Working for Poverty & Self-Employment

‘It doesn’t pay to work’.  This is something I have heard for many years and the words have caused me great discomfort.  It is often perceived that living on benefits is a comfy lifestyle option, and with great analysis I have reached my own conclusion, which of course I am sharing as we all know I love to put the world to rights, as I see it.

My working life began age 14.  I was working as a waitress for £2.50 an hour.  An eight and a half hour working day bought me in £21.25p.  You will see an image below to evidence this (I had no idea why I had kept this for nearly 30 years until now.  I just trusted that I needed to!).  The wage slip is from when I had just turned 15, and it was before I was issued an NI number.  The minimum wage today, 27 years later is £3.70 for an apprentice, and £4.20 for school leaving age.  Source Acas

You can start to see where I am going with this, but at this point I recommend getting a coffee, as I have much to say on the matter!

When you look at inflation of property, food, living costs, fuel, taxes, and everything else, nothing compares, nothing at all (sorry Sinead).  It is beyond diabolical and completely unforgivable.  You will know if you follow my blogs that I do not do stats, I am quite simply too lazy, but here are some links for you to read A Telegraph article from ‘last week’ on how prices have changed over 30 years and A Sunlife article from 2016 on house prices The Telegraph article is great to read, I love seeing that the collective consciousness is on the same page with this.  You will see that there is evidence of a 500% house price increase.  That would suggest to me that the intern should now be on a minimum wage of £12.50 an hour, and the minimum wage should be more like £20 an hour (at least).  You may think that is completely unreasonable but unfortunately that is society following suit.  Employers are all following government guidelines and consequently are getting away with it, enjoying huge profits and fat top line salaries at the expense of their employees.  CIPD have recently published a report which again, is music to my ears about employee wellbeing with respect to financial strain, I am passionate about employee wellbeing and this report supports that low pay causes stress.  Read it here

Now I appreciate that the government are making some attempts to address ‘equal pay’ and I am pleased to see that the government plan to introduce CEO / Employee pay gap reporting see People Management article written by Dawn Lewis but I fear the workers on the ground are still left living in poverty whilst the government are too afraid to tackle the real issue – that is a ridiculously low minimum / living wage.  It is modern day slavery at it’s very best, and most concealed.

Employers are kidding themselves that the wages they are paying are acceptable, and that it is okay for their staff to live in poverty whilst they enjoy living in the top 10%.  Please! What is wrong with us? How is this acceptable? How has this happened?  Who calculates the living wage? Shame on you.  Is this a presumption that two people share the bills? A very historic assumption.  Is this genuine ignorance of today’s living costs? An average minimum of £1k per month on rent and bills (outside of London), for a single person.  With a minimum wage of £7.83 for age 25 and over, your average ‘hard-working’ adult, working a 40 hour week (9-5 – Man Made Manslaughter – see my earlier blog post) is bringing in £1357 before deductions, so take home pay is on average around £1,100 on a good month.  There simply is not enough money to cover outgoings, food and travel costs and so people are living on credit and in a desperate cycle to break free from the poverty.

It is clear that many are shouting out about this issue, but it is not being properly addressed, and certainly not quick enough, this needs to change and it needs to change very very quickly.  That brings me to talk about why people are choosing the ‘option’ of entrepreneurism, why we have so many new small businesses. I use the word ‘option’ very loosely, as actually I believe this to be a desperate measure to escape the trap that is our current work culture.  Now I have already highlighted my earlier 9-5 blog above, this is not new news – Dolly Parton sang about it in 1980!  Listen to the words!

What we have is a ‘desperate’ situation, now I really do not believe that anybody ‘wants’ to live on benefits.  It is the most degrading, humiliating situation to be in and one aspect of this was beautifully depicted in the recent movie I Daniel Blake.  I could personally relate to some of the scenes in this movie.  As a proud working woman who barely took a day off in 20 years, to then suddenly go from being a home-owner career girl to a single mum in receipt of benefits was such a shock.  I had no idea what tax credits were in my early 30’s, and the brief six months I turned to Income Support following the end of my maternity leave were soul destroying.  Now whilst I was very grateful that my daughter wasn’t torn from my arms as it was for my grandparents generation, to be sanctioned for borrowing £20 from my mum and not declaring it and having my bank statements scrutinised like some sort or criminal is something I will never forget.  To lose the freedom of your own income and to have people look at you like you are sponging scum despite 20 years contributions is something I do not believe anybody would choose.  My point?

