Victoria B on 16 July 2021

I need to vent something, get it off my chest. Last week I was talking to a friend of mine about the £20 being cut in autumn. This friend is a lovely person, I adore them, they care alot and try to be understanding and empathic towards low income households. They also agree that the £20 cut is a bad idea. But something they said keeps repeating in my head. Not because they intended for me to be upset by it, not cos they meant the phrase as a personal slight, not because they blame me for my situation or any other family like mine. But because it hurt. I mentioned how if the £20 cut goes ahead I'll probably have to start using food banks again. And they replied "oh no, so you're not able to manage your budget...". They then went on to talk about the system being unfair towards single mothers, etc. They didn't mean for the phrase to be taken as a slight. I'm assuming they were trying to say something like "so people can't manage a budget on that income" but the way they phrased it reminded me, painfully, of the popular narrative of low income households not being smart enough, educated enough or savvy enough to manage such a limited budget. It's a narrative seen all over social media, with meal plan recommendations and 'we manage why don't you'. It's a narrative repeated over and over in different ways through tabloids and news feeds (so sick of the news clickbait of "people on Universal Credit can claim up to £XXX extra" BS) that makes it look like we're rolling in money but just not spending it wisely. That's if we're not out-rightly being told we don't contribute enough to society or our economy. We're regularly reminded that we're undeserving of fairness and should be ashamed of ourselves. It's hurtful to suggest that a low income family is forced to use a food bank because they are unable to "manage their budget". Not when our day to day costs are higher, as we can't pre-plan for events like middle and upper class folk can and our budget is smaller. It's not an inability FOR US manage our income. It's an inability FOR ANYONE to live on our income. I'd love to see how those people who think it's enough would be able to cope in our shoes (should maybe start a hashtag 'put your mouth where our money is" and see how many politicians and similar people can manage on our income for longer than a month, I suspect they wouldn't bother or just do it for so short a time that "it's like a detox" tsk). I'm not dissing my friend. They're an awesome person and didn't mean for me to be hurt by their comment, they didn't mean it the way it came across, I'm not unhappy at them in the slightest. The casual, passing comment just reminded me of the popular narrative seen through the media. It's an unfair narrative. It takes the blame away from the establishments and systems supposedly intended to prevent poverty, such as the welfare system, and places it unfairly on the shoulders of the people trying to do the best they can in an incredibly unfair system. It further stigmatises and isolates us from society as a whole and leads to more punishment for the poor. It makes us an undesirable 'other' rather than valid and equal members of society.

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