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The Daily Shame | November 27, 2014

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MP lives on £18 a week food bill, and we love her for it

MP lives on £18 a week food bill, and we love her for it
Gareth

Review Overview

Shocked
9
Pleased
10
Likeliness of being copied by Boris
1
6.7

A rare breed

Could you imagine Boris and DavCam shopping around for food on £18 a week? That's why we love Helen Goodman, who did so during parliamentary recess to better understand her constituents.

It’s not often we find an MP we like. More often than not, we’re found frothing at the mouth about some tosspot who’s calling for poor people to be shot, or for millionaires (sorry, wealth creators) to receive tax cuts – often at the same time. Cos, you know, wealth creators lavish money upon poors, it’s a well-known fact isn’t it.

But sometimes, we find someone who DOES THEIR JOB, and what’s more, goes beyond it.

Let’s all meet Helen Goodman, then, Labour MP for Bishop Auckland, who decided to live on £18 a week for food during the recent recess. Yes, while DavCam and Boris were stuffing their porky pink faces full of fondue in Switzerland, one of our MPs was living like her constituents. While David Cameron was, probably, supping on oysters and complaining about the bits of caviar in between his pearly white, recently treated teeth, Helen Goodman was suffering from headaches due to not having eaten enough.

Shocked at the bedroom tax and the other methods your government is using to basically pay for its millionaires’ tax cut and the RBS bonuses, she did what every MP should – tried to understand what her constituents are going through.

Never mind what we have to say, we could blather on all day about what fuckwits most MPs are – here’s the official extract from the Hansard. In full.

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland

I was so shocked when I read what my constituents wrote to me about the implications for them of the bedroom tax, and about how little they would have left to live on, that I decided during the week of the recent recess to see if I could survive on £18 a week, which is what they will be left with to buy their food after 1 April. That figure of £18 is entirely based on the experiences of my constituents, in particular women on employment and support allowance who are about the same age as me, but who had to stop working owing to chronic health conditions, perhaps after 20 years of working life. Out of their £71.70, they have to find £10 for electricity, £20 for heating—gas or coal—£6 for water rates, £4 for bus fares in the case of those who live in villages and have to get to the main town, and £10 for the bedroom tax, which left them with £23 for weekly living expenses.

That £23 has to cover more than food, of course. We did a calculation, and set aside £5 for all the non-food things everyone has to buy—soap, washing powder, washing-up liquid, toothpaste, loo paper—plus a small amount in order to save £50 a year for clothes or a pair of trainers, or in case the iron breaks. That leaves £18.

I therefore took up the challenge of trying to live on £18, and I want to tell Members what it is like. It is extremely unpleasant. I had porridge for breakfast every morning, as I usually do, but I make my porridge with milk; now I was making it with water. I had to eat the same food over and over and over again. Single people are hit particularly hard, because cheap food comes in big packs. I made a stew at the beginning of the week, and I ate the same food four nights a week. I had pasta twice a week. I had baked potatoes. I had eggs on six occasions. It was completely impossible to have meat or fish; that was out of the question. It was also impossible to have five portions of fruit and vegetables a week.

I therefore also have a message for the Under-Secretary of State for Health, Anna Soubry, who is responsible for public health. She was criticising people on low incomes for obesity. Of course people on low incomes are more likely to have that problem; they have to fill up on toast and biscuits.

I found myself waking up in the middle of the night absolutely ravenous, having to make cups of tea and eat biscuits. I had a headache for five days in that week, and I was completely lethargic and exhausted by 4 pm. Some people are on jobseeker’s allowance and are looking for a job. Looking for a job is a job in itself; it takes time and energy. The people whom DWP Ministers want to do workfare are being expected to work 30 hours a week, yet they are not going to have enough to eat properly.

Most shocking of all was the fact that come Sunday I ran out of food—there was literally nothing left to eat that night. If Ministers are happy with the notion that 660,000 of our fellow citizens are literally not going to have enough to eat by the end of the week, all I can say is that I pity them because they have no pity and no conception of what they are going to do to the people in our constituencies who will be faced with this bedroom tax.

