In The Times today, Caitlin Moran recalls (£) her memories of living on benefits as a child, and the sense of financial insecurity and subsequent anguish that dominates your mind, knowing that your existence depends upon the discretion of Whitehall:
I don’t remember an age where I wasn’t scared our benefits would be taken away. It was an anxiety that felt like a physical presence in my chest – a small, black, eyeless insect that hung off my ribs. Every Tory budget that announced a freezing of benefits – new means-testing, new grading – made the insect drill its face into the bone. They froze benefits for four years in a row, as I recall: “freezing” being the news’s way of telling you that you – already poor – will be at the checkout, apologising as you take jam and squash out of your bag, put them back on the shelves and ask them to add it up again. Every week you fear that this is the week the pennies won’t stretch any further and something will disappear: gas, food. Your home.