Iain Duncan-Smith invited to beautiful Isle of Wight to live on £57.90pw

Back in 2013, the Work and Pensions Secretary said he could survive on £53pw if he had to. As he may have more time on his hands now – following his resignation last week – he’s been invited by one Isle of Wight resident to spend a few weeks on the Island testing out his claim.

iain duncan smith

Back in 2013, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said he could live on £53pw in benefits.

This week, Luisa Hillard from East Cowes has written to the MP (who resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary last week), challenging him to come to the Isle of Wight for a few weeks and try to live on that amount. Here’s what she sent him. Ed

Dear Iain Duncan Smith MP,

I read your resignation letter with mixed feelings as you described your aspirations for ‘social justice’ as having been a motivator for accepting the position of Secretary of State for the department of Work and Pension.

Social justice, fairness and opportunity is something that everyone wants for themselves but which not everyone has. Unfortunately the on-going salami slicing of government funding to both benefits and local services has disproportionately affected the most disadvantaged people in this country, particularly working-age women and children, as you know.

Recent proposed Budget cuts are not defensible
I would agree with you that recent proposed Budget cuts are not defensible when at the same time there are tax cuts for the wealthy.

Regrettably the ideology of Austerity demands money saving exercises, regardless of social cost and seemingly regardless of the long-term effects, particularly on the NHS, education and local government services.

Many unable to work through disability/illness
In 2013 you released a progress report which claimed that 1 million people were on benefits for 3-4 years.

However the statistics of the DWP National Benefits Database at the time showed that of those, 600,000 (more than half) were unable to work due to disability/illness (WRAG), being single parents with at least one young child, or those being assessed in the Employment and Support Allowance.

‘Benefit scroungers’?
On this basis the propagation of a myth regarding high numbers of ‘benefit scroungers’, rather than the reality of a tiny minority taking advantage of the system, has directed blame for Austerity measures towards the most vulnerable in society – namely single parents, the disabled and those suffering from mental illness – when really the blame should be laid squarely at the door of the financial institutions who crashed the economy, and at those corporations and individuals who dodge paying tax.

And so I get to the purpose of this letter. Also in 2013 it was reported that you claimed to be able to live on benefits of just £53 per week. As yet I do not believe that you have demonstrated this, despite a petition calling you to do so.

Live on £57.90 per week
However, serendipitously, you now find yourself with more time on your hands and perhaps desirous of a little quiet time away from the City.

I would therefore extend a cordial invitation to finally take up this challenge, although it would only be fair that you should have this limit raised to the current minimum rate (March 2016) of £57.90 per week.

Come to the Isle of Wight
I have the perfect location for this challenge in mind, to make it as pleasant as possible, which I would like to propose:

The beautiful and ‘unique’ Isle of Wight is largely an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with many Sites of Special Scientific Interest, ancient woodland, wetlands, chalk downs, fifty four miles of coastline and seventeen beaches which received awards in 2014. For the wildlife enthusiast, the cyclist, the rambler, the seaside paddler we are an idyllic destination.

And yet for residents the Isle of Wight ranks 109th most deprived out of a total of 326 local authorities (with 1 being the most deprived) and our overall level of deprivation has increased, ranking us 25 places worse than in 2007. Some facts:

  • Despite some fairly affluent areas on the Island approximately 20% of our children are living in poverty.
  • Of those families and individuals using the local Foodbank most are working but yet still unable to make ends meet.
  • Our population has a higher than average proportion of older people, particularly those requiring care.
  • Our wages are lower than the mainland and yet living expenses, such as transport, are higher.
  • Many jobs are in the tourism industry, minimum wage and either seasonal or zero hour contracts.

Come for an early Summer ‘Holiday’
Please do come to the Island for an early Summer ‘Holiday’. We have some very high quality social housing for you to view and I’m sure you will enjoy occupying a pied-a-terre by the sea for a few temperate weeks.

I can promise that you won’t be bored – we currently have many wonderful volunteering opportunities across most local services.

