Category Archives: council tax

And so it goes on………….

Things just ticking along here so not posted in a while. The effective cut in benefits is starting to hit home and we are struggling to keep up with bills and putting food on the table. Although I pride myself on being able to manage on a very tight budget there will come a point when even I can no longer do it! We have to begin paying council tax next month out of less money than we have ever had to manage on before! The business idea is coming along but slowly due to the other things I have to contend with and if I don’t manage to get it up and running before Universal Credits are brought in I will struggle more than at present to make a go of it. Have still had no news from any of the voluntary work I applied for – it really is that bad round here. Am not going to give up though….. as difficult as it is to keep motivated I need to know I tried my utmost to make things work out for us.

My partner has a WRAG interview at the jobcentre next week… not sure what good it will do but we’ll see………He also has an appointment for counselling re depression.

There are casualties of this government’s policies all over the internet due to the reduction in benefits, bedroom tax and no or very low wage increases which don’t keep up with increasing prices, while at the same time MP’s begin to talk about giving themselves a 10% pay rise. It beggars belief that they really are so out of touch with the ‘ordinary people’ in this country. Could they rub our noses in it any more than this…….. believe me they will if they get the chance!! What a bunch of self-serving b*stards they are!!!!!!!

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Back on the ATOS medical merry go round.

Less than a year after winning our case at appeal my partner was again summoned for his ESA medical. The first one had to be cancelled due to the stress and worry causing a panic attack, but this time we made it. The bloke doing the medical tried to make small talk as we went in but after last time we weren’t going to be drawn into that. I now have too much information on how they work and realize that you are under scrutiny from the minute they set eyes on you! The examiner was trying to be friendly but now and then his mask would slip and I could see how he was trying to trip my partner up. I’m fully expecting nil points again as most of his problems are mental health issues which you can’t see and in my opinion can never really understand unless you’ve been there. I can understand why people give up bothering to claim ESA even as in some cases I know of, they are clearly to any normal person unfit for work, because the stress really isn’t worth the very small amount of extra money gained by getting it. Our household has lost over £100 in the last month with the ESA becoming income related and my son no longer a dependant but an apprentice on a very poor wage. So once again we are in the process of cutting back spending in the face of having to pay council tax we were previously exempt from as well as the cut in money. I pride myself on being financially capable ( in fact I could show CaMORON and his friends in Westminster a thing or two) but if you haven’t got enough to live on no amount of budgeting will help! The policies of this government are and will continue to result in vulnerable people facing extreme hardship. We really are going back to Victorian values and not in a good way.

If you didn’t laugh……..

My friends who are threatened with the bedroom tax have been visited by not one but two council representatives to inspect their home so that they can apply for a smaller property which begs the question why does it take two of them? Isn’t that a waste of council tax payer’s money?

They have been told they can apply for both a 1 bedroom and a 2 bedroom property because yes you’ve guessed it- there aren’t enough 1 beds to go round, so they may still end up paying  the tax for 1 bedroom. If they refuse any property offered they go to the bottom of the list. So in effect they may wait for ages, be offered a shit hole and either have to take it or carry on paying bedroom tax on their present home.

Then comes the really laughable bit. My friends have over the years improved their home, having put ceramic tiled floors in, nice light fittings, wooden doors and they’ve tiled the bathroom walls. The council representative says they have to rip up the tiles, take down light fittings, replace doors and replace the tiles in the bathroom with fixtures and fittings up to council standards.!! ( mouth hits the floor!) I have council standard floor tiles (shit ones!), I have council standard bathroom tiles  (falling off!- and keep coming off when council fix em), I have council issue doors ( complete with holes I’ve had to fill in where kids when small knocked them with toys), they are not much better than cardboard. I also have council floor tiles, uneven, cheapest of the cheap. My friend home is far and away above council standards and someone would be lucky to get it in its present state. I can’t believe how stupid these people are!! Surely if these people can’t afford the bedroom tax they can’t afford to replace all this stuff as well, together with the costs of removal and carpets etc for a new property. Don’t they see that if they left suitable fixtures it would help all the people who find themselves having to move. Oh wait sorry silly me they just want to make people’s life a misery, the word help just isn’t in their vocabulary!

bad dreams!

I woke the other night from a dream where we had lost the local authority house we live in and were back in the previous home we occupied, it was more like a nightmare actually! Our previous house was mortgaged and as we had a young family and a very poor wage to live on was in a state of disrepair. As the interest rates rose we fell further and further behind with the payments, my partner became ill with mental health problems and began to need sick leave and this forced us further into debt. The upshot was we were repossessed.

We then moved to our present home and always thought we would be here until the kids had grown and then we’d opt for an old person’s bungalow. Instead we will probably be in a private rent in a worse state than our first home was. Although as I’ve previously stated we are unaffected by the bedroom tax, we will be affected by the changes in council tax benefit which begin in April. A friend affected viewed a private rent which was damp, mouldy and disgusting! Obviously these things must be playing on my mind, hence the dreams.

