Workshy Scrounger

Tag: workshy scrounger

The poor with a benefits card or how to build a model society.

When writing my previous post, I managed to get myself into a really silly mood. I started thinking how far the government could possibly go when it comes to making model citizens out of the unlucky.

Seeing as the Conservatives are meant to uphold the old values and traditions as well as to promote and encourage the right attitudes and morals among the poor, it’s not only fags, booze, drugs and gambling that will have to go.

Therefore, buying pet food is a no-no. An animal has to work even if you aren’t. Cart horses and cows are acceptable. So are hens and rabbits if bred for food. Companion animals for the poor are categorically disallowed as they give you ideas above your station.

Baby formula – in order to forge close knit communities in the name of Big Society, if you cannot breastfeed, you will have to get someone else to do it for you. Baby formula is reserved for high achieving executives.

Clothes – you can make your own. Two 10” squares of cheap fabric will be given to you every week. The colour of the fabric will reflect how long you have been unemployed. Free dunce cap after 12 weeks on the dole and jester’s shoes after 26 weeks. Wearing these is voluntary but if you are spotted without them, your benefits card will might malfunction.

Electricity is disconnected immediately upon filing your claim. You will be eligible to lease one of our bicycle generators for only £50 a week deducted straight from your benefits – no hassle there. This way you can be burning calories while waiting for your gruel to cook.

IDS saves NHS and solves the problem of addiction

Iain Duncan Smith is now going to tackle addictions. A voluntary* trial will see addicts receive benefit cards instead of money. Unable to gamble, buy alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, they will spend the money caring for their families ensuring everybody’s five-a-day comes from kale and not from psychoactive herbs.

I don’t know much about drugs so I researched it. A gram of crack cocaine costs £42. Regular users consume about a gram per day. That’s nearly three hundred quid per week. Does IDS really think that not letting addicts spend their £72.40 of JSA money on crack is going to make that much of a difference? The shortfall is going to be made up somehow, just as it is now.

I have no problems with alcohol, drugs or betting. I am not in debt. I pay all my bills on time and in full. Could Iain Duncan Smith kindly let me manage the meagre amount of money I get in whichever way I see fit? Even if it does include the odd bottle of wine or a scratch card?

Again we see the workshy scroungers vs hardworking families divide. Minimum pricing of alcohol fell on its face. Being a form of regressive tax, it would have affected the poorest the most but at least we still would have been able to buy alcohol. Benefit cards will ensure we will not be able to buy alcohol at all. Prohibition springs to mind and that didn’t end well. The argument about saving lives and NHS resources is ridiculous – surely curbing the thirst of the whole nation would have had much better results.

*Be careful because “voluntary” in Toryspeak often stands for “we will sanction you unless you comply.”

Charges for benefit appeals

Department of Work and Pensions, clearly worried about high numbers of people winning appeals against them, is thinking about introducing charges for lodging an appeal with social security tribunals.

Guardian reports that after employment tribunals started charging up to £250 per case, the number of appeals was halved. I am sure that if benefit recipients were to pay to appeal, the number of appeals would be close to zero. It would allow the DWP to boast about the system working really well  – just look at the numbers – no appeals were lodged whatsoever. Everybody is happy. We are doing well. We are fixing Britain.

Energy providers “stockpiling” money

It seems that the Daily Mail and minister Greg Barker do not understand what direct debit is all about.

Energy giants are to repay customers up to £2 billion which they have stockpiled from direct debit overpayments.

Yes, they have our money and it will pay for our winter usage. In my view, setting up a direct debit to your energy provider allows you to pay the same amount all year round regardless of what you actually use. Then, your annual review will adjust your direct debit value. For instance, if my bills were based on readings, in the summer I would pay £30 and in winter – £80. DD allows me to pay £55 every month and I get a discount. Throughout the whole summer, I save towards the energy-demanding winter so that I do not have to worry. (I do worry anyway but at least I know how little heating I can afford.)

For this to work, I have to know my energy needs and for that I need those pesky energy statements nobody apparently understands. I need to provide meter readings regularly to ensure that I am not over- or underpaying. I must be aware how any changes will affect my energy consumption (a baby/partner/elderly relative moving in or out, a redecoration project involving steaming off woodchip wallpaper throughout the house, upgrading my appliances or draught-proofing) and ask for the DD to be adjusted accordingly.

For some time, the energy provider will have my money because I am saving it for winter. I can just as well put it in a jar or in a separate bank account and pay tax on any meagre interest. What is the problem with someone making a profit where I cannot make any? Instead, I get my discount and the peace of mind and am happy with it.

Next winter, those applauding the Big Six’s “concession” will wake up with their hands right in the potty when it turns out that one month’s energy money will not pay for winter excesses like having the heating on in the evenings. There will no doubt be another round of price hikes and this time it will be accompanied by steep increases in direct debits because people will have underpaid throughout the year and will be in the red.

Can’t afford to pay? They will install a pre-payment meter (they like to rip off the poor the most). They will not let you switch. They will give you little choice when it comes to tariffs. They will finish you off. Of course, nobody can see that coming.

The whole give-us-back-our-money is just a shameless propaganda. Nothing really changes. There is nothing to be happy about. There is no victory. Thousands of vulnerable people will die needlessly this winter. Meanwhile, the energy companies’ profits are not endangered in the slightest.

Share your poverty story

Guardian wants us to share our stories about life in poverty. There are still 23 days left to show them what it is really like. Some of the stories might even be featured in the comment is free section. Do it – it might just bring about some changes, at least in how people perceive us. To submit your story, go here.