A visit to the Isle of Wight will be an opportunity for you to gain an understanding of the unique challenges faced by an Island with our unusual demographic and for us to gain a better understanding of your government’s welfare reforms and direction of travel

Yours sincerely, Mrs Luisa Hillard of East Cowes, Isle of Wight

Image: niexecutive under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 23rd March, 2016 1:40pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2e4r

Filed under: Government, Island-wide, Letter to the Editor

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  1. nbelfitt's comment is rated +4 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 2:40pm

    £57 a week? Sounds like a luxury to some under 25s. I remember in my first year being a student. £15 a week was my food budget, I had to one day week with no food what so ever. My problem was I had no income from other sources being a full time student my Student finance only just covered my rent and so had zero money to live on. I even thought about attending a food bank but they reject students.

    I would have loved to have been on £57 a week, but it just shows how desperate things are, espically for 18-25s. I was one the lucky ones in the end, I got a Christmas job working evenings which increased my money.

    But still I hope he does it to see what its like to feel really hungry. I know it changed my view on things.

    • the shadow's comment is rated -2 Vote +1 Vote -1

      23.Mar.2016 2:52pm

      i hope he does tale this challenge but the cost of clothes foot wear has to be taken into account mobile phone top up as you cant get a contract
      so no suite pda laptop etc it cant be done

      • nbelfitt's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

        23.Mar.2016 4:13pm

        Yes for mew a pay as you go was what I used, and it was literally pay when you had the money :/

        I am sure once he starts realising that he can’t replace his shirts when holes form in them he will realise the challenge.

  2. Geoff Lumley's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 3:11pm

    ‘Serendipitously’ ! I hope you don’t use words like that in normal conversation/writing ?

    • Luisa Hillard's comment is rated -4 Vote +1 Vote -1

      23.Mar.2016 5:37pm

      Geoff, is that really your most important observation of my letter? I would expect you to be in support of the principle and angry on behalf of your residents who are suffering due to benefit cuts and increased living costs.

      As for the use of such words as ‘serendipitously’… I assumed that as I was speaking to a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge universities I was speaking to him at that level. I wasn’t trying to use Plain English.

      However, I have since found out that he didn’t go to either university. He doesn’t even have a degree. However, I’m sure that he will understand.

      • Island Monkey's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

        23.Mar.2016 5:48pm

        He went to a State secondary modern. But I suppose that’s an inconvenient truth when you clearly think that all Tories are privileged Toffs’ not real people like wot you is.

      • Ian Young's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

        23.Mar.2016 10:05pm

        Something similar has been tried before Luisa, years ago.

        As I am sure you know he dismissed it then as a stunt.

        In the event he even reads your letter I am sure he will again dismiss it as a stunt and on the face of it who could really disagree with him.

        In all honestly the disadvantaged on the Island, and indeed elsewhere deserve a little more than stunts.

        Sorry for using Plan English but sadly I also don’t even have a degree.

      • fedupbritain's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

        24.Mar.2016 10:06am

        Whereas you have a degree in Herbal Medicine from the mighty University of Westminster.

  3. solentman's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 3:32pm

    A very well written letter. I bet he doesn’t take up the offer.
    Luisa is one of the few County Councillors who really cares about the Island and its people. She will get my vote if she ever stands for Parliament.

  4. Alex IOW's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 4:50pm

    That is a very accurate and polite letter from Luisa Hillard. I would love the opportunity to speak to IDS face to face and I would ask him to bring his calculator because the governments doctored mathematics figures and real life living mathematics are so far apart I think he’s living in Narnia!
    If he did accept the challenge and his car and credit cards etc were locked away for a couple of weeks and he was forced like us to also find money per week to pay for council tax contributions, (housing benefit “Rent” contributions coming very soon) food, water, gas, electricity, home contents insurance, BT, clothing, shoes, TV license and so on I don’t think it would be long before we had him in tears! Good luck Luisa Hillard but just all the other politicians in their multi million pound properties I wouldn’t hold your breath as theirs enough hot air coming from London as it is.

  5. Dave's comment is rated -4 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 5:52pm

    Looking at the Island, we’ve already got one hopeless, rabidly anti-EU Tory MP who’ll never serve in the Cabinet again.

    Why the need to invite another?

  6. Kevin Beckett's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 5:54pm

    Great letter I really hope IDS takes up your wonderful offer but I doubt it. If he does make sure he has to pay his own boat fare!

