Tag Archives: benefits

Cake

My disabled girlfriend just asked me for a slice of cake. I had to say no. See, I’ve decided to adopt the Conservative approach to cake.

Unfortunately, I explained to her, the purchase of the cake was funded by HARD WORKING PEOPLE, and HARD WORKING PEOPLE didn’t want people who don’t work as hard as her to have access to the luxuries that they can’t have, because despite the fact that they are HARD WORKING PEOPLE, they are still unable to afford cake.

She protested, so I explained that 0.1% of cake benefit claims are fraudulent, so I’ve adopted a policy of guilty-until-proven-innocent, and if she wanted access to the cake, she’d need to go for a fit-for-cake assessment.

I then reminded her that if she wanted the cake badly, she could apply to the access-to-cake fund. But as soon as she looked in the opposite direction I moved the money to my wallet. “Sorry,” I responded disingenuously, “we don’t have enough money to fund your cake.”

She really wasn’t happy about this, so I introduced a new rule in the house. Vulnerable voices were are allowed to campaign against rules in the six months prior to a cake purchase. However, if she incorporates and pays me a big sum of money, I’ll happily allow her to influence future rules.

Next, I told her that she didn’t need the cake, as I’d looked in her fridge and found some carrots. Clearly she was wasting the money provided by HARD WORKING PEOPLE on cake that she didn’t need. She’d have to learn to budget.

I then explained the situation to her landlord, who, upon finding out that she was claiming cake benefit, asked for six months rent in advance.

She kicked up a fuss, saying that she’d worked hard until her disability made it impossible to work. But I ignored that, because I know that it doesn’t matter any more. We can’t afford to give non-HARD WORKING PEOPLE cake for doing nothing any more, because if we did, we’d have to take money away from the banks and THAT WOULD LEAD TO BANKERS LEAVING THE COUNTRY, WHICH WOULD INITIATE ARMAGEDDON.

Okay, so it's a chocolate roll, but the point remains

Okay, so it’s a chocolate roll, but the point remains

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The hidden impact of draconian welfare on the disabled – an example

I tend to keep deeply personal stuff off the internet where possible, but having just received some news and with an election on the horizon, I think this needs to be made public.

My partner and I have been looking into moving in together. Currently she lives in a one-bedroom flat, and I rent a room in a house-share. We live fifteen minutes apart, separated by a short walk, and a rather big hill.

We’ve been together for nearly four years now, and following a rather rough relapse in August last year, we decided to spend some time looking into how we could make living together work without affecting either of our independence as individuals.

I work part-time for a local charity while I’m building up my new theatre company. I also take whatever acting or modelling work I can get, and take on the odd freelance job. My gross annual income is less than £10k.

My partner is disabled and left her job two years ago as, despite her best efforts, she was no longer able to work. Her health since leaving work has improved considerably, as her has quality of life. However, she still only has a limited amount of energy each day, and at any time she can find herself spending the day in bed if something changes in her condition.

She has personal carers who look after her for a couple of hours a day, helping her with basic tasks. I spend a lot of the week staying over at her flat, in part because she is unable to stay at mine due to the presence of stairs into the house.

Extra stress is placed on both of us, because I effectively live day-to-day out of my backpack. None of my chosen lifestyle is available at my partner’s flat – there simply isn’t room for my guitar, my books, my CDs, my games console etc. So when I want to relax, I have two choices – turn on the laptop and play a computer game (after a full day staring at a screen), or watch TV – something that I rarely do when I’m on my own. As a result, I spend a lot of time at her flat working.

She also feels the pressure because she’s aware that I spend all of my time at her flat, and feels guilty as a result. I’d like to stay at home more often, but it’s not unheard of for me to be making my way up the hill with my backpack at midnight, because she’s not feeling great and needs someone to keep an eye on her.

Today we finally made the phone call to the council, to find out how our finances would be affected if we moved in together. We expected to lose some income between us, but what we were told shocked us, and has meant we have had to stop thinking about moving in together.

If we move in together, my partner will lose all her benefits apart from DLA (which is currently spent entirely on disability support needs – specialist tools, accessories, adaptations of normal household fittings, transport, and crisis needs etc.), because my income of £10k is deemed by this government to be enough for a couple to live on.

In Brighton.

Just think about that for a minute.

To say we are in shock is an understatement. If we were to move in together, we would both lose our independence. And that would be if it was possible in the first place. I’m struggling to live off £10k on my own at the moment, there’s simply no way it would be possible to look after two of us. Even in council housing, c.£450pcm would have to go on rent and council tax (thanks to the new Brighton & Hove City Council changes that mean that disabled people living with partners now have to pay full council tax), before the bills have even been considered.

So we have no choice but to carry on living apart.

For me to make up the shortfall in what we would lose between us, I would need to be earning a minimum of £25k. As someone who has never chased money, and has no dreams of financial wealth, this simply isn’t going to happen. We have no huge outgoings, we don’t smoke, drink, or go out much. I have my fifteen year old car, which allows us to get out and about- if we relied on buses we wouldn’t be able to go to a lot of places, plus it’s more expensive than driving in Brighton.

