Who said the poor can’t budget? Read this IDS and hang your head in shame.

sRBT1  I discovered an interesting website dedicated to collecting stories of people struggling with the bedroom tax. Sadly http://www.bedroomtax.org.uk/ so far has only one story, the story of Sue and Steve from Norfolk. But what a story it is. Its the story of a man, disabled by an accident, who has to count every penny in order to survive. I’ve reproduced his story below and urge anyone who has their own story to tell to contact this website and so help them build a database of hard evidence of what is actually happening to ordinary decent folk. Here’s Sue and Steve of Norfolk’s story. I challenge anyone to read it without shedding a tear…

 

Sue and Steve – Norfolk

SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2013

Our story so far

 First some old history. In November 2000, I was in a car accident in which a car hit me from behind while I was parked off the road. The driver’s side (off side) of the other car hit the passenger’s side (near side) of my car.

 As a result, I have been using a wheelchair and not only have back, and neck injuries, but I have suffered a ‘Cardiac Incident,’ (a minor heart attack), due to rapidly increasing weight.  I had been a runner, running marathons and used a lot of energy; this meant I had a big appetite and it took a long time to change that and reduce my weight which at its worst was 28 stone, plus.

 I suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, sever pain in the lower back and neck and constantly have to have pain relief.  My left leg is useless as a leg, and will if I don’t watch it get caught under my own wheelchair wheels as I’m not always aware of where it is.  My right leg is better but standing upright, for even a few seconds’ causes a massive increase in pain then, I collapse and have even passed out.

 I have an adapted bungalow with a ramp access and a mobility adapted car.  I do not work as to spend more than four hours out of bed reduces me to tears because of the increase in pain. I could work from home, and under permitted work rules I teach a computer beginners class once a week in my village for two hours.  I spend a lot of time in bed and have, thanks to the ‘Royal British Legion,’ a top range bed which is motorised to allow me to sit more comfortably and use my computer.

 I have had three assessments by the Occupational Therapist in recent years and all recommend I have my own separate bedroom because of my medical conditions.  So, when the ‘Bedroom Tax’ came to light I was not overly worried for myself or other disabled people in a similar position as me as, we had an extra bedroom for my medical needs.

 At first, it was unclear how things were going to ‘pan out’ with the new regulations but one thing became clear, very quickly, the poorest people would once again be hit hardest by the new rules.  While this was happening the richest people would be paying less tax with a reduction of the higher rate income tax.

 First we had the letter telling us that our Housing Benefit was to be reduced by 14% as we have a two bedroom bungalow and as a married couple we only need one bedroom. I pointed out that we were only allowed the two bedroom bungalow because of my medical condition. ‘We know that,’ said my local housing benefits office, ‘but the Government has said that having an extra room for medical reasons is not to be taken into account.’  We could, however, apply for a payment from a discretionary fund to make up the shortfall.

 We applied for this in February and eight weeks later they have still not even looked at our application because there is still some confusion as to what our situation is, due to the Government not giving correct, or timely information. The council informed us that it is not clear if we should have our benefits reduced, and it is not clear that if we should, if they are allowed to help disabled people with a medical need for an extra bedroom from the Discretionary Fund.

 My first thoughts have been along the lines of what a ?$%& up. The second being, if it is a Discretionary Fund surely, that means the people controlling the funds can use their discretion on how it is used and who benefits from it.

 While this is going on we have also been told we will have to pay some of our council tax as well, which means that overall our housing benefit and council tax benefit will be reduce by 22.5%. This means we will have to find an extra £14.50p, in round figures, a week out of our benefits to pay these two items which is close to 10% of our weekly income support.

 So, where is this money coming from? Well, after a review of our budget (and we have run a budget for years to keep control of spending) we found that the only area we had so far not cut down on was food.  We already do not have any heating on in the house except Sue has a ‘Calor Gas’ heater for which she makes two bottles of gas last her the whole autumn winter and spring. I have not had heating in my bedroom for five years. I just pile on extra covers on my bed to keep warm and wear mittens (fingerless gloves) to keep my hands warm when using the computer.

 So, as I am the member of our small family who is benefiting from having the extra bedroom I am going to take a cut in my food. I have devised a plan to bring my weekly food bill down to just £12.71, Which includes all my food, hot drinks and a bottle of flavoured water a day.

