Lenny and Jenny may not have been the brightest or shiniest buttons in the button box but they had a good working knowledge of the benefits system. Both of them were claiming all that it was possible to claim. Jenny was on income support and incapacity benefit, Lenny was on income support and disability allowance. He’d claimed DLA on the grounds that he was an alcoholic but although he liked a drink he liked drugs better. He admitted himself that he wasn’t an alcoholic. But for some reason he got his DLA for having no legs. I don’t know how this came about and to give Lenny his due he phoned the DLA and told them he was in full possession of two working legs. He still got the benefit. Maybe he put on the form that he was ‘always legless’ and they misunderstood.
Lenny and Jenny lived for paydays. When payday came they drank, smoked, drugged and were merry. When payday was over they were broke, hungry, hungover and miserable. Between paydays they schemed and plotted as to how to get more money. They never looked beyond the next payday. They never stopped to consider that a Crisis Loan was exactly that – a loan that had to be paid back.
By now Jenny was pregnant. Lenny despite his ‘disabilities’ managed to get both Jenny and another girl pregnant in the same year. The other girl moved on. Lenny had no plans to support his child and no interest in seeing it. Meanwhile, despite her pregnancy, Jenny continued to smoke, drink and take drugs.
Jenny’s belly grew and she had hardly any clothes to fit her. She applied to the Social Security for a clothing grant. She was informed that clothing grants were a thing of the past. She couldn’t get a Crisis Loan as they had too many already. She was in despair. None of her underwear fitted. Only one of her tracksuits was wearable. They had no money for drugs. They had money for fags. There is always money for fags.
She approached me for help. I let her use the phone to call the social. Within minutes she was shouting her head off at the person on the other end of the line. It was no good. She said to me,
What can I do? The bru won’t give us anything! St Vincent de Paul won’t help us! I need new bras and knickers. And I need stuff for the baby.
Here’s what you should do. You and Lenny should go down to the DSS. You should explain your predicament. Be nice. Don’t shout at them. They hate it when you shout. Be nice and they’ll tell you what you can claim for. There’s bound to be some way they can help you.
They took my advice. Came back all happy. The people at the DSS had looked into their claim and found a way to give them money.
The next day they received the all-important GIRO. Payday! Down the town - spend, spend, spend. Back up again to party, party, party. Jenny had bought a new tracksuit but no new underwear and nothing for the baby. I'm not sure what Lenny bought but later that evening his eyes were rolling in his head.
The day after that was not so good. All they had to show for payday was two sore heads and a new tracksuit. Then the letter came explaining how the money they had received was worked out. It was then it dawned on them. Their big payday GIRO had included their next fortnight’s regular money.
Forgive me God but how I laughed. To myself of course.