Category Archives: financial discrimination

Benefits Street

I felt I just had to comment on this programme. I didn’t really want to watch it, knowing before I did exactly what impression it would be making to the wider public. I was going to post a link but am not sure I want to up the viewing figures but I suppose in order to form an opinion you need it so http://www.channel4.com/programmes/benefits-street.

Having been in the position of being on benefits for a while I know it isn’t possible to live comfortably on them. You have to make sacrifices which in the opinion of some people is only right for something which isn’t meant to be forever. For those who find themselves unable to work through illness or can’t find a job no matter how hard they try, it may be something they have to do for the foreseeable future or for the rest of their life. It is not possible, contrary to popular opinion to have HD tv’s, the latest iPhone or computer, fantastic holidays (or any holiday in most cases) or posh cars on benefits. The reason people have these things can be many.

1)  They already had them before they claimed benefits.

2) A kind family member has gifted the item(s)

3) They are getting money from elsewhere.

Whilst I can’t condone people working on the side, shoplifting or drug taking I can understand getting to the point where you no longer care about anything but getting money from somewhere to feed your family or heat your home. It amazes me that people are so quick to label benefits claimants as scroungers but no one gives as much publicity to MP’s scrounging. What about the thousands paid by Diane Abbott or Iain Duncan Smith from taxpayers pockets for their portraits!  Surely in a country where children are going hungry this is wrong on every level!

I know the people on the street portrayed in Benefits Street could be classed as rough and ready, but one thing they do seem to have that a lot of us lack is community spirit and I applaud that. No one knows today where they will be in a year’s time. Poverty can be a paycheck away. Please look a little deeper before you judge these people. Circumstances have made them into the people they are. No one wants to live a stressful life like theirs.

Major meltdown

Not written for a while as not much to report. Our friends have moved and are very unhappy, in fact unhappy isn’t strong enough they have sunk into a depression. The place they’ve moved to is a shit hole and they have no money to fix it up. There is nothing you can say to them is there? Personally I would have stuck it out until I could’nt go on any longer but realistically unless the jobs market changes there is little chance of them getting employment so perhaps they had no choice. It’s a really sad place to be – pushing 60 with nothing to show for it.:(

Here my partner has had a letter saying he’s in the WRAG group and detailing his benefits breakdown but we aren’t sure if this is the result of his medical or not as there wasn’t any points breakdown. Or do you only get that if they refuse you ESA? He has also had a letter with an appointment for a work related interview next month. We’ll see what happens!

Myself I’ve just had enough. I’m in the process of trying to start a business but it is off-putting when they are changing the benefit rules to penalize even this. I’ve applied for a few jobs but no joy, have applied to volunteer, no joy, it seems I’m stuck in this trap. To be honest and I’m sorry if this sounds callous but I don’t want to be where the buck stops any more. I don’t want to be the one who sorts out all the bills, keeps the house something like clean, feeds everyone, washes and irons the clothes, sits doing anything they can to make a bit of extra cash on the internet, just so we can have the things we need. I don’t want to go out shopping and come back to find the same mess I left when I went out because him indoors can’t be bothered to do anything. I’m losing the plot. Being the one who runs the house I could cope with but being the one who runs the house and has to deal with someone who is negative from the minute he rises everyday is just too much and I want out. I’ve had enough!!!

 

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.

POLITICIANS MUST HAVE HEARTS OF STONE

Any ‘normal’ person couldn’t fail to be moved by the plight of those on the receiving end of the bedroom tax but despite campaigning to highlight the misery all this is causing, they are still refusing to budge. My friends have in effect thrown in the towel and are exchanging with their daughter. This way they don’t have to rip the house apart but they do have to make some ‘repairs’ (I use the term loosely) to meet council criteria. ( I refuse to call them standards!) They are still going to have to pay the tax for one room even with this move and their daughter will also have to pay for one room as her children are under ten. My friends are distraught that they are moving from their home of 30+ years, even more that they are moving from the area where they themselves grew up and where their elderly relatives live. They are now a bus ride away from her mum who is also unhappy about them moving since she relies on them for help and company. They have all been in tears about the awfulness of the situation. Only a heart of stone could inflict such misery on those who have no choices in life. My area is going downhill fast with shop after shop closing, together with other business so try as you may there are very few jobs to be had round here. To have the only place you could call your sanctuary, your haven, the place you feel safe taken from you in this way is nothing short of barbaric. I’m thoroughly disgusted by those who voted for this tax especially the lib- dems who could have stopped it in its tracks. I hope they all live to regret it!

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.

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!