Sunday, 11 July 2010


Now, see, this is what I find bloody annoying.

For many months I've been helping a single dad (widower) with his claim for disability living allowance. He, and his two late teens & twenties daughters are in pretty dire straights financially, being unemployed, thousands of pounds behind in their council house rent, struggling through one of the coldest winters for years those expensive to feed so-called 'key meters' - prepayment meters. Installed because they are in debt with their utilities.

We've helped out with their claim forms, provided them with food, loaned them bus fares to 'sign on', and no end of tea, coffee, sugar, eggs, and net access for his daughters to find their own places, for a long, long, time.

Eventually I arranged for the final tidying up of his claim, to see a a specialist disability advisor .

The claim failed, so I helped to prepare his appeal to take it to a solicitor. Meanwhile, we continued to help out with food and what have you.

He won his appeal, and was awarded lower rate Mobility Component at £18.95 per week.

DLA is paid four weekly, which gives him £75.80.

So what does he immediately go and do? Order and have installed a top-of-the-line SkyTV+ HD package, Sky Sports, Sky Movie's, the lot, costing (drum roll............. )

£79 per month.

Now they're complaining a pup they have has chewed through a cable, leaving them unable to order films over Sky Box Office (approx £3 per film on top of the £79). Sky wants to charge them £65 to replace the cable.

"Can you repair it for us Wheels?".

No. No I can't. Too fiddly. Nor am I going to tell them it's only £4 to buy a new one from Argos.

Ever felt you've been had?


Josie said...

mmm, (shakes head) know what you mean about being had......just a thought but why are they so much behind on the rent, when you're unemployed you don't pay rent, you should get full housing benefit, we did two years when we were unemployed.
Josie x

Wheelie said...


Yessum, normally all they would have to pay is water rates - in their case, about £7 per week, for three adults in 4 bedroomed house. (?!)

I know a few people in a similar position. I think the way it happens is they (in this case, he) has job, then loses it.

There's a short delay in benefits payments while Jobcentre/Income Support decides whether they lost it through a fault of their own (it's reduced if it is). Any decision on housing benefit is delayed while that's sorted. Housing Benefits take their time anyway.

Guess you understand that bit.

Meanwhile, rent arrears accumulate at full rate. They probably chose not to pay water rates, which they could have done while waiting.

Meanwhile, they get another job, *should* pay full rent, but the benefits still need to be worked out, which complicates the claim, because it takes further time to sort out for what period they were unemployed. Then they lose that job, rinse, and repeat :)

'Course, they aren't going to tell me if they were behind in the rent/water rates/council tax before they first lost a job, or why they keep losing jobs and reclaiming benefits.

Some low pay jobs, like care home workers or call centre workers never seem to last five minutes.

Of course, in the end, if they are owed housing benefits, it should pay off for periods of unemployment. If they are in arrears because they didn't pay their rent through short periods of employment, they only have to pay it back at something daft like £2.85 a week + water rates. Often less, if their taken to court!

I hope that makes sense. I'm not sure it does to me. *silly grin!*

Josie said...

yes, understand that bit, in fact all of it,been there done that! housing benefit do take their time...thanks for the update....
I used to work in a call centre, take home was approx 800 - 100 month depending on overtime, probably was low wages but as I was a bored housewife before that I felt rich! I stuck it out for a year before I left due to health problems.
Josie x

Wheelie said...

I do understand how tempting it is for people to hang onto their cash when their on a low income.

Particularly they tell me how rough it is being on JSA.

They complain they are forced into low paid, part-time and temporary jobs.

Y'know what? I think Britain has lost it's entrepreneurial spirit. The get off y're ass and go has gone. In my area, we've lost our butchers, veg shop, and fishmongers.

Having said that, we do have a little, expensive, Co-op, but our local 27/7, 365 day local convenience store, Amrik, has bought up all the available local land and empty shops - but he's waiting for the economic climate to improve before he lets out.

Therefore stifling competition. Bah.