The Minister has been very free and easy in talking about all these wonderful alternatives, such as the fact that people can move. In my constituency more than 1,000 people will be affected by the bedroom tax, but there are fewer than 100 smaller properties to which they could move. In my constituency, it is not possible for all these people to increase the number of hours they work, as seven people are chasing every job; people are in part-time work because they cannot get full-time work. Government Members have shown their complete ignorance of the benefits system by saying, “You just have to work a couple of hours a week on the minimum wage.” Of course that is not true, because these people would get then into the tapers and the disregards, and their benefits would be cut or they might find themselves paying tax. The numbers simply do not add up.

Of course some individuals or couples have properties that are larger than they need, but the so-called under-occupancy is in one part of the country and the overcrowding is in another. It simply is not credible to suggest that all the large, over-occupying families in London will move up to Durham, particularly given that the unemployment rate there is more than 9%. What would they be moving to? What would they be moving for?

I made a video diary of my week, so I got a lot of feedback from people affected by this policy. Interestingly, they said, “Yes, this is the reality of our lives. We are not able to survive properly now and things are going to get worse to the tune of £10 a week from 1 April.” In 2006, I did the same experiment under the previous Labour Government, living on benefits to see what life was like for young people on the lowest rate of income support. I found that difficult, but there was enough money to get through the whole week. I wish to point out to the Minister that we have reached a new low, because the £21 that people had in 2006 is equivalent to £28 now, and that should be compared with the £18 with which people are going to be expected to feed themselves.

The Minister has made much, too, of the discretionary housing benefits, which many hon. Members have questioned. In County Durham, £5 million of income will be taken out of people’s pockets and out of the local economy. The size of the discretionary fund is half a million pounds, so once again there is a huge gap between actual need and the resources being given to people to deal with it.

Many hon. Members have pointed out the unfairness of the policy for people who are disabled and need to sleep separately, be they adults or children; people who have children in the Army; foster carers; and separated parents. This policy is a fundamental attack on the poorest people in this country. People are going to lose between £500 and £1,000 over the course of next year, through no fault of their own. But the really disgusting thing is that on the same day that the bedroom tax is being introduced millionaires are being given a tax cut that will be worth £1,000—not over the year as a whole, but every single week.

Comments

  1. Johnny boy

    I don’t get given £18 a week for my food, I have to go out there and earn it. Same goes for money to pay the electricity, bus fare etc… Perhaps part of the problem with our economy is that there are so many people in this country who except something for nothing. State welfare is not a right. The money comes from people that work ( in my case more than one job) to make ends meet and to contribute to the wider society.
    We will not develop as a country if people think its their right to be given money for nothing.

  2. Indie

    £18 a week on food? I would love that much to spend on food a week, my food bill is ONLY £20 A MONTH and thats only if I can afford it. Most days I’ll only eat 2 slices of toast so I can stretch out the food ive bought for as long as possible and this £20 is to feed both me and my partner!
    I would love to go out and work but I can’t, I have severe health problems that mean my partner is my carer.
    We have no choice but to live with his family in a house that is badly over crowed as we just cant afford to get somewhere to rent. To get somewhere to start we’d have to pay out £200 for the agents fees, a month up front and a bond, in total that means we have to pay out over £1000 before we can even set foot in the door and think about water, gas, electric or even next months rent.
    As for family and friends helping out my parents refuse to help me at all and have always been like this towards me. My partner’s parents are doing all they can by just providing us with a roof over our head, heat and electric. If it wasnt for them we would be on the street. Yes we get some benefits but these go on paying for the car (that we have to have due to getting me to and from countless appointments and getting to and from places as I cant walk) fuel, insurance, tax etc, we pay money towards the house hold bills, phone bill (contract for us isnt something we can go with out as we always need a phone with minutes on where ever we are due to my health and one that I am able use easily).
    We would love our own place, we’d love to have children but those two things that every couple should have the choice for dont seem like they will ever happen for us as by the third week in the month we are scrapping through by our teeth so we have nothing left over to save.
    I would love to work, to earn my own money but when I did have a job (was lucky to get one!!) I ended up in hospital bed bound due to my illness.
    So all you up your self pricks who have had go about this article go screw yourselves!!!!
    Try spending a month in my shoes….

