Category Archives: friends

Thinking of ending this blog.

I’m thinking of giving up this blog in favour of something different (maybe to do with my depression/low mood). Nothing much seems to change on the day to day benefits fight for the better and to be honest I’ve obviously not been keeping this blog up to date due to my mindset and the numerous other things I’m pursuing in an effort to make my life and that of my family a bit better.

My partner is still on the work programme but it’s not moving forward, in part due to the offices closing and them not finding any premises for over three months. I can’t see anything much changing for the foreseeable future and my head is all over the place. I don’t think I’m a bad person but my life has been hard and doesn’t get any easier. I’ve made and continue to make bad decisions, but I have tried to be a good Mum and equip my children to cope in the real world. I’ve applied for numerous jobs but often get no acknowledgement and am still jobless. Nothing seems to run smoothly for me and on top of having to struggle along on a tight budget, I have had a six month running battle with a utility company which had to go the the ombudsman due to getting absolutely nowhere on my own.

Although I do no paid work I am constantly on the go, feel like I have little time for myself, I am the one who everyone comes to with all the family problems. I don’t see myself as one of the ‘scroungers’ but am aware that is increasingly how the public view people such as myself. Maybe they are right? After all people do manage to work with children and a depressed partner. I’m increasingly disheartened and disillusioned with the direction this country is travelling. I’m not sure where to go from here.

Thank you all for looking at this blog, I’ve had more hits than I ever imagined when I first began it as a place to offload and try to help anyone I could. I am not going to close totally just yet and will continue to post should anything happen or come to mind that may be of any use to anyone.

Cheers for the support. Bye for now.

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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.

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.

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!!

 

WORK BASED INTERVIEW

Well I knew it was coming but thought they’d have such a lot to get through that I wouldn’t be a priority, but just had a phone call for an interview at the job centre next week. I really think they’ve got enough on with the millions actually signing on without seeing me, someone who is trying to make herself employable by doing various courses and who is constantly searching for info on different ways to widen my knowledge and opportunities. Whilst they did stress I won’t be forced into a job but would see if there was anything they could do to help me, I’m not holding out much hope for any help. A friend who is on JSA has had little or no help so don’t see how I’ll be treated any differently. As many have told me, I think  they just go through the motions at the job centre. Said friend was in contact earlier saying how he had been told he must apply for fifty jobs a week in order to get his JSA. This from a man who clearly couldn’t be bothered to offer any help at all, sat playing a game on his computer!! He was then told his travel expenses were at the old centre and he would have to walk a total of four miles to get them or pay the bus fare out of his JSA. So if this is the calibre of help I can expect I’ll carry on trying to help myself!