 I will have porridge for breakfast every day, costing just £ 0.17p a day, with that I will have a herbal tea cost £0.04p then at lunch time I will have a frozen meal which costs just £1.00p a meal No extras like vegetables or potatoes just the meal, Sheppard’s pie, cottage pie, beef lasagne, beef stew, corn beef hash, mince hot pot, Yorkshire pudding with either sausages, or beef and vegetables, in gravy.

 For my evening meal I will have a tin of rice pudding, £ 0.15p every day and before Sue goes to bed I will have a cup of drinking chocolate, cost just £ 0.07p. Add to that a bottle of flavoured water at £ 0.38p and that will be all my food budget for a week.

 Not a lot of variety accept the lunch meal!  You may ask about extra salt and condiments but I will do without them and stick to my budget.  You can see my basic working out of food costs below I have even included the calorie values. You will see that nearly half of my calories a day will come from the £ 0.15p can of rice pudding.

Of course, if they decide to cut any more of my benefits then cutting down on my food will be well, a little difficult!  I have effectively, reduced my food budget by half to pay to keep a roof over Sue and my heads.

 Now, I wonder if any of our MPs would like follow me on my diet and donate the saving in food to a children’s charity?  I doubt if they would take up the challenge to do it for one week, I will have to do it for a whole year, to make up for the loss in benefits and pay our rent.  Of course I am better off than many in this world who will die because of a lack of food, in a world which grows enough to feed every one!

 This is how I have worked out the cost of my meals.

Meal

Ingredient

Amount

Cost

Cost of Meal

Cost per day

Cost per week

Breakfast

Porridge Oats

0.050

£0.05

Milk

0.350

£0.11

Sugar

0.013

£0.01

£0.17

£0.17

£1.22

Lunch

Box Meal

1.000

£1.00

£1.00

£1.00

£7.00

Tea

Tin of Rice

1

£0.15

£0.15

£0.15

£1.05

Water

Per day

1

£0.38

£0.38

£0.38

£2.63

Hot Chocolate

Cup

0.035

£0.07

Sugar

0.004

£0.0

£0.07

£0.07

£0.51

Herbal Tea

Cup

1

0.04

Sugar

0.004

£0.0

£0.04

£0.04

£0.30

£1.82

£12.71

 This is the calories in my meals

Meal

Ingredient

Cal

Cal per Meal

Cal per day

Cal per week

Breakfast

Porridge Oats

157.500

Milk

171.500

Sugar

50.125

379.125

379.125

2653.875

Lunch

Box Meal

371.000

371.000

371.000

2597.000

Tea

Tin of Rice

700.000

700.000

4900.000

Water

Per day

6.200

6.200

6.200

43.400

Hot Chocolate

Cup

129.850

Sugar

16.040

145.890

145.890

1021.230

Herbal Tea

Cup

0

Sugar

16.04

16.04

16.04

112.28

1618.255

11327.785

 This is the cost of the basic Items which make up my meals

Item

Size

Cost

Size Type

Cal

Porridge Oats

1.500

£1.60

KG

4725

Milk

6.000

£1.89

L

2940

Sugar

1.000

£0.89

KG

4010

Box Meal

1.000

£1.00

Unit

371

Tin of Rice

1.000

£0.15

Unit

700

Water

4

£1.50

Units

24.8

Hot Chocolate

0.5

£0.99

KG

1855

Herbal Tea

20.000

£0.80

Bags

0

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Who said the poor can’t budget? Read this IDS and hang your head in shame.

  1. jaypot2012

    This is wrong – it’s so, so wrong 😦 We are in the year 2013 and yet we have things like this going on. People relying on food banks, people like yourself going to the bare minimum on food per day, people not being able to afford heating 😦
    I am also disabled and have found that we are struggling more and more.
    I am so very sorry that you are having to do this with your food and drink, I really am. I am disgusted with this government and also disgusted with the majority of the people of this country for not standing up to Cameron, IDS and Osbourne…
    This should not be happening in this century and I hang my head in despair over it all.

    Reply
    1. Julie Marshall

      I agree with you, it’s criminal the way people are suffering. Our MP’s are seriously out of tune with real life. If all the tax dodging companies paid what’s due there would be no need for benefit cuts.

