Sunday, 21 February 2010

Talking of Eastern Europeans, now, I wouldn’t want to be insulting and say that an Eastern European equivalent of trailer trash came into the office today with his landlord to query his benefit, because some readers may misunderstand and think that I am criticising all Eastern Europeans, which is certainly not the case.

Anyway, this Eastern European man, whose country of origin I will not elucidate upon, came into the office with his landlord to query his benefit. The problem in a nutshell:

He works the usual 16 hours, as do most of our claimants - enough hours to ensure that they don’t have to visit the Job Centre every fortnight to report on how many jobs they have applied for, but not too many hours that they can’t get any benefits - also, he receives tax credits to top up his income. Now, because his income from his 16 hour job combined with tax credits was quite high, our calculations showed that he could afford to pay some of his rent out of his earnings. Housing benefit would contribute towards his rent, but this claimant would have to pay the rest and he didn’t like that, and nor did his landlord, because the landlord was only receiving the value of the claimant's housing benefit and hence the claimant was not paying him his share of the full value of the rent for the home.

He sat there with a look on his face that I know well, a defiant glare, which when verbalised says, ‘I want what those people have.’ First he tried negotiating with my colleague, attempting to appeal to her better nature in order to receive more benefit; eventually the penny dropped and he realised that we could only pay the amount that the benefit regulations say we should pay, and so he turned to his landlord and said, “I’m not giving you a penny of it, try and evict me if you don’t like it!”

That was the moment that the landlord realised just how big a mistake he had made in his choice of tenants - the last drop of wax was burnt and the candle flame disappeared into a puff of smoke, all hope was extinguished from this landlords eyes.

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