Iain Duncan Smith And The Budget Of Life

April 1, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Sounds a bit like a fun 80s archeology-based action-adventure movie, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. Against the backdrop of savage cuts affecting the UK’s poorest residents, the so-called ‘shirkers’, all of which have been instigated and delivered by IDS he now has the gall to claim that he himself could live on £53 per week.

My initial thoughts were of course that IDS was being ridiculous. I mean, how could a Cabinet Minister live on just £53 per week? Then my train of thought took me to ‘Offensive’, after all it’s downright outrageous that someone in the position of IDS could even hint at the possibility of such a paltry amount sustaining a family or even an individual for an entire week. Iain doesn’t share the same definition of struggle as those nearer the bottom of society’s cruel ladder.

Then I got thinking, could anyone actually live on £53 a week? Or do they merely exist. If a family is saving for a rare holiday or deposit on a house they can tighten their belts significantly for a month or two but what would happen beyond that? Would you still be ‘living’ or would you just be ‘getting by’? In order to survive on such a budget, life effectively gets thrown out of the window, you submit yourself to a routine of dull food, entertainment begins to become repetitive and monotonous, friends begin to exclude you as you can no longer afford the social outings. You enter into a rut.

Then the postman arrives. Overdue Water, Gas, Electricity, Credit card bills reminding you of better times long since passed. How can you afford these? Your clothes are beginning to age, shoes falling into a severe state of disrepair, what do you do about that? Sure you can show some of that ‘British Spirit’ Cameron & Co bang on about, and repair them with a sewing kit but how long can you maintain that? You’ve applied for eight jobs (along with 2,000 others), you’ve managed to get 6 interviews. They’re spread out across the city, you can’t drive remember you sold your car for £300 to get a new washing machine & fridge-freezer, you’ll have to get the bus. How much will that cost?

You get turned down by those 6 jobs because you didn’t have the right ‘experience’. You can’t just go on to the Internet to search for more, you cancelled that three months ago along with your Sky subscription. It was too expensive. The free paper comes on a Thursday and you spent your last few quid on bus fares last week. You’ll have to walk three miles in the rain to the job centre. No umbrella either, that broke last month.

You’re in the job centre, the advisor is nice enough but they look at the state of you and it’s clear they don’t hold out much hope. You’ve applied for another 5 jobs, one of them is manual labour on a farm at minimum wage. Your degree in Finance won’t do you much good out there, but all the Finance jobs have either vanished in this recession or have 1000s of better qualified, more experienced candidates applying for them. You’re walking home, soaked. The icy wind of this extended winter is slicing through your bones, the thought of a nice warm home to return to flicks into your mind briefly before being cast out by reality: Heating is too expensive.

You walk by a newsagent and read how George Osborne thinks austerity is the best way to resolve this mess, how Ian Duncan Smith thinks there are too many people scrounging and living the good life on benefits, how Michael Gove is ruining our education system and how David Cameron is overseeing this all with a big, plastic, smug grin. You see how we should all be proud of the Olympics and the fucking Jubilee and Will & Kate and their little fucking baby.

You carry on home, thinking about dinner. Will it be Super Noodles and Tesco Value Sausages today (which you read causes people to die younger) or Tesco Value beans on Tesco value toast with a bit of Tesco Value paprika to spice it up a little. Then you remember the paprika’s nearly finished. Your thoughts are interrupted by the sight of an old school friend driving by in his white Audi with blacked-out windows, the smell of weed billowing out of them. It’s so tempting. Either the weed to briefly forget about your problems or the crime to get some money.

You get home, plump for the Super Noodles and sit down in front of the TV. It’s a 20” colour CRT, you don’t have Sky anymore so you’re pretty much forced to watch inane drivel like ‘The One Show’. Mercifully your nasty old Nokia 3310 rings, saving you from the banality of free-to-air television. It’s the bank. You haven’t kept up the payments on the five grand loan you used to buy that car you sold. You’ve defaulted on it now, you owe them six grand. They want it within two weeks, otherwise they’ll hand it over to a debt collector. You think of your friend in the Audi. No.

You go to the cupboard, pull out the bottle of own-brand vodka and pour a double measure into a tumbler. You look in the fridge for a mixer, there’s nothing. You down it. And another. You turn back to the TV, boring. You drift off, awakening just in time to see that smug little bastard in the news boasting of some Tory policy that’s working down there in London. Well that’s fucking lovely isn’t it? Your head drops into your hands, how did it get this bad?

Does Iain Duncan Smith really think he could handle a ‘life’ like that? Regardless of whether you think he can, sign this: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/iain-duncan-smith-iain-duncan-smith-to-live-on-53-a-week and let’s see if he’ll put his money where his mouth is.