“Hello. I am a serving police officer and I am also a single parent. When I say single parent I really mean single parent. I do not have the luxury of co parenting.
I manage to work normal hours by the help of some fabulous child care.
I rent a house through an estate agent. This house costs me £650 a month and is in a state of such poor repair I am soon required to leave.
I have been looking in the area that I live and in the four years I have been in this area prices have gone up so much a basic two bed flat is around £850 a month with council tax, including discount for single person I am looking at £1000 a month. This is over half my wages.
Last year the government cut backs meant that they lowered the level of earnings required to qualify for tax credits and I was forced to come out of the pension to put food on my table and pay my bills.
With my cut backs at it’s limits I approached the council for help. I am all ready on the housing needs register for my area. The gentleman I spoke to informed me that in order to reach the top of the list for affordable is around a five year wait and I can not be moved on the list as they have to show transparency.
When the time comes, I have to move out of my house and I am homeless with a child they can put me in emergency b&b accommodation in the area where I work with the people I am arresting every day, or in a b&b over 43 miles away.
This means my commute to work and child care is near impossible. Along with the b&b accommodation I will have no facilities to do washing or cooking and possibly that I will not be able to stay there during the day meaning I will have days where i will have no where to sleep after nights. I will also be invoiced for this as I am working.
I could be like this for a considerable amount of time. So the only other available option is to leave the job. If I do this I can have a two bedroom property on the open rental to paid for by from housing benefit and my council tax paid for.
The crux of the matter is I can no longer afford to work and live in the area I choose to police on my wages.
I am sure that people reading this will question why I don’t just move to a cheaper area. I have considered this but the county I live in, this is the normal house prices and as a single parent and shift worker the friends that stick by you are the best friends and to be isolated by moving areas would be horrific.
It would also mean when I am running late from work, which happens all the time, I will not know any one who can pick my child up from school.
The housing crisis means that rentals are un affordable to single police officers, I also know police officer couples who own their houses and if the interest rates go up they will be forced to sell.
All this pressure has now made me ill and I am currently on sick leave with a Stomach Ulcer, whilst looking after my son who has recently been hospitalised.
My federation and chairman have been very supportive but sadly my local MP doesn’t give a toss. I now may be forced to leave the job i once loved.
It has been mentioned to me that I should consider using the force welfare fund. However I need extra money every single month. This is not something that they can accommodate.
If my pay had increased at the rate that I was promised when I started this job, or my tax credits had remained, I probably wouldn’t be in this situation.
I mentioned earlier the state of the accommodation I am currently living in is poor. When I say poor, I have been to nicer crack houses. Over a year ago I involved environmental health through the local council to help me. Sadly the way the law is in this country the help always is more available for the ‘offender.’ My landlord has lost two appeals now both with the council directly and with a court tribunal. My electrics are so poor I have replaced my oven three times as the electrics cause it to break. I have now given up. If it rains. It rains inside. My child’s bedroom ceiling is covered in mould so badly I now no longer let him sleep in there. He sleeps in my room. Due to the faulty electrics it costs me £15 a day to keep the house warm and provide hot water. My friend who is asthmatic can no longer visit as the damp in the air causes her issues.
The obvious answer would be to have moved ages ago. However having to cover electric bills and replace damaged furniture and electrical items has wiped me out. It cost me just short of two and a half thousand pounds to move into this house with estate agents fees and deposits etc. Plus as outlined I can find no where in my budget to go.
People don’t really understand what it’s like to have no money spare. You stop getting invited out after you have declined a few invites as you are branded anti social. The reality is a baby sitter, petrol, food and drink. It all adds up to probably more than the amount you spend a week on groceries.
It’s embarrassing when you’re proud.
People living in two income homes or without children have no concept of your daily life. When I say I have no money I have no money. I have turned my sofa upside down. Been through my spare handbag and my coat pockets!
I will never be able to get a mortgage. My credit rating has taken a battering and as is evident I have no savings. If I could, it would be considerably cheaper than private renting.
I am reluctant to disclose my location as I know that people assume as I can’t afford rental I must have done something financially wrong and I leave my self open to financial investigation. Any one who has been through any sort of investigation will know what the stress is like and it is not something I could cope with at all at the moment.
This is a real ticking time bomb as I am everything that this government hates.”