#42Days A #HungerStrke in protest against #UniversalCredit Day 13

I thought I’d start today’s blog with this – people who claim benefits aren’t other people – they’re not scroungers and skivers – it’s that government and media rhetoric that has likely led to £billions being left unclaimed each year – no, these are people – people like you – people like me – people who rightfully believe that, when they stumble, the safety net of the state will be there.

OK, it’s time to get down to the brass tacks of Universal Credit – how much do people actually get from this benefit?

Well, it’s £251.77 a month if you’re under 25 – which is £58.10 a week

and £317.82 a month if you’re over 25, that translates to £73.34 a week.

We’re being repeatedly told that people can claim for crisis payments while they wait 42 days for any money to come through.

But what does that mean? What are crisis payments?

First of all, thousands of people in this situation are completely unaware of the availability of crisis payments – it’s an absolute lottery.

Secondly, it’s important to stress that these are loans that come off any future benefits.

So what do people actually receive?

If you’re under 25, if you’re found eligible after an interview by Department of Work and Pensions staff, you’ll receive

£125.88 a month – that’s £29.05 a week – if you’re under 25, and, if you’re over 25, you’ll get £158.91 – that’s £36.67 a week

What does this mean when you’re under 25 in the UK? How far will that £29.05 take you?

Average fuel bills in the UK are £592 for electricity and £752 for gas over a year.

That’s £25.85 per week on average.

Or, let’s be generous to the government, let’s say it’s £10 for electric and £10 for gas. Although we already know that these utilities are disproportionately expensive for people on a low income, who pay using prepayment cards.

That leaves £9 for food.

What about your existing debts?

Your phone?

Your broadband that’s actually needed to apply for Universal Credit?

Heat or eat?

What would you do?

They spend all their money on cigarettes on alcohol.

‘All’ their money? How much is that exactly?

Think before you judge.

These people are you, these people are me.

It’s time to stop the rollout of this Draconian, punitive system.

I’ve found, on my hunger strike, that one of the side effects of malnutrition is that I feel the cold much more. I’m lucky, I can warm myself with the luxury of central heating and a hot bath.

People in state sponsored poverty are at real risk of hypothermia.

Hypothermia in the UK today. Let that sink in. Hypo-fucking-thermia

Think about that.

Please contact your local councillor and/ or MP to demand that we stop the rollout of Universal Credit until it’s fit for purpose.

It’s like that we’ll hear that the waiting time will be reduced to 28 days at the budget this year.

That’s nowhere near good enough.

A recent panellist on Question Time argued that we should pay people in advance, because the cost of borrowing for the government (around 0.25%) is far less than the cost to folk on a low income (anything between 50% and 1500%)

Common sense really. Pay people when they need it – not weeks afterwards.

I really believe that, together, we help our government to make that change.

Walk a Mile

Chris

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