Benefits Vs Privilege

The lovely Eliza had a bit of a rant at the weekend, she calls this “Sunday Soapbox” and if you haven’t read it, I really think you should.

Sunday Soapbox. Privilege.
Few things anger me more than the privileged few telling the rest of us what we’re doing wrong.

Those who are born into money, a comfortable lifestyle, who have easy access to everything that makes life more enjoyable, to a good education, to support and success, and to employment and more of the same in adulthood, do not understand poverty.

They do not understand poverty.

They do not understand the difficulties that people in their own towns and cities are living with, right now.

They do not understand that being poor is not a choice that people make because they are lazy.

They do not understand that for some further education is not an option.

They do not understand that even if it WERE there are NOT ENOUGH JOBS for people to walk in to.


They do not understand that for many who work full time the income they are given in return for their backbreaking, long hours of labour is not enough to pay all of their bills and buy food.

They do not understand the barriers to getting into work that many young people and families face.

They do not understand the cost of living……

It continues, but she is of course dead right. As I am “signed off” and have been told not to work by medical professionals I understand the way you are judged, by the media, by the public, but mainly by the “privileged” in powerful situations. Tv presenters, DJs, newspaper columnists, politicians.

For what it’s worth I worked, I struggled, I paid lots of tax over the years. I’ve given to charities, I’ve contributed. I am not a lazy person, I’m not a scrounger, a parasite. I am in a situation, I hate claiming anything, but my boys need food.

I came from a council estate, I grew up in charity clothes and hand-me-downs, I didn’t get given expensive gifts, I knew about being poor. We were fed, but I remember the loan lady going door to door in our area as was too easy to get unemployed parents to pawn their jewellery. Now that, that is a scrounging parasite. I’ve encountered bailiffs, I’ve cried and lied at them to make sure they didn’t take things from the family home.

As an adult I tried bloody hard, and I’ve had things go wrong along the way, but Blokey and I are homeowners, mortgaged to the hilt, but we don’t just take take take, we earn. We try, we fail, and keep flipping trying. I am determined to try for my sons.

As an adult I worked from age 17 until now, with a few short breaks when I moved home to a new county, so I’d have to get job hunting after moving. Until my breakdown I worked… For a pittance! I earned £6ish hourly with unpaid lunch, minus tax minus national insurance, minus £4.50 an hour childcare – bare in mind that unpaid break, I still had to pay out childcare whilst I wasn’t earning, I would have to pay my child minder for my journey time.

Realistically I was earning £1 an hour. That’s right ONE POUND! The privileged imply I’m a leech, a money sucker. I am not, I am a mother struggling.

My Blokey is about to become redundant, he has just one full week left. He is very clever, very skilled, and spent lots on education and university. He can’t get low paid employment, the classic “you are over qualified”. He can’t get the sort of job he is in right now, too many people are scrabbling over the same jobs.

Dear Privileged lot, back off please. Most of us unemployed or long term sick are genuine. We are not “career claimants” that have been taught to play the system, to screw the taxman and government for every single pound they can. I was encouraged by my Gramps to work, learn and earn. I could never just expect the country to pay everything for me… For my whole life. I’m not rich, not privileged, I mend and make do. If we can’t afford something, we can’t, we just carry on and make do.

Dear BBC, do not vilify benefits. We are not all the same, I don’t drink, don’t smoke and definitely do not do drugs. I am not queued up hung over at 9.30am at the local job center with a “Job seekers” book full of lies.
I am not lazy, and they do not understand.

I want “Further Education” but cannot afford it, especially not after adding childcare costs. I want to improve, be a better person, to work and earn a wage I can live on.
But I did not have the options to do such things as a teenager, and I cannot afford it now.
Really, do you think I’m scrounging?

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