John Gates, from Brixton in south London, has a £4,000 debt on his credit card.One wonders what 'essentials' John was buying to rack up a £4k credit card debt in the first place!
He relies on housing benefit and Job Seeker's Allowance for his income.
On at least four occasions his bank took money out of his current account to put towards the credit card debt. It only informed him afterwards.
After paying for his rent, John says that left him with just £3 a day to live on.
"It's devastating," he says. "It means I go on a forced diet. I have no money for food, let alone for other essentials like washing materials."
Now, I could have some sympathy if the debt was incurred while he was in employment but, even then, when signing up for a credit card one takes on a responsibility to pay the money back (plus, £4k is rather irresponsible in any case at the interest rates charged, if without planning for a possible tits-up life situation). If beset by hard times, the onus is on the customer to contact the bank and come to an arrangement, and if any agreement is ignored by the bank then the customer has a valid grievance. Yet that isn't the complaint here, merely the fact that a bank has been moving funds to pay for a debt which is owed, and due, under the terms of the credit account.
I fail to see how we're meant to feel sympathy with the guy when he has taken on a financial commitment which he has now found himself unable to fulfil, and most probably not taken steps to negotiate a solution once a problem presented itself.
Of course, it's possible that even though he is on JSA and Housing Ben, the bank offered him credit facilities anyway. They didn't hold a gun to his head, though, and a sensible person - even if they decided to to accept the bank's offer in the first place - should be more cautious than to spend £4,000 when income is thin on the ground.
Unless there is something I've missed here, John Gates should be feeling rather embarrassed at being so slapdash and irresponsible. However, as we have come to expect, the person who has fucked up doesn't feel at all foolish, but instead loudly and publicly lays the blame elsewhere. It's someone else's fault, you see.
In post-Labour Britain, it always is.