Immigrants on the dole – shame on you

Papers are full of stories about those dreadful immigrants. They come over, take all the jobs or worse – they just sit on the dole:

They found many were happy with how ‘pleasant’ the unemployment centres were, and how little they questioned them. Many admitted they do not speak the language.

Obviously, we are not talking about Britain – Jobcentres are anything but pleasant – but about Britons in Germany. Daily Mail reports that over 10,000 Brits in Germany claim out-of-work benefits. It means that 10% of the total expat population are workshy scroungers.

‘Expat’ is a word with nice connotations – you just see a tanned, smiling grandad tending to plump tomatoes in his Spanish villa enjoying his well-deserved retirement after a life of hard, honest labour.

An immigrant is that young, shifty guy from some inferior country always scheming, using some gibberish language and eating weird things.

The British are always expats. Other countries should welcome British gentlemen and ladies with open arms. They should support them, if they fall on hard times. They should give them access to healthcare. They should treat them with respect and compassion. However, foreign nationals living in Britain – now,  they are immigrants and should be sent back to where they came from. Yes, even the 1680 Germans claiming benefits in Britain. Makes perfect sense.

Lifestyle choices – benefits and food banks

I got used to being told that being disabled and on benefits is my choice. I guess I could top myself and get off benefits – as my psychologist says: there is always a choice even if we do not like either option. First thing I see today:

Demand for food banks ‘has nothing to do with benefits squeeze,’ says Lord Freud

I must still be asleep then. Only I am not. Perhaps, I started doing all the drugs as I should – what with me being an accomplished benefit scrounger. Only I did not. I must have lost my mind then. Either me or him and it is impossible that the minister of welfare reform would spout such ill-informed views. It must be me. Or I am reading it wrong. No!? Insanity then. Thank goodness! It’s just me and not the whole world.

Unfortunately, it all comes down to the preternatural ability of our government to explain everything away without ever referring to basic facts. To living in the fairy tale world where benefit claimants are happy and well-off, where all children have three square meals every day, where liveable wage jobs are there for the taking and the disabled are getting all kinds of support they need.

However, as it seems, we, the benefit scroungers, are no longer happy sponging solely off the state. Now it is time to involve the charities. Three days’ worth of food three times a month means that we will be able to upgrade our Sky subscription to super-hd with tea-making option. Or buy so many more bottles of cider. Or squander our our ultra-generous benefits in some other way. You know, your GP will refer you. Everyone knows how easy it is to get the sick fit line, drugs and disability certificate (so much so that Atos had to be hired because GPs and specialists cannot be trusted). There is no shame in begging for food. In having to walk miles to the nearest one. In having to wait because the demand (caused by the government) outstrips supply.

Even the DWP spokesman says “[…]Jobcentre Plus – for the first time – is now referring people to [food banks’] services.” Why, pray tell, if there is no need.

All talk and no action

Salford council, where obesity rates among final-year students hit 23%, is considering a ban on chippies selling hot food until after 5pm if they are located within 400 metres of a school, Guardian reports.

It always gives me a funny feeling when the authorities pick on one element of a problem and insist that they can offer us a wholesome solution. The problem is more complex than that:

– fruit and veg prices are exorbitant – yes you can get value veg and it is absolutely tasteless. Value range does not include “luxuries” like celery, courgettes or spinach. You are basically reduced to subsisting on potatoes, carrots, onions and mushies.

– processed veg is much cheaper – a pound of potatoes works out more expensive than a pound of oven chips.

– celebrity chefs do not help. Jamie, despite his school meals campaign, has recipes that are expensive and high in calories. I struggled to find a recipe in his 15-minute meals that would cost less than £10 (with shopping around) for four portions. Give me any meat and I, too, will create a masterpiece. Unfortunately, our diet is mainly vegetarian due to money constraints. We cannot afford posh veg either (see point one). Basically, we eat red pasta, white pasta, rice with veg and rice with beans. Exciting stuff. Sometimes we splash out and have steamed veg.

Back to the story: the kids will just get their chip-fix from the school cafeteria or home dinner. It’s not fat or sugar that makes us fat. It’s our choices. Nobody thinks that horse burgers and chips are a healthy option. A generous helping of peas notwithstanding. Our choices are largely dictated by our financial situation and no amount of campaigns is going to change that. The lack of money makes obesity more common among the poor. Trying to deny it is like insisting that Ethiopians are actually anorexic and their problems have nothing to do with lack of food.

Darling let’s it slip: Independence or nothing

It seems that Alistair Darling managed to convince a significant part of the no camp to say yes in next year’s referendum with just one sentence:

if the Scottish public voted against full independence, anything other than a minor change to devolved powers would have to be in the manifestos of all UK political parties in the next General Election […] But the U.K. government is clearly not willing to offer devo max or fiscal autonomy as an option

Now that full and maximum devolution seem to be off the table, the referendum will really be about answering one question: whether Scotland should be an independent country.

Read more here.

Final-year students beware

Final-year students’ courses usually end sooner than the official academic year. However, if your term officially ends eg May 24 and it is your final year, you are eligible to apply for JSA straight away. Ensure you provide them with a letter from the uni confirming the term dates for your course and keep saying “final year” all the time.

You will probably be refused JSA but you can appeal because you fulfil the conditions:

– it’s your final year and you have no more classes and you are now actively looking for a job

– it’s your final year and your loan only covers you until the last day of the course

– you have no means of support between the last day of your final-year course and the last day of term

Good luck. Last year, it took us about two months to sort it out. Any questions – just ask.

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