London's Hammersmith and Fulham Council sent a "Christmas card" to its social housing tenants that implied that they would squander their rent money on booze. The council insists the card wasn't intended to be insulting -- rather, it was meant as a "hard hitting" reminder that to call the council's helpline if you are struggling with your rent money.
Record numbers of Britons are living in fuel- and food-poverty, a condition that continues to worsen in the face of cuts to benefits and the rise of jobs that pay sub-poverty wages for full-time employment. The council sent the card to 17,000 households (including tenants who'd never fallen behind in their rent) at an expense of £2,000.
Mary Buckley and her daughter Tina have lived in their council property for 25 years and said they have never been behind with their rent.
Tina Buckley told BBC London 94.9: "What's made me so angry is my mum's been a tenant for 60 years.
"She's never been behind with her rent and when we were young and there wasn't much money she'd pay her rent before she'd feed us and clothe us and heat the house.
"Keeping the roof over our head was more important than anything else so to get this disgusting, threatening piece of literature masquerading as a Christmas greeting, it's insulting."
She says she wants a printed apology in the council's magazine.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.