As someone who unfortunately needs to claim benefits at the moment, I have a great deal of respect for any benefit cheats out there.
Mine is a legitimate claim. I can’t get a job right now as we’re experiencing the worst recession in my working history, so I need to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance to survive.
But I have a strange new respect for somebody who doesn’t need to claim, but for whatever reason wants to.
Call them lazy if you like, but fudging a claim without the use of children is very difficult.
Here’s just one example.
Since I made the first call to the benefit office, and told them my living arrangements, I was told they didn’t need to know the details if I lived in a shared house. I’m not married to any of them, and if I don’t pay my rent – they won’t pay it for me.
We live in the same four walls precisely because I can’t afford the £1000+ rent for the entire house on my own.
Despite me telling them my situation a lot, and them taking all my details, at a recent interview at Jobcentre Plus (“plus” what? I still don’t know), I was told I must give details of people I live with, despite the fact I don’t live with them. We just live in the same property.
So what’s the form like then? A list of names and a tick box to say I don’t have offspring with any of them?
That’s what I’d have thought.
An “I don’t really know these people, but pass them on the stairs occasionally” tick box would have done.
A perfect solution to a silly problem, and something for some admin temps to mistype in at a later date.
Imagine my surprise therefore, when page 2 of this form asks for very specific details I am completely unable to answer.
“Date of birth [of person who lives with you]”
I dunno? No idea. I could probably guess, but they might take offence.
Maybe take off a couple for the damage their drug problem might have done, perhaps.
Really, it’s none of my (or Jobcentre Plus’) business when 4 near-strangers in my house were born.
“What is the relationship between you and this person”
So far, for person 1 (I have to fill this out for all 4 other people I live with), I’ve gone with “none – we both live in the same house”.
Not really answering the question though.
“What date did you start sharing?”
I don’t really remember. I’ve written “May/June or July 2008”
The others will be more sketchy.
“For what reason did you start to share accomodation with this person?”
I’ve put – “It’s a shared house. I can’t afford the rent on my own.”
“How long do you expect this to continue?”
I’ve gone with “Until either I or they move out”
“Why do you think this?”
Still toying with this one. Something like “because marrying and having children usually forces the option” or “the landlord (due to retire in the next 10 years) says he wants to sell the house when the markets improve”.
I mean why do I think we’ll continue living together til one of us moves out?
I can hardly put: “Because neither of us is likely to die in the near future”.
Maybe I need to think more logistically. The other option is we could both move out at exactly the same time.
What do these people want from me?!