Friday, 22 March 2013

27p in My Purse

That's it folks, I'm literally down to pennies. There is the grand sum of 27p in my purse. I'm almost giddy with excitement, trying to decide what to spend it on!

I shouldn't complain (I shouldn't, but I'm going to so if you want to back away now quietly, I'll understand, just close the door behind you please, it gets cold in here otherwise). There is food in my kitchen cupboards, not a lot but there are things I can work with, there might be some strange meals and odd combinations but I'll keep us both fed until pension day. I have gas and electric on my meters, and neither of them are on 'emergency'....yet. I have paid this week's water instalment on time and although the car got us home on fumes last night, we had managed to put just enough diesel in to enable us to run our errands (unless I count the car being serviced today, I had to call and cancel that as we just couldn't get there).
We have managed, with the meagre funds we get, to pay everything that needs to be paid and buy some fairly basic food. We have done those things, without wasting money on fripperies, or eating out, or buying newspapers or magazines. We haven't had a drink, or bought new clothes, or gone to the cinema. We haven't put money on the phone, or posted birthday cards, or even posted my Mum's Mother's Day present which I bought in the January sales for £1.49 and now can't afford to send. We haven't done these things and yet I still only have 27p left in my purse.
We have done what we needed to do to survive, not to live, and yet somehow from April we have to find an extra £70 a month.
From where?
Suggestions on a postcard please.
We knew we were getting stung with the 'bedroom tax' and had pretty much resigned ourselves to a difficult few months at least. We did talk about moving to a smaller property but discounted the idea for several reasons. We do actually use the 'spare' room. If hubby gets his business off the ground like he hopes he's going to need that space as his office/craft area. We have good neighbours. We can't face moving again, and well, this is our home. Life has been pretty grotty for the last few years but we've done our best to make this place a comfy, cosy retreat for us where we feel safe. when we moved here we didn't expect to have to move again, ever. Not to mention the fact that there are no where near enough one bed properties available to accommodate all those who wish to downsize.
After giving it a lot of thought, and it really was a lot of thought, we decided to stay put and find the extra money somehow. If we cut back just a little bit on everything, we thought we could just about manage it. It would mean scrimping with the food shop and using the car less, using the phone only in emergencies (although that's pretty much what we do anyway). With the summer coming and less going on the gas and electric meters we thought we could do it, or buy ourselves a little time at least.
But then WHAM! Thudding through the letter box came a council tax bill.
Now, I knew the government were introducing changes which meant local councils would now be in charge of the way council benefit tax was administered....but, and here's the thing... I checked with them back in November and was told not to worry, it probably wouldn't affect us, and if it did they would let us know in ample time. So why was it that the first I knew about us no longer being entitled to full council tax benefit was when the bill dropped through the letter box a few days ago?
The combined effect of the 'bedroom tax' and council tax will be devastating. I don't see how we can do it. I've gone over and over the figures and I simply can't find an extra £70 a month no matter what I do. So with a very heavy heart I have registered us on the list to move. It could be months and months before something comes of that though.
And I'm job hunting again. Despite the fact that there are many days when hubby isn't well enough to be left alone. What other choice do we have?


  1. Hi Hope, thank you for leaving a comment on my blog . I really feel for you, it does seem you are doing your best to make ends meet. Maybe there is a food bank in your area that will give you a little help, surely you are entitled to some kind of help with the council tax £70 is a huge increase. Good luck with the job hunting and sorry you are having to think seriously about having to move from your home which you obviously love.

    Take care
    Karen x

    1. Thanks Karen, we'll get by, we always do. Sometimes life throws these little tests at us and I feel the need to let off steam, but we've weathered storms before and I'm sure we will do again. Its been a long, hard winter but I'm sure as the sun returns I'll start to feel a lot more optimistic :)

  2. Hi Hope, we've had down turns in the economy before and I'm sure it will get better. I know the move will be an upheaval but it may mean a family in B&B can get somewhere to live. I hope you find a job soon and free yourself from benefits xxxxxxxxxx

    1. Oh, I've done my time in B&B's and sleeping on people's floors and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy so yes, if it helps a family somewhere then the good helps to balance the pain BUT we used to have a one bed place and we moved here because the council ASKED us to! When the flat above where we used to live became empty they wanted to convert the two back into a house and asked if we would consider moving. We didn't ask for an extra bedroom it was what they decided to give us (we did query it at the time), I can't help wishing now that we'd just said no and refused to move in the first place and kept our one bedroom! But we thought we were doing the right thing.
      Being free of benefits would be a dream come true. I'd give anything to be financially independent again, even if it still meant struggling. It's so demoralising having to rely on others, especially for my husband. It breaks his heart that he's not the one putting food on the table.

  3. Hope, I do urge you to seek proper financial advice - from Social Services, from the Job Centre, from any (free) agency who can advise you and make sure you have all the benefits you're entitled to. If you are a full time carer for your husband then you should be properly compensated for that, so that you don't need to look for work - especially as there are days when he cannot be left alone. Sometimes it's not possible to cope without help and any benefits you are given are yours by right - there is no shame in claiming them.
    It's shameful that anyone has to scrimp and scrape in this day and age - and then not to be able to manage to heat and feed themselves just proves that the benefit system is not working as it should. I firmly believe that immigration to this country should be stopped until we are back on our feet again and able to provide for our own people.

    1. Sadly Rambler it's not so simple as that. We have recently had our benefits checked to ensure we are getting all we are entitled to, both by the job center and CAB. Unfortunately the DWP don't recognise me as my husbands carer as they don't view him as needing care for enough hours. The simple truth is costs are rising but benefits are not, and that has an impact. Those who are working are feeling the pinch too. It's taking it's toll on everyone and I have an awful feeling it's going to get worse before it gets better.