Monday, 6 December 2010

Cuts which make no sense...

.....and so we will lose our home in the next six months, and for what exactly? For the sake of an extra pounds £400 a month - much less than it will cost when we are homeless and in need of emergency accommodation.

These are not my words but those of Amanda Copeland from an Observer article which show of the impact of cuts on a vulnerable family and which really don't make any sense

For this family 2011 is going to bring a new start ... in a hostel

936 words
5 December 2010
The Observer , Page: 55
© Copyright 2010. The Observer. All rights reserved.

Single mother of three Amanda Copeland has been told that, because her benefits have been cut, her mortgage lender - Alliance & Leicester - would start proceedings to repossess her home at the beginning of January.

She has equity in her house and has put it on the market, but with Christmas approaching and with estate agents reporting record low sales, she has little prospect of finding a buyer. Here she writes her own account of what it is like to rely on state benefits under the new government:

"I am a 37-year-old mother of three children, aged two, six and eight. I have worked since the age of 17 in the nursing profession. I am a qualified nurse with a degree, a masters degree, and a psychological therapist qualification, yet after 15 years I still only earn £34,000 a year working full time.

A year ago my partner and I split up. When my partner left I tried working full time, and then part time, to keep the household going. My ex helped as much as he could financially, but his business was collapsing, he had some health problems and was homeless as he did not have the money to pay for his own accommodation.

For nine months I worked long hours to pay the mortgage and childcare of £700 a month, but other bills went unpaid because I was left without any money to live on. So in June this year I gave up work and claimed benefits.

For the first three months I received no help with the £950-a-month interest-only mortgage on our home - a two-bedroom bungalow in Brighton - and so went £4,000 into arrears.But in September I was eligible to apply for support for mortgage assistance, a scheme which would pay the £950 interest and keep a roof over our heads.Two weeks into September I received a letter from the Benefits Agency informing me that the financial assistance available to me was to be cut from 1 October, reducing the help I would get from £950 a month to £550.

Initially, my mortgage lender seemed quite understanding and we negotiated that I would pay an extra £100 a month to reduce the shortfall, and on that basis I was reassured it would not repossess; it said £650 a month would be adequate. But two weeks ago I received a letter from the bank saying it had changed its position, and if I was not able to make the full £950 a month payment it would begin legal action to repossess my home. It then agreed to give me until after Christmas, but made it clear that if I had not paid the full amount by January it would start legal action.

The government says lenders are being encouraged to charge people on mortgage assistance a lower rate in line with the 3.4% the government is now paying. But the person handling my case was very scathing of this suggestion, pointing out that someone like me - on benefits with mortgage arrears - would never be offered a better mortgage deal, nor would the bank allow us temporarily to accumulate arrears until our financial outlook improved.

So my family and I are going to lose our home, and once again I am severely worried about how I can support my children and survive financially. I know that if our home is repossessed it is likely we will end up in emergency hostel accommodation. The thought of this fills me with dread.

I am devastated that at the only time I have ever needed support from the welfare state, this is what has happened to us. My reliance on this support would have been temporary as I am planning to return to work as soon as my two-year-old is in school. And even though I can't work formally right now, I have put my skills to use doing voluntary work as a psychological therapist and running post natal depression groups in my local community.

Now I wonder how I can ever make it up to my children: not only have they had to cope with their parents separating, but now they are going to lose their home, probably their school and proximity to our friends because of the pending repossession of our home. I feel let down that after years of caring for and supporting others, this is the "help" I have received in my time of need.

It wasn't an easy decision to go on benefits. Before leaving work I pushed myself to the limit doing everything possible to make ends meet. Friends and colleagues all expressed concern that it was an impossible challenge and persuaded me to consider claiming benefits, pointing out I would make myself ill and that I needed to consider the welfare of my children first.

But clearly the welfare of my children (and myself for that matter) is not considered of importance, and so we will lose our home in the next six months, and for what exactly? For the sake of an extra £400 a month - much less than it will cost when we are homeless and in need of emergency accommodation. If it is not economically viable to force us from our home, then why is this happening? The answer seems simple to me: the government really doesn't care about people like me and my children".

No comments:

Post a Comment