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I remember Mum reciting this to me, little did she know... - Carers UK Forum

I remember Mum reciting this to me, little did she know...

Please feel free to join in or start any games.

that I would work as a genealogist and research these kind of things!

It is Christmas Day in the workhouse,
And the cold, bare walls are bright
With garlands of green and holly,
And the place is a pleasant sight;
For with clean-washed hands and faces,
In a long and hungry line
The paupers sit at the table,
For this is the hour they dine.

And the guardians and their ladies,
Although the wind is east,
Have come in their furs and wrappers,
To watch their charges feast;
To smile and be condescending,
Put pudding on pauper plates.
To be hosts at the workhouse banquet
They've paid for — with the rates.

The poem tells of an old Devon trader named John who has been reduced to poverty and so must eat at the workhouse on Christmas Day. To the shock of the guardians and master of the workhouse, he reviles them for the events of the previous Christmas when his wife, Nance, was starving. They could not afford food so, for the first time, he went to the workhouse but was told that food would not be given out – they would have to come in to eat. At that time, families might be separated inside such institutions but his wife refused to be parted from her husband of fifty years on Christmas Day. He went out again in search of scraps but she died before he returned and so now he is bitter at the memory
Reminds us why we need the Welfare State.......

Sorry to lower the tone (significantly!), but the poem also calls to mind the far-from-reverent (and extremely rude!) poem that begins:

'It was Christmas Day in the Harem - '

it's to be sung to the tune of Tidings of Comfort and Joy.... (the chorus cuts in at the strategic point where you KNOW what the rhyme is going to be!)

Like I say, sorry to lower the tone....

My favourite 'sad carol' though is In the Bleak Mid Winter - it's that poor little robin. Gets me every time. :(
Reminded me of many Christmases in low income areas in the past.


For many today , that past is becoming the present ... and the new norm.

2017 ?

Christmas Humbug ... UC ?
Workhouse ... food bank ?
Scrooge ... BTL landlord ( Not renewing your lease )
No room at the inn ... tent / cardboard city full up
Turkey ... pigeon , if you can catch one ?
Tidings of comfort and joy ... Christmas card from the DWP ... " Happy Christmas ! You're just been sanctioned ! " ?
Gold , frankincense and myrrh ... 'round 'ere , a dodgy looking bottle of frankincense is 'bout all ?
Reindeer ... not on the Christmas Day menu at the local food bank ?
Christmas tree decorations ... reminder bills / eviction notices ?
Christmas holiday ... for lone carers , and their carees ?
Festive cheer ... I can recommend the local Polish hooch ... do NOT light a cigarette when drinking !
Elves ... avoid like the plague ... mug yer as soon as look at yer 'round ' ere ! Whole gangs of 'em !

etc . etc. etc.

Oh , the real joys of this time of the year for so many ... ?

Yes Jenny , several alternative versions are freely available ... for some , if only ?

Good ending to the one mentioned ... just in passing ?
All. Tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Just goes to show what some of us poor folks are missing ?

Tone ? In CarerLand ???

Hardly any C sharps , mostly B flats ?
Mary, do you think your Mum knew the synoposis? What a sad tale.

Heard that poem before but never knew the background - very interesting.
I would surmise, perhaps erroneously, perhaps only from the smug comfort of my middle class pension (........!) that most of the poverty these days comes from three main factors:

- having illness/disability/mental health problems
- addiction problems
- unfathered families

The MAIN expense, hands down, surely is the cost of accommodation. That is the real scandal. And the shame of our society.

I could be 'right wing' (for a change.....!) and say that only the first problem is 'not their own fault'?????

But things are seldom that simple. A child growing up 'unfathered' with a mother who can't cope in the first place and resorts to alcohol, and also has mental health problems, is far more likely to grow up the same, and either be a 'single mother' or a 'feckless father'.....creating another generation doomed to dereliction......
I would add caring to that list ... as would many others ... and just a few hundred thousand ?

Fine before ... just about surviving after ... now ten years on.

Just over a year to " Official " retirement age.

.... and a free bus pass ... nothing else.
Most definitely carers - but that is because they have to care for someone will health problems of some kind. They aren't 'free' to go and earn a decent living......

