Letter: Feeling relaxed on pounds 70 a week

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Sir: Robin Basak's dismay over the call for increased financial help for the unemployed (Letters, 6 August) is understandable. It must be bitter indeed to support a wife and two children on pounds 420 per month, only to discover that he is in fact less well off than the unemployed of whom he is so critical.

Happily, at the end of the century, the vast majority of us can choose to be slaves to a mortgage, or to allow the state to support us. Mr Basak has the choice to continue being righteous about his poverty, or he could become unemployed. In doing so, he would have the interest on his mortgage as well as his council tax paid. He would have been able to get a grant for the bed that it took him two years to save up for. He would be able to spend more time with his family.

I live on state benefits of pounds 70 a week. This doesn't allow me to pay my bills, buy new clothes for myself or my child, go on holiday, eat much more than vegetables.

However, I can spend relaxed, meaningful time with my family and friends, learn to use computers, create pottery, and most important to me, avoid the mindless commute to and from a hot, power-struggle-infested workplace.

The price I pay for not working is endless poverty. The price Mr Basak and other low-paid workers pay for being employed is endless poverty and exhaustion. It may not be fair, but it's the way it is, and both of us have made a choice.

CLARE PROUT

London W10

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