Well my point is that it does not pay to work when wages are as low as benefits.  Living on benefits is seriously tight, it is living in poverty and there is no money for luxuries, and so it ‘does’ pay to work, for the sense of wellbeing it gives you and the opportunity to increase that income, but the income is rarely increased, only freedom is lost, childcare costs are added from 3pm if you are a parent and transport costs and of course the holiday period.  So many people are turning to being self-employed and turning into entrepreneurs because it is a desperate measure.  A desperate measure to escape the 9-5 and to have the chance to earn more than £10 an hour.  (which is still too low!).  All of these problems are man-made (or as somebody pointed out to me the other day ‘person-made – sorry – to PC for me, again we are allowing ourselves to be sheep trained).  We are human beings and we need to stop greed at the top.  We need fair pay, and fair hours.  With better pay, working in school hours can be a ‘choice’ living without luxuries can be a ‘choice’, a choice to pick up your children and give-up take-outs.

I appreciate that certain professions offer a good wage, and there are brilliant opportunities to re-train to work in a higher paid job, and there will always be a difference in income, but the difference is too grand.  The bottom line should not be poverty.  Top 10% and bottom 10% is not a fair way to divide the hard workers in this country.  I still hear people complain that ‘anybody’ can go to university now, these people are oblivious to their own privileges.  Everybody deserves the chance to be the very best they can be.

Wellbeing will seriously increase when these changes are made.  NHS costs will decrease, road accidents will decrease, ill health will decrease, crime will reduce (yes, much crime is fuelled by anger and need for money) .  Benefit claimants will decrease.  If you cannot see that I urge you to dig deep.  I have recently discovered the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – this tag links to an article entitled ‘Almost a quarter of people in Wales are trapped in poverty’.  When I see the articles and hard work of the JRF, and Shelter, and such charities I wonder, why isn’t anything changing? It is so obvious.  Pay is too low.  Pay is too low.  Come-on Government, look, the pay is too low.  You have been chosen to govern the country to look after society, and look what is happening under your power, on your watch.   You can change this.  Not in 20 years, not in 10.  Right now.  Don’t worry about ‘where the money will come from’ worry about where money will be saved.  For a start people will not need to top up their wages with HB or TC,  NHS will save money on drugs (a much bigger outlay than wages), and people will want to work if they can pick up their kids and be paid a wage in line with inflation.

I have another beef.  the lottery, I have mentioned it before.  If you think that people are gambling responsibly you are deluded.  Most people are gambling out of sheer desperation to escape poverty.  The government are getting greedy.  People are being tricked into funding lottery funded projects because they are desperate to win some money.  Now I know that the lottery supports some really good causes, but you ask people if they would donate to these causes if there wasn’t a chance to win, probably not – not because they are selfish, or don’t care, but because they are living in poverty and cannot afford to support other causes.  It is all too greedy.  When it was £1 a week that was a reasonable amount for people to gamble, that was ‘responsible’, but now it is most nights, £2.50 per go sometimes, people have the same numbers they are afraid of missing and consequently are paying at least £50 per month – that they cannot afford out of their income, because they are desperate.  You have allowed this to happen Gov.  not feeling very proud right now.

I conclude.  People are not really lazy, they want to work, working can be fun, being around people is healthy, having a steady wage is lovely, but entrepreneurism seems to be the only hope at the moment to escape poverty and achieve work-life balance, but hope is what it is, again the stats speak for themselves that this is not an easy option, it is a desperate option, because the wages are not properly governed.

As a country we have a collective responsibility to make some significant changes, and this must be addressed by our government, who we trust and nominate to take care of our wellbeing as a society.  Workers will not challenge the wage offered to them, how can they? They will fear losing the job altogether, and where we accept this income we make a rod for our own backs, but what choice do we have when we are powerless to do anything about it?  We need to make the change happen higher up the ladder, we need protection, help, support, we need to be looked after as members of society, we are happy to work, but unless the house prices are going to decrease 400% and bills equally, the wage needs to inflate, and it’s the job of the country’s leaders to make that happen.

