Tag: inequality

Watching from the West

Warning: Political Ranting to follow!
My Twitter stream is still populated mainly by UK friends and businesses. As we still have no TV, they, the BBC news website and the iplayer are my only sources of world current affairs. Even so, it makes depressing, (and in the case of Twitter, amusingly sarcastic) reading.

I spoke to my parents via a Google hangout at the weekend, we were talking about selling our house (still no hope on that front), and sorting out extensions to our visas and work permits (I know it seems like we’ve only just got here, but the first ones took nearly five months to process! If the same happens, we’d better start reapplying as soon as possible!!). The Parents were not exactly very positive about the UK. The housing market is apparently getting worse and worse. We bought our house in 2004, we have 17 years left on our mortgage(!!) and now the only offers we’re getting from buyers are a full THIRTY THOUSAND POUNDS LESS than what we paid 8 years ago. It’s not even a horrible house, its a 2 bed semi with a garden (and a SAUNA!), it’s just in a region that always has been severely economically deprived, and is only getting more so. The only people who can afford to buy a house in the UK nowadays, are not the sort of people who want to buy in the North-East.

Dad reports that whole towns in their area are just shutting down, only charity shops, kebab shops and Poundland left in some places – and of course, those pariahs of modern Britain, the pawnbrokers, the Cash-For-Gold places and the payday loans shops. Incredibly depressing. A job was advertised for the manager of a charity shop, and had 45 applicants. This says a lot.

Meanwhile, letters and tweets from my wonderful, talented, personable, intelligent, responsible, creative and reliable friends are also filled with negativity – the depression and loss of confidence caused by years of frustrating unemployment. The Daily Mail ran the story recently of a girl who committed suicide after receiving her 200th job rejection letter. I know I started my own business in 2009 because I couldn’t face the soul-destroying post-university unemployment AGAIN, but by the sounds of it, it has got even worse since then.

And now, Twitter, and the online version of Newsnight inform me that there has been a Cabinet reshuffle. The most telling tweet?

New cabinet composition: 4/29 women, 29/29 white, 19/29 attended Oxford or Cambridge. Monocultural Britain.

Jeremy Hunt, who’s only really positive contribution during his time as Culture secretary was to provide us all with a new bit of Cockney rhyming slang, who utterly ballsed up with Murdoch and BSkyB, and who tried to block the NHS celebrations at the Olympics opening ceremony is now Health Minister. This means he gets out of dealing with the fall out of the Leveson inquiry AND Andrew Lansley avoids implementing the NHS policies he was universally loathed for dreaming up. Worse still, former employment minister Chris Grayling from DWP – that’s right, the Department of Wankers and Penpushers whose bureaucratic nightmares have resulting in such a failing in the welfare system that 200,000 people were forced to use the Food Bank last year despite half of them actually being in work (according to Newsnight!)- and the man who brought in ATOS, the company that terrorizes the disabled and mentally ill and who famously deemed a partially paralysed woman ‘fit for work’ is now Justice secretary. That is an irony far too bitter for me.

Even worse, George Osborne is still Chancellor. He wasn’t really likely to be moved, but this (from Twitter) did amuse me: Apparently, Osborne was booed by 80,000 people when he attended the Paralympics medal ceremony. Why 80,000 people? Because the stadium doesn’t hold any more.

I can summarise thusly:

The UK is truly fucked.

My Mum said, “don’t even think about coming back!” – I assume that wasn’t an insult. Don’t worry, we won’t.

Meanwhile, there was an article in the Canadian Globe and Mail about student tuition fees costing a whole $5000 a year here, and how students are protesting in Quebec….. Quelle Horreur!

Even Canadians get negative sometimes. Here’s some comedic relief:

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An open letter to Mr. Cameron

Today I was told a decision had been made on my application for Job Seekers Allowance. Apparently,  I am “not eligible” for job seekers allowance, even though I am not working at present, and I am looking for work  I was told  I can’t get income based JSA because my husband earns a few hundred pounds a year over the threshold.  I cannot get contributions-based JSA either because my Class 2 contributions from self-employment “are not included” and prior to that I was living off a tax-free university research grant since Oct 2007.

I can’t get any tax credits because I’m not working at the moment.

I can’t get any housing benefit cos we’ve got a mortgage.We would love to sell our house and move to a less economically deprived area with more opportunities, but due to the new policies of lenders demanding a deposit of at least 10%, no one can afford to buy our house. Even if we do find a buyer, we are very very close to being in negative equity now anyway.

I can’t get a job because the few jobs that are available are all minimum wage which won’t cover the costs of putting my 18-month old daughter in childcare. Even my “jobs advisor” admitted that there are few opportunities in this area at the moment. This is the grim North-East, Mr Cameron, I feel I have to remind you of this area’s existence. Life does exist outside the M25, but it is telling that there are virtually no Conservative MPs here. I am fairly confident that neither you nor your government have any idea of what life is like here.

So, apparently my husband is supposed to support himself, me, our daughter, our mortgage and all our various debts out of his (public sector) salary, AND pay tax which goes to support everyone else in that jobs centre EXCEPT his wife.

For my part, I have only ever signed on the dole for three weeks before, in the last ten years. I worked pretty much the entire time I was at university in Durham, I once worked three jobs at once on top of my MA degree, I STILL couldn’t find a good job after that so I went back to do a PhD. After that, there are now even fewer jobs than there were before i started it, so I started my own business. I worked over 50 hours a week, paid myself nothing for a year and eventually had to give it up because I could no longer live off thin air. I have a BA, an MA and a PhD. I speak another language fluently. And I have three years experience setting up and running my own business. I am NOT unemployable, nor am I lazy, stupid or a scrounger.

As the spouse of a millionairess and leader of the party which did the least badly in the last election – (I cannot give you credit for actually winning and being elected – you didn’t and you weren’t), – I have to accept that you represent me and as such, you should be able to advise me on this situation. What exactly am I supposed to do? And what else I could have done differently to make myself more eligible for help?

This is just yet another example of your government’s unthinking ineptitude, and your apparent total disregard to how your policies actually affect ordinary people. As is evident if you bother to read the rest of this blog. I have applied for a job in Canada and we are doing everything we can to move over there. I honestly loathe this country now, I do not feel I can bring my daughter up in the UK with such gross inequality, such a laughable failure for a social services system and the shame of having you and your government as our alledged representatives.

I look forward to your response.