  3. Indie

    Sorry last comment was meant to say…

    **Phone contract is something we CANT go with out.**

  4. I served 12 years for my country.

    I served in the Falklands.

    I fell so far down the ladder I had to live in sheltered accommodation.

    I am struggling to make ends meet for me and my wife and step daughter.

    I cannot afford the cheap trip to Spain to see my eight year old daughter that I love and miss so much.

    I m working part time and can’t get any help from the state yet I see many foreigners living comfortably on benefits not wanting to work. Getting free further education. Free housing. No Council tax. Never having worked in this country.

    I see recruitment agencies forcing people to accept slave labour rates of 6.19 per hour, while they cream everything else for themselves. If people could earn a decent living then they might be more encouraged to go to work. Make recruitment agencies illegal and force companies to take people on and be more responsible to them. At the moment they can be discarded at the drop of a hat for someone that will accept less.

    Time for the people to make a stand… http://www.boycottarmy.com.

    Alone we are without a voice, together we are unstoppable. Time to make a difference.

  5. Colin

    I try not to judge people by their political banners (even though I’m a Labour supporter), but I am not remotely surprised that it was a Labour MP who decided to try living this lifestyle. When the expenses scandal blew up it was clear to see the class divide between Labour and Conservative MPs; when Labour MPs were shamed for spending hundreds of pounds on a sit-in lawnmower, Conservative MPs simply billed for a gardener. Kudos to Helen Goodman for trying this experiment in 2006 when Labour were in power, even though the results could have been embarrassing for her party. People often remark that the two parties are more or less identical, but whenever an MP takes it upon themselves to lead by example it is invariably a Labour MP who does it. (I don’t negate the fact that they often cover themselves in shame, but if anybody knows of instances where Conservative MPs have behaved exemplary, I would like to hear them)

  6. Jasmine66

    Speaking from experience, unlike a lot of these people who comment on here, it’s not a bed of roses on benefits……I don’t know how these people have sky tv, computer, cars etc……all I can think is they get extra if they have gazillions of kids…….as a single person with no kids this is not the case.
    And before you say get a job…..I worked constantly for 20years from leaving college, until I got an illness which made it too painfully to carry out any work……tried all the treatments available for my type of illness, but the one left the local PCT wouldn’t fund as costs £10,000 a year for 3 treatments, but they would know after one whether it works, so I am now in limbo……..no treatment which could enable me to work.
    So before you slag everyone off on benefits. …. Think on …..this could happen to any one of you.
    Then you have the rigmarole of actually trying to get any help.
    Can’t expect family to help out indefinitely………when you have paid taxes for 20 years.

  7. Nina

    @ Andy- we pay taxes so the government can provide a safety net, so yes it is their duty! No, that safety net doesn’t have to be luxurious (not like the extravegant expenses the MP’s get which we pay for out of those taxes!) But people are literally going hungry and sick with worry. And actually, for some people, that ‘safety net’ is a way of life as they are, either due to poor health or needing to care for someone etc, unable to work.

    @Alex- I completely agree with you.

    I grew up in a council flat with my mum on benefits due to my mums long term illness and I can honestly say I know what it means to feel hungry, to cry because you cant have anything your friends have, to hardly ever afford new clothes, to never go on school trips, to know about my mums financial struggle from such a young age as it was always so prevelant and a constant heavy weight on our shoulders, for thigs to get so desperate that we had to literally raid my penny jar just to buy something to eat that night. I know the effect this has on people, and it only makes them sad, stressed, depressed and lethargic. We had no family who could help… and how can you ask a friend ‘ooh hey, im going to be out of work for a few years because I’m not well, can you give me £20 per week to help me out?’

