2nd April


‘It’s simply not fair,’ the Minister said. ‘Here we have an elderly lady, a widow, and because she can no longer look after herself, the family home has to be sold to pay for her care. That precious place with all its memories, which she had intended her children to inherit, is going to have to be disposed of. It’s wrong, and that’s why we are doing something about it. In future the maximum that lady will have to pay for her care is £75,000.’

It was an emotional interview. He left the studio with tears in his eyes.

On the street, between him and the ministerial car, stood a woman. She looked about sixty, but it was hard to tell.

‘Could you spare a pound, sir?’ she said.


‘You see, if you give me a pound, and if I can get a pound from thirteen other people this week, then I’ll be all right.’

‘What do you mean?’ the Minister asked.

‘They’ve changed the benefit system,’ the woman said. ‘I live in a council
flat, and because I have a spare bedroom they’re cutting my housing benefit by £14 a week. And if I can’t make up the difference I’ll have to move out, though God knows where to. But I just can’t afford to lose that kind of money.’

‘But surely you don’t need the extra room?’ the Minister asked.

‘It was my daughter’s room. She still comes and stays once a week, to help me out with things. It’s been difficult since my husband died.’

‘Your husband is dead?’ the Minister said. ‘Did you share a bedroom with him?’

‘Oh yes, right to the end. We loved each other very much.’

‘Then you not only have a spare bedroom, you yourself have a double bedroom, is that correct?’

‘Yes, but if you could spare a pound that wouldn’t matter.’

‘Matter?’ the Minister roared. ‘Of course it matters. Out of my way, you greedy, thieving, idle woman. How dare you waste my time for the trifling sum of £14.’

This story is grotesquely exaggerated, crudely simplistic and politically biased. At the same time, however, not a word of it is a lie.

Reader: Tam Dean Burn
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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