As a family who already have used food banks to get by in the last 6 months, to then not have benefits increased in line with inflation would be a devastating blow to our already struggling finances. Everything is costing more and more, I can't remember the last time we went out to the cinema or had a meal out - increasing days are spent at home, wondering how we can utilise what we already have and thinking about different revenue streams. To then have to worry further about our household income demonstrates how profoundly the cost of living crisis is still affecting families like mine. The stigma attached to people claiming benefits continues, as the general feeling surrounding increasing benefits is often frowned upon. I've heard people saying "They get enough already. Why don't they get up and work for a living" We still have a long way to come as a society, and increasing benefits will at least give those struggling a sense of dignity.
Feeling very unsupported within the welfare system as a neurodivergent family. No one will recognise that my autism and my husband's ADHD affect our ability to work. Self- employment is work we can do, but not the hours we’re expected so we can’t meet our minimum income floor, and are trying to survive on a monthly UC payment that is less than our rent! But because we fail the extremely narrow (mostly physical) limited capacity to work assessments if we weren’t self-employed we’d be expected to take any job - despite us both knowing that there are aspects of most jobs that we literally can’t do, or that would make us ill. The system is broken.
There was a story on my internet homepage this morning stating that an MP had said you can tell why people are obese by what is in their shopping trolley. If the government were to give people on a low income a bit more money we could buy healthier food and look after ourselves better, which would mean a saving for the health service.
It’s been a tough few months here, financially, I’ve been so lucky, I am blessed with a great friend who supported me to be able to move house.
I have a tiny budget to do a lot of work and am trying to find support with some things, which isn’t easy. People think if you have a mortgage, it’s your own home and so why should you get support.
So you struggle, and it isn’t easy at all.
I do feel more empowered when I’m able to sort out my finance, but, with living on social security payments largely, I worry constantly and I check my journal when it’s close to the time of payment, just in case they’re taking something out or putting something in. It feels a bit sad really!
I feel like some people think they have the right to judge what I buy and how I spend the support money. I feel wasteful and think; ‘you don’t need that’, or ‘that’s a waste of money’. Could be anything from moisturiser to nice bread.
In particular at the moment, my internal dialogue when I’m shopping is really unkind and miserly. It’s so expensive!! So even the things I might previously have been able to justify are no longer an option.
It’s isn’t the worst off I have been, but I’m so afraid of the financial carnage of no support with energy costs and the cost just to live. When that is gone, what then? So I have to be extra careful… and I was already quite careful with what we had…
Not many new clothes, shoes needed but need to afford them, no trips out to anywhere paying, no holidays… there’s only so much imagination you have when you’re exhausted from just surviving…
Sometimes, people say that you can have adventures even with no money… I used to agree, but when that no money time extends so far into the future, there is just not enough imagination to make poverty into a Wes Anderson film anymore…
I would like to say they really need to rethink how they support people. The following points would be good to consider.
1 have a people centred approach.
2 don't have a judgmental approach.
3 treat people as individuals, we are all unique with our own life experiences.
4 offer tailored support to people
5 offer flexible, well organised training programmes in dual languages, easily accessible to gain work skills.
6 be consistent and clear with information. Provide easy read documents.
7 People want to progress when they have genuine dedicated support.
I really enjoy being part of changing realities. It gives me a great sense of being seen and heard when in other places I go I can feel invisible. I am being bullied really badly in one of my jobs at the moment and attending the online events is really helping me with this has I feel welcomed and treated really well. I feel I can openly share my experience of living in poverty and not feel judged. Also the vouchers we receive have been a god send has I can go and buy a nice meal with them. I would have had to go a day or so without a meal a few days before my pay day. I enjoy getting involved in activities I normally wouldn't try. It is a great project to be involved in and to meet people from all over the country on there.
Before I had started working I had contact with the DWP. At one point I had monthly meetings at the job centre with my work coach. This was difficult, as it was scheduled during school pick up time and I had to collect my youngest child from the school earlier. The school were understanding. My son had to accompany me and I had no support around.
There have been times where I felt so pressured to find work by the DWP and even judged by the coaches. My regular work coach often seemed rushed by his work load. When I asked for help at points, they could not find a solution. I have eventually found work to fit around my family commitments after a few years. It has not been an easy journey. When I started working, I continued to receive calls from the DWP at work until my first pay was received, two months after I started work. This was inconvenient, but the calls have stopped now.