    I just don’t know how these vulnerable people are being allowed to be put in even worse situations while people who have very high incomes can get a thousand pounds a week LESS tax (what the hell are their wages!!) It’s not fair, and I don’t see how anyone could say it is. I made a sick joke with my mum the other day that they are probably hoping to push the poorest people to either starve, hang themselves from stress or die from the effects of a poor diet, that way they can free up some council houses and reduce the number on benefits! Sounds farfetched, but not that farfetched….

    And for those who think that the people having to live off these amounts is fine and that they should just ‘buck up and get on or get back to work’, I really do hope that you never suffer an accident and become disabled, suffer from mental health issues, loose any financial support of your family, have to care full time for a loved one etc as I don’t think you could handle the reality of the struggle you would find yourself in financially.

  8. Barbara

    Helen doesn’t have to live on £18 a week for food but because she was so concerned at the plight of some of her constituents she chose to experience for a week what their lives are like all the time, she made some good points in her daily video diary about how she felt she had less energy than usual and how she had headaches which she didn’t get on her normal diet which contains fresh fruit each day. As an MP I think Helen Goodman is brilliant, she puts herself out there, she is available and she isn’t afraid to fight for what she, or those people who elected her, thinks is right. There should be more MP’s like Helen, how many of them would voluntarily give up the good life to experience how normal people live?

  9. Gareth

    @Callum – there’s always one idiot who has to boil it down to immigrants. It’s you who should fuck off, not the immigrants, they’re way nicer than you and probably contribute more to society. So go on, piss off out of our country.

  10. Ben

    It needs to be said again and again – there are not enough jobs to go round. The free market system relies on cheap labour – that keeps profits and shareholder dividends high. It’s appalling that people who can’t find a job or can’t work due to illness or disability are penalised in this way. The hallmark of a civilised society is the way we treat the least advantaged – this government are deeply uncivilised. They speak of fairness as if they mean the same to a high income family and one on tax credits. Fairness is not about everyone getting the same, it’s about people getting what they need. This government seem to think that cutting tax rates for the wealthiest and cutting payments to the poorest is fair – IDS should be forced to live as a single person on benefits for a year – it might give him some perspective. As a final point, the government demonise the unemployed as the reason fir the high welfare bill. In fact, the amount spent on the unemployed is a tiny proportion of the welfare budget – 2.6% in 2012. Compare that to 21% on working families and 42% on the elderly. (Figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies). If working people were paid a fair wage, and large businesses were not subsidised by the state by the need to supplement their shamefully low wages with tax credits, we would all be in a far better position.

  11. Jeymeh

    @Andy Ketch

    Surely, you in your infinite wisdom have heard of contracts. If I, for example, were to “move out” of my rented accommodation and in with family/friends I would have to buy my way out of the contract im in. Now i dont know about you, but i don’t have a few grand going spare, so it looks like i’d have to ride it out.

    On the subject of effective budgeting though, after bills, rent etc have been taken out my wages i’m left with around £20 a week for things such as food, laundry (as my flat is too small for a washing machine, though admittedly this is probably twice a month) and emergencies etc. Although it’s doable it doesn’t automatically mean people should have to do it. I lost my job just before christmas, didn’t start this one till february, and i must say those two months were some of the most stressful and scary in my life.

  12. hengus

    @Johnny Boy – I left school at 16 and started work. I paid taxes (on more than the average wage) all the way until I went to university in my early 30′s. I had to pay for my education as I had savings and paid tax on the part time work I did during my studies.