      Reply
  2. Raymond Northgreaves

    What most of you do not understand is that IDS was a Commissioned Officer, deemed not fit to command his Regiment! Therefore, he was passed over for Colonel, has a Major he would have done nothing but sing leave passes and company matter, never would he have had to manage any type of accounts, which shows in the way he is managing the DWP budget; this man is has thick as shit!

    Reply
  3. vision quest earth

    Reblogged this on vision quest earth and commented:
    My familly lives in England, I did not realise it was so horrendously bad there, What can we do to make the ‘people in power’ behave like people?

    Reply
  4. Sheila Jones

    A sure recipe for an increase in crime don’t you think, because prisoners are fed better than this!

    Reply
  5. Adele Crocker

    This Govt should be ashamed of what they are doing to the most vulnerable in our society. Your story should be head line news to bring about an increased awareness of their shameful policies.

    Reply
  6. ann

    What about soap shampoo washing up liquids washing powders things to keep yourself and home clean I’m in the same position myself

    Reply
  7. julie

    Bring back Guy Forks and make sure the lot of them go.Soooooo ashamed of the govt, They realy don’t give a dam as long as they have BIG fat wallets and big flash cars,2 decent homes,holidays when they want,and evan catch taxis then to be charged to us the working people.They know we are to soft in this country and let it all go by, we realy need to fight like the French.I would like to see ALL people in this country just stop working go on strike. Where would they be then???

    Reply
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  9. derek

    Well the extra £10,000 for each MPs salary increase had to come from somewhere – didnt it ?

    Oh yes the French cycle tour we contributed more money than anyone else – just £10 million so a double reason for the cut backs

    Oh yes we have another royal mouth to feed

    We have to let all the Councillors there big fat expense account in which their chauffeur can pick up their laundry !!

    Are we being unreasonable ? We will let Cameron know come the next general elections. I would love to vote with my foot up his backside

    Reply
  10. David

    Why is everyone moaning about bedroom tax its only around £12.00 a week for god sake, cut down on the fags and drink and there is your savings.

    If you have the luxury of having an extra bedroom then pay for it, I am in an overcrowded 3 bedroom house with 2 boys and 1 girl, which is a small house and I have to struggle, you cant have everything in life for free.

    Reply
    1. sparaszczukster Post author

      I don’t think people are asking for things for free,David, and I sympathise with anyone who’s stuck in a house that’s too small for their family. Many people having to find the extra £14 a week or more are working for low wages which just don’t cover their outgoings, which is why they need to claim housing benefit. Its harder for them to find smaller houses than for you to find a bigger one because there’ve been so few built. Plus the cost of moving house is high even if you can find one close enough to where you work. If the government wants people to live in houses that match their family size this is the most unfair way of going about it because it penalises those least able to bear the cost.It doesn’t begin to address the heart of the problem which is a low wage economy with a lack of jobs and employers who rely on these low wages being subsidised by welfare.The real benefit scroungers are the corporations who are profiting from all this.

      Reply
    2. Stephen Sansum

      not everyone smokes or drinks, my brother was born spina biffida, caused by tablets the passed by this country, did my mother sue, no she grafted to make our lives good, the only one luxury he has is having a wee drink now and again, is it a crime, after all i am sure you have your health, able to walk, drink, smoke have sex love, some of the things my brother will never experience, yet all his medical items are big and cumbersome if he was to keep in his room, there would be no room for him to move around in his wheelchair, let alone be able to get in his bed, resulting in a risk to him if he had to get out quickly, but yet you’re moaning you have only a 3 bed house, 2 boys in one room girl in the other simple

      Reply
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  12. Dee Moore

    Oh Derek you have it nailed Good for you. What is wrong with the british public. Too much flouride in the water? now thats another story/

    Reply
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  14. Julie Marshall

    Steve & Sue my heart goes out to you & many others like you who are suffering like this 😦 What this government is doing is CRIMINAL, it’s genocide of the most vulnerable in our society. There’s no room for living on a budget that tight, no money for haircuts, birthday/christmas presents, a trip to the cinema or a takeaway treat. What if you need a new fridge or washing machine? oopps no silly me no money for “luxuries”. Maybe you should consider a life of crime? 3 meals a day all nutritionally balanced, a nice warm cell, tv maybe even a little job…. the lunatics who run this country should have to live like this, I bet they couldn’t last a week let alone a lifetime.