  7. A.Pugin's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 6:27pm

    I’ve lived on JSA, and even less at times…it wasn’t easy and it gave me the incentive to work hard, get a good job and keep it and when required even work away from home. Previously I have even been made homeless.
    I have a student loan, which I am proud of-it isn’t a millstone around my neck and causes me zero stress

    Challenging somebody to live on benefit who is a net contributor to the system is really rather unfair-as is your insinuation about him not having a degree Louisa.

    The fact that we HAVE a welfare system is a wonderful thing, payments have been way above what they should have been for some time-and yes, cuts will hurt. But landline telephones and internet, TV licenses, gaming, smoking, alcohol, lottery tickets etc etc are luxuries-not rights. If you want them, you have to work for them-and if you can’t find work we have access to a first class education system with provision to take out student finance with no regard to credit status or class.

    I am entirely against student grants btw-why should the lowest paid subsidize the education of the potentially higher paid?

    As a Cllr, I would be much prouder of you if you devoted as much time to expanding employment opportunities as you do on blogging and goading ministers for publicity.

    Our hospital regularly suffers from extreme staff shortages, the IWCP has several dozen jobs per week and support is available for those wishing to start a business with poor credit or no capital to put forward. Lets stop complaining that people are suffering on the dole, and DO something positive to get them off it.

    • cicero's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

      23.Mar.2016 8:17pm

      (AP) “I am entirely against student grants btw-why should the lowest paid subsidize the education of the potentially higher paid?”

      So that they can have doctors and nurses to treat them, lawyers to protect their rights, entrepreneurs to give them jobs, scientists to invent medicines, and so on.

      (BTW I brought up a large family as an adult on a student grant that allowed me a disposable income of £2/week after all living expenses had been paid.)

      • A.Pugin's comment is rated -2 Vote +1 Vote -1

        23.Mar.2016 9:29pm

        That is a ridiculous statement. We need to limit those going to university to those that will benefit from it.

        Tony Blair wanted everybody to have the chance to go to uni as a morale boost-the result was a devaluation in UK qualifications and a reduction in income to universities from foreign students looking to use our system as a way of gaining prestige.

        Tuition fees etc are exactly the same as the NHS-it allows access free at the point of need, but it provides a mechanism for that use the system to pay back the cost when they are earning above the national average. It is a fair system.

        Lawyers, nurses, entrepreneurs and scientists will earn greatly more than those that they serve-and it is right and proper that they pay back the cost of education that led them to that position.

        You are suggesting that a system of serfdom is correct, i.e the lowest paid paying for the elite because they benefit from their skills/influence. This is the most appalling example of socio-economics I have heard.

        Cicero, you are normally quite astute, I can only assume that you have been drinking.

        • cicero's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

          24.Mar.2016 9:40am

          Nope- not a drop since Xmas!

          Graduates will generally earn better salaries from their better education. The cost of that is the massive loans they have had to take out to get that education as a result of Tory and quasi-Tory privatising tertiary education e.g. my grandchildren will owe the loan companies an average of £40,000+ each depending on how long they remain at uni.

          This will impact their ability to get mortgages to start on the housing ladder. In turn this will affect the new housing market. As you say, “This is the most appalling example of socio-economics I have heard.” but then presumably Osborne missed any lectures on macroeconomic theory.

          You are also right that ” result was a devaluation in UK qualifications . From time to time I review undergraduate dissertations and essays: often they are as ungrammatical and confused as later work produced by graduates. Education has been and is being dumbed down for financial and social engineering reasons

          But you are wrong that income to universities from foreign students looking to use our system as a way of gaining prestige has been reduced.. Following the privatisation of the unis under Tory governments and the previous Coalition, unis are encouraged to reserve admission places for oversea students whom they can charge inflated tuition and support fees.

          BTW “tuition fees etc are exactly the same as the NHS” true! and the Tory government is desperately trying to channel taxpayer assets and money from both into the pockets of their friends and donors (e.g. the failing academy system)

          • A.Pugin's comment is rated -8 Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 12:14pm

            Student finance has no effect on credit rating, and would never alter a persons chances of getting a mortgage.
            You are actually talkibg rubbish now.
            A student loan is only paid back when people are earning enough to afford it…and after a set period of time the debt is entirely written off for those who could not afford to repay.

