In our last session, we talked facts. And figures.
Numbers are sometimes as important as words when you’re telling stories.
Fred and his neighbour Letitia. Fred spends £10 a week more on the bedroom tax than he does on food.
Let’s look at a few examples:
More than HALF of the UK’s £208bn annual welfare bill goes to pensioners – and they will receive a £16bn increase by 2018.
6.5 million can’t get the paid work they need, and 1.4 million part-time workers want to work full-time – but the jobs aren’t there.
6.1 million people in working households are suffering poverty.
Working households make up the huge majority of new housing benefit claims – 93 per cent.
Since 2009, the cost of privately renting a home has increased by almost 40 per cent.
The UK spends around a fifth less per person on benefits than Germany.
So I asked the group to come up with some figures of their own.
Kay, who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from spina bifida, has had her care package cut by almost 70 %, from 38 hours a week to just 13.
She has secured legal aid, and is fighting the decision through the courts.
Slim told us that it had cost £80,000 to keep him in prison for two years – a cost the Government were willing to pay.
Yet they are trying everything they can to avoid paying him just £4,800 a year in unemployment and support benefits – he was recently sanctioned, through no fault of his own, for six months.
Earlier this year Kasia – a mother-of-two – had to wait for three months for the Job Centre to process a benefit claim, despite the fact she is desperate for worthwhile work, and did all they asked her to do.
After almost 100 days without any support and mouths to feed, Kasia ended up in tears to an adviser – who was unable to help.
Letitia’s daughter was sanctioned for a whopping 6 months – with the household losing £1,846 – over a mix-up with the Job Centre. Letitia’s daughter lives at home – so even though Letitia works, her housing benefit was cut because of her daughter’s sanction. So everyone suffered.
Fred, 60, suffers from gout and arthritis, and has difficulty reading. But as he lives in a three-bedroomed house, his housing benefit has been cut by a quarter.
He pays £26 a week in bedroom tax – yet has just £15 a week for food and clothing. He has lived in his family home for 44 years, and there are still no one-bedroomed houses for him to move to.
Yet despite being punished and sanctioned for not working, this group actually works thousands of hours a month, for free – as carers, mentors, volunteers, and parents.
We worked it out.
Collectively, the group works 512 hours a week.
That’s 2,048 hours a month – or 24,576 hours a year.
Even if we were to cost that time at the minimum wage of £6.31, that’s the equivalent of a £155,075 wage bill.
Yet because these are free hours, society doesn’t value them.
But we would argue that what we do is the opposite of worthless.