    I left with a 2.2 hons and secured work for 6 months. Since then I’ve had work for about 50% of the time, so over the last 8 years I’ve worked 4 and paid in to the state. When there was no work initially, housing benefit didn’t even begin to cover my rent in Greenwich, never mind other expenses – so I had to move in with friends. I have worked for 3 companies who have been forced to close because of the recession and each time I’m left redundant, having to pick up the pieces and try to live… so finally I’ve had to move, this time back to my parents. Aged 40. Humbling I can assure you…

    My weekly allowance after fuel and other costs leaves me with just £12 for food and I’m ballooning despite walking several miles every day – which means I am now putting strain on the health service as my nutrient deficient diet is also causing me to experience difficulties with my joints and bone degradation.

    My point is this – what will your taxes really pay for..? And who will support you when you’re made redundant and can’t find work… ? Try to understand that there is a world outside your bubble and one day it might just pop…

  13. amanda

    For everyone wondering how the headaches became…. try living off a healthy wage for a year and then going straight into an £18 a week food budget… there you will find how it happened. Her body was not used to living off rubbish and so little in such a fast time.
    Now getting onto the argument… Not everyone wishes to live off the state. Some of us were forced into a situation that could not be helped after working for so long. I am a single mother to 3 children and I paid my NI and TAX from the day i started work at the age of 16 until 3 years ago when I had to stop work due to a situation that could not be avoided. The money in which i receive i totally believe is what i have paid into the system and just using until my youngest is in full time school and i can return to work. It has been a struggle… and i have no problem starving myself so that my children are clothed properly and have a little luxury in life such as the internet, which is actually needed due to the fact my children have homework on the school websites. I dont complain to anyone, because everyones situation is different… there are good and bad on all sides of the fence… some ppl who have never worked a day in there life…. foreign people who come in and have never worked…. but there are also those who have worked hard all there lives and foreign people who have come here for a better life and work hard… so we should not judge everyone by the bad, as this is not always the case. What this woman has done is wonderful.. putting herself in the shoes of the poor…I dont usually get involved with political affairs but i saw this and thought well when u think logically all the political people who earn alot of money… twice the amount of the normal working person.. who id like to point out ALSO struggle to make ends meet…. they could take a pay cut and still live comfy. but yes i do feel it is us who are the poorest who is being attacked the most. Dont tar everyone with the same brush because anything can happen and while your throwing insults at us poor folk…. tomorrow something could happen which puts u right where i am sitting.

  14. Alia

    Why is everyone so pissed with Delia? She is not lying.
    Don’t get me wrong – £18 per week on food is minimal, but it’s possible. I’ve made a 4 x 1 week shopping/cooking plan and it includes fruit/veg/meat (turkey, chicken, port, fish), pulses etc. Shopping list I made was based on Sainsbury’s online shopping cart. So you can probably get it cheaper in Asda or Tesco’s. And my cooking plan was based on things I cook/eat regularly, except a few items have been replaced from a brand name to a Sainsbury’s own brand.
    I am not saying that people should live counting every penny in their pocket, but it’s arrogant to think that eating the same dish more than once/twice per week is unacceptable. you just have to alternate and pre-plan the week ahead. True, you may have vegetarian days, you may have days where you only eat 3-4 fruit/veg, but I can’t see why you would run out if food by Sunday….
    Anyway, if any if you guys want to try my weekly shopping plan of £18pp + recipes please let me know.
    This is not some cocky challenge BTW, I am simply offering a meal plan for anyone looking to save a bit of cash.

    Peace & love X

    P.S. Just to add – £25-30 per week is what I would say was perfectly normal to spend on food per person per week. This would give you 5 v/f per day, meat dishes, deserts and even booze. However, you will still have to pre-plan and cook most things from scratch.

  15. Johnny

    Is it any wonder that those on low incomes turn to the lucrative industry of selling drugs to make ends meet.
    The answers to all these problems are simple, but dramatic, good for everyone and inheritantly socialist! As long as we have a system where a few profit they will need lots of slaves beneath them.
    If Cameron had listened to the advice of the peer review on drugs police our economy could be making tens of billions more each month, instead he choose to keep funding gangsters and terrorists.