          • cicero's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 1:19pm

            and ability to pay. The current trigger is £21000.

            Then remember that since April 2014 “Graduates with a mountain of student debt could find their future plans of buying a home thwarted after the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed the debts are now considered by mortgage lenders after the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review in April.”

          • cicero's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 1:32pm


            Differentiate between Student loan debt and ability to pay after household expenses have been deducted. . The current income trigger is £21000.

            Interest is charged at RPI+ 3% That means the graduate eventually has to spend £70,577 to pay off a £42000 loan so a nice little earner for Osborne’s pals in the City and now he is trying to sell off the Student Loan book to private investors.

            BTW since April 2014 “Graduates with a mountain of student debt could find their future plans of buying a home thwarted after the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed the debts are now considered by mortgage lenders after the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review in April.”

          • cicero's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 1:37pm

            (AP) “after a set period of time the debt is entirely written off for those who could not afford to repay.”

            …. also for all foreign students who are allowed to take out loans without any intention of repaying them, knowing that the UK government could never track them down to demand payment after they return to their own countries.

            So the UK is not only at risk by those entering on fake “Student Visas’ but also eventually paying back their student loans.

  8. Tony spears's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 7:56pm

    I am afraid this Island is the land of the benefit cheat !.. The whole place seems to be trying to screw the system and it is about time that this is stopped.. Just because we are 10 miles from the mainland does not give you a given right to rip off the country and claim benefits for any given reason.. To fat , to thin , to many children, to lazy to work.. The island is full of dregs and and sympathy is now thin on the ground.. Poor schools, which can also be aportioned to poor parenting… Please stop bleating on and take onus for the Island rather than blame culture ..

    • cicero's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

      23.Mar.2016 8:12pm

      How many benefit cheats have you personally reported to the Social or do you just whinge a the rumours?

    • Mr Einsteins Ghost's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

      23.Mar.2016 8:16pm

      …and your evidence for this is what exactly?

      • Mr Einsteins Ghost's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

        23.Mar.2016 8:17pm

        Sorry…comment for tony spears

        • Tony spears's comment is rated -2 Vote +1 Vote -1

          23.Mar.2016 8:35pm

          Love to see the Ghosts come out of the closet !!.. it seems that people on the Island love to hide behind years of complacency and blame culture.. Oh it’s always been done this way, change, oh we don’t do change.. Get off your high horse and realise that ther is a huge problem on the Island and don’t be so sensitive to the issues.. ghosts like you just fuel historical problems and seem to be complacent to the problems.

          Whenever I see a fat smoking person with a walking stick and mobility scooter eating a mc Donald’s and dragging along 6 obese children I am on the phone ;)

          • Tony spears's comment is rated -5 Vote +1 Vote -1

            23.Mar.2016 8:39pm

            Oh forget to mention.. The drug using and alcohol abuse that is swept under the carpet, like a ghost… As no body believes in them either… Sort it out and get a job.. ghost ;)

          • Mr Einsteins Ghost's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

            23.Mar.2016 10:15pm

            As I thought, you can supply no evidence whatsoever to support your overdramatic and bigoted opinions.

          • cicero's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 8:49am

            (TS) “Whenever I see a fat smoking person with a walking stick and mobility scooter eating a mc Donald’s and dragging along 6 obese children I am on the phone ”

            When did you last “get on the phone”? To whom?

            Do you also stand outside Newport nightclubs and bars reporting the smoking p1ssed (alcoholism and lung cancer candidates heading for benefits at some time in the future)?

          • Mark Francis's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 9:42am

            I usually stand outside the hospitality tents at Cowes Week phoning up the Inland Revenue & the SFO, but hey – each to his own…

  9. A.Pugin's comment is rated -2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 9:13pm

    I agree-I live near three people with state funded mobility scooters because they are obese.

    I can’t afford one, yet I have paid for it…and I am a higher rate taxpayer and therefore classed as rich-why then do I have no money left for savings at end of the month? I don’t have an extravagant lifestyle, I don’t even own a car…why do the unemployed expect me to pay for things that I actually cannot afford???!!!

  10. derekfarrell47's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 10:46pm

    Maybe he should be offered a tent and try living like some of the registered homeless in a field with no amenities at all. Preferably in mid winter like those who have had to when the night shelter was closed down.Come on forget the political correctness this man is a sociopath.

