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I have a love of life. Some may call me a cynic but I'm truly an optimistic realist. I work on the philosophy “If you expect the worst but aim for the best, you'll land somewhere that's comfortable.”

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13 March 2013

Bedroom Tax - Shu'up!

Some may say it's because I'm stupid or a Tory voter, some may say that those aren't exclusive, but regardless – I think the “Bedroom Tax” is a good thing.

Firstly it's not a tax. They're just reducing the level of Housing Benefit [HB] you receive in the first place not removing it post payment.

I am a benefit claimant, I am disabled (but not exempt), I am already a 'victim' of the changes that mean I'll receive less Employment And Support Allowance [EASE] and I live in a two bedroom flat which is occupied by my 'wife', my Guide Dog and me.

The only reason we live in a two bedroom flat is because, we need the garden for the dog. Previously we were in a 9th floor flat in an area which wasn't ideal. The dog was attacked twice within six months of getting her. This flat was the first that was offered to us, so naturally we took it. We didn't know about the fore coming changes to HB and the rest of the DWP benefits, neither did anyone else.

If we had, we still would of took it because we just needed to move.

Since moving we've done the place up to a reasonable standard at a cost to ourselves. However, we've decided once the dog retires we'll move to a one bedroom place.

Yes, it is our choice; yes, some people won't want to move; yes, some people do think they are entitled to two bedrooms because that's what they're given. But, is it fair to keep a family with children waiting longer than needed for suitable accommodation so they can be comfortable rather than living on top of each another? No! It's not. A single person or a couple can live in a one bedroom place easily. You don't need a spare bedroom/room for any other purpose.

Our spare room is used as an alter room along with our treadmill. We could quite easily put an alter in the living room when we need/want to use it. The treadmill is so I can go for a run without a guide and without damaging local street lighting; poled signage and other street furniture. So, if I don't have that will I get fat and be miserable with no outlook on the future? No, I'll just have to go out more, which for me is a good thing but also difficult as I struggle with anxiety. Rather than sitting inside with the internet, I'll be forced to go out to the shops if I want to keep in shape or get a guide runner.

Anyway, as usual I digress some what.

The other thing to remember is that local authority housing is subsidised to varying extents across the country. Locally it's around the 40%.. No, not everyone lives in social housing because there's not enough of it. They live in privately rented accommodation with landlords that buy, often, specifically with the intent on renting to DWP claimants. They know the rules and they know exactly what they can charge. In addition, there are some people that rent properties in pricey areas because they know the Government will unquestionably pick up the tab. Don't full yourself and say there isn't because I considered doing just that and I can't be the only one nationwide.

So, this leaves people that have chosen to take on a tenancy in a pricey area that had no choice. But didn't they have a choice? Travelling is tiring when done over great distances by horse and foot, yes. But, in today's world we have something known generally as public transport. “It's expensive though!” - here I must say, I have a blind person's travelcard that entitles me to free travel around Scotland; and free travel by bus with a companion and I have used this entitlement. Should I be given such an entitlement? That's a different post. However, the key to all cost arguments is budgeting.

“Some people can't budget!” - that stands to reason a baby can't walk but they can learn to. If the child wants something they learn to ask for it or they go without it. Same for people in life, if you budget you can afford things and if you can't budget your life is always wanting. Alternatively you go and get credit and lose track of the total borrowed and wonder why you're getting hassled for money. So, learn how to budget and you'll be able to travel – admittedly maybe not as often as you'd like to but it's a like not a need.

With people who genuinely need something the help is out there all be it very disjointed and often not very visible. With all things in life you need to be proactive to achieve anything.

So, back to my point, again. You could move somewhere the rent prices are less. Even if you can only get to see your family once a week or once a fortnight, rather than daily or weekly. In addition to public transport in today's insane world we have computers and now even telephones that don't require a landline, known as cellular or mobile telephones. You could keep in contact with either of these devices in any form. Slightly less high tech, but you could write to them. I know not everyone can read and write, due to dyslexia and not being taught etc. Once again there's classes out there for people to learn how to read and write if they've slipped through the educational net.

