So I had a letter from the DWP telling me that my Income Support is going up in April (actually it’ll be Job Seeker’s Allowance by then, as my youngest child turns 5 at the end of March. He won’t actually go to school til August because we’re in Scotland, but I’ll still be subject to the same pressure to find work as someone without childcare worries because he will be ‘of school age’ as far as they’re concerned).
It’s going up by a whole 40 pence a week! So I’m wondering what I should spend my new-found riches on? Coke and dancing girls?
A floating duck house?
Silk cushions for my taxpayer-funded pad?
Maybe I’ll get my dole-issue 42″ plasma screen telly blinged up with some gold plating and rhinestones. I mean, it’s not as if it’s enough to buy more healthy food with. An apple each for me and the kids once a week would cost £1.24. A single pepper costs 80p. A tin of chopped tomatoes costs 60p. It’s not enough to help with transport costs. A single bus fare locally is going up to £1.40 in April too. It’s not enough to buy clothes or shoes with or pay for school trips with or buy a pint once a month with. So I guess I’ll have to blow it all on something frivolous to live up to the public’s expectations of me.
Over half of the British people think that benefits are too high and that because they are too high the unemployed are less likely to look for work
Of course, the government is encouraging this with its talk of ‘shirkers’ and ‘strivers’, and pointing out that public sector workers have got a 1% pay deal, and private sector workers are lucky to get even a sniff of a pay rise at all. Retail wages in particular are shamefully low at the moment. I keep coming across jobs being advertised for management positions, like assistant store manager, that are being paid at less than 7 pounds an hour. I suppose if your staff is mostly made up of unpaid workfare placements and ‘modern apprenticeship’ teenagers on £2.65 an hour then 7 pounds an hour is theoretically a step-up. But instead of doing anything about poverty wages, the government tells people to look the other way, and be jealous of their neighbours on their 40p a week ‘payrise’. And it’s working.