  11. Mark L Francis's comment is rated +8 Vote +1 Vote -1

    23.Mar.2016 11:23pm

    In the old days, the president of the mess would invite IDS into the subalterns, mess and said “Look here Smith. You’ve made a complete ass of yourself and the Regiment. There’s a loaded Webley service revolver on the sideboard. Osborne and I are going outside for a few moments to give you the chance to reflect on an honourable course of action. If you are a gentleman, you will know what to do…” (scraping of chairs, door clicks shut. Osborne lights cheroot in corridor) Bang!…Bang! smashing of glass…Bang! Oh damn!…Bang – OWW!…Bang!…(door opens) “I say chaps…Thing is…I seem to have shot myself in the bottom”.
    IDS was removed as Tory Party leader as he was too incompetent so he set up a think tank that came up with his “welfare reforms” which have been an ongoing omnishambles partly because IDS is too stupid to run the DWP. Osborne always had him pegged for the feckless buffoon that he is. Rather than admit that his entire career had been one of failure (apart from enriching himself) he is now taking the chance to rat out his failed project, which Cameron has only allowed him to stay with since nobody else wants the poison chalice. Now he is trying to tell us that he is resigning due to his commitment to social justice & the disabled rather than another cock-up. Joining the Tory Party because you believe in social justice and the plight of the poor is like Klaus Barbie joining the Waffen SS for the unrivalled aqua-lung and water-skiing opportunities and chances for foreign travel.
    The best way for IDS to serve his country & humanity in general now is to volunteer to be rendered down for glue.

    • cicero's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      24.Mar.2016 8:55am

      The mess is now the “Eton Mess” sitting on the Front Bench.

      Mess rules dictate that members must hang up their truth and honesty outside before entering or the Adjutant (i.e. Chief Whip) will want to know the reason why!

  12. septua's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    24.Mar.2016 12:32am

    You’ve invited the wrong person. George Osborne is the man who has little or no idea of how the there half live. IDS does have some idea.

    • Mark Francis's comment is rated -2 Vote +1 Vote -1

      24.Mar.2016 9:35am

      How does this make it any better? IDS tells us that he has had tough times – then he became a politician & now he’s a millionaire. How does that happen?

      • Zzzzzz's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

        24.Mar.2016 9:48am

        Perhaps Mark Francis it is because of hard work, being careful with money and shrewd investing. I know a few people who came from nothing and are now comfortably off. They don’t smoke, drink or have exotic holidays.

        On the other hand I know of people on benefits who go on cruises and luxury holidays and have no savings. I sometimes wonder who has the best idea of managing money. Saving hard to make yourself independent or living life to full and depending on handouts, (through no fault of their own).

        At the end of the day those that have enjoyed life can look back on memories with pleasure whilst those that have been careful will just leave their money for someone else to enjoy after of course paying the inheritance tax due.

        • cicero's comment is rated -1 Vote +1 Vote -1

          24.Mar.2016 10:02am

          (Zzzz) “On the other hand I know of people on benefits who go on cruises and luxury holidays and have no savings.”

          Have you reported them? If not, then you are condoning their behaviour.

          • Zzzzzz's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 10:08am

            Cicero I did not say that the people I know were benefit frauds. I have no proof of that. I merely pointed out that there were people I know who receive benefits and were able to go on cruises and luxury holidays so what do you suggest I report them for?

          • cicero's comment is rated -1 Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 10:18am

            So Zzzz why do you make a special point of contrasting receipt of benefits and taking cruises and luxury holidays if you do not suspect something?

            If you have suspicions you should notify the Social or maybe you just prefer to repeat the mantra of the Daily Heil?

          • Zzzzzz's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 11:41am

            Cicero please read what I said. Nowhere have I said I know people who are benefit frauds. I did not say I was suspicious of anyone, That came appears to be a seed you wish to plant. What I did say was I knew people in receipt of benefit payment who went on cruises and luxury holidays. No more, no less. I also know pensioners who go on luxury holidays and cruises so what are you going to make out of that? Grow up Cicero. And just for the record I do not read the Daily Mail but it seems you might as you are an expert on what the Mail says.

