Why the world persists in provoking me remains a mystery. Every so often I try to be reasonable. I sit myself down and say Clairwil, 'forgive them for they know not what they do'. It doesn't work 'they' are a bunch of demons. In this case 'they' are our political representatives and they've riled me with their wicked expenses fest.
As long term readers (they do exist- I am convinced of it) are well aware I toil in the welfare rights racket for most of my working week. A phrase that regularly pops up in explaining benefit levels is 'applicable amount'. The applicable amount is set by civil servants who clearly haven't tried living on it and agreed by MPs. So, for example were my boss to get her dearest wish and toss me onto the dole tomorrow. My applicable amount as a spinster of the Central Parish would be a whopping £59:15. That is the amount the law says I need to live on. If I moved Mr Clairwil in and he was unemployed we'd get £92:80 between us. No matter how much I wanted a new kitchen, bathroom, stationary, holiday I couldn't claim any expenses. Not even for traveling to job interviews or buying a cheap interview suit. In fact the state would be under no obligation to keep a roof over my head. My monthly JSA wouldn't even cover my monthly mortgage payment and I'd be ineligible for help with the interest payments for 26 weeks -by which time my lender would have turfed me out. It may surprise you to learn that if I had a second home I wouldn't be able to claim for that either.
The Loretto educated (fees £12,000 p/a roughly equal to two years Incapacity Benefit) Alisdair Darling, has claimed in the past that folk on benefits have it too easy. That there is no excuse for folk lying about doing nothing whilst taking money from the public purse. This isn't an argument without merit there is a substantial minority that rip the piss out the system and they should be dealt with, but lets face it the jobseeker doing a couple of cash in hand cleaning shifts a week deserves more of our sympathy than the self serving principle vacuums at Westminster. It would be nice if our elected friends led by example on that one. Mind you scapegoating the poor does wonders for taking the heat off oneself.
MPs' expenses are set against the 'John Lewis list' -the maximum amount that can be claimed for little extras in one's second home -which can also be claimed for. Our remarkable benefit system allows folk on Income Support to claim something called a 'Community Care Grant' if they are deemed to belong to a vulnerable group (disabled, homeless etc). Folk claiming a Community Care Grant are subject to and I'm not making this up the 'Argos list' . However Community Care Grants shouldn't be confused with expenses. No-one is guaranteed one and payouts are limited by the local budget as well as the Argos list. In my entire six years in the benefits racket I cannot think of a single instance of a claimant getting all they asked for even on the most modest claim and that includes the most pitiful request that only a Nazi would find undeserving. The all time killer being a request for a camping heater from a 96 year old fellow spinster privately renting an unheated bedsit. Not a typical case by any means but galling when considered in the context of £10,000 claims for a new kitchen by MPs paid £60,227 p/a. I should also point out that MPs expenses are unaffected by local budgets.
I'm also puzzled as to why I am expected to take my work expenses out of my own pocket when the local MP refers any case he can't be bothered with to me. I'm not able to claim overtime for the hours I've spent this week on three really tricky cases he's dumped on me. I earn £20,000 p/a, a third of his wage yet I am expected to work three times as hard. It's just as well I can though because if forced to live on what he thinks I'm worth on Incapacity Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance I'd be homeless.
What makes politicians so grand that they cannot be held to the 'Argos list'? Are they saying that every MP is inherently better or more deserving than the elderly, the sick, the disabled? If so then let's hear the arguments. What is it that makes MPs so high maintenance that they can't get by on a reasonable amount of money? £60,000 is a great wage. They could live very well on half that and take their expenses out the rest. Everyone else, no matter how deserving is expected to cut their cloth according to their means which is fair enough. The mystery is why Mps can't do the same.
I know I won't get heads on sticks, if I did the world viewed from the moon would resemble a party hedgehog of slaughter, which spoilsports object to. That being the case would MPs mind awfully treating us us all as equals and spread the cash bonanza or reign their Viv Nicholson instincts right in.