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So..Britain..

(78 Posts)
Lanark2 Tue 01-Mar-16 21:53:21

Overheard in gym today, a 20something woman, explaining how she gets up at 4am to clean at a chain store's offices before work, and has done for over three years, not to have a holiday, but just to live. My work has a guy who is making himself I'll eating just bread and ridiculously cheap coleslaw sandwiches, to keep his work food bill below £1 a week so he can afford the commute. I am surviving on lentil stews and £3 chickens, and had a month without being able to shower or use the toilet because I couldn't afford a plumber until next month. Another person takes home the work toilet paper and teabags because she can't get by (zero hours) and at my second/third job, some staff live on food that is thrown away by that workplace because their wages are too low to live on as well. What is happening??

notgoingabroad Tue 01-Mar-16 21:55:29

Wages are going up in April but that's elicited criticism too.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Tue 01-Mar-16 21:59:29

Where are you OP? Is it regional. We are affluent South east, and it seems ok here. I don't know how I quantify that exactly.

WhimsicalWinnifred Tue 01-Mar-16 22:00:55

I earn what I'd call a good wage (though not average for the country) and I have to work as a cleaner one night a week and a dominos delivery driver another. I used to work 3/4 nights at dominos but I wasn't seeing my daughter enough and it was killing me. Now I have to be extremely careful as I did need the extra money.

Childcare is my killer. It's gone down to just over 700 as she now receives 15 hours free but with no tax credits it's really hard.

One day it will pay off smile

Lanark2 Tue 01-Mar-16 22:01:01

Whose wages? Not everyone's, and not to an actual living wage. Zero hours people where I work are still going to be earning way below a full time living salary they would even if their rate doubled. Its awful.

notgoingabroad Tue 01-Mar-16 22:05:39

Everyone wage is going up to £7.20 an hour unless I've misunderstood something, next month.

BadDoGooder Tue 01-Mar-16 22:07:07

It is the unspoken poverty of this country.
My DP is 15 years older than me, and remembers people living like this in the early 80s, it was just never talked about.
I know loads of people in really shit situations.
Disabled friends of mine who are terrified of having even more benefits cut, one has recently been found fit to work despite having crippling arthritis. hmm
Several friends working 2/3 even 4 jobs in one case just to make ends meet.

Sadly there seems to be an attitude in this country that if you are struggling you are lazy/scrounging/simply not working hard enough

This ties in with the rise in harassment/abuse of disabled people, the demonization of people on benefits, the huge cutback in help for the elderly/mentally ill/disabled, the rise in zero hours contracts, cutbacks on legal aid, the slow erosion of employment rights.

All the while the bankers who caused the 2008 crash that lead to this austerity era carry merrily on, the politicians who facilitated it are making millions on the after dinner speaker circuit, and the politicians pushing more austerity against the poor are millionaires with subsidised bars and food, paid for by the taxes of the people struggling.
They must be laughing at us. angry

jeremyisahunt Tue 01-Mar-16 22:07:53

Op, don't you or your colleagues qualify for tax credits?

notgoingabroad Tue 01-Mar-16 22:08:31

It's very unlikely someone would qualify for tax credits without children.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 01-Mar-16 22:11:10

It was like that at uni in the 80's for me. Pinching loo paper from the local GP surgery, sanitary towels from the emergency room in the uni, free tastings, free everything you could get.

Dreadful that people are doing that now.

barkinginessex Tue 01-Mar-16 22:14:46

Can you cancel your gym membership? That would save you some money? Or you could have used the showers there whilst waiting for the plumber.

Jaimx86 Tue 01-Mar-16 22:17:54

Don't know about the OP, but my gym membership is £6 a month smile so surely people deserve to treat themselves to a couple of cheap leisure activities.

