I got the news by text at 12.52pm. It’s going to be one of those ‘where were you when you heard?’ events in years to come, like JFK or the Twin Towers. I had to explain to my kids why I was whistling ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’ on the way home from fetching them from school. They didn’t know who Maggie Thatcher was, but they know about Tories, and what them being in power means for us as a family, so it wasn’t that hard to explain. I spent the afternoon watching other people on social media, like me, being cheered by the death of an old lady. It’s a bit weird when you write it down, or try to explain it to children. But it’s an emotional reaction, and emotions are difficult to pin down.
Later I checked my email to find a letter from the council, telling me they’ve cancelled my claim to Housing Benefit because I’m no longer claiming Income Support. This is despite me having kept them fully informed of my change of circumstances (a new part-time job) and sent them all the evidence they requested, as far as I possessed it yet anyway. A familiar knot of despair in my stomach. I can’t get a job that pays me enough to pay my rent and my childcare. I can’t get a council flat, where I might be able to cover the rent myself, because I’m already ‘adequately housed’ as far as the council is concerned and they told me it’s pointless to stay on the housing list. I’m going to need Housing Benefit for years. My family is going to be stuck with this crappy bureaucratic nonsense, where they can stop your money essentially just because they feel like it and you can never quite be secure, because Thatcher sold off council flats and prevented councils from building more with the money. Private rents increased. Wages stagnated. A vicious spiral of insecurity. That’s her legacy for us.