is corrupt and as usual heavily weighted in favour of the big corporation.

This is just yet another item in a long line of disasters in my life over the last 10 years or so. This certainly comes high up the list of financial ones particularly as I am currently living (existing) on just over £100 Employment and Support Allowance with no immediate change in circumstances imminent (except of course if I get miraculously cured, and therefore lose my miserly weekly benefit, when I next go for a medical on the behest of the DWP as seems to happen on an almost annual basis as standard).

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Minefields and Crystal Balls. Och its the DWP/ATOS again. Argh!!!!

I don't often speak about my current personal circumstances but on this occasion it just has to be done.

I have a long term illness called ME or CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) with fybromyalgia, with the added complications of some other issues too which I shall not go into for brevity.


Realising I was ill in 2011 I was loathed to get into to the minefield of the UK Benefits system again having been ill all ready between 2005 to 2008. I therefore stayed on Job Seekers Allowance hoping I would get better in the meantime but couldn't cope with the constant harassment of attending unexpected appointments and applying for jobs that I knew that because of my illness I would not be able to do anyway.

Crystal Balls

I was just thinking that today's issue with the ‪#‎DWP‬ is similar to the time my ‪#‎JSA‬ (Job Seekers Allowance) payments were sanctioned for not attending an appointment with my advisor at Parkhead Job Centre. The only issue on that occasion was the fact the letter advising me of aforesaid appointment arrived after aforesaid appointment. So in order to have kept my JSA I would've needed a crystal ball or multiple crystal balls, and the ability to read it/them too of course!

 This is not my experience and nor anyone elses experience who actually lives in the real world.

So currently due to illness I have to suffer the UK sickness benefits system once again, which is enough to make you feel worse before you start, if you or any of the people you know have actually been involved in it. I don't know what world some politicians stay in, or the one constantly portrayed by the mainstream broadcasters i.e. that there are millions of people on these benefits who are actually not ill at all, and are therefore diddling the system. This is not my experience and nor anyone elses experience who actually lives in the real world.

Being on ESA isn't a lifestyle choice anyone with half a brain would chose if they were able to avoid it.

Being on Employment and Support Allowance is not a lifestyle choice anyone with half a brain would chose if they were able to avoid it. Every single year I have been refused it, except oddly this one, and then had to go to tribunal always getting it once the evidence was actually considered and not just dismissed.

This was despite having a long term condition, which caused me additional expenses, which the benefit is actually for.

Therefore with severely limited energy I avoided applying for #DLA or #DisabilityLivingAllowance after my first abortive attempt when despite my evidence being credible my application was refused. This was despite having a long term condition, which caused me additional expenses, which the benefit is actually for.

So this year I decided I would tackle PIP (Personal Independence Payment) the new replacement to DLA which I applied for in March. I am still waiting to be assessed.

Firstly ATOS contacted me to tell me to be patient (well I should have gotten this benefit about 8 years ago so I am that!).

I was contacted in October. After properly looking up where I was exactly to go to be assessed for ‪#‎PIP‬ - I thought it was a ‪#‎Falkirk‬ postcode but it was actually a Business Park outside ‪#‎Stirling‬. How do ‪#‎ATOS‬ expect someone with a disability or long term illness to get there? Is this a cynical ploy to stop folk from ‪#‎Glasgow‬ getting PIP?

However on contacting ATOS, despite this being standard procedure to send people from Glasgow to Stirling for assessments, they stated that in my case they would arrange for one actually in the city I lived.

In my case they would arrange for one actually in the city I lived.

I then waited with bated breath and was not disappointed when a letter from them popped through my letterbox when I was asleep again. Well no surprise there?

A letter arrived from the ‪#‎DWP‬ today advising my ‪#‎PIP‬ (Personal Independence Payment, the new replacement to ‪#‎DLA‬ or ‪#‎DisabilityLivingAllowance‬) application has been unsuccessful. Why? Because the reason I gave for my lack of attendence at my assessment on 31st October 2014 with ‪#‎ATOS‬ at Salus in ‪#‎Glasgow‬ was unsatisfactory. Yet I gave no reason as ATOS themselves cancelled the appointment! You could not make it up!!!!
I have to wait for months and months for this crap! You wouldn't need to need the money (which I most definitely do). To think I paid my taxes diligently for years and years when I was working (unlike Gideon and his rich pals) expecting that the Welfare State would be there when I needed it and this is what I end up with!