Monday, 19 March 2018

Join us on this Northern Quarter bar crawl!

Manchester Cool Bars is braving the cold this Friday to head to the Northern Quarter to tour a few bars. Organiser Silvia has planned it out- I know it will be the Stevenson Square area which may mean dropping into the Spanish-style Flok bar (I recommend) and hopefully the 1920's style Fitzgerald (also a favourite). We're starting in Brazilian-style bar Favelas. It's supposed to be raining lightly with a breeze, which is a hell of a lot better than the weather we've just had. Don't let the elongated winter put you off!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Progress with memory-related situation

I've been in the same job on the same wage with the same organisation, working the same hours, for a decade now. Recently, due to governmental reforms, I've seen my income plummet after DLA was scrapped and PIP implemented. As a result of this, for some complex reason, my Working Tax Credits were also stopped. I spent a long time on the phone to HMRC trying to find out why this was, to no avail, then I got some pretty clear answers from a Welfare Rights officer. Also, over the last two weeks I've met with my manager, visited Get Oldham Working, an organisation who 'can help you get the skills to secure the career you want,' and I've visited Positive Steps, an 'integrated support services for families, young people and adults.'

Everyone I've dealt with has been hugely helpful. Positive Steps have arranged another meeting with the Citizen's Advice Bureau- hopefully it'll be a day I can do, although in all honesty I'm not sure what I'd be talking about- not much has changed since my last CAB appointment.

Positive Steps also explained:
· Job centre advisors unfortunately only work with people who are unemployed.
· There is a careers fare at Oldham Library on 14 April 2018
· Get Oldham Working are running a Raise Programme which you can get in contact by email. (I've done this.)

In a separate meeting with my manager, we used an online benefits calculator that suggests I should be in receipt of over £200 a month in Tax Credits. After logging into my account it showed that HMRC couldn't deal with my claim online, but that they received something (it isn't clear what) in February. Something is being processed and I should receive more information by the 5th April. It's probably the letter I sent them asking about why my Working Tax Credits were stopped, and complaining about the horrendous procedure I've been thorough when asking for information.

That said, Citizen's Advice told me that my letter has probably been ignored as it isn't on a 'dispute form,' something NOBODY told me anything about- certainly not anyone at HMRC.

I guess I'll find out after the 5th. I'm meeting Get Oldham Working again next week.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Neon PT Launch Health Kitchen in Wilmslow

I've just got back from another launch, again ran by Steph Ledigo at Ledigo PR. This time, Steph and her team were organising the opening of Neon Health Kitchen, a new restaurant on Wilmslow's Water Lane. The promo Email explains that 'Neon are well known in the area for providing quality service at their 5* PT studios in both Alderely Edge & Hale,' and have now branched out into the world of food.

The clean and trendy-looking venue supplied guests with Chilli prawns and pastry canapés straight from the venue's kitchen, and they were snapped up by the guests who included Key 103's Darren Procter and Real Housewives of Cheshire's Leanne Brown. Also making an appearance- Love Island's Jess Rose.


Looks like a great new venue. It's a little out of my way but I'm sure it'll do well. When I got to the venue it was heaving, so it's safe to say the event went down a treat.

The Daily Mail beat me to the writeup.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Casa Loca in Impossible

Every time I go out with this one particular friend she somehow works her charms and blags VIP for the group, and I end up not going home until 7am. Last night was one of those nights. (I ended up drunk alone in a casino watching Scott Quigg get beat.)

We started in Dirty Martini and made our way over to Impossible for the Casa Loca party. The stunningly-lit venue plays home to a retro circus act, but one featuring a man hammering a nail into his own face and a skinny bloke in striped pyjamas sword-swallowing and juggling at the same time.

Eyebrow-raising, stomach-churning entertainment. Not for everyone, but I loved it. Apparently, Wayne and Coleen Rooney were there. I didn't notice. But I was drunk.

I'll return.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Well, the Tory government have kicked me in the teeth.

This week I met with a Welfare Rights officer to try to get to the bottom of why my Working Tax Credits were stopped. It took a bit of explaining on my part, but the officer, we'll call him SA, described clearly enough what had happened and what the situation is.

Until the end of 2016 I was on both elements of DLA, WTC and the DLA element to WTC. My DLA was stopped and I was asked to apply for PIP. I applied, was offered an interview, was assessed, and was flat-out refused. I applied for Mandatory Reconsideration, with the help of SA and his colleagues (and my parents, and Independence and Prevention Officers), and I was awarded one element of PIP- the Mobility element at £20 a week.

