Questioning the sanity of this benefit system

• It is time to question the sanity of running a benefit system which gives money with one hand and then takes it back with four more in the bedroom tax, the housing benefit cap, the £500 overall benefit cap and the council tax. It imposes homelessness because benefit claimants cannot pay the rent (Bedroom tax ‘will force tens of thousands on to the streets’, 27 May) and hunger because they run out of money and food banks cannot meet demand (Food banks struggle to meet demand, 28 May). 

When creating the monster with five hands the government knew there were not enough single-bedroom properties to accommodate people forced into downsizing. Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, told peers: “I recognise that there is not the sufficient range of stock in many areas that would enable landlords always to suitably house people according to the size of their household.” (Hansard HL 14 December 2011. Welfare reform bill: column 1306.)

Meanwhile, the Treasury cut the funding of the council tax benefit by 10% and the secretary of state for communities and local government forced local authorities to charge benefits, already reduced by the bedroom tax and other imposts, between 8.5% to 30% of the council tax, knowing many cannot pay. Disabled people suffer from both taxed benefits and cut services.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

The Guardian, letters, 30th May 2013

Liverpool Housing Association calls in the Samaritans as suicide risk rockets.

The Samaritans have been drafted in by Liverpool’s Riverside Housing Association to help deal with desperate tenants on the brink of suicide because of the bedroom tax.

Staff at Riverside Housing Association’s head office in Speke are being trained by phone counsellors from the Samaritans as workers struggle to cope with the high volume of calls from tenants at risk of suicide.

And South Liverpool Homes (SLH) said in early May a tenant attempted suicide over the bedroom tax and earlier this year a resident committed suicide over issues believed to be related to financial hardship.

Head of business excellence at SLH Claire Ryan said: “People have become overwhelmed, they’re just engulfed by the financial situation.

“We were able to respond to the attempted suicide and support that person.

“We moved them to a smaller property which removed the impact of the bedroom tax.”

Ronnie Clawson, Riverside’s group corporate services director,  said staff first noticed a high level of distressed callers about six months ago.

He said: “It started with night staff who cover the out of hours service who had said they were picking up more calls from people who were in a distressed state and in some cases were saying they had had enough.

“Then advisors working other shifts said they were seeing similar issues.”

The social landlord contacted Samaritans to ask for training.

Mr Clawson said: “Since we started the training we have been contacted by a couple of other housing associations who have had similar issues.”

He said he thought the problems were the result of a number of welfare reforms, with bedroom tax having a big impact.

He said: “It’s a range of different issues and bedroom tax is one which affects six and a half thousand of our tenants so it’s clearly a significant factor.

“I think what we’re experiencing is the cumulative effect of the austerity measures.”

From the Liverpool Echo 31st May 2013

I battle on but I’m utterly exhausted

At the moment I do get carers and Income supplementS (tho they cut the IS as I got CA – genius. Didn’t need that extra £30 nooooo). However, at some point fairly soon at this rate I will have to make the heartbreaking decision to have him (autistic son) out into care. He is having huge physically violent meltdowns and is destroying my already stuffed spine. He is going to out me in a wheelchair. I have a 5 year old who isn’t autistic but bless him is having to deal with his brother, and then caring for me when I can’t get my clothes on properly. When my eldest goes that’s it. We will loose everything. I’ll have no income, we will loose our home. I am utterly terrified at what lays ahead. Aside from my Disastrous unstable spine, in in permeant pain, now up to MST on the pain killers list. I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I now have a prolapsed disc (my 4th) in my neck which means my hands no longer work properly And life has become really difficult. I also have endometriosis which anyone who has it will know that it’s utter agony and totally debilitating.
Physically I’m done. My neuro function is screwed up by the fibromyalgia.
But let’s guess what ATOS would say.
Oh and I’ve been turned down for DLA before. You really couldn’t make this up. I shall be applying for this PIP nonsense. And I’m going to try and fight them this time. But I also have the same dichotomy – I care for my eldest because there is no one else. But in in pieces. As recent as last Sunday I was back in A&E having had a huge fall.
I am becoming desperate tbh. Social devices are next to useless quite honestly. But that’s mostly because the government has cut all help for children like my son. It’s a total nightmare and I’ve been clinging on by my fingernails for quite some time.
I battle on but I’m utterly exhausted. I worked my backside off, wrote policies that are still in place in the NHS, have saved many lives, helped thousands of others. And now – I’m v much on my own barely getting through the day.
But hey. I’m one of those feckless scrounging lazy bastards aren’t I?

Hardly believe the level of destitution

Until you visit Harpurhey Community Church, Manchester on a Tuesday, you would hardly believe the level of destitution we are witnessing in this country. There are over ninety (90) families and individuals attending the drop-in service every Tuesday to receive food parcels. Frail and elderly people have to walk long distances to receive the food parcels, and have hot soup, tea, coffee and biscuits before they head back home. Five years ago if anyone had told me that this would happen in this country I would have questioned their sanity.


Comment on the Guardian article on foodbanks, 30th May 2013

Half a million Britons now using food banks.

Half a million Britons using food banks. What kind of country is this becoming?

Let’s not mess about: a skyrocketing number of people simply cannot afford to eat, thanks to deliberate government policy

Let no one say we didn’t see it coming. Half a million people are now accustomed to using food banks, and according to a report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty, the UK is now facing “destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale”………………………………………

According the Trussell Trust, the UK’s single biggest organiser of food banks, in 2011-12, the number of people who received at least three days’ emergency food was around 130,000. Their own informational material says that in 2012-13, “food banks fed 346,992 people nationwide”, and of those who received help, “126,889 were children”. Now comes this latest report, and the skyrocketing numbers speak for themselves – as does the mess of factors behind them, and the responsibility of the coalition for pushing up the demand – no, need – for food banks so drastically. While we’re here, it may also be worth cutting through the kind of officialspeak used to deal with such things: even the term “food bank” occasionally seems designed to obscure what’s actually afoot, which is simple enough. So, let’s not mess about: a skyrocketing number of people simply cannot afford to eat, and they have been put in that predicament thanks to deliberate government policy.

By John Harris in the Guardian 30th May 2012.

Full story here

I’m to live on £30 per month.

So here it is………the nittygritty
Im now to pay £110 pr mth re b/tax…£38 pr mth re c/tax. add to that £65 gas, £40 electric,£40 water,£37 tv licence………Out of £360 per mth. AND….i await news from ATOS re my esa. so. im to live on £30 per mth.
go figure……any obesity problems will be sorted anyways.

Will your arm grow back soon?


A ONE-ARMED man trying to claim disability benefits said staff asked if he thought his limb might grow back.

Gary Swift, whose right limb is missing from below the elbow, says he faced the question while being medically assessed.

He had applied for an employment and support allowance — paid to people who can’t work through disability — and went to the meeting with his carer mum Tracey Perkins.

They say the interviewer asked: “Do you expect your condition to improve? Do you expect your arm to grow back within the next two years.”

Gary, 30, of Chesterfield, Derbys, said: “I replied, ‘Well it’s not grown back in the last 30 years, so I can’t see it happening over the next two’.”

ATOS Healthcare, who assessed Gary for the Department for Work and Pensions, said last night: “That question would never be asked. Staff carrying out the assessment are trained doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.”

Gary said he was later sent on a job seekers’ gardening course — and handed a spade.

He said: “If it wasn’t so ridiculous it would be laughable.”

From ‘The Sun’ 30th May 2013