Of course, I could give up everything I’ve ever worked for, got back into full time work (assuming I can find a job) and be miserable to pay the bills, but that would only add further pressure to our relationship.

We have no choice but to live separately, and there is no hope on the horizon. Even with the potential of a change of government, Labour have said that they will continue with Tory cuts to the welfare system, meaning further pressure will be put on those already most marginalised by society.

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The world doesn’t owe you a living

“People who are successful do not owe you a living. Stop jealously coveting the success of others, get off your backside, and work at being successful yourselves, instead of expecting government to steal the fruits of other peoples’ labour for your consumption.”

“The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.”

“We’re in the middle of a recession, it’s an employer’s market, and the world doesn’t owe you a living.
we paid the education when there was grants.we did’nt claim dole because we were brought up with a strong work ethic.we did’nt need self help books,we had common sense,and iniative.many of us fought for all the things you now take for granted.the world does’nt owe you a living.”

The above are all comments lifted directly (spelling and grammar included) from the Daily Mail’s website, but I have seen similar comments on Facebook and other social media recently too. Are these the comments of a free society?

The western definition of freedom is an incredible paradox – so why is it that we can’t see that? Now I admit, I have taken a very extreme cross-section of right-wing comments, but I find it amazing how many people on the left also fail to see this.

So capitalism, it’s time for you and I to have a serious chat.

You say that you don’t owe me a living, which is perhaps fair enough. We all have to work hard in this world; that’s what capitalism stands for. But then… well, until you start giving me free accommodation, food, water and energy (incidentally, all provided by the earth and therefore birth rights), I don’t actually have any choice but to work. So we have the welfare state, which is great. (What’s left of) it is there for me during the times that I’m unable to find work, or the times when I’m ill, or the time when, heaven forbid, I am hindered by disability. But should I choose not to work – which is surely the very definition of freedom – then I am, quite literally, left to die.

You threaten to withdraw my “benefits” (nice choice of word – makes me feel guilty) – the meagre amount of cash that, if managed well, allows me to only incur a small amount of debt in covering my day-to-day living expenses. You choose to label me and abuse me through the media in a way designed to guilt-trip me into either working, or perhaps choosing to remove my (financially draining) presence from your society. Anything that doesn’t fit into the traditional capitalist value system is sneered at and denigrated by corporate media and corporate-sponsored politicians. To illustrate the horrendous hypocrisy of capitalism, just look at the way the government, or more recently, private companies, pay care staff. These people are some of, if not the hardest working people in the world. Care staff traditionally have been amongst the lowest paid in the world. If that doesn’t illustrate that capitalism ranks people who work for profit higher than people who work for humanity,  then I don’t know what does.

And the clincher is this. I would LOVE to be able to live in a system that is not capitalism (or socialism/communism or any other form of capital-based system), but unfortunately you give me no choice.

I HAVE to live in a capitalist system. I was born into it, and I have very little control over it. Don’t even get me started on “democracy”.

So if I HAVE to live in a capitalist system, and the only way I can survive in that system is to work, then surely the world DOES owe me a living?

But hang on a minute, capitalism. Let’s be totally honest with each other here. I’ll start:

I don’t want your dull-as-dishwater £7ph (just so you can claim to be paying over minimum wage) job. I want access to the things that the cash I earn brings – and in my case I’m only talking about shelter, food, water and energy. I have no materialistic desires, I merely want to be free. But you insist that I must work for that privilege. Indeed, you insist that I must pay for that privilege with my life. Ironically, with my freedom.

But what about you? Oh yes, that’s right. You don’t want to employ me. Aside from the fact that I stand against everything that you stand for, you know that you would be much better off employing a machine to do that job. A machine doesn’t get sick. A machine doesn’t have emotional concerns. A machine won’t complain about their wages or working conditions.

So why don’t we just cut the crap and jump straight to the solution? Did you know that we are not using machines to their full potential right now? So many jobs can be automated using existing technology, but we continue to employ human beings in dangerous, low-paid and uninspiring jobs to “keep the economy going” so that “we can all contribute”. The economy. Something that doesn’t even exist. A human creation designed for one reason only – to keep the privileged elite at the top, and the ordinary people slaving away until they die.

Haven’t we gone beyond this? Surely we can see that we are all sacrificing our lives in the name of something utterly preposterous.

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama XIV

The good news is there is an alternative. The video at the end of this post is a good starting point for looking at potential solutions. Bear in mind that Jacque Fresco has spent his entire life working toward this, so you will not learn even one hundredth of a percentage of what is possible in the video. Follow the links below if you are genuinely interested in how to make a difference. I have been reading articles and watching videos for a couple of years now and I still feel like I understand less than one percent of Jacque’s work.

The Venus Project - When education and resources are available to all without a price tag, there will be no limit to human potential - Jacque Fresco

To learn about viable solutions to some of our greatest challenges as a human race visit www.thevenusproject.com.

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