I would like to make a few additional points:

Rich House Poor House is a lovely documentary that sensitively highlights the wage divide.  Please watch it whatever your status.

Can’t pay we’ll take it away – I’m not offering a link this one.  It disgusts me how we are filming people at their lowest, these people are in genuine despair and it is being used as entertainment.  We are behaving like animals not helping them.  If you think they choose not to pay you are ignorant, for that you can be forgiven, but you need to understand the reality by watching Rich House Poor House.

If you are looking at setting up a business but are in poverty charities such as Fredericks Foundation may be able to help you.

It is not okay to spend a lifetime renting.  A mortgage would only last 20-40 years.  When you rent you never get that light at the end of the tunnel and never lose that overhead.   See my earlier rental blog here

Empty properties need filling.  Flats should be a lifestyle choice or stop gap in your twenties whilst having enough disposable income to save.

I firmly believe that there would be a lot less hatred for immigration if people weren’t living in poverty and feeling threatened and equally obesity would decline if people had the finances and the time to eat properly and be more active.

There are so many fundamental errors with our way of thinking, our system, we cannot rely on the lottery to bail us out, we have a collective responsibility to make things change, if you are struggling you need to shout louder, and if you are a wealthy employer you need to ask if a portion of your wealth is blood money?  And if you are justifying it because you are a sheep?

Sharing with love not hate, as always.

I apologise for typos, it’s late and I’m not reading this long blog before I post it! Feel free to point out spelling & grammar and I’ll tweak later!   Ta.

Pay Slip 1991

 

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Rewarded for being Rich and Penalised for being Poor

Now I have had a rant about 9-5 and about Law and the Curriculum, now let’s rant about…

What kind of country do we live in where it is standard and accepted to fine people for living in poverty!?

Now there are varying definitions of poverty, but I am talking about relative poverty where in this country if one cannot afford to live according to the customary standard of living they will fall info that threshold.  Some regard poverty as not having 50% disposable income… that will raise an eyebrow or ten as I’m quite sure that many could only dream of having 10% ‘disposable income’ let alone 50!  As per my other blogs I will point out that my knowledge is intrinsic and will leave the stats and explicit knowledge to contributors!

My points are quite simple:

If you can pay your telephone line rental annually you pay less than he who ‘chooses’ to pay monthly.

If you can pay your vehicle tax annually you pay less than he who ‘chooses’ to pay monthly, this is much the same with utility bills and any other contract where you have an annual rate that is cheaper than a monthly rate, such as car insurance.  Now I already hear the defensive arguments of the administration costs and business reasons for offering the cheaper rate for annual payments but I am not interested in hiding behind rules here.  What I am interested in what is morally and ethically right.  You see people are already being penalised for not having the money to pay in advance.

Now whichever way you try to dress it up you are making the poor poorer, and you are making the rich richer.  If you run a business then you should expect part of that business to provide payment options as a ‘service’ not a ‘penalty’.  Car insurance ‘providers’ profit in billions as do utility companies and that is because they impose ‘charges’ for late payments, bounced direct debits and so on.  It is wrong.

If you are of the attitude that people should manage their money better then I will say this, you are very lucky to be so ignorant that you do not understand what it is to start life in the red, try to live month by month in the red, and try to build up a contingency in the red so that you can one day pay something annually to give yourself a better chance each month thereafter.  If you are lucky enough not to have ‘had’ to pay things monthly then you are free to leave, with no hard feelings, but please do not judge he who you do not truly understand.

And of course banks, they are not getting off scot free here.  Whoever said it was okay to charge people who are so desperately struggling to have enough money in the bank each week to meet their outgoings.  Again don’t bark terms and conditions and irresponsible spending, you only need to address the statements to see that they could only dream of spending irresponsibly.  I am talking about what is morally wrong, inhumane even.  Sorry my mistake, I am not talking about what is morally wrong.  I AM SHOUTING ABOUT WHAT IS MORALLY WRONG.   I have watched a lot of pain and a lot of suffering over the years; as I have experienced it.  And I have worked my way through it but it has taken decades and the setbacks have been loud and painful.  I am not feeling sorry for myself but what I am doing is kicking off for all those people still in the midst of it, they are suffering and you are profiting from their poverty.  Shame on you!