Not long after this, my WTC were stopped. This was, according to the HMRC letter, due to 'a change in my circumstances informed to us by a third party.' I inquired. It turned out my WTC were 'under review,' and that I should phone back in a month. I did. I got the same message. I waited another month, and got the same message again. Eventually I got a letter saying that I'D informed THEM of a change, and that my WTC (which had already been stopped) would be 'stopped.'

I sent a letter of complaint to HMRC asking why this was. Of course, the letter did not garner a response.

After meeting with SA this week, I've found out why all this happened, and it's something that HMRC could very easily have told me if they wanted.

Some people were moved automatically from DLA to PIP. I was not. Because there was a break between these two benefits, that break notified HMRC of a change, and hence my WTC were looked into. I had been on both elements of DLA- Care and Mobility. The Care element was the part that allowed me to receive WTC, despite working fewer hours than would normally be allowed. (30 hours is standard; I work 22.5.) As ATOS only awarded me the Mobility element, I don't qualify for WTC any more. If I worked 30 hours, I could apply for WTC at the normal rate (dependant on my income). I would not qualify as a 'disability claimant' though, despite being on PIP, because the Mobility payment doesn't cover that.

I'm one of thousands of people who were moved from DLA to PIP. DLA was the least-abused benefit of all of them, and it's been well-documented that there was no need to scrap it other than cost-cutting. Therefore it's fair to assume that there will also be thousands of people who also lost that Care component, and can now no longer claim WTC. This will save the government millions. As many news outlets have covered, including The Independent, nearly half of all claimants- including myself- saw their income reduced or stopped altogether. That's how you know this isn't about 'updating a failing system,' or 'making the benefits system more appropriate for the individual,' or whatever Newspeak the Tories want to reel off- it's about cost-cutting, plain and simple.

I now need to look for another job. I either need a second job that fits around my current, part time one, or another job with more hours. Either that, or my current employer needs to offer me more hours. I just wish someone would have told me this earlier.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Symposium Cheshire Katz Club Open Mic Jam Session

Did you ever think, when you woke up this morning, that you'd be watching Scott Thomas (Love Island, brother of Emmerdale's Adam and Corrie's Ryan, as was) performing The Prince of Bel Air?

I didn't expect to witness this impromptu karaoke performance either, but when I dropped into the open mic night at Wilmslow's cosy but tidy Symposium last night I wasn't sure what to expect- partly because I'd lost the email invitation from the talented Steph at Ledigo PR and I couldn't remember what it said.

Scott also busted out some Biggy Smalls and BB King, and to follow this, Nicole Barber-Lane (Myra McQueen in Hollyoaks) duetted with Duncan James from boy band Blue for a rendition of Mustang Sally.

Providing the acoustics, and a few covers of their own, were The Mad Hatters. Great manic music, including a high-speed indie version of Sisquo's Thong Song.

Duncan James

Nicole Barber-Lane screen left- I forgot who the girl on screen right is! Any ideas?

Scott Thomas

A great evening, with friendly guests. I found it easy to chat to people, male and female, verified and unverified, after rolling in solo. I would have jumped on the karaoke myself, only they had no screen for lyrics. That was the only thing missing. Get in touch with Ledigo PR to keep up with their next events!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Go Away, Snow.

Social life: on hold. The only interesting thing I've done is drop into Club LIV for a Couture Clothing sale. The club opened up on Friday morning selling men's and women's sportswear. Great gear, including my purchases: a fluffy zipped hoodie and a bomber jacket. Was hoping for a full tracksuit- maybe next time!

The Sonique Night didn't happen- the weather put people off, and getting people to come to a dance music night is hard these days. RnB has got way too popular and has pushed out a lot of house music events and clubs. Plus the house music people are, more often than not, having babies.

Also, one inevitability has happened: swanky nightclub Suburbia has closed. It might have looked all posh, but I had the place sussed out early- the John Dalton St venue was full of plastic gangsters, and played the same RnB music as most other places. I got a bad vibe whenever I went there. Too many dickheads fighting.

Online, celeb gossip email system Popbitch included my 'Muggy' Mike Thalassitis gossip. Awesome.

Things are quiet at the mo- I'll have more to say when the snow fucks off.