    Reply
  15. Charlie Fleming

    This Government could not care less about the low paid working people,sick,disabled or unemployed,infact unless you are a universal company,banker or politician with his/her nose in the trough you as a person are of no interest or significance to them.This government is hell bent on turning the clock back to the Victorian era whereby the poor doffed their caps to the rich and it was yes sir no sir let me kiss your arse sir.It is time for the people of this country to get rid of the parasites,scrongers and skivers that we call a Government.

    Reply
  16. MoQ

    This Government consists of people…like any other political party today…educated not to care, unemotional zombies! They thrive on gluttony, just 1 of the 7 deadly sins they commit. I’ve always wondered, where are their sick & disabled family members?

    Reply
  17. sparaszczukster Post author

    Their sick and disabled will be well cared for by private means. Of course, many of them will be supplementing their wealth by claiming DLA like David Cameron did when his disabled son was alive. Apparently, this is not ‘scrounging’ though.

    Reply
    1. MoQ

      I was thinking more like get rid quick or hide and deny….undesirable! Cameron’s son didn’t survive long. That’s the society they belong to, love and kindness are weakness not to be encouraged.

      Reply
  18. Rob

    This is load of Crock! He would be receiving minimum of £126 pound pw incapacity/ESA..His spouse being a carer would be getting the same…Then he would have his DLA,which is a minimum of an extra £41.10 pound per week,That’s a minimum of £290 pound per week for them both…if he’s on higher rate it could be as much as £383. per week ,Not to mention the free road tax and free parking they get.They’re much better off than a single person trying to manage on £71.70 per week …Here’s some advice for the spongers,GET RID OF THE 4X4 AND STOP SHOPPING AT M&S

    Reply
    1. sparaszczukster Post author

      You’re making a lot of assumptions here, Robert, and your ‘spongers’ characterisation is offensive. Not being vindictive myself,I hope you never become so disabled that you can’t earn a decent wage.

      Reply
    2. maxine roberts

      im disabled and i only get £70 a week and i have been given no decision on a higher rate until i have a medical my dla has taken nearly 4 months to sort out and everytime i ring they say two more weeks they keep you in assement for as long as they can then send you to atos who then try to get you back to work on jsa at 71 20 a week its criminal and ludicruos im not a scounger and resent being called one i have worked all my life i live in a one bedroom place and still have to put £20 a week towards my rent my son sleeps over on my setee when i need care through the night but that leaves me £50 a week for everything else if it wasnt for being invited to friends and family for meals my basic diet would be porridge pasta and potatoes my wieght has plumeted to 4st 10 since i have been on esa and my doctor keeps telling me to eat more i have gone into depression panick attacks and anxciety over all the worries with bills and debts and winter is on its way and my health is deterioating fast cameron has his way of culling

      Reply
      1. sparaszczukster Post author

        There are people out there who have no conception of the kind of stress and despair being caused to decent citizens like you, Maxine, who simply want enough to live a dignified existence but are being made to feel almost like criminals just for being who they are. People like you, who have worked and contributed more than enough in taxes and insurance to cover their needs when they become sick or disabled are being demoralised and denigrated for no other reason than party political gain. You’re right, Cameron’s government are the real criminals in this because of the perpetual torture their evil policies are inflicting.There is no way anyone can survive for long on JSA and there are many people who are simply too disabled to be able to work in full time employment or even part time in some cases. Even when they could manage this employers are far more likely to take on someone not disabled so the disabled are likely to have to live on JSA for long periods and are far more at risk of being sanctioned and having even this pittance stopped. I sincerely hope your situation improves soon, Maxine. Please feel free to email me on sparaszczukster@gmail.com if you want a more private conversation. I will do all I can to help.

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  21. mybeautfulthings

    I have ‘liked’ but that is far from how I am feeling. I am so sickened by what this Government is doing to people like yourselves and am so sorry you have to live like this. We take food to food banks near us but the growing need for these also disgusts me and when Cameron says that food banks show his ‘big society’ is working, I feel quite violent and I am a pacifist!
    I wish you all the best and hope someone will see sense about your situation and that of all the people with someone disabled in their family who need every bedroom they have.

    Reply

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