Living off the welfare state

A year ago I wrote this post ‘What living in poverty is really like‘. I found that a really hard post to write as well as the ones I’ve written since about our financial situation.

A year ago I got told I’d have to cover £150 of my rent each month by using my benefits that I’m given to feed and cloth us with, to pay bills with, as housing benefit no longer covers the full amount. For a year every month I have scraped every last penny together in the final week of the month to make sure that £150 is there. A few times I’ve had to resort to asking parents for the money on long term loan, because the reality is I wont be able to afford to pay them back anytime soon.

For a year I’ve worked and claimed benefits too. I’ve worked 6 hours meaning that I was not in a situation to come off benefits. Although I was working I was only £20 better off at all times. And then when you get overpaid your even worse off and that £20 is no longer relevant, that happened a month or so ago. Financially working has made no difference and sadly this summer due to both finances and a number of other factors I had to hand my notice into work. I’ll be finishing at the end of the month and I’m dreading leaving if im honest. If I could avoid it I would.

Debt wise I’ve tried my hardest this year to remain on top of payments and to try and keep paying off my old overdraft however when you have Open university payments that need to be paid or you wont be able to sit your exams then those have to come first, so the overdraft took a backburner again. I’m lucky that I get one OU course covered a year, but the other one I only get partial grant for and so have to stump up over £40 a month for that. £40 to most people doesn’t sound much but when your income currently looks like this its actually quite a lot!

The reality is I will never be able to get council housing because in our area it is insanely oversubscribed and we are not deemed to be in a high enough category. We will always need to rent and throw money down the pan in doing so. Why they don’t just deduct £150 off my benefits a month and make the housing benefits payments full I do not know. The terrifying thing is that in a few months when the new universal credit kicks in I will be worse off because of my age, I wrote a letter to David Cameron on my blog here about that one.

What frustrates me the most though is when I hear people who say they are broke, quite often they aren’t broke because they are still able to go out and buy the necessities. There are times when I don’t even have enough in my bank account to pay for a packet of nappies that I desperately need and its a case of searching down the sofas for spare change! That is being broke. So next time you feel a bit short of money, just think yeah, are you really short or do you just need to not spend on luxuries for a few weeks?

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4 thoughts on “Living off the welfare state

  1. Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about your situation, it’s awful to have to stop working due to financial reasons. My own personal bug bear is people who moan about ‘people on benefits’ yet who are happy enough to claim child benefit themselves. It’s still a benefit. I have yet to meet anyone who wouldn’t apply for every single penny they thought they could get. It’s just a shame that the people who really need the help, like you, aren’t able to get as much support as they need.

  2. Came across from Britmums to read this post and have been exploring your blog. You are so right above. And I so admire you for challenging people’s misconceptions about what it’s really like to be poor, about single mums, and living on benefits. I like to do the same – mostly about education! Very best wishes and good luck. x

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