Whenever I hear stories of benefit scroungers I am reminded of Nessie's story.
Nessie had a wee hill farm in the arse-end of nowhere. For years she and her long-term companion made a small, self-sufficient living from it. It was fairly hand-to-mouth but they didn't complain for they thought that was just how things were.
As the years passed Nessie. like all of us do, slowed down a bit. The house was basic, far too cold and damp if truth be known and it didn't help her that she had serious health problems caused by two accidents she'd had when she was younger. She was once gored by a cow and on another occasion run over by a trailer. It left her with kidney problems. Life became very hard. A kind neighbour seeing the pair of them struggling to make ends meet told her about income support, got the forms, filled them in for her and lo and behold! - Nessie got the dole.
She was delighted. They both were. And the pair of them lived happily on basic income support for one for many years.
Then her long-term companion hit the age of 65 and found himself entitled to the pension. Money of his own at last! He was delighted. After all these years, he too had a regular income. All was well until some sharp-eyed civil servant noticed that these two were receiving benefits at the same address.
To cut a long story short they prosecuted Nessie. She hadn't the sense to go to court and in her absence her benefits were slashed. Her partner wouldn't help. This was his money and he didn't intend to share it.
Months passed and Nessie became ill. She wasn't eating properly for she didn't have the money. It was at this stage that we found out what was going on. We brought her over here, sorted her out, warmed her, fed her and took her to the doctor. We got her a social worker. The social worker was wonderful. Found all sorts of new benefits for Nessie. She still had to pay back the huge over-payment but the new benefits brought her back to a basic level of income support and she'd proved she could live on that. Nessie never did return all the money she owed the government. She died long before it was paid.
I often think of her when I hear stories of benefit scroungers. I think of two elderly people managing on one benefit for years but because the 'i's weren't dotted and the 't's weren't crossed they were done for it.