Someone online was spouting off inaccurate and judgemental comments about UK benefits being the most generous in the world, and allowing single parents to be "paid to stay at home" til the children were 11, and claiming that no one with a middle class salary would be eligible for benefits. I corrected them, not for their sake but so that others wouldn't be misled, and it became a ridiculous argument where they kept shifting the goalposts and trying to claim I was saying that single mothers shouldn't have to work.
I don't understand why people have such vicious and illogical views about benefits. Why do people get so worked up about benefits and yet don't say anything about other situations where taxes are funding things that not everyone uses? Why can't people accept that sometimes they don't know what they're talking about?
My financial circumstances are draining me, I feel helpless and it’s like a dark pit, the climb out of is such a challenge.
I was a taxpayer for 30 years.
Never wanted to live off the state, I feel undignified and judged.
Even though money is tight, I'm so fortunate to have internet access & be computer literate so that I'm able to shop around. Take pet insurance for example. My current provider quoted me £90 per month to renew insurance for my elderly dog & 2 of my cats. £90! That is an obscene amount of money! So I used a comparison website to check for better deals & have renewed my pet insurance for my dog & all 4 cats that now live with me for £45 per month - a saving of 50%. And the policies were all interest free for paying monthly, which is a welcome change. There are folk out there that do say those on low incomes shouldn't have pets (or children) if they can't afford them. But given that I don't smoke, drink much,go out or go on holidays, pets make my life meaningful & bring me comfort in difficult times. I can't imagine a life without pets - I've grown up with pets, always had them even before I ended up in dire straits. I've paid nothing for them - they were all unwanted or abandoned rescues. I tend to get on with them better than people lol. Yes, I'd have more money if they weren't eating me out of house & home but I would be even lonelier than I already feel. The fact that I've unintentionally ended up with so many pets is fuelled by guilt in part because when I fled the family home with my children - I had to leave my dog & cats behind - I couldn't get help to rehome them because no-one, meaning animal rescue professionals, would intervene on my behalf. I don't know what happened to them & will never know - and that kills me & still fills me with guilt to this very day. I could put the money I pay on insurance into a bank account & save it up. But the fact that I seem to lurch from crisis to crisis would mean that any savings would be eaten up through emergency expenses, which when you live life on a low income seems to crop up at the most inconvenient of times. I prefer to have the security of knowing there are funds available should I need them. For example, last year along I had to pay nearly £2000 in vet fees because my dog needed an operation & one of my rabbits needed repeated dental treatment. I had to pay it up front, so even with an insurance policy, I was still left short. Obviously I resorted to using a credit card, which is why I'm currently maxed out. I'm so tired of living life on a knife edge, financially speaking. But one thing it demonstrates is those who have the least do shop around & cut their cloth according to their means, given their circumstances. It's just that sometimes there is no more cloth to cut.
We are now in the middle of January, I just got paid and 2/3rd of it is gone already. The long awaited energy support still hasn't kicked in here, suppose to be rolling out on the 17th but going to direct debit customers first. Getting it to those in need will have to wait a while and then we have to jump through hoops with ID and more.
Why is it always the poorest who have to prove they are worthy before accessing this support?
The constant hoops are wearing people down and adds to the shame, and we still hear, 'sure they will drink it anyway'! Never thinking of those with two houses who are more getting this support for each house, it appears it is ok for them to drink it.
The disappointment and anger just simmer away beneath the surface with very little outlet.
So sick & tired of people being publicly shamed in the newspaper for shop lifting. It's happening on a daily basis in my daily newsfeed update. Now bear with me - I'm not saying shoplifting is right, but what the powers that be need to realise is that desperate people will resort to desperate measures when their survival is threatened. Take this account from my local paper " [Woman] took cleaning liquids, meats and cheeses – together worth £70 – from [local shop] on September 2.
The 32-year-old...was fined £40 and ordered to pay £85 costs, £70 compensation and a £16 victim surcharge by [City] Magistrates Court."
£70 is a lot of money for the local shop to lose - I don't dispute that. But when will those in power realise that shoplifting is a symptom of the problem that fining someone will not solve. But if they take practical steps to solve poverty & help those who may steal e.g. due to being ill with addictions, desperate people wouldn't need to resort to desperate measures in the first place.