Last night, stemmed from a Blog Post ‘How (Not) to Survive on Benefits’ written by Nickie from Typecast, we had a Google+ Hangout talking about the UK Benefits system. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but I did learn a few things.
I was hoping to chat more about people’s perceptions of people on benefits and the system. This is not something I have a strong opinion on but did have some predisposed ideas of people on benefits and wanted to work out, through discussion, how I felt about it all.
Is abuse as wide-spread as we think?
Prior to the discussion I did a bit of research and apparently the number of fraudulent claimants are a lot less than we think. One person, linked to the DLA said it was less than 1%. I found this very interesting and this supports the idea that the government and media are making us blame the poor labeling them as ‘scroungers’ to justify their upcoming benefit cuts.
The working poor
I also found it very interesting that a large majority of people on benefits are people, who are in fact working, and that their wages are not enough to survive on so they need to rely on benefits to make up this shortfall. Jax has written an interesting post about the need to look more at the working wage. I was stunned to hear what the minimum wage is.
As Jax said, we live in a civilized society and looking after our most vulnerable is reflective of this, I would never suggest getting rid of the benefits system, but it is there to help those genuinely in need and I do still think there is abuse.
How to encourage people back to work
Lynn made a very valuable comment, that we need to look more at child-care subsidies, I know many woman who have found that it’s not financially viable to go back to work after having kids due to the ridiculous cost of child-care. Wouldn’t it be better to give people incentives to go back to work? Why go back to work if you will be worse off?
But why do I feel so damn guilty about being middle class and continually found myself apologizing for the fact. This is not to say that we’ve not had times of trouble in the past and did call on the benefit system but only for a short period, while we got back on our feet and this is how I feel it should be used. It’s not a long-term solution bar people with illness and disabilities.
We have worked hard to get to this point and possibly to the detriment of our daughter when she was little, I could have opted to stay at home and go on benefits but went back to work instead. Isn’t it better to show her that working hard is the answer and not to sit back and accept hand-outs. I grew up in a single parent house-hold with a hard-working mother that held down three jobs at times and never relied on the state or anyone else.
This is a huge topic to cover in one blog post but I would love to carry on this conversation. What do you think?
Flickr Photo Credit Maynard