In a way, of course, it links back to being a 'carer parent' ie, a 'stay at home mum/dad', which, even though obviously once children start school the SAHM/D is 'free' to find paid employment, in practice it hits the 9-5 wall that employers usually plonk down in front of people, keeping them in much lower paid jobs that can be part time etc etc.

I wonder how many of the country's 'poor' (however defined) are simply 'low paid' rather than any of my categories above?

And, crucially, if those 'low paid poor' had far cheaper housing available to them, would they still be poor?????

Food is certainly cheap enough (in the great scheme of things), but of course, apart from rent/mortgage, the big expense (other than damn council tax!) is heating.
If the figues behind UC can be believed ... 21 million will be sucked in.

Some allowances / benefits now within UC are payable on salaries upto £ 60k p.a. ... almost 20 times the level of CA.

I would assume that anyone earning less than £ 10.00 per hour would also be sucked in ... working tax credits.

On the HB front , those figures will be huge.

Definition of poor ?

Close / at / below the Official Poverty Line :
The UK poverty line

Each year, the Government publishes a survey of income poverty in the UK called Households Below Average income (HBAI).

This survey sets the poverty line in the UK at 60 per cent of the median UK household income. In other words, if a household’s income is less than 60 per cent of this average, HBAI considers them to be living in poverty.

Before or after housing costs?

HBAI provides two types of household data: before housing costs are deducted (BHC) and after housing costs have been removed (AHC). Many official poverty statistics employ the BHC information.

At CPAG, we consider a better measure to be the income a household has left AHC, as this more realistically reflects the amount of money families and individuals have at their disposal. All the figures we use are AHC unless otherwise stated.

Take whatever figure you will ... some can survive on that , others would be in serious debt.

Income is one aspect ... so is expenditure !

I suggest that , based on the figure of 18 million being currently quoted , 13 million are close / at / below that mythical safety net ... the " 1 in 4 " I'm often quoting ... " The Underclass " during CarerWatch days ( Too political sounding to the readers of this forum ),

Housing ?

Try stripping out HB from any equation ... then take the minimum wage ... then calculate how much that person could afford to pay in rent ... not to be greater than 40 of his / her take home pay.

I have ignored any low income benefits such as tax credits.

Easy starter ... 36 hour week to simplify the maths ... 36 x £ 7.50 gives you £ 270 ... less , say , £ 40 for tax / NI ... £ 230 ... 40% of which gives you £ 92 ... earmark that as the maximum sum to pay rent ... 52/12 ... £ 399 ... say £ 400 per month.

Then look at BTL and social rents on your manor ... good fun for those in the south east new to this world ???

HB element available on several sites just by entering your post code.

A clue ... even with the HB element back in , the figures are ... ?

I will not reveal the answer ... best for each reader to play with the figures relevant to their manor.

Explained in greater depth in the seperate HOUSING thread in the News section.

All shocked as I was ???

At least it gets a few readers thinking ???

Try almost the same again for the maximum mortgage that person could be advanced ... assume 25 years.

Something's well out of kilter ... and it's NOT the income side ???
The Victorian idea to with regard to the poor was that they should 'work' their way out of their difficulties......... and that is much the idea as well today..

I have been poor for over 20 years if you count 'poor' as meaning that:-

You do not own your own house

You do not have any savings

You do not have holidays

You do not have a car

You struggle to pay the rent

You do not go in shops because you cannot afford to buy

Your clothes come off ebay, or charity shops

You sometimes could not raise £10 from anywhere even if you have to.

You have only a state pension, plus what little you can earn

yet once, once....

I owned a 5 bedroomed Edwardian villa.

I had a mother's help

I had a cleaner

I had access to 3 cars

I had holidays abroad

I had prospects of an occupational pension through my husband

what happened??


Just because one is well off at one point in life does not mean that it will always be so, and some people just cannot recover what they have lost and cannot get back to where they once were.

The caring role.,...... well, that just adds a little (lot) extra stress

I was once advised that all my bills would get paid if I put them onto direct debit...... slight problem there though - that the kind person advising me did not think of - one has to have enough money in the bank in the first place!