21_august_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,529

Sunday 21 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

I wonder how many Tory MPs have the remotest idea what it means to live poor, let alone destitute. For some years of my life before I was able to abandon London for the sanity of rural Somerset I simply could not afford to live.

For me the terror of facing the insecurity of homelessness a second time in my life was something too unbearable to contemplate, as long as the rent was paid everything else was of secondary importance.

Food, if you can call it that, wasn’t a major issue for a single guy, I had a, kind of, regular stomping ground round my local shops and hungry eyes will spot the bits of ‘shrapnel’ lying in the dirt and a 22p packet of Custard Creams would get me through the day. I shall never forget the feeling of elation when I found the last 2p, or whatever, that meant I could eat something. Custard Creams were a favourite because there’s enough stodge in them to kid your body it’s ok, although they probably contained as much goodness as sugar sprinkled cardboard.

Oddly, I didn’t think of myself as poor, that was just the way it was. How I lived wasn’t a matter for discussion with others, and it is really only in discussion that the word ‘poor’ has any relevance or meaning. It’s not something that I carried inside me as a label on my life, what good would that serve? It doesn’t go anywhere, apart from making you dismal, so it’s best not to even go there and just carry on. Being poor is about managing as best you can, moaning about it is futile.

One of the more than 300 documents that were tipped out the day parliament shut down for it’s annual six week break was a report on the dismal failings of the bedroom tax. More than 364,000 households in social housing (because the bedroom tax is exclusive to them) fell behind in their rent in 2014/15 and 348,000 people had fallen behind the previous year (austerity eh?). 153,800 households said that benefit cuts were the cause of the problem and 57,485 households blamed the bedroom tax.

There are simply not enough smaller properties for those being penalised to move into and thus the bedroom tax is a vindictive, spiteful, draconian policy causing unnecessary hardship by an authoritarian government which is failing to address the housing crisis in Britain. Ordinary people do not have the wherewithal to address the problem, councils have been cut to the bone and ‘right to buy’ is further reducing housing stock and councils are being forced to sell off precious stock to fund it. The housing crisis is the dismal failure of government and punishing the poor for it is an obscenity. Britain needs houses and housing security, not punishment.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/government-sneaks-out-report-revealing-8467528

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/03/councils-sell-up-to-145m-housing-a-year-fund-right-to-buy

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