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I don’t want to have to go to the Salvation Army for a food parcel

Location: UK » West Midlands » CV
I don’t want to have to go to the Salvation Army for a food parcel

I am a 32 year old single mother from the midlands. My children are aged 11yrs, 2yrs and 1yr. I am claiming income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit and child tax credits. This is my only source of income. We live in a little 3 bed terraced house next to the train line. It’s small but I love my little house. My rent is £450.00 a month and housing benefit covers this at the moment. My ex partner, who I am still on very good terms with, lives in a bedsit on the other side of town. His rent is more than his housing benefit allows so he has to pay the extra every month. He is on JSA so gets a lot less than me. He has deductions from his benefit for a crisis loan he had to get to pay his rent in advance, so he gets less than £65 a week, so I feed him a few times a week just to help out.

My fear comes from many sources. The first is the change in the benefits system. There are rumours in the media that income support will be cut, as in, we won’t get as much. That scares me. We struggle as it is. Feeding 3 kids, paying bills and trying to stay sane is becoming harder. My 11yr old daughter is very clued up on what is happening and shouts at the TV everytime someone from the government comes on. It’s a shame. When universal credit comes into force, and the housing benefit reforms, it is going to effect all of us. I don’t know how much I’m going to receive, I don’t know if the housing benefit reforms will mean I will have to pay towards my rent, I don’t know yet if I am going to be forced to take a job that is not suitable for myself and my family. I have no idea if I am going to be able to pay for childcare if I do work. All these questions are unanswered and all I can do is wait untill they tell us. Even though my belt is so tight it may snap, I am having to try and save what I can for the future. I am going to buy baked beans in bulk, spaghetti hoops, tinned tomatoes, pasta, whatever I can that will keep because I don’t want to be in a position in a years time where I have to go to the Salvation Army for a food parcel, not unless I really have to. I also want to pay my bills for as long as I can. It may seem futile but I have to try, for as long as I can.

I am a child of the 80’s I was born in 1978 so I remember Margaret Thatcher well. She is the reason me and my brother never saw our dad when we were children. He had to work 2 jobs just to survive, and sometimes even that didn’t pay the bills. He was up before we woke and back home after we had gone to bed. My mum was a dinner lady but that didn’t stretch far enough. It wasn’t untill I was about 15 that my mum managed to pay our gas bill on time, before then she had been juggling bills every month. My savings account went when I was about 7 to pay bills. I didn’t mind because I would rather eat than have a fat building society account, but she shouldn’t have had to raid my account. We didn’t go out unless it was to somewhere free, a treat for us was a bacon sandwich. People are saying that this is going to be like the 80’s. I disagree, this is going to be so much worse.

Today we were told by Ken Clarke that legal aid is being cut for a lot of civil cases, including divorce, child contact, benefit disputes, employment tribunals and clinical negligence. Poor people are no longer allowed access to justice then? I will be keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I don’t have to seek legal advice again because I will be screwed. It’s blatent discrimination. We can no longer leave a marriage unless we have been abused, we can no longer dispute benefits being withdrawn, losing our jobs or being injured by a medical professional. That leaves us wide open to abuse.

Something else that has happened since this government came into power that upsets me greatly is the abuse I have suffered online. I have been called a dirty scrounger, stupid, lazy, and many times I have been told that I should have “kept my legs shut” because I obviously can’t afford my children. They forget that I was working when I fell pregnant with my 11yr old, I was a single working parent when she was 7, my ex partner was working when I had my 2nd and 3rd child. Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron have publicly said that single parents are the reason for the downfall of our society, we undermine the importance of marriage and IDS claims that our children are 9 times more likely to become criminals. I find that extremely insulting, and upsetting. It makes me angry that they feel they have a right to judge me, and others like me, without even knowing us. My 11yr old daughter is walking, talking proof that being a single parent does not mean my children are unruly little horrors. It was just me and her for 8 years and I managed to raise a well balanced, well behaved, happy little girl. She does very well at school and has loads of self esteem. I do not want that shattered by other peoples ignorance. I would be devestated if someone called her a potential criminal, or told her that I was a dirty slapper who should have kept her legs shut! She would be heartbroken, I’m sure. The social divide that is being created disgusts me and it will hurt the children more than anyone else.

Our councils are all cutting their costs. The local services and facilities are going to go downhill. Our children are going to miss out on normal life because we won’t have the services.

Something else that bothers me is that the government are twisting the figures. Most people who call me names keep telling me that I get £30,000 a year in benefits and my house is bigger than theirs. That is not true. My house is small, it is cheap for the area, and isn’t in a delightful location. It’s not fair that we have been demonised in the media, purposely, to take the blame for an economic crisis we are not responsible for. Next year we might be in a 2 bedroomed house, we might not be able to afford to stay here and we might be taking that trip to the salvation army, at the worst we will have no home, we could be back in the hostel we stayed in when we were homeless. Worse than that, the hostel might be full, what do we do then? Does the government care? No, I didn’t think so. I’m not the only person going through this, there are many of us, all scared, all angry and all sitting in limbo wondering what they are going to unleash on us next. I for one am determined that I will not be broken!

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