          • cicero's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            24.Mar.2016 2:01pm

            Yes I do read the Daily Heil to keep abreast of the latest arguments the fascists are promulgating.

            It is fascinating to observe over the last few months how it loses no opportunity to badmouth Cameron, Osborne and Corbyn (and Blair-so not bad thing that IMO!) while promoting its Thatcher-in-Waiting and Brexit arguments.

            (I keep getting flashbacks of its history promoting Mosely’s Blackshirts and eulogising Hitler and Mussolini.

            “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle” (Sun Tzu)

  13. septua's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    24.Mar.2016 12:33am

    Sorry – should read ‘how the other half live.’ I do hate these spellcheckers that anticipate what you want to say and then substitute something else.

  14. soupersue's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    24.Mar.2016 9:24am

    The tories are out in force on this one, Luisa’s brilliant letter has really touched a nerve with them. What a load of bile they are spewing forth.
    Luisa I would support you if you ever ran for Parliament.

    • Zzzzzz's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      24.Mar.2016 10:02am

      I saw Luisa shopping in Waitrose the other day. Now your not telling me she is doing that on £57.90 a week.
      Luisa also has her childcare costs refunded when she attends Council Meetings, what other working mothers have these costs refunded?
      She actually was paid £17261.93 last year for her part-time role including her £419.46 childcare costs. To be fair to her though Cllr Julia Baker-Smith claimed more than four times what Luisa did for childcare.
      No matter whether you are a District Councillor or an MP there are always perks that Joe Public don’t get.

      • Luisa Hillard's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

        24.Mar.2016 1:35pm

        Zzzzzz You have raised some points that I am happy to address, although not relevant to this subject.

        I live in East Cowes, so yes I do occassionally shop in Waitrose (and the Co-operative or my local corner shop) for the odd bits, such as when we start to run out of bread or milk. It is cheaper to do so than to drive to a supermarket in a different town. I can walk to Waitrose for free.

        What you have highlighted with this is that many people on low incomes in East Cowes who can’t afford transport have no alternative but to shop in Waitrose or Co-op – neither of which are considered to be budget supermarkets. We do not have a greengrocer or Aldi.

        I think that the figures you quote for my pay are for the 2014-2015 financial year, as I don’t recall having reclaimed any child care costs since Nov/Dec 2014. At that point I started bringing my kids in to work with me when I couldn’t get child care, or paying for them out of my own pocket.

        That £17k you quote is a total for two separate jobs. Half was for being a county councillor. The other half was for being an Executive member and I certainly put in a lot more hours than would constitute ‘part-time’. Executive members work really hard for that (just under) £8000 – it works out at much less than minimum wage.

        In the current financial year 2015-2016 I actually took a pay cut of about £400, in addition to not claiming child care expenses. I have never claimed for meals/drinks/entertaining/stationary etc.

        Child care costs (or carer costs) are standard expenses that can be claimed to allow attendance at meetings (we have to declare which meetings we were at) but are capped at £6.19 per hour. A babysitter costs £10 per hour. Childminder upwards of £3 per hour, per child.

        I had two children at that time, I now have three. On this basis if I pay for my child care and not claim it as an expense then working evenings and school holidays actually loses me money. And yet it was my only job. I had to quit a higher paying job in order to dedicate my time to the Council. Impossible to combine paid employment with an Executive role that has irregular hours and often 12 hour long days.

        Julia had six children. It therefore cost her something in the region of £36 per hour for a childminder during school holidays. She could only claim £6.19 per hour of that back. Plus one of her children was a baby/toddler and therefore no option of ‘free childcare’ during school hours.

        Therefore £419.46 gives you an idea of how many meetings I attended during unsociable hours during between April and Nov/Dec 2014. Divide that by 6.19. Then double that number of hours because on alternate weeks I could get free child care, or take my kids in to work for a couple of hours. I’m lucky that both my kids were at school for forty weeks of the year.

        It this child care cost, and the inflexibility of child care option which is why I have since resigned from the Executive. I’m better off being at home with my baby than working to pay his child care and not seeing him.

        And no, I don’t claim any benefits except child benefit, as most parents do.

        Child care will always be an issue for younger female Councillors. Despite working many hours we still remain the main childcare providers of our families and have to juggle children with jobs. It’s not an easy task when the hours are irregular and there are many evening meetings.

