I’ve listened to the life cycle of a relationship while sitting alone on the dole.
The once passionate banging of the headboard that woke me in the early hours has been replaced by the monotone mumbling of arguments; the excited squeals from the kitchen that disturbed me as I made my tea have been replaced by the scratch of crockery being washed aggressively and the shaking of the settee that meant I had to turn up the volume on the telly is now silent.
I’m quite moved by this tale: a woman moves in her new boyfriend, they enjoy a lengthy honeymoon period of love and laughter, then reality kicks in, real life ruining the romance, poverty coming in the door and love flying out of the window: it’s like an urban opera for social housing tenants.
I believe she is some sort of security guard. Either that or she has had SECURITY patches sewn into the backs of all her outfits, which seems unlikely.
She could, of course, also be given the opportunity to buy her housing association home at half price under the new Tory plans.
The government intends to re-introduce discounts of up to 50% for council tenants to buy their homes through Right to Buy – a scheme first brought in by Thatcher more than 30 years ago. In doing so, she would make such social housing unavailable to those who need it and add to the huge housing shortage in the UK. If people had not bought the many council houses once available there would still be affordable homes to rent.
If I didn’t live in social housing and had, instead, bought a house I would now be homeless. My home would definitely have been repossessed by now. I enjoy some security from knowing my home is not at risk, even if it is cold.
Or, under other Tory plans, she could buy her home and, in a new scheme for the UK, see the taxpayer liable for losses if it’s repossessed. If she and others buy homes they can’t afford, encouraged to do so by keen estate agents, or lose their jobs, as the global slump continues, the tax payer will take the risk.
This plan is not about making homes affordable to people but is a short-sighted attempt to once again encourage debt as a way to boost a struggling economy. Investing in homes and jobs still strikes me as a fairly good idea but what would I know? I am, after all, dole scum.
Moving house won’t necessarily help couples struggling to cope with financial worries. Back in 2009, a YouGov survey showed that men are twice as likely as women to worry that money problems will break their relationship. Relate saw an increase of 66% in demand for their services as more couples bickered over finances.
Irish couples’ counsellor Accord said the same number – 66% of couples – had turned to them for help, stating that “increasing stress brought about by reduced income through wage cuts, higher taxation and the possibility of unemployment are also a cause for concern as this raises the spectre of the repossession of the family home”.
Furthermore, it adds that the recession had a “massive impact on relationships as more males are out of employment […] in 2007 […] only 4% of males attending were unemployed but this had tripled to 11.5% for the first quarter of 2009”.
I feel like shouting toward the ceiling that the increasing cost of living, decreasing wages, rising utilities bills, mass unemployment and fear of future job loss is not their fault. I wonder if this reality check would bring back the embarrassing but less distressing sounds of a couple in love.
I admit that I don’t. Instead I curl up with Chaplin and worry we’ll run out of catnip.
Jobs I have applied for this month: 30
Job interviews I have: One
Jobs I have heard nothing from: 29