  16. RaptureUK

    I was interested in this £18 level so just had a go at online shopping on the ASDA website. In the end I spent £20 but this included a large bottle of cooking oil, rice, and pasta, which would not need to be bought again for a while.

    For this I could have a cup of tea with milk, plus porridge (made with milk) or toast/margarine each day for breakfast, for lunch an apple/banana, bag of crisps and sandwiches/pittas with a variety of fillings (turkey ham, tuna, sausage), and for dinners a variety of meals such as chilli & rice, sausage casserole (made wth tinned tomatoes, sausages, carrots, potatoes, kidney beans), Bolognese, pizza and baked beans… with tea or lemon squash to drink during the week.

    They may not be THE most nutrient rich meals, but I can hardly see myself starving or getting heachaches eating like that for a week. And yes some items are smartprice options (the pasta or lemon squash for example) but things like beans, teabags, mince, sausages I chose the standard supermarket own brand as we all know value ranges of these are often not that nice. Three decent meals per day, some meat, some fish, not too unhealthy, and tomatoes/apples/bananas/onion/potato/carrots/beans – is this really that awful a diet for £18 per week?

  17. Bernal

    @Jonny boy: I’ve worked from the ripe age of 16. Paid taxes and National insurance, in some cases stupidly high amounts from them making mistakes and not accounting for them. Now as a single parent who is trying to get out of the benefit trap via a degree I am now forced to live on meager amounts until my degree is done. Are you aware of the costs of childcare? They are by the hour more than what any unqualified person earns and there is no support (working tax credits) for part time employment.
    I agree with the above comment about your bubble, one day it will indeed pop and then you be forced to eat your feet for the lack of food.

  18. Jasmine66

    And that is without the new council tax cuts…….so how much then has to come off this £18 for that?

  19. Jane Bromwich

    Well done to Helen goodman. I think its so sad that people receiving benefits are being used as a scapegoat in such a divisive way by a political system that is driven by a right wing agenda where millionaires will now be receiving tax concessions. People are hungry and cold and that is unforgivable. And in the process people refer to the tax that they pay as if ithey have a claim on how it is spent. ..awithout sounding pious I don’t care how its spent but wd prefer a solid and fair benefit system where MPS don’t have to go to such lengths to remind us how awful life is for people who require benefits to live…and a system where children won’t go hungry.

  20. Jasmine66

    Had to move out of my 2 bed housing association due to bedroom tax and council tax cuts.
    I am now in a rented room which costs more than my 2 bed house, as there are just no 1 bed places available in my area.
    Council never built one bed places….they were all built for families, so only start at 2 bed.
    So council now may end up paying more…..
    And the housing association place still empty plus about 3 others, so where are the people to fill these.

  21. ErisAcolyte

    @Johnny Boy: There aren’t enough jobs to go around. I’ve been searching for months, doing everything I can just to make ends meet, while people like you ridicule my efforts and tell me I’m just being lazy.

    George fricking Osborne said there were 2 million households unemployed in his recent speech about benefits and, like you, was putting it down to the British people being too lazy to work.

    So the question I ask both him and yourself is this: alright, let’s cut benefits to those 2 million households. Now where are you getting 2 *million* more job vacancies from?

  22. Dan

    The more I see this government doing, the way they are shafting the poor to make the elite rich, the more I think that civil unrest is not far away. They had a taste of it in 2011 but they haven’t learned anything from it. It scares me to be honest, but I fear that the masses will say that enough is enough and try to take the system down. And then all hell will break loose.

  23. LIES AND SLANDER

    Before ripping this lady apart, I would like to praise her for attempting to stick up for the average person, for making a stand. It is much appreciated, but the main body of this article is condescending, overly exaggerated and misguided.

