Sunday, 25 September 2016

Quorn & Mozzarella Burgers - Recipe

Evan has been a vegetarian since birth and I love him trying new foods as he is incredibly fussy and doesn't like new things!

I often just make something and hope that he will be in the mood to give it a go and thankfully he just loves the burgers that I make.

I thought I would put the recipe up and you can try them for yourselves!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Nutrition for Older People - Barchester Healthcare

For 8 years I officially was the main caregiver for my disabled Mother. During that time one of the hardest things I had to deal with were her meals and tempting her to eat.

In the beginning it was much easier as she was far more capable and when I first moved in, her meals came in at a shocking average of 5000 calories a day! Mostly carbs in the form of mash dripping in butter!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

At What Cost? - Concentrix Tax Credits Scandal

I am angry.

Extremely angry.

I am not alone.

Thousands of people that are in receipt of Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits are facing yet another week of no money. Why? Concentrix.

Concentrix are an American company employed by our HMRC to implement compliance checks on their behalf.
Compliance checks are 'random' checks or based on information gained from the Electoral roll, bank accounts, tenancy agreements etc

Although it is actually not clear what reasons trigger a check it seems these are common place:

  • Bills that are still in joint names, eg mobile phones, utility bills
  • Credit cards still in joint names
  • Joint bank accounts (even if they are not used)
  • Electoral roll records still listing your ex-partner as a resident in your home
  • Council tax bills that still show an ex-partner’s name
  • Tenancy agreements in joint names registered at your property
  • Your child’s details appearing in financial records (if they are an adult but still living at home).

Suddenly and often with no warning, your payments can stop.

This is what happened to me; I went to my bank and nothing in there. I telephoned HMRC to be told my case was now in the hands of Concentrix and I needed to telephone them. 4 hours later I spoke to a very hurried, uninterested individual who explained to me that they needed a full tax year of pay slips for the previous tax year and any other documentation regarding a period of self employment. As my company never opened how do I exactly prove a negative? I asked. Write a letter fully explaining everything. So I rounded up the payslips and wrote an extensive letter doing just that.
5 weeks passed without a word, my direct debits are bouncing, bills not being paid. I phoned whenever  I could and very rarely even got a hold message and even that usually ended by being systematically being cut off or my credit running out.

During this stressful time I found hundreds if not thousands that are in the same situation, all crying out for help on social media; very rarely getting a response from anyone. It is a truly heartbreaking read.

These are hardworking people, Mothers with children, families just trying to make ends meet! These are the people that the Osborne promised tax credit cuts would have affected but those cuts were stopped were they not? Is this not just another way of doing just that, stop payments for months and in some cases; don't even backdate, thus allowing HMRC to hold that money and gain the interest x thousands of cases!

I was moved to start an online e-petition; I sign enough of them, why not actually implement one. So I did; in just 24 hours it had over 500 signatures but it is NOT ENOUGH. We need 10,000 for a response from Government or 100,000 for it to be read in Parliament. A long way to go. I have asked so many well known and politically active 'celebs' (can't stand that term) to RT just so word gets out; but to no avail, it seems UK POVERTY is not as important as a latest book, gig or appearance on 'Big Brother 987'!

There is a comment section on the petition and I want to share a few quotes here:

"HRMC outsourced their compliance obligations to a company that is poorly performing against its contract, the net impact of their poor performance is to adjudicate claims in the negative and wait for claimants to fight to have their claims reinstated, generating huge overpayment which they can then claim against their PBR targets as money prevented as loss, despite knowing many claimants will not be able to pay a penny of their overpayment since Concentrix use ATLAS or some other method of notifying local authorities of their decision which often then stops their other income related benefits such as income support or housing benefit. 

This issue is not confined to people claiming tax credits who are stay at home parents, it is also preventing working parents from going to work to earn a living, when their childcare element of tax credits is stopped, leaving many unable to attend work as they have no childcare."  Natalie.

"I have had a large amount of money taken off me weekly which is leaving my family scrimping each day and struggling to fuel my car to actually work. We have sold what we can to get by, used the money saved away for Christmas which wasn't a lot and cashed in my copper jar £33! I have to do mandatory consideration and a income and expenditure but that does not help now. I was paying a direct debit monthly to HMRC for overpayment which I have now cancelled so I don't get bank charges. Struggling to see how anyone can survive through the nightmare of Concentrix." Laura

"I know what it feels like to feel like you don't have enough to exist. To feel human." Emma.

Lisa has allowed me to share her story:

"I am a single parent with 2 boys. One has autism and at present is unable to attend school due to social anxiety. I left a full time job at the council due to this as I am home schooling him for the time bring. I am self employed. My children's father left 3.5 years ago but he still has mail coming to my address. We split under d/v so I haven't challenged him on it! I did receive the initial Concentrix letter but I was late returning it and my payments were stopped. I have been trying to call Concentrix daily as I don't even know why. My housing benefit stopped as a direct result but fortunately the council are easier to deal with and it was quickly reinstated. Please return everything straight away and sign the petition. The letters from Concentrix don't even look real and many have dismissed them as a hoax. We should not be expected to send sensitive information in the post either. I discovered that Concentrix have targets on cases closed which makes me wonder...."

There are 100s of comments all telling a similar story, people left so out of pocket they cannot afford to get to work, pay the child care, pay rent and EAT!

WHAT is going on people? It is 2016! How can we just sit back and allow this type of atrocity to take place?

Why can you not go through the procedure without losing your payments? I have nothing against any checks, I have nothing to hide but I do have something against being penalised whilst those checks are being made!

The never ending cycle of guilty until proven innocent is upon us and woe betide you if you are caught on the wheel!

ACT now - you may not currently be affected but how would you cope if next week it were you?

Sign the petition: Sign HERE

Use the Hashtag on Social Media #

Sunday, 4 September 2016

#MySundayPhoto - Happy Food!

Couldn't resist posting this up as I was about to eat dinner when I realised my food was smiling at me!