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"I claim benefits, I’m not scum, I’m just stuck"

  • 18/12/2017

“This year my son will have very little for Christmas”

Older man by wall

Benefits stigma in Britain is still rife despite over 20 million people receiving their benefit entitlements.

A staggering 34% of claimants feel a personal stigma, 50% feel a social stigma, and 80% feel an institutional stigma.

One man shared his experience of claiming benefits on Reddit. He said: “I claim benefits, I’m not scum, I’m just stuck and I don’t know how to get out. I’m someone who is living in extreme poverty.

“I receive £300 a fortnight and I get £400 help with Housing Benefit. My rent is nearly £600.

“Near enough every fortnight my family goes without electricity for a period until we get paid. We can’t afford to top up the gas, so we have two baths a week.

“I eat one meal a day to ensure my child eats food. I’ve lost an extreme amount of weight and I now have anaemia because I can’t afford to eat nutritious food. I look like a gaunt addict – no, I don’t touch drugs, and never have.

“I’m facing eviction because my landlord is selling the home. I have never had to use social housing in my life. But now I am in the system waiting to be re-homed.

“This year my son will have very little for Christmas.

“This is killing me, literally. I can’t find any way out. I don’t know where to turn, or what to do. The logical thing would be to get a job, but that’s not easy. I have a criminal record for a white collar crime I deeply regret. This was four years ago.

“Every time I apply for a job I have to disclose my record, if I don’t I risk getting sacked. Once I disclose my record, its game over.

“I have applied for over 200 jobs in five months and got nowhere. I knew Christmas was coming, I knew I had to do something, but it just wasn’t coming. It feels like a fight that I can no longer fight.

“I don’t want to be in this position I am in. I hate it.

“I know I’m not alone. I know there are people out there in a worse position than me, but it’s so upsetting.

“What angers me the most is the stereotypical view that those on benefits are wasters. We’re not all like that. Some of us hate the mess we’re in. Some of us are extremely intelligent. We’re lost, and the more time we spend wandering in the darkness, the further we travel from the exit.

“If you were in my position what would you do?”

Help available

If you are struggling financially, you can use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal circumstances and needs.

If you are an offender or ex-offender, visit our Your Situation - Prisoner page to find out what help there may be for you and your family through benefits, grants or other financial support .

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