Memorandum submitted by Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (E&S 12)


Zacchaeus 2000 Trust has a contract to with Wycombe Magistrates help people fill in their means statement when they default on their fines. The aim being to get the facts in front of the Magistrates.


I have been doing this for over ten years. Young men or women, who come into the court, often have no money; the Jobcentre has stopped their JSA because they did not turn up for an interview, did not take the job on offer or have recently come out of prison; it takes weeks to process the reinstatement of or application for benefit. The Magistrates have adjourned the hearing until the offender has money.


Meanwhile the jobcentre will give them a £60 crisis loan, which will be deducted at £10 a week from their benefit when they get it; the fine will be deducted at £5 a week.


So as soon as their renewal or application has been processed and they have an income again it will look like this.



                                    JSA aged 18-24                  46.85



Crisis loan repayment     10.00

Fine                                           5.00


                                    Net income                          31.85            


Such deep poverty certainly stimulates young people to earn an income but not always in the way Parliament intends by keeping them so very poor when unemployed; the unintended consequences are crime and prostitution.


I have met a case in which involved carrying illegal drugs from A to B earning £50 a time. The Home Office has reported their research in "Paying the Price - July 2004"  which found that.


"Prostitution may be driven by economic necessity". It also reports "survival to be the overriding motivation" and that 74% of off street sex workers "cited the need to pay household expenses and support their children". The lack of money to live a healthy life and participate as citizens in Britain forces choices many women would rather not consider. Survival is a powerful motivator. There are several different strategies to cope when employment with adequate pay is not available.


Survival drives some people to desperate measures. Such poverty level statutory minimum incomes in a very expensive and wealthy economy are part of the cause of social disintegration.


January 2008