        What I would say is that child care expenses are a sign of the Council being more diverse. Child care issues might suggest why most councillors are retired. And perhaps why most are men.

        Would you rule out single mothers and/or mothers with young children from standing as Councillors? And from taking on Executive positions?

        I say that we have a lot to offer and that we give good value for money. We are representing a section of our communities who are highly unrepresented – perhaps this explains why the majority of austerity measures affect working age women and children.

        • Zzzzzz's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

          24.Mar.2016 2:57pm

          Luisa you really don’t need to lecture you know and no I don’t rule out single mothers with young children standing as Councillors or Trustees of Charities or taking on Managerial roles. And believe me you are not the first to have done it or the last, I speak from experience.
          I didn’t gain my degree from the University of Life like your dad, I gained mine through the Open University by sheer bloody determination, studying every hour I could whilst bringing up kids single handed. I didn’t live near my family, (I suspect neither do you), and I relied on friends to help with childcare, repaying them by looking after their kids. I gained my degree when I was 40. All this happened whilst I held down a full time job to feed and cloth my kids and it wasn’t easy.
          Like you my nearest supermarket is the Co-op, expensive. I called in to Waitrose whilst getting off the ferry, (and BTW your children and a credit to you and your baby gorgeous), I also do not have an Aldi close by. I shop mainly from offers and reduced foods, old habits die hard.
          It seems today that some young women feel they have been given a poor hand but young mothers have always been given the short straw and I imagine when you are my age they will still be getting that same short straw.

        • Pedant's comment is rated -2 Vote +1 Vote -1

          24.Mar.2016 4:42pm

          “I have never claimed for meals/drinks/entertaining/stationary etc.”

          Stationery. Surely?


  15. Oldie's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    24.Mar.2016 10:10am

    I hope IDS doesn’t see the comments under this article. The way your generation disparage people who haven’t been to uni does not make pleasant reading.

    And although the unemployed have a hard time here and it’s good that someone is fighting their corner, the problems here pale into insignificance compared with how the poor are neglected in Brussels which is the seat of government. Their unemployment rate is 37% in parts and their average wage is lower than here. Imagine how they must feel when they see all the rich fat bureaucrats living it up just yards/ metres away.

    If the politicians are not even interested in the poor and deprived living just outside the gates of the EU Parliament then they are certainly not going to care or do anything about those living on an offshore island in the UK anymore than those living on Lesbos or Kos.

    IDF is out of power. This is just gesture politics. You should be writing to Stephen Crabb or George Osborne if you really expect anything use the system.

    • Luisa Hillard's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      24.Mar.2016 1:41pm

      Oldie, I agree with you that people should not be judged on their qualifications. My Dad always said that he went to the University of Life and he was as sharp as a tack. He left school at thirteen, worked in the dockyard until he was old enough to join the Army and train in a trade. Later on went to night school, whilst working full-time, and then became self-employed. He’s self-made.

  16. Peter Geach's comment is rated -2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    9.Apr.2016 10:42am

    What a pity when a County Councillor makes a valid suggestion, so many people have to snipe and deliberately miss Luisa’s point.

    How other than put themselves in the same position as others on low incomes will our cossetted politician; if they are really interested, glimpse the other ‘way of life’ for the many!

  17. A.Pugin's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    9.Apr.2016 11:38am

    It’s not a valid suggestion, it is simply a method for a councillor to obtain column inches without either achieving an outcome or putting much effort into obtaining one…in short it is spin.

    We have a small handful of very vocal councillors who attempt to ‘lobby’ the MP and ministers in a public manner. Lobbying, when done effectively, is invisible and silent-it allows issues to be brought to peoples attention and outcomes changed without trying to humiliate or undermine the person or body being targetted.

    With respect to Geoff Lumley, I have seen him leaving several meetings with our MP-these never get publicised or discussed on here, nor do I have the impression that Geoff would ever try to score cheap points with PR stunts like the one above-he is a professional, with experience…and it shows.

    I’m not a fan of his politics, and I’m sure he is not a fan of the MP’s…but I have seen them in public, having civil conversations and clearly at ease with one another.

    That’s teamwork.


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