Tiffany lives in London with her 19 month old daughter Taliyah. She survives on measly benefits while she studies health and social care at London’s City and Islington College.
She is soon to turn 18, when much of the support she gets will disappear.
The government’s decision to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) could mean the difference between completing her course or a life of poverty.
Tiffany gets income support, tax credits, EMA and child benefit.
“You can’t live off it,”
Tiffany told Socialist Worker. “I’ve got £500 a month because I have a child, others get less. I don’t want to be on benefits for the rest of my life.”
Included in this is just £60 every three months from social services for clothes for Taliyah. “I bought her some jeans,” says Tiffany. “She grew out of them in a week. I was so upset.”
Tiffany hopes to go to university to study to become a social worker, as they have done so much to help her.
“Social workers are there to care for children and care for people,” she says. “They moved me out of a violent
relationship and if I didn’t have a social worker I’d probably still be in it.
“But because of all the government cuts I’m worried if I’ll actually get to university.”
She says she has become more politically aware as the Tories ramp up the cuts.
She says, “Most people weren’t watching the news last year but now everyone is listening to how it’s going to affect us, and we’re worried.
“A lot of families can’t support their children. And if it’s hard to support your child and give them £30 a week, it’s going to be very hard to find £9,000 for university.”
Tiffany is angry at the way the government is trying to make the working class pay for the economic crisis.
“We didn’t cause the problems, so why are we being punished?” she asks.
“There aren’t any jobs, and the government is telling
people to work for free. How’s that going to help anyone?
“David Cameron and the people making these decisions have always been wealthy, they’ve inherited it, so they’re fine.
“I don’t want to be one of those statistics—teenage black girl with a baby on benefits. I would say to the government: Your children will be fine. But the poor people out there, what are we going to do?
“I want to go to university, but you’re not allowing me to even try. It’s not fair, it really isn’t fair.”
Tiffany is clear about how we should answer the cuts.
“I think it’s right that people protested,” she says. “The government needs to listen to what we’re saying. We have to have education for our children.
“It’s working class people who do the everyday jobs, the important jobs. We have to make a stand.”
Tories on another planet
Recession? What recession? Last week Lord Young had to quit the cabinet after being caught out denying that anyone in Britain is struggling.
He said, “For the vast majority of people ... they have never had it so good ever since this recession—this so‑called recession—started.”
On the cuts, he added, “I have a feeling and a hope that when this goes through, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.”
He quit after the media embarassed him over the comments. But he was saying what many Tories are quietly thinking.
Lord Young is a multi‑millionaire. Maybe he’s never had it so good—but we certainly haven’t.