LETTERS From Rachel Bridgeland, Newport:
RECENTLY I received a leaflet offering cheap Christmas stamps to some groups of disabled people and people receiving pension credits. What about people who won’t have a job at Christmas — are they not entitled to send a few cards?
Pensioners tend to think of themselves as the most disadvantaged of groups, but many don’t realise Jobseekers Allowance is half the amount of the basic old age pension.
Unemployed individuals don’t receive free travel or help towards heating and have to pay for food, clothes, utilities, Christmas presents and anything else they might need from a maximum £71 per week.
In many cases they have to pay a proportion of this towards their rent and soon under-25 year olds will receive only £56 per week in total, with nothing at all towards rent.
It is very difficult for those who are young and lacking experience, or over 50 with greying hair, to find work when there is so much competition for jobs.
The government agrees it is inevitable a proportion of the population will be unemployed, so why stigmatise them as a group and deny the sympathy and support it is felt retired people — many of whom own their own homes and have comfortable incomes — should receive? We should be sympathetic towards people who are suffering hardship, whatever age they are, including people who struggle to make ends meet with part-time or casual work and those who work long hours on a low wage with no prospect of being able to afford their own home.
Many unemployed or under-employed people will be shivering with cold and unable to afford to phone a friend or send a card at Christmas and we should think twice before supporting any government or council policy that feeds prejudice, encourages some groups to feel they deserve privileges and assumes others deserve their misfortune.