Hi Uisce, thanks for the big Question of the week. I just want to answer it because I'm so fed up of seeing the portrayal of this cost of living crisis. It's not a cost of living crisis, it's a cost of greed crisis. It's by far not over. I've never had such expensive shopping, such expensive services, and just generally the amount that is coming in won't be enough to cover what's going out. And I'm frightened and I'm really sick of being frightened. So, no, absolutely not. It's really not over, but I feel like it's easier for the media that don't pay tax in the UK, that aren't based in the UK, largely as organisations that have offshore accounts. I'm really sad and angry that it's being portrayed that it is over, because it absolutely isn't. Certainly not for myself, my son and many friends and acquaintances. It's very much not over and it's very frightening because it's just not sustainable. Thank you.
Excited but scared! My son is moving to high school so I know costs will increase but excited for him to take his next step.
I feel really bad about the summer holidays just because we can't afford to do anything. We can't afford to go anywhere. It's just going to be a really difficult summer holidays and there's nothing else to say about it. I don't know how me and my child will make it through the summer holidays and that's it, really just scared.
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…
Having to change circumstances is a scary process, you never know if they're gonna stop your benefits or not, especially PIP, I've heard loads of stories of people being forced to reapply when they report a change in circumstances.
I've got an upcoming change in circumstances at the end of the month, it'll mean changing address, probably twice cos I'll be homeless for a while, I hope not long, and a reduction in my benefits of nearly £500. I'm lucky to have support from a local charity who's going to handle those phone calls for me and help me set up bills because I'm gonna be emotionally strained at the time, my mental health won't handle being homeless very well (triggers flashbacks of being homeless as a teen and sharing rooms in hostels with people taking drugs, drinking alcohol and violent - not to misunderstand I meant some amazing people when I was homeless and most turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with being homeless, most also protected me in my youth from copying them and I was only homeless for a few months but it was still very scary experience to have). I have to go through that again as an adult through no fault of my own but cos I was put in temporary accommodation which isn't a real contract but a licence meaning they only have to give 24 hour notice but gave a months, I'm bidding on homes but there's been nothing to bid on since early May, it's scary. Anyway, so I know I'll be at risk of mental health decline, I have a housing officer at local council who's trying to help me find a home there, I've local charity supporting and trying to push getting me a place, but can't give what's not there to give. So right now I feel homelessness, I fear loosing my benefits and I fear the uncertainty I face. Benefits are seldom straightforward and they often look for excuses to screw us over and we can't trust benefits services to be there when we absolutely need them, that's when they're most likely to screw us.
This past week has been difficult.
Our universal credit was drastically cut due to me being paid twice in an assessment period - they took my income which was made over 8 weeks to be over 4 and assume I earn more than I do, which if I did I wouldn’t depend on the benefits we get to see us through day to day.
Trying to find a way to get us through the next three weeks is proving unsuccessful, draining and scary.
When will they fix the benefit system so it actually benefits?
I hate bank holidays my electric company cut me off yesterday and I couldn't log in and the barcode wasn't working for a top up. I thought they wasn't allowed to cut pre payment meters on the weekend or when they wasn't open because of it being friendly hours. And the government lied about them not switching people to repayment meters if they are vulnerable because they are forcefully fitting my meter next week even with an offer complaint about them in process. To top it off it's costing me 5 times the amount it did before April hit and my benefits aren't enough to cover the rising costs it's starting to get scary.
Feeling depressed after looking at another increase to my Energy DD. From paying £69 per month, it jumped to £124, and now a huge jump to £189 per month. The Impact is scary, this means cutting down even more on other things. We have cut out holidays, cinema trips, meals out etc. I feel like life is being slowly squeezed out of us families surviving on low incomes.
We are unaffected by the Work Capability Assessment. However I do worry about those in receipt of ESA and what that entails for them when the government removes it altogether.
I've have lots of questions about the budget. Again it does seem they have not taken a few things into consideration. The lives of those on benefits will become more difficult. For instance, I live in perpetual fear of sanctioning and my work place have given me fewer hours next month. I work in care, and have a zero hours contract. As I am subject to conditionality, fewer hours will mean I will be visiting the job centre and searching for more work. The government have finally promised to pay for childcare upfront. Apparently this will effect only 700,000 families. Who this actually applies to is unclear. It would have been of great help when I started working.
I cant begin to express my horror and worry about the details of the latest budget.
It's almost as though a psychological protection mechanism has developed of its own accord regarding any thoughts on the matter. Like 'writers block' has set in. I can see how not talking thinking or writing about it is an avoidance strategy. Because I know, deep down, the effects from the proposed changes are likely to be devastating for us.
Just been in a zoom with Changing Realities, I love these zooms, they help me feel valid and heard and useful. But something today made me frustrated, not at Changing Realities or any of the amazing team and participants but at the system we're all trap under.
I'm incredibly blessed that my kids may not always get what they want to but never known true hunger, like me and many of the participants. Someone saying they don't have enough food for today dinner and I have a cupboard full of tinned food I won't throw out for fear of not getting paid and needing something to fall back on and I just wanted to throw that food through the link at the family and knew I couldn't. I still try to add food to food bank collections while knowing I can't benefit from them myself due to locations and timings. Food banks are hard to access for many, there just isn't enough help for those who need it most. I worry about money and food everyday but I'm lucky in that I have a little extra layer of protection through the help of friends and me being able to function really well on one meal a day, plus all the extra joys and perks in my local community that bring joy and help ease my strain a little. Being part of Changing Realities reminds me that while I do struggle, I don't need to fear the kettle, I still fear letters and phonecalls but I use my kettle as and when needed without fear. I do dishes once a day, to reduce water costs and heating water but I'm managing very well with what resources I have (which doesn't make me better at budgeting as I've been told by some, just very very lucky that I have support around me to offset some of the trauma of very low income).
I wish there was a way of giving more targeted help to people who need it, I often share good with neighbours who are within my literal reach but so many people suffer and its not right, it's not fair on any of them, no one should be scared to use a kettle or turn their heating on. It's disgusting that our government has not only allowed but designed this to happen to its most vunerable. Makes me ashamed to call myself British.
Two work coaches (out of three) that I have had some interaction with, did not show any understanding of my personal circumstances (a single parent of 5 young children, bringing her family all on her own in the UK; a DV survivor) but were acting in a pressurising manner. I felt kind of intimidated and scared. These are both female and male. Last year I met another work coach - she did display empathy and kindness. I was surprised.