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.
Hi, Millie. Thank you for the big question of the week. I think for myself and my son and for many others who are sadly on Social Security payments, I think if they didn't increase in line with inflation, I think it's just really a little bit of another nail in the coffin. I think we're already really struggling. My weekly shop is so high and I'm reducing our expectations on a regular basis. And although we will probably just have to manage, I think, with having to manage with a lot of things and we're having to get used to going without a lot of things, I think we're really good at that. People on low incomes.
I think that it would be desperately unfair and I think that it would compound an already difficult situation. I do, however, feel that at the moment there's a huge amount of anger towards people who are on Social Security payments. And I think that any increase could bring further anger and ire from people who are struggling themselves who aren't entitled to Social Security payments. It's really complex, isn't it? Because you can either get used to not having the increase and nobody gets mad with you, or you can have the increase and then you're considered a bit of a social pariah, difficult one. I think it would impact us directly.
Is the cost of living crisis over? I think that it is no longer a crisis, as that implies something short term and accidental. It is more of a manmade disease than a crisis. I think what we are experiencing now are the very intentional consequences of policy decisions which reward the rich and further penalise the poor. Coupled with the deliberate hostility towards anyone who has to rely on social security and the punishingly low rates of Universal Credit and disability benefits. I think in the UK today we are experiencing Capitalism at its most extreme as part of the Conservative's fascist regime. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and success is determined solely by how much wealth can be accrued, regardless of the cost to the health, wellbeing, happiness or future of people or our planet.
What a week. I had my American family over and it did nothing but rain after the heat wave a few weeks ago. It was so nice to see them all but I had to watch my money which was embarrassing and I felt bad I couldn’t treat them. I did however do free stuff with them like go to an Art gallery and walk around the Titanic. I also took them on a walking tour of the murals on both sides of the community and they loved it and they didn’t have to pay for a tour as I knew so much about the murals as I grew up in the Belfast troubles. It’s the little things in life and I’m glad they had a fun day which didn’t cost any money but was precious as we all spent time together.
What evidence and lived experience have you more personally immersed your understanding, experience of the truth of poverty for the working general public and that who are trapped in the benign system as there's no support to become off benefits?
Have you been judging the public via fake narastic media stereotyping exposure to influence your policy's, aids and support framework?
It seem you have and how to do plan to fix the UKs and people in power judgment and stereotypical influence to better the support such as getting off benefits for single parents, people who need flexible working patterns throught the means of disability act inclusion and equity. We should not have to fight for our rights, be trapped in benefits when the people in power (you) say we can come off them thought the jobcentre framework that only fits for old fashioned stereotypical un-educated and possible neglected family's.
How do you plan to stop the increasing needs of unofficial food banks and offical food banks etc?
Where is your empathy and care for the wellbeing and future of the UK and the child of our next future UK?
My MP is a Conservative. I am a Socialist & would never vote Tory - ever. So already I don't feel represented by them. The few times I've contacted them previously, I have received generic party-line responses, which is disheartening. Secondly, even though I m a Socialist - I am not against people being wealthy. What I am against is the taxation system not being equitable. Poorer people bear a disproportionately higher tax burden compared to wealthier people, not by direct income tax, but mainly through poverty premiums - when they pay more for essential goods & services due to their location or lack of income. Furthermore, there is far more tax avoidance than there is benefit fraud, but we in receipt of Social Security are demonised far more than those who avoid paying their fair share. What dismays me the most is that my MP voted against free school meals for children in the holidays, thus contributing to worsening holiday hunger. I feel their stance was totally unjust given the ever-increasing wealth gap between rich & poor. I want to remind my MP that the centre of their constituency is extremely deprived, unable to withstand the ever-increasing tide of the cost of living crisis, whilst the more comfortable & well-off are high enough above the waterline to withstand the oncoming tsunami. We are in the same storm but not all of us has access to a suitable boat to survive. Help support us so we can not only survive, but thrive - it's the right thing to do, not as a politician, as a compassionate human being. Redesign the Social Security system so it works for everyone if they fall on hard times. In addition - I want to remind my MP that those of us living in desperate times didn't plan to be living this life. Absolutely anyone can be swept into poverty through circumstances beyond their control - even them. For me it was escaping domestic abuse whilst on unpaid maternity leave, becoming homeless & having to live in a hostel with my 3 children back in 2005. I tried to go back to work but became permanently disabled in 2011. I'm still trying to hang on in 2023. How can that be right? Yet even though I cannot work, I am still worthy of respect, support & have worth. I am a former Registered General Nurse with a wealth of knowledge, skills & expertise that I can impart to anyone prepared to listen. I also have 3 children who are contributing members of society - my eldest son, now 26 is an technician in the RAF. My middle son is 24 & has 2 jobs whilst he pursues his dream of being a musician with his band. My youngest son, now 18, even though disabled himself, is still studying for a career in welding at the local college & hopes to go into the industry. Support your constituents rather than sanction them. We need stability & security, not sticking plaster solutions. We need you to understand the intersectionality between poverty, health, ethnicity, disability, family breakdown & crime. By solving poverty through fully impact-studied, well considered design, you may find that citizens' physical & mental health improves overall and some folk less inclined to resort to desperate measures to survive. Now that would be an achievement to be proud of.