Together with the fact that those on benefits are being threatened by the sceptre of payment cards all these changes are enough to give anyone nightmares.  The fat cats bringing in these changes don’t understand the hardships faced by being poor in fact I’d stake my life on me being better at budgeting than them!! Once more these schemes are designed to put money in the pockets of rich private companies providing the cards, whilst charging the poor for something they never wanted. I can see many more people having to resort to food banks if this scheme goes ahead. Cameron should be ashamed of his country needing food banks not congratulating them for caring where he doesn’t and smiling whilst he does it! I hope the chaos in April costs him his job!

More pain -council tax benefit changes

Yet another shock to the pockets of the poor and vulnerable is set to be upon us in April when changes to council tax benefit take hold. Whilst it is in the hands of each local authority to decide how to distribute the money allocated for this benefit many have taken the decision to abolish 100% benefit for working age people. This means that many of those in poorly paid work, ill, disabled or out of work will have to find something out of their meagre income towards their council tax. In the case of my friends facing the bedroom tax, our local paper is reporting that their council expects to collect at least 8.5% from those who previously received 100% benefit, which they are saying will amount to approximately £85 per year for a Band A property. So now on top of the bedroom tax of approximately £25 per week they now have at least an extra £2 to find towards their council tax. To those who aren’t struggling this won’t sound much but when you are at the bottom end of the income spectrum, every penny counts and this is just pouring more stress and hardship on top of  the already immense pressure they are under. Where will it end?

On a brighter note momentum seems to be growing in the highlighting of the bedroom tax with members of the group on facebook appearing on radio 5, channel 4 news, newspapers (details can be found here https://www.facebook.com/groups/antibedroomtax/) and pieces cropping up on various local news programmes. Well done to all those helping to highlight the cause. Here’s hoping we can get this unfair tax reversed.

Merry Xmas from DWP

I’m not much good with figures to be honest and I sometimes struggle to remember the names of MPs because many of them are so wishy-washy these days, but one thing I do know is the things this government are doing should not be happening to one person never mind the thousands it is affecting. I watched the programme on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01pc1qb/Panorama_Britains_Hidden_Housing_Crisis/ last night and was particularly appalled by the treatment of the lady suffering from cancer. As she put it a few months of help would have seen her through until she could pick up her life again and get straight, instead she was offered a smelly flat. Disgusting!

Meanwhile Maria Miller claims 90,000+ for a second home occupied by her parents and Cameron stands up for her. This from the government that can’t stump up a few quid for housing benefit for the poorest in society. Just don’t know how they sleep at night. Whereas you or I would be prosecuted for such offences, what’s betting she gets off with it. One rule for them…..

And back here my friends’ struggling with the problem of bedroom tax have received a bill from DWP for £10 outstanding on a loan they had eight, yes EIGHT years ago! Somehow this got overlooked by DWP and themselves, possibly they were on one of their breaks from receipt of benefit and my friend had  a short period of work. They can’t remember. DWP have kindly said they can pay it out of their JSA over the two week Xmas holidays at a fiver a week. Couldn’t they have waited til after the festivities? After all they’ve waited eight years. Have those at the DWP got nothing better to do than go back over years worth of data to find such oversights? Meanwhile the likes of Miller claim thousands from the public purse for their own personal gain and that’s seen as fair. After all we’re all in it together, but some of us are in it further than others!!

 

FEELING DOWNTRODDEN AND DESPONDANT!

After yesterday’s autumn statement I confess to feeling a bit down and wondering where the hell all this is going to end. I had forgotten about the planned changes to council tax benefit which could affect everyone depending on what measures their local council brings in. This means that those having to find the bedroom tax may also have to find something towards their council tax too!! Where this money is expected to come from I just don’t know. Perhaps they are trying to force us all to commit crimes to make ends meet so they can criminalize us as well as demonize us? All I do know is it won’t be possible for many people to pay everything expected of them out of their benefits without something having to give.

Once again Osborne said he understood the hardships facing normal working families today. How can he? Has he ever been in the position where it was a choice between heating your home or eating? Has he ever felt the way most people on benefits feel? The endless fight, struggling to keep your head above water against what feels like a sea of despair which at times makes us want to give up. He has in effect cut the benefits we get by putting them up by 1%, not just out of work benefits but in work benefits too, whilst those at the top get a tax break. Understanding I don’t think so!!

I have been reading that they have been asking for tenders for some sort of loan system for people on benefits designed to fill in the gap when Universal Credits comes in and people are without money due to the payments being monthly, and also for afterwards to replace the DWP loan system. Obviously these firms won’t do it for love and once again those with little will end up being forced into debt. How does this help them? How is this understanding their plight. All this against the backdrop of perpetuating the myth that it’s their own fault they are on benefits even though the growth in the economy is in fact a dip and there are very few jobs being created while many continue to be lost. It’s no wonder mental health problems and suicides are expected to soar next year!