    I would like to first state that living on £18 a week for food would be a luxury for myself. I do not live off simply biscuits or bread, nor am I obese. My diet does include 5 fruit and veg a day and meat and fish. I don’t live of water porridge. It is true that you have to cook big meals, rice is a great basis as you can buy a 5kg bag for around £4/5 in most cities, and eat the same thing days and days in a row. I live a very healthy lifestyle, I work out, I’m well built. £10 a week is more than enough. You just have to know where to shop.

    This is not so say that I would justify this new tax. Sparing £5 a week isn’t enough to pay your bills let alone to save up for a kettle, or a TV, or when your washing machine inevitably breaks down (that’s if you have one and don’t go to a launderette as many do) or if you want to maintain your property, buy carpets, a sofa, a chair, travel on buses / trains, etc.

    The obvious 10-fold difference between housing and people isn’t surprising, but will foreseably create problems when people are forced to move, not to mention the job to applicant ratio averaging currently much more than 1:1. And a nice little reduction in tax for what looks like the higher earners. I know this is how economics works, but are these men in charge stupid? No, this is not rhetorical, government money is not disappearing, it’s not being lost, it’s not even being lost to mistakes (you think these accountants and treasurers would keep their jobs if it was?), it’s being moved around the politicians, bankers and big business owners via back-handers, outdated but still in practice legislation, and clever maths.

    Can you count suckers?

  24. Sophie

    Johnny Boy

    It is mathematically GUARANTEED that there will be unemployed people, as there are more people than jobs.

    The question is, do we allow people who are out of employment to starve through spite?

    Do try to engage your brain…

  25. anna

    as if £50 savings a year is enough for everything people need more than just a pair of trainers and an iron. what about a phone bill it must be much harder to get a job if you can’t give a phone number. or what if they have kids because child benefit doesn’t cover growing kids clothes, shoes, school uniform, pens, pencils and books.
    so I would say that with the money left they would not be able to buy a the “nutritional basket of food” by which absolute poverty is measured.
    we are pushing people below the poverty line and we call ourselves a developed country?

  26. nigel

    Have survived on benefits in the past, both single and as a family, the figures don’t add up.
    Bedroom tax is the one that will break cameron, with thatcher was the poll tax, these pm’s always go too far and ignore the country’s wishes.
    Maybe some benefits were better under labour, i don’t know, but what i do know is that if the previous labour government were still in, we would be even more bankrupt. I’m not agreeing with cutting benefits at all, we should be cutting overseas aid to nuclear powers and taking money from our taxpayers bank instead of paying fat bonuses for poor performance

  27. Barbara

    While I think her gesture is good, I think the numbers do not apply to the rest of the people that live on that money. I live in a large one-bed flat, and I spend around 40 pounds/month in electricity (this includes heating) and 20 pounds in water. That will allocate a maximum of 12.5 in bills per week, not 36 as per her calculations. I work and I don’t have a need to keep my flat cold or to save water.

  28. HewittIDOL

    I respect this lady for making this stand, it’s good to see that politicians are willing to put themselves in the shoes of those they are elected to serve.

    HOWEVER, I do wish that none of the readers of this vitriolic article take what Helen Goodman has to say at face value. As many have said, £18 a week on food seems to be quite luxurious.

    My housemate and I regularly live off between £5-7 a week and, if you shop right, there is nothing to suggest that you cannot eat heartily and nutriously. By ‘if you shop right’, I do not imply undertaking superhuman efforts in order to find the right food. We shop in a big brand supermarket, in Durham, so close to Goodman’s constituency, and by thinking a little and by being selective, we manage to eat large, surprisingly varied meals. We are both young, healthy males, with large appetites, and not once have we reported “waking up in the middle of the night absolutely ravenous”, nor do we run out of food.

    In fact, I would suggest that Goodman has either not done her budget shopping very well or she has let her political views about the recent taxes exaggerate the effects of this recent experiment of hers… I think the second is more likely.