To say, you can't move because of family is not an excuse in my book. This again could be because I don't really talk to my family. But the one's I do talk to, I use talk to mean communicate with generally, I do it by SMS text message, Skype, e-mail or, wait for it... phone! My family live everywhere from Dundee and Darton to Demam in Saudi Arabia. I don't get to see them nearly as often as I'd like to, partly because of cost and partly due to other factors.

The other excuse that isn't really viable is “all my friends are here”. They weren't always your friend, and a good friend will stay in touch. Once again maybe not as often as you'd like but they do stay connected.

Work, is another reason for a choice in location. See my previous about travel. Also if you are still requiring support to meet your basic needs, is it really worthwhile working? Some may say of course it is, it gives me a better quality of life. Does it? Working all day for money that you're not going to see most of and then complaining about it is better? If you're able to enjoy your money fully, then why do you claim benefits?

I hate not working, but I love the fact I can live my life for me. I'm also massively grateful for the financial support I receive from the state but in some respects the owe me, but for legal reasons I can't go into that matter.

Basically, if you can't budget and your pay won't support your property costs, move and commute. If that's not possible Just try budgeting and if that doesn't work, maybe it's time for you to look hard at what's best for you.

Claiming benefits, isn't always a good thing. It can cause life wastage and boredom, but only if you're not smart enough to keep a tab on your own life path.

In all life decisions you must come first. Not what other people might think. Then once you've decided what's right for you then you've got to look at what's best for society. Is it cost effective to keep someone in a two bedroom property, that can live in a one bed fifteen miles away. This person also suffers from depression that is medicated, this medication is provided free to the person at the cost of the NHS. They're depressed in this case because of money. They work really hard but don't achieve anything other than debt. Change is hard in life, I know this from a first hand point.

So, work, friends and family have been sorted.

“I can't move because my wife/husband is ill and we need the extra room for me to stay in and look after them.” As crass as I'm going to sound here think about it.

If it's terminal, you're not going to need that room in the long term. They'll be gone and then you're still going to have to pay for the extra room.

If you can't be in the same bed as them, get another bed for yourself, if there's not enough room for one without putting it in another room – your current bed is too big for that room as it is. The alternative is get a camp bed. They make them pretty comfy these days. As a 16-year-old I changed my bed for a camp bed because it gave me a better night sleep. The latest one I've bought (I have a fixed bed now) is still more comfortable than my bed but I don't have a camp bed because luckily, I can share a bed with my “wife” although she'd love the camp beds rather than a fixed bed we'd miss out on the intimacy of cuddles and sleep fighting. This however, isn't an issue if you medically can't share a bed.

Once again, I know it may come over as crass etc but it's pure logic.

Now, let's come to the people in life that can't support themselves because of budgeting incapability. These people could be dealt with by the government in the same way as the aboriginal people in Australia. The aboriginal people didn't have alcohol or other drugs until us British introduced them to it. GENERALIZATION ALERT!: Since then they've had an issue with it. The state realised the money they were giving them was only fuelling that set of problems - to assist them. They basically said: “we'll pay you on a piece of plastic like a bank card and you can only use it for certain things and we'll teach you how to make your money work”. So, in our country this wouldn't help the incapable but it'd limit the stuff they can waste their money on. They also gave them additional benefits like clothing allowances and the such operated differently. Never the less, they stopped giving them cash in it's hardest form. Which reduced the issue.

If you can't live like an adult on the money your AWARDED by the state, should you really be given a free rein with the rest of your life? Controversial I know but I'm not here to dress my words up, just to get my ideas, thoughts and feelings out in the world.

Unless you're a hard working, completely self sustaining individual, contributing to the national economy by paying taxes complaining doesn't do anything except make you look like a money grabber to those that are hit by taxes. It's also not productive. Admittedly, I don't know if all these changes will make the slightest difference in the long term, neither does anyone else, but what I do know is we're British and we'd not have a DWP that pays benefits if we as a nation hadn't suffered in the past. Suck it up and go without if needed and just remember, that 50” flat screen you have is worth something. If you want a 50” flat screen cheap but reasonable priced chat to the person the previous comment was directed at. Or... save up, it might take months or years, but then you've got the sense of achievement of saving. Don't forget to shop around and there's frequent sales.

Please feel free to come back at me, challenge my views and call me a prick if you must but that shows something about you.