Benefits Into Work. Change Is Needed!

 Todays blog is unusual for me but I needed to get it off my chest. Thank you for reading.

It is just over a year ago that the song Caledonia was recorded by The Libations. The aim was to raise money for local Food banks. With all the changes that the UK government is making I believe more people will be in need of help. Yesterday I spoke to someone who had struggled from an illness and was proud to have started a job. She had to work 2 weeks in hand then would get paid 4 weeks later. That meant she would have to wait 6 weeks till she got her salary. She thought she would continue to get help through her benefits until this, happy to pay any of it back when she got paid.

She was totally shocked that she was told her benefits were now stopped. After working 3 weeks she now had no money to pay for her gas, electric, food and housing! How can that be right? Surely the government should be supporting people back into work? I know in certain circumstances the housing can be paid for an extra 4 weeks but this does not help with the other costs. How is she supposed to eat, or cook without energy, even if she did have any food? This is where food banks come in although most can only allow 3 days worth of food a couple of times a year. Although this is a great help it is only temporary. Surely it would be in everyone’s interest to keep people supported until they get paid?

Often people who have been unemployed for a while have low self esteem and need support. Surely making them worry about the roof over their head or where the next meal is coming from does not help their mental state? I would think that many people get themselves into a cycle of debt by borrowing from others and not paying bills and ultimately find they are more protected back on benefits which is so wrong.
It’s not often I have a rant but felt I needed to say this today. I am sure that most people reading this are in employment and may not have ever been in this situation. Can I ask you to try putting yourself in their place? If you want to help make a contribution to the Food banks. You can download Caledonia from here.  The person I spoke to yesterday was currently staying with a friend as she had no electricity or gas. When she gets her salary she will be paying back all the debt that has built up on her meters as well as her friend for supplying her with food. This will immediately start her in a debit situation. Would it not be better to have a fresh start with wages going forwards and have everyday costs until the first wage met by the benefit system to make sure people stay in work? Of course it would cost more initially but long term would be much better for both the country and the individuals concerned.

While I’m on the subject, the government also needs to turn around decisions faster too. Many people who have a change in their benefits can be left waiting for weeks without an income! This can be as simple a change as a partner leaving and having to change from a joint to single claim.

My thanks go out to all the volunteers who work in the Food banks all over the country and to The Libations who recorded Caledonia. You can help make this positive by becoming aware of the struggles people go through in changing their situations and help in any way that you can. If you have a local Food bank you can donate goods that they can hand out. I am sure both they and their clients will be most grateful. It is such a pity that in 2015 we have to make use of things like this but people CAN be a voice of change.