Sometimes I think that I am remarkably thick. I obviously don't understand economics. You see this 'Bedroom Tax' that the Coalition Government introduced was said to be the way to saving lots of money. I couldn't understand that at the time, but then my degree is not in economics. I have only run household accounts and back when rocks were soft I worked in accountancy as a pa, preparing accounts to draft account levels. Oh and did the accounts for a few charities and organisations. But I am not a government guru or anything like that. Obviously.
So when I read this in the Guardian this morning:
More than 25,000 people applied for DHP [Discretionary Housing Payments] to help cover April rent, compared with 5,700 in same month last yearI felt a renewed faith in my own Economics theories.
But what can never be 'measured' in any scale, graph or pie chart is the untold misery that Welfare cuts like the 'Bedroom Tax' bring - not just to individuals involved but to their extended families and friends.
I have a young relative who is one of those that has had been put into considerable hardship by more than one of the cruel moves - intended to save 'taxpayers money' by the government. Jo was a taxpayer for many years, with a good job gained after years of qualifications studied for and passed. In a relationship with one child. But then life tripped Jo up, almost literally. The relationship broke down and the partner disappeared to another country, out of the reach of the CSA. No matter, Jo's job could support Jo and one child - just. No need to move, living in a three bedroomed social housing Jo could pay all the bills and send child to the good local school and then hopefully to university.
Then came the 'trip up'. Jo had an accident at work, who informed Jo that there was no case for a compensation claim after the period of statuary sick pay had expired. Consultants at the hospital forbade Jo to attempt to resume the job that had caused the injury. As some days Jo could not get out of bed there was no other course but to claim disability benefit.
Eighteen months ago Jo asked the council for a move into a smaller property as the three bedroom house was not only too big but too costly to heat. The council could not find anything smaller so Jo and son had to continue living in a house that they would love to leave due to the expenses and realised as soon as the 'Bedroom Tax' was mooted Jo knew would not be able to afford.
Fortunately at the last minute Jo managed to do a 'private' exchange, but with all savings gone Jo's OAP parents had to helped out financially and physically with the removal. However Jo's son now has to pay fares to school, and has been refused a bus pass because Jo CHOSE to move and there is a school near to there new home - even though he is taking his 'O' levels in a couple of months.
What makes it even harder is whilst all this has been happening Jo has been appealing an ATOS ruling at the moment who have deemed Jo fit to work despite all the medical advice and records.
Jo is not an unusual case. Google and lots of such histories can be found, one heartbreaking example is Diary of a Benefit Scrounger People in Jo's situation must honestly feel that society are against them - and why shouldn't they.
I know I have said this before, but to me, frighteningly, this apology for a government seems intent on returning to 19thC values. That is, the ideals of 'deserving poor' and the 'Protestant Work Ethic'. However this Government's deserving poor don't seem to exist to them at all and the Protestant Work Ethic seems only to work in one way - the poor should work but get shafted by the Patriarchial Society until they drop dead with cold, exhausation or hunger. But never mind, there will be another one [unemployed] along in a minute whom we can exploit. And if I sound cyncial and bigoted, maybe it is because I am.
I do like to have a bit of humour in my writing. Today my humour has gone walk about and is hopefully is helping those marching in London in support of the NHS. I am there in spirit but Other Half has been on another demo and I have been dispensing Grandmotherly duties.
Shelter: Bedroom tax from April 2013
ATOS Victims Group: http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/