DAY 226: Destitute

October 12th, 2017 § 0 comments

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; 20f33aff85hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

Always the keen learner, i’ve found myself enrolled (sort of) for a course in being destitute; and what the Scrooges of the present government believe should be done about it. Not that I’m even near it, myself; I can still keep myself in gruel and lentils, and I’m cared for by friends, family and odd corners of the surviving state. But I’ve learned its importance in the state’s thinking, by way of a vicious institution called NRPF.

Oh no not another acronym, I hear you groan, btw, lol. Yes, and the story is this. If you’re lucky, fleeing from persecution somewhere, or even coming as a student, you may have asked some bit of the state if there was a chance you could stay a while and contribute your skills (or company, or conversation) to this island, which probably needs them. The state becomes frightened in case you and your squalling brat,or brats, may become that dreadful thing – a Burden on the Taxpayer. They are happy to take your taxes while you’re working, but they can’t bear the thought of paying anything back; a natural point of view if ungenerous.

So it’s decided that you (and family) may stay here on condition that you have No Recourse to Public Funds, or NRPF as it’s called in the trade. You may enjoy thebeans view, or even the food, on condition you don’t expect us taxpayers to subsidise your lifestyle. You accept this condition, although it seems rather mean; get a job, marry, have children,… and then WHAM! the day comes when you lose your job, or your partner, or become disabled, or all of them. Naturally, you wish you could access some of those benefits you carelessly signed away. If you could get (say) housing benefit, you might be able to deal with the £3000 back rent, and they’re planning to evict you in ten  days.

I’ve learned – this is the real point of this post – that the Scrooges of the Home Office will ‘lift’ the NRPF condition and allow you some pitiful benefits if you or your lawyer can convince them that you’re destitute, as in DESTITUTE, no money at all; out of college, money spent, see no future, pay no rent (cf the Abbey Road song ‘You Never give me Your Money‘). Alternatively, that while only ‘nearly’ destitute you don’t have enough to support both yourself and the child/children; since if the Home Office allowed your children to starve they’d run afoul of Article 8 of the ECHR (‘Right to Family Life’ -a particular bugbear of Theresa May, I believe). You therefore only need to tell them exactly what you need to spend, and on what. They need to see ANNOTATED bank statements for the last six months – I’ve seen a  letter for the HO turning down an application because there were only four months’ statements and they weren’t annotated. And all your receipts from Lidl or the corner shop, or the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. And are you claiming that you can’t work, and so can’t earn? Better produce a doctor’s certificate.

This mass of paper has to be  topped up with an eloquent letter explaining how desperate your state is, and how you can survive and become a hardworking and useful subject (nay, a taxpayer) if, and only if, the H.O. will lift the NRPF condition. You do your best – but what a mountain of resistance you’re up against. It will take three months for the Home Office to give you a positive answer. By which time you may have had all your possessions seized by the bailiffs, your children may be near death because of your appalling housing conditions.  William Blake, as so often, knew how hard is the life of destitution,

‘NOUGHT loves another as itself,
Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to Thought
A greater than itself to know:

‘And, Father, how can I love you
Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
That picks up crumbs around the door.’


The Priest sat by and heard the child,
In trembling zeal he seiz’d his hair:
He led him by his little coat,
And all admir’d the priestly care.

And standing on the altar high,
Lo! what a fiend is here,’ said he,
‘One who sets reason up for judge
Of our most holy Mystery.’

The weeping child could not be heard,
The weeping parents wept in vain;
They stripp’d him to his little shirt,
And bound him in an iron chain;

And burn’d him in a holy place,
Where many had been burn’d before:
The weeping parents wept in vain.
Are such things done on Albion’s shore?’


never mind proving that you’re destitute and need a few crumbs of support. I suppose the lawyers really do work for their money, particularly if they’re pro bono and it’s only a pittance anyway.

So here is Meredith Monk’s ‘Walking Song‘; the lady’s 75th birthday is coming up, I believe, and the admirable vocalists of ‘Juice’ were belting out a selection of her oeuvre in St John St last Tuesday. Anything to make our lives less miserable, in the current climate. Still more cheering is the news of the Supreme Court’s decision that torture by non-state actors is still torture, whatever the Home Secretary says.  La latte continue!




Leave a Reply

What's this?

You are currently reading DAY 226: Destitute at Luke Hodgkin.