  29. Lily

    It makes me sick that people are so quick to attack the poorest and weakest of our nation. The media portrays those in need of benefits as lazy spongers who have every luxury afforded to them at the cost of the tax payer. This could not be further from the truth in most cases! Instead of attacking those who actually are vulnerable and need help why dont you cast your eye on the fat cats of the nation who take money from the poor and evade their tax bills. I was raised by a single mother who has received benefits at some points in her life due to health problems/ lack of jobs. The rest of the time she worked as a teacher. Let me tell you something as someone who has experienced life on benefits: it is the hardest thing I ever had to endure, and I honestly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Not only was life a constant stress with bailiffs knocking on the door, my mother was always worried about money as there simply wasn’t enough, and I felt like a pariah any time there was a school trip. Christmas, birthday etc. Clothes and shoes were all from a charity shop, food from the reduced aisle of the super market, no car, no TV. We have also been homeless and lived in a homeless hostel for over a year in the past. All through this, my mum was desperate to work- there simply weren’t enough jobs and she couldn’t support herself. This is a woman who is university educated with a good degree and CV- she is not a ‘sponger’ and it’s disgusting that people are so quick to judge and be nasty when they have no idea what it’s like. It could be you in that situation just as easily! If you honestly think anyone sets out with the intention of being on benefits, you’re naive.

  30. Sharyn

    Helen Goodman is an awesome MP, I have so much respect for her as a person and MP.
    Why cant more be like her?
    Time for a change, lets hope she moves up in the ranks.

  31. Jonathan

    I applaud this MP for her actions.

    All these nasty comments about how much they have to pay to these so called layabouts..

    Well, I was unemployed for all of 6 months after leaving school and got £35 .
    I worked all my life (32 years solid) until an illness recently made be unemployable…
    I can now claim ESA of £71.
    35 years of paying into this so called safety net.And when I unfortunately need it.I find that Benefits have only doubled.
    Loaf of bread 1981.. £0.05
    ” 2013.. £1.50
    The cost of living since 1981 has risen a damn site more than x2..more like x10.

  32. Daily Mail Reading Cunt

    @Johnny boy and Nina Shut the fuck up you retarded daily mail reading righty cunt

    You both need a good stabbing if you think benefits are a lifestyle.

  33. Daily Mail Reading Cunt

    *Sorry i meant Indie aka Tory retard

  34. Carlos

    “Out of their £71.70, they have to find £10 for electricity, £20 for heating—gas or coal—£6 for water rates, £4 for bus fares in the case of those who live in villages and have to get to the main town, and £10 for the bedroom tax, which left them with £23 for weekly living expenses.”

    I live alone and i pay £10 electricity a week, £7.5 gas a week (blanket or jacket indoors instead of heating in full blast doesnt hurt)£4.5 a week water rates, You dont need bus fares if u a single mum, ur ass will be in the sofa all day, and £10 for the bedroom tax???? Hold on, u pay bedroom tax if you have a SPARE bedroom, so rent it out to a lodger.
    Total : 71.70-10-7.5-4.5-10+80= £119 per week for food, fags, booze, weekends out to get pregnant again and bump the 119 into 200.

    without spare bedroom+lodger = £49 , also enough for all of the above.

    Person working full time minimum wage: £200 a week netpay.
    £100 for rent, £25 for council, £10 for electrics, £7.5 for gas £4.5 water £40 for car (petrol/insurance/maintenance/etc) to commute to work. left for food: £13.

    Yeap… thats why i have to work 60+ hours a week. so the single mums can keep on getting fatter and fatter watching Jeremy Kyle on their Sky HD with 200 channels while i dont even have time to watch my freeview.

  35. Sean

    I notice the word unpleasant up there, and having to have eggs 6 times a week. I’m relatively well off, and I follow a regimented diet due to health reasons. There is no reason why anyone if they pick up some basic cookery skills can’t create some lovely meals for 18 quid a week. How much is a bag of carrots for example? Cut out the meat to once a week, eat soups, and porridge. Spend enough time on it and you’ll eat better than you ever have before. I’m sick of people complaining about this, see how most of the world lives and get on with it before you die from eating too much prepared food.

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