Lets Talk Benefits

UK BenefitsLast 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.

Role Models

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

I love building dens!

I used to love building dens as a kid.  According to my mum we used to spend hours doing it.  My sister and I would use every sheet in the house and any piece of furniture we could move.

After dinner tonight we set about building a den with Madame, using EZ Fort.  It was brilliant fun.  The only thing I would suggest is never build a fort with someone who has an engineering degree or you will get comments like this….

‘Doesn’t have a positive enough fixing’

‘If you want to build a box structure to make it stronger you always need diagonals, you know crane jibs…’

‘You need multi-angle points on the joints or you can’t put them in at right angles…’

For goodness sake, we’re just building a Fort not the Eiffel Tower!

For the most part the construction kit was great, easy to assemble and we could construct it indoors, which is a must here in the UK.  However, if I was going to purchase one for myself I’d probably opt for the Toobeez Life Size Building Set, the next model up, as it looks sturdier.  We found once we constructed it and draped a few blankets over it, it collapsed.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a light weight sheet big enough.

All in all, it was great fun.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret….this isn’t the first time I’ve built a den since my childhood.  Look what I built in a 5 star hotel a few years ago!  Weirdly room service didn’t bat an eye!  I’m just a big kid.

The Key to Solving Mysterious Car Crime

My car was broken into a few months back.  It took me a few minutes to work it out but when I jumped in I noticed that the glove box etc was all open and then it dawned on me.  The bastards had stolen my satellite navigation.  Please, no lectures about leaving it in the car.  We have a built in one that doesn’t work, so I’d thought they’d see that and not think that we had a portable one.  I think the ring on the windscreen was a dead give-away.

I contacted the police and insurance company and as usual it would cost me more on my insurance to replace it than to just by a new one.  They sent the CSI out to finger print the car and me, I was hoping for Nick Stokes but no luck.  Strangely there was no sign of a break in and I was convinced that I’d locked it.  However, as a busy mum I started to doubt myself and hubby definitely didn’t believe me either.

The police officer did say that nowadays criminals don’t need to break windows or jam locks as there are devices out there that allow them to get into cars without damaging them.  I thought he was just trying to make me feel better.  Until I read this:

Click image to enlarge

I find the thought of someone lurking and using a device to jam the fob quite unnerving and if I’m honest with myself it is very unlikely that this is what happened.  My only advice is to make sure you here the CLUNK before you walk away from your car!