Coping with the C(r)ap

Have you been affected by the 1% c(r)ap on benefits the Government are feeding us with?  This because, according to said Government, benefits have been rising more as a percentage than wages. I don’t know about anyone else’s situation but I feel I’m being punished for working for a living.

The Government say the amount my husband and I need to live on as a working-age couple is £111 a week, and 65% of any income we have above that amount is used to work out our housing benefit entitlement in part payment of rent (the only benefit we receive).  This month, I received a £15 a month rise in my salary to take account of inflation for the year, but in effect will get £5 of it.

The same rule applies to a small private pension which has matured before I’ve reached state pension age (because the Government have moved the goal posts for retirement age).  From this, 20% will be taken for income tax, 65% of the remaining 80% taken from housing benefit entitlement, and I will be left with 35% of the 80%.  This, along with the above pay rise, will go towards making up the reduction in our housing benefit entitlement that’s coming in April – because the Government say we only need one bedroom and have two, so 14% will be taken from our housing benefit allowance to account for this.

The bottom line is that come April we will have less money than we have now (and I have had a pay rise!).

We have three alternatives to paying this 14% out of the amount the Government say we need to live on as a working-age couple (in effect this is a contradiction in terms), and these are written down on the letter informing us of the 14% cut.  They are: to move into one-bedroom accommodation, take in a lodger or work more hours.

My response to this is: we love our two-bedroom flat in a part-sheltered housing complex and don’t want to move, we weren’t allowed to take in lodgers previously – as stated in our lease’s terms and conditions – yet now that’s ok? (can you imagine sharing your things in your flat with a stranger?), and working more hours only gives me 35% of what I earn anyway – as seen by the previous calculation.  I’ll have to work a hell of a lot more hours to get the 14% extra I’ll have to pay based on that, and my health will not permit it – though it is not so bad I qualify for any health-related benefits.  My husband is unemployed, unlikely to gain employment in the foreseeable future because of his age, and cannot claim any benefits, because I am working.

I don’t know who wrote the fairytale that people on benefits have loads of money.  I’m certainly not one of those people.  Having to be on a benefit of any kind is c(r)ap.  Though we are grateful for the help we do receive, we can’t get any further forward.

Yet, living a life of joy is so simple… according to Brother Lawrence in ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’, and over 100 million people may already agree – because that’s how many copies have been sold.  He believed that all we have to do is love God with all our heart and put our trust in him completely.   If we live our life for His glory, we will live in the strength of His grace and he will equip us with everything we need to fulfil our role for Him.

I find when my thoughts and actions become selfish (remember at the centre of sin is ‘I’), and I move away from God, trying to do things myself, I start to worry about stuff like the above rant at the Government.  Yet if I live my life as a continuous prayer walk with God at my side, I find that God provides for my needs, sometimes in surprising ways.

What we all have to remember is that God provides for our need and not our greed.  I wish the Government would take heed of that and practice what they preach when they are making these cuts and feeding us on c(r)ap strategies.  I haven’t noticed them giving up much themselves to help the country back on its feet, have you?   It might be a cliché, but money really is the root of all evil.

Then again, we’ve pushed God out of our lives so much that maybe He is waiting until the country is on its knees before He steps in to save us all (from ourselves).

With blessings to you all.

Please comment with a rant – or a rave – of your own… whatever your opinion is.  (Your email address is not published)


Talking outside the box

When I was 10 years old I became vulnerable prey to a paedophile.  These people know what they are doing.  My parents had separated a few months earlier and I was missing my dad.  The paedophile tried to take my dad’s place by ‘caring about me.’  The only ‘person’ I could talk to about what was happening to me was my teddy bear, Big Ted.  I couldn’t tell my mum, step-father or my younger siblings.  And I can never, never tell about any of the details – to anyone.  Big Ted took the brunt of my shame during that time.  When we moved away from the area a few years later I decided to hide Big Ted away in a box with a tight-fitting lid.  He knew too much.

We moved house many times and Big Ted went missing along the way.  I’ve spent my life looking for him… waiting for him to re-appear.  I allowed my silence to suffocate me – allowed the memory of the paedophile to control my life.  I thought it would go on forever. Then 10 years ago I ‘came out’.  It finally burst from the core of me and I spilled out my 40-year-old secret.  I went through 2 years of intensive integrated psychotherapy to deal with the layers and repercussions.  I’d had nowhere to go with it before then.  I felt free.

Ten years on, everyone’s talking about paedophiles.  The JS explosion onto our screens and the media digging up his victims one by one has brought with it those familiar feelings of guilt and shame.  They’ve resurfaced gradually and my memories have flooded back. I’ve begun to dislike myself again.  When the JS case became a criminal investigation I knew I would have to deal with it, yet I didn’t think I needed the intense therapy I’d experienced 10 years ago.

A week ago, I was so desperate to talk to someone who would understand that I walked into the offices of HOPE.  Tears flowed as I spoke to someone, which was a release in itself, though it confirmed that my own issues hadn’t gone away as I’d thought.  It is crushingly painful looking at the past with adult responses because of the realisation of how much the adult self needs healing as well as the child self.  My self-esteem, self-worth and confidence have taken a battering.  I need to let go and learn to love myself all over again.

I’m looking for spiritual reassurance more than anything else, and, because I am a Christian, there’s the whole issue of love and forgiveness to deal with too.  It’s a toughie. The first step will be hard when that step presents itself.

I have great empathy for the victims of JS.  Whilst they may be due compensation from his estate (or whatever) it won’t make up for their suffering.  Nothing will.  And how can victims even contemplate forgiveness when no-one has actually faced them and said, ‘I’m sorry, what I did was wrong?’

The only positive thing about the mess that has become JS is that it has got everyone talking about the issue, instead of hiding it away in a box with a tight-fitting lid.  It has also encouraged victims (even those unrelated to the case, like myself) to come forward and get the help they deserve, instead of rifling around in a cupboard for their teddy bear.

All Text Copyright © Julie M. Fairweather, 2012.