It's great having a voice that influences things - and to have recognition and renumeration in kind for the time spent. As a disabled working class woman, I often feel invisible and overlooked. The CR project makes me feel valued - thank you!
As it currently stands, I don’t have a huge amount of contact with the DWP, other than through my online journal. Anytime I have an issue I usually contact them via this method. I recently had an issue with rent payments being missing, which was incredibly nerve wracking as my landlord (a housing association) was calling me to chase the payment. I spoke to someone who didn’t appear sympathetic nor concerned, and their tone and manner on the phone was abrupt and accusatory. Eventually the missing payment was reinstated, but it left me feeling like I had done something wrong. I feel the DWP need to learn how to speak to people properly, to have some care and respect for the claimants they are talking to because most people are just trying to keep their families together and live as stress free as possible.
Unfortunately, my experience of speaking with the DWP either in person or over the phone is often negative.
In fact, I dread going to the Job Centre, and am always apprehensive to ask them about anything - even if I really do need advice or have a burning question. In fact, I only do this if I am in an emergency situation regarding my payments, otherwise, I try my best to find out the information that I need in another way - mostly by asking family or friends who have been in a similar situation, or by using the internet.
This is because, as soon as you get to the door of a Jobcentre, your immediately met by security guards, which is really intimidating, and not a nice way to be treated just because you haven't currently got a job. Imagine if you'd just been made redundant from a high paying, high flying job, only to be treated like a criminal just because your no longer working, This seems so unfair.
Furthermore though, talking with the DWP over the phone is no better either, because I find that your often keep waiting on the line for such a long time before anyone even answers, and when they do, you are often spoken to with a great deal of suspicion and weariness, which again, just seems so unfair, because often we are only phoning to either sort our money out or because we have a general enquiry, which is what I thought the job centre staff were there to help with in the first place.
Well "30p" Lee Anderson, Tory MP, would be proud of me these past couple of days. I've made homemade triple mushroom soup with leftover/reduced price mushrooms, my own blend of hummus & roasted chickpeas from my dried goods store in my cupboard & roasted aubergines from my Oddbox subscription box (saving fruit & veg from going to landfill) - which I was going to whip into a smoky melizanosalata dip, but they tasted so nice I ate them as they were. Plan for today, Zucchini cake & banana bread. You can eat well on a budget if you are careful. BUT... as Mr Anderson & the Government forget, people need a home where they can cook, have enough income to be able to afford food in the first place & fuel to cook with. Not to mention a safe appliance to cook on, the knowledge, skills expertise & good physical/mental health to be able plan ahead, purchase, transport & store food safely. Furthermore, access to the internet to shop around to get the best deals & have enough time & energy, especially if they are working more than one job, which for too many folk on a low income is a reality these days. It also assumes that your children will happily eat what you prepare - woe betide if you have a child with neurodiverse needs who simply can't cope with your menu, no matter how healthy, due to taste/texture aberrations so rely on staple "beige" convenience foods & takeaways for their nutrition. Yet thanks to Mr Anderson & others like him we are judged when the circumstances for our choices are so much more complex.
I have previously had support but not before I had reached the point of being desperate. Nobody tells you that you can get that support. I had to really reach out to so many people/organisations, including the CAB, who I am sad to say at the time we’re not helpful.
This was when my son was very young and I would say was the beginning of our descent into abject poverty. It meant that I had to do work that was really not ok and try to find ways to support my son which impacted me dreadfully. There is no doubt that this also impacted my relationship with my son and his development because I was so emotionally and mentally ‘absent’ as I was constantly worried.
This was around the time I was introduced to our local food bank.
My experience was that the avenues to financial scaffolding from social services seem shrouded in mystery, and that as a solo parent in desperate need of support I was unable to rely on anybody to point me in the right direction to get that support. I felt that I was a ‘drain on the system’ and that I didn’t deserve the help.
It also led to many issues of support being stopped dependent on my earnings, again this was not made clear to me at the time and my employer did not help in that situation, they didn’t have the information I needed to access services and receive any money to top up my salary. I also ended up being in debt to the DWP because I was largely unaware of caps and limits on earning. This meant that when I was trying to get back on my feet I was knocked back in my financial recovery by having to pay quite a large sum back.
At this time I am fully dependent upon Universal Credit as I am unable to work consistently. However my previous experience leaves me very muddled as to what I would need to do if I were in a position of needing information and ongoing financial top ups in the future.
At present, I am not required to look for work- however, any experiences I’ve ever had with the job centre have always been neutral to bad. The way I’m made to feel when I walk in through the doors is like I’m worthless and my opinions don’t matter. It almost felt like I was in a “job machine” where they would just churn out jobs they thought I could apply for even though I have an area of expertise which they disregarded. It’s very hard to maintain a level of respect for the job centre when from the get-go you are made to feel inadequate