A line of homes are strung together lying back to back. An alley gated at both ends is littered with rubbish fallen out of bins, washed by rain, spun by wind, and dried by sun. The weathering cycles of nature degrading. Santa Claus has come.
He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker... [Proverbs 17:5]
He knocks on the door.
“Hi Jill”, he says cordially, “what can you afford this week?”
“Hi John, I am a bit stuck, my benefit is a bit late cos of the bank holiday.”
“No probs Jill, I will just tag on more weeks at the end. What can you afford?”
“£5, no more.”
Santa Claus or as he is more commonly known the Provident Man checks his repayment rate chart. He thinks ‘six more weeks, lovely’ - then passes her a sheet of paper to sign.
“How’s the kids, and has Ben found any work yet?”
“Fine and no!” Jill replies, giving him the signed sheet of paper. “And I suppose you will be wanting this?” passing him the £5 note.
“Of course, thank you, and I will be catching you next week, same time?” John, Santa Claus, the Provident Man opens the satchel containing the wallet that holds the bank notes adding them to what he had already collected.
“Yes John, same time next week, I will not be going anywhere.” Jill patiently waits for him to start moving away and then scans the street for brash observers and twitching curtains. “Sod ‘em! She mutters under her breath and closes the door.
The Provident Man silently smiles, quietly working out his commission – 52 more weeks already and I have only done half of the street. Hmm, that fortnight in Spain is looking promising.
Do you think your government is helping or harming your economy by reducing payments to the poor?
In the streets of Britain where the poor live side by side, and every penny counts, debt is an issue that many people have become dependent on. The Provident Man is like Santa Claus, ever accommodating – always making it possible for people to pay. And they prefer it this way - a recovered debt is zero income.
Many people’s debts were incurred before the global financial crisis. The government’s response to ‘making it more valuable to work’ was reducing the amount of money that people on benefit receive. This could be considered a great idea if there is plenty of employment for people to go into. However, if there is hardly any work – it is not! Those already in debt give more weeks to the Provident Man. Equally, those not in debt may be forced to extend his commission. So not only will the Provident Man be able to afford his holiday in Spain he will also be able to sail on luxurious cruises .
Equally, those in debt who wish to return to work may also be unable to afford to. The Provident Man is always keen to know his doorstep client’s business. Those who are working are expected to pay more and will be squeezed until they are paying the maximum they can afford to. Therefore the concept of ‘making it more valuable to work’ by reducing benefit is like the rubbish strewn in alley ways being battered by the elements – degrading.
This hub was originally written over five years ago. I have decided to reintroduce it as I am curious that this is still very relevant today.