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Just Because By Victoria Kortekaas

Thank you to Laura Dove for all her help and her ability to talk to anyone. Emma Saynor for her wonderful illustrations and everyone who allowed me temporarily into their lives and thoughts.

‘In our time we have become used to a coarsening of the language. A discourse that pits the poor against the very poor. A conversation that fails to see that the cleaner in the office is as much a wealth creator as the tycoon who so completely depends upon her. A narrative that sees poor people as either lost souls to be rescued, wicked individuals to be punished, or idle hopeless layabouts to be despised. We have become used to a political, policy and media discourse that resolutely ignores the facts and trades in caricatures.’ Julia Unwin Beveredge Lecture Series

Benefits £26.8bn 3.8%

Welfare £193bn 27.7%



In the benefit slice ..




1 8.


6 4.



2 7.



1 0.


Health & Disabilility

Those seeking work



Care & Mobility

Parents & Carers




The People

The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people. Noam Chomsky

Unemployment is one of many areas of the welfare state that have come under attack from the media and politics. A large part of those that are in receipt of welfare are families who are working,and need support to make up a living wage, people

with disabilities who are unable to find work suitable for their needs or who are unfit to work. All of these including those that are unemployed are affected by new guidelines that cover all aspects of the welfare state.

‘ who would choose to be on benefits, it is not a case of just turning up signing a piece of paper and getting free money, benefit claimants are under constant scrutiny they are assessed and reassessed constanly. They have to prove on a regualr basis that they are entitled to the money they receive and live by the guideline set out to them. It is a debilitaing and often degrading’ The lies we tell ourselves 2012

The Fight

“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help - the only ones.” John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Local Housing Allowance


Average House Rent

ÂŁ137.31 For a 2 bedroom house in Leeds maximum LHA

The average rent in Leeds for a 2 bedroom house

93% Of new Housing Housing Benefit claims for those in employment has risen

86% in the

last 3 years

benefit claims between 2010 and 2011 were made by households with at least one person in work

‘ if you choose not to work, you can get housing benefit, you can get a flat. And having got that, you're unlikely then to want a job because you're in danger of losing your housing benefit and your flat ‘ - David Cameron 2012

22% of people claiming benefit are unemployed

24% of households claiming housing benefit have at least one person in work

26% of people claiming housing benefit are aged above 65

In April 2013 the government introduced a spare bedroom criteria for housing benefit

There are currently 180 000 tenants under occupying two bedroom properties in

claimants. It has become popularly known as the bedroom tax. It was introduced to

England. Their are fewer than 70 000 one bedroom properties available to rent.

combat under occupancy. It affects tenants 16 - 61. Those that are deemed to have a spare bedroom and in receipt of the

The likelihood is that that those who cannot downsize in social housing will be

benefit are subject to the new criteria.

forced into private housing where rents are

Those affected saw a reduction in their housing benefit by 15% for one spare room and 25% for two spare rooms.

elevated, as they are not under occupying they will be entitled to full housing benefit adding to the housing benefit bill. People through no fault of their own find

From April 2013 anyone underoccupying has to now make the choice between trying to downsize or make up the difference in their rent.

themselves in houses that are classed as too big for them, the majority of whom are amongst the poorest in the country.

Under the new critieria

Claimants are not exempt even if

• children under 10 of a different sex have to share a room • children over ten of the same sex have

• they are an adult with a disability and they have a specially adapted house, a progressive illness that will get worse or

to share a room If children fitting into this criteria already have rooms of their own the tax still applies families will have to downsize or pay the bedroom tax. People of with disabilites wont’ be charged for a second room if they need an overnight carer.

they need a room to store equipment. • they live with foster children • have separate rooms from a partner due to illness • have children that come to stay with them on a part time basis

The Community

LS14 Trust, are passionate about our local community. A group of local residents who want to work with others to make a positive difference to their neighbourhoods.

Space 2 mens group works with men who are isolated from society the groups they work with have a range of complex needs and have been vulnerable at some point in their lives. Every Tuesday two of Space 2’s artists run the support group for men at a local community centre in Seacroft. The group aims are to build confidence, self esteem and offer a safe place for ment hwo are all either long term un-

employed or have previously worked in challenging environments such as the army. one in eight people living in poverty has neither a family member nor a friend outside their household with whom they are in contact on a daily basis. Men living alone have a high risk of social isolation. (poverty and social exclusion in Britain 2012)

photography: Barge trip , Seacroft Men’s Group. Photography by Paul, Lewis , Chris and Marlon

‘Essentially what has happened over the last 20 to 30 years is that the attitude towards people claiming benefits has changed from seeing them as like other people to beginning to see them as not quite human’ Professer Danny Dorling Social inequalities researcher Univeristy of Sheffield

Britain has become an increasingly polarised nation, containing stark social and economic divisions. The growth of poverty is the root cause of many of the social ills that are of public concern. There is considerable unease in British society about the consequences of deprivation and the lack of social justice that this implies. If Britain is to become an inclusive society in which everybody has a stake and is able to participate then the most important task facing the Government is the ending of poverty and social exclusion. Poverty and social exclusion in Britain Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2000

Victoria Kortekaas is a photographer living and working in Leeds. Her personal practice revolves around social inequality, predjudice and identity. She is keen to work with individuals and organisations that are like minded and want to bring into the public eye the misrepresentation of sections of society that continue the status quo and allow inequality to continue. ‘Through the process of making this book I’ve met many people from different backgrounds all who have intelligent observations to make about the way people are stigmatised within communities. I’ve heard statements that have made me question the way I think about poverty and want to challenge the way other people think about poverty. I haven’t wanted to do this in a preachy manner I just wanted to give people the opportunity to say what they need to say and I hope that this book has achieved

this. I want to thank all the people who have taken part in small or large ways and have allowed me temporarily into their lives. ‘ Victoria Kortekaas 2013 Thank you to Clive Hughes , Bob Spooner , Neil Short, Rachel D , Everyone who stopped to talk to us outside Leeds Job Centre, Lewis, Chris, Paul, Merlon and Rob, Space 2, Bibliography The lies we tell ourselves 2012, Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2012, BBC 2012,

Just Because  

Victoria Kortekaas is a photographer living and working in Leeds. Her personal practice revolves around social inequality, predjudice and...

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