AnnaForbes Tue 01-Mar-16 22:18:53

Meanwhile we give tens of millions to the EU every single day. The exact figure is somewhere between £35 million a day (as the pro EU camp claims) to £55 million a day (leave campaign). Whatever, it's a colossal amount and we get much less back. I think the money could be spent better at home. I hate the way the working poor are shafted in this country. OP, I'm sorry it's so hard.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Tue 01-Mar-16 22:20:40

I totally agree it's unacceptable - I really dislike the idea of food banks as people should by the very basic standard be able to afford to feed their families - it just shifts the issue -

Poverty should not exist in a first world country!!

GingerCuddleMonsterThe2nd Tue 01-Mar-16 22:22:16

When I was really struggling, I would pick the mould off food or cut it off so I could still eat it blush I never once got ill though, God knows how!?!

whattheseithakasmean Tue 01-Mar-16 22:23:01

No one could begrudge a cheap leisure activity, but it does seem very 'first world problem' to be pleading poverty when you can afford a gym membership.

At least compared to the 80s we have a minimum wage and tax credits. Admittedly housing costs are out of hand, which was less of any issue even 10 years ago.

TamzinGrey Tue 01-Mar-16 22:23:21

Wow! You belong to a gym. You and the 20 something woman must have much more money than me then.

BillSykesDog Tue 01-Mar-16 22:31:12

Why is this a surprise to you? My life was pretty much like that in the early 00s in London. Post Labour's election in 1997 the cost of housing shot up hugely and wages stagnated or dropped. People took out debts they couldn't afford just to live.

This is nothing new. And it's certainly not something exclusively the fault of the current government.

I moved up north. Not perfect but better.

BillSykesDog Tue 01-Mar-16 22:31:47

Very good point Tamzin

WhimsicalWinnifred Tue 01-Mar-16 22:31:58

When I was working in a less paid job than this, I told my grandma I was struggling to feed myself and my daughter for the last week of the month and she suggested a food Bank. She had no idea you have to be recommended to one of these by your gp. Neither did I at the time and I've no idea if this is still the case but it seems odd to book an appointment with your gp to tell him you're skint and need help. I only go to the doctors for my pill. It wouldn't pop up in conversation. I don't see the relevance.

Minimum wage may be going up but I don't think full time on minimum wage would bring enough in to live a good life.

DowntonIsMyHome Tue 01-Mar-16 22:47:59

notgoingabroad Tue 01-Mar-16 22:08:31

It's very unlikely someone would qualify for tax credits without children.

that's not strictly true - they can apply for Working Tax Credits which are not linked to having children: (info from Citizen's Advice)

Who can get Working Tax Credit

The number of hours a week you have to work to be able to get Working Tax Credit depends on your circumstances.

If you're single or in a couple, and have no children, you can qualify if:

you are 25 or over and you work at least 30 hours a week, or
you are 16 or over and you work at least 16 hours a week and you are disabled and you get a qualifying benefit, or
you are 60 or over and you work at least 16 hours a week.

Lanark2 Tue 01-Mar-16 22:49:17

'Belong to a gym' actually (hazard taped up everywhere but soon to be privatised with gym and fitness area a profit-only zone) council swimming pool OK? Happy now? Oh and the 'club' I go to is a card-playing get together not a fucking London gentleman's club, OK..any more characterisation coming? Do warn us dear..

Lanark2 Tue 01-Mar-16 22:53:09

In the 1960s we had council bathing facilities for people who couldn't get a proper wash at home. Thanks to those who have 'helpfully' suggested the same humiliation. Its already happening again.

7Days Tue 01-Mar-16 22:56:18

Jeez cribbibg about the gym.. maybe the people cribbing belong to fancy upmarket types. They are not the only ones.
Grumble grumble those poor people will get fat don't they realise....

Radicalrooster Tue 01-Mar-16 23:00:53

I was skint for about 10 years. Working shit jobs, earning fuck all and terrified of every bill that dropped through the letterbox. My rent cheque bounced once, I was slapped with a 35 quid fine from the EA and had to pay it off over 6 months I was that hard up.

That was 20 years ago. I didn't whine about it, I just figured out what i had to do to get myself out of that mess. Took some time but got there eventually. I look at it as a part of my life, nothing more. I don't take it personally and I don't (and didn't) hold anyone else responsible except myself.

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