Even the official school photographs, tempted to name the company but I will not – you get fined for ordering after so many days.  So if you are not living in poverty you can make that very expensive purchase that every parent wants of their child but if you cannot afford to buy the pictures until next month’s payday you are fined.  It makes me feel physically sick that this is how we treat each other and this is how businesses are proud to make their money.  It is unethical and it is penalising the poor.

The banks offer ‘rewards’ i.e. ‘cashback’ for eating out at certain restaurants so again the rich get richer but because the person with no disposable income cannot eat out at a restaurant they do not get rewarded by the bank.  The bank will bounce a Direct Debit with only a shortfall of £2 yet they will charge 10 x that amount setting the poor person back another fortnight with their weekly outgoings and that charge has a huge knock on effect meaning that enough money is not in the account for the next month’s payments!  I can hear a bank manager saying – ‘but we give the customer notice so that they can ensure sufficient funds are in the account to meet the charge’ – oh please! If you are living in poverty without disposable income and without contingency or credit facility where do you think that money is going to come from? I may have mentioned already but it is MORALLY WRONG.

If you have enough disposable income and you are not living in poverty the bank will offer you an overdraft facility, ironic.  Most people in poverty could completely turn their lives around with that facility.  People in poverty are the only people who are not given a fresh chance a clean slate.  You are more likely to get second chances if you commit a crime.  Yet the only crime of someone in poverty is never to have solid ground under their feet in the first place.

If you are ‘rich’ you can get a credit card with less than 5% interest, you can then ‘consolidate’ your credit cards to even less than that and do 0% balance transfers just for using the credit.  If you are living in poverty you will at very best get a 30% credit card but more likely than not if you need to borrow money you will need to pay in the region of 1500% APR.  Again do not judge if you have never been that desperate.  You are not cleverer than the family in poverty you have simply had a different history.

Store cards began by offering customers 20% off their purchase in store if you signed up for a card there and then.  They took advantage of people who needed 20% off.  They then – without checking affordability sent letters out just before Christmas to say ‘we have increased your credit limit by £500’, despite knowing that you have been making minimum payments only for the last 6 months and this minimum payment has paid interest only and your balance remains.  These were and are very naughty tactics.  Let me remind you not to judge here the people who use that extra credit.  Unless you have lived in poverty and have only dreamt of getting your kids presents for Christmas you cannot possibly understand how morally wrong that sales tactic is, now it’s not stupidity that leads the already living on a shoestring budget person to use that credit it is the combination of desperation and optimism.   Optimism that things will get better and that those repayments will be affordable next year!  THE STORE / CREDIT CARDS NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR IRRESPONSIBLE LENDING AND SALES TACTICS.

Again I will point out that if you can start one single year with making annual payments in advance for utilities and contracts then you have a grounding for life, now you may have had that opportunity when you were 16 or perhaps when you were 40 but the difference that it makes is life changing, it may even be that you pay things monthly but you are okay because at some point in your life you had a partially disposable income and the opportunity to build a contingency and I am sick of people being penalised and fined for living in poverty.

Our economy is morally corrupt and this is why the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  Oh and for the record, I think that people would be happy to help others if they weren’t so concerned about their own futures, humans can actually be very good to each other when they aren’t afraid.

FINES AND PENALTIES DO NOT HELP ANYBODY, THEY LEAD TO DISCRIMINATION, POVERTY, AND IN EXTREME CASES, SUICIDE.  GET A GRIP UK DECISION MAKERS, THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY.

If you are struggling to cope please read my book Finding Happiness and Freeing your Spirit – if you are poor e-mail me and I will send you a free pdf.  If you are rich you can buy it! Sorry I’m going against the grain here! Not interested in making the poor poorer…

Now it is late and I am a passionate blogger posting as I am sign-posted so please feel free to point out typos…

poor