I’m up blogging at this time on a Sunday for two reasons: I can’t sleep and I want to be in the living room by the halogen heater. The cold in the bedroom was giving me a Chaplin matching headaches, I think.
My bank, as you know, has taken £30 in fees from my bank. This is leaving me worrying about having enough bus fares to my part time job and means I simply can’t put the central heating on. I’m already using the emergency on the meter and have no money to top it up once it’s gone; I’d like to have a bath at some point because my mood alone is already making me anti-social.
Nationwide claims the charges – made up of £15 taken twice – are for “unpaid direct debit fees”. I can’t see how this happened because, as far as I’m aware, I’ve not gone overdrawn and have met all my direct debit payments. I’ve cut these automatic payments back as far as I can. I’ve cancelled anything that isn’t essential – that isn’t a utility bill, basically.
Still, living on £67.50 a week it isn’t difficult to go overdrawn by a few pence or a pound so the bank takes the “unpaid direct debit fees” which add up to almost half of my weekly income.
As I understand it there is an Act of Parliament Section 187 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 which over-rides banks taking charges from your account if you are in receipt of any of the following benefits:
• Income Support
• Tax Credits
• Child Benefit
• Job Seekers ‘allowance
• Incapacity benefit
• Disability living allowance
• Attendance Allowance
• CSA payments
• Other DWP payments.
These social security benefits are granted to stop hardship and are designed to meet basic day to day needs, and are exempt and are protected under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 sub section 187. from arrestment in terms of section 187 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (see Enforcement of Civil Obligations in Scotland, Scottish Executive report, at paragraph 5.245). Section 45 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 Chapter 21 part 1 is an identical provision to the said section 187 of the 1992 Act. This stipulates that the banks can not apply any charges to money received as benefit, and any such charges are unlawful and therefore disallowed.
This information had been shared with me by Kent Freedom Movement again and I thought I’d see if it would help me get my money back. I managed to get £15 back last time. Unconvinced, though, that this alone would make a difference I also pointed out the situation.
I have £67.50 per week income from Jobseekers’ Allowance. This £30 is a huge amount to lose from my weekly income and has plunged me into very real poverty: I have no money for food or for heating as we head into a cold snap.
I am living within my means and have enough money to pay my outgoings only. I ask Nationwide to please consider the problems this causes – both to my financial situation and mental and physical health – by taking money from my benefits. Almost 50 per cent of my entire weekly income is just too much for me to cope with, in errors such as this or otherwise.
Is there any way in which I can be assured that this won’t happen again? I simply can’t keep going without food or heating without risking my health. If Nationwide can suggest another account type I would be grateful.
And banks can make even more profit from the poverty of others. It means £25 billion in tax is written off for the rich in one day while we’re forced to pay half our benefits in so-called bank charges.
It’s almost impossible not to go overdrawn when you’re living on the very least that a government decides it should give you (after it has created mass unemployment), you can be plunged into abject poverty because someone had to hit a computer key or shuffle bits of paper on a desk when you went momentarily overdrawn. This means should your benefits be late through no fault of your own – such as a suspension you were told wouldn’t happen – then you will incur bank charges.
I’m sure some will still argue that this is legitimate and the banks have a right to charge – but I think it’s despicable. Others will argue that benefits should be difficult to encourage people back to work – but I’m in this mess because I tried to get back to work.
I find it unbelievable that anyone could still be turning against the unemployed as so many of us find ourselves living in poverty but still some imagine that £67.50 per week means those of us without work can afford to stay in bed all day: the reality is it’s impossible to survive on this with your physical and mental health intact and look for work.
… and you try impressing a boss at a job interview when you haven’t had a bath.
[NB: Those worried about how Chaplin is surviving I can assure you he is ok. He sleeps in front of the halogen heater and many months of his refusal to eat beef cat food means he has a beef Whiskas, Felix, Tiger stockpile in times of trouble. For now.]