The Benefits Bluff

I had a bit of a scare reading through the press coverage of today’s White Paper on Universal Benefits. For a moment I thought that they’d added Child Benefit into the Universal Benefits, which the Tories propose would be claimed by one person in the household.

The very reason Child Benefit was always given to the mother was to prevent it being spent on beer and poker (seriously) and therefore more likely to actually reach the children. For many abused women, controlled through money by a dominating husband, Child Benefit is the only money they can claim that can help them and their children out of that situation. Allowing it to be wrapped up and claimed by what could be a violent husband would have been detrimental on a large scale.

So I breathed a big sigh of relief, took a sip of tea and promptly choked on it.  What was that, Ian Duncan Smith?

more than one in four working-age adults in the UK does not work, and at least 2.6 million people spent at least half of the last ten years on some form
of out-of-work benefit

Um. Say what now? Last time I checked, which was about five minutes ago, unemployment was 2.45million. Those that are categorised as ‘inactive’ make up 9.28million, and over half of these are students or stay-at-home mothers/fathers. Other reasons for being inactive: retired early, sick/disabled, caring for family member, hasn’t arranged childcare yet but looking for work.

Currently, our working age population, as determined by the ONS in mid-2009, is 38.31million. Our employment rate is 70.7%, or 29.16million people aged 16-64.

I assuming that when Ian Duncan Smith says one in four does not work in a White Paper about benefits, he’s using the number of inactive people to imply serious work shirking in our nation.

I would like to call bollocks to that. For one things, not all inactive people are claiming benefits, nor are they refusing to work. For god’s sake, not even all unemployed people are claiming benefits. We also need people to be inactive, otherwise there would be no students or carers or stay-at-home parents, all of whom contribute to society and for another thing, appear to be doing the damn job of the Big Society just like Cameron asked.

I’m staggered at the Tories’ hypocrisy right now.

That one in four figure is just bunkum, pure and simple. He’s implying that people are dodging work when in fact they are working as carers etc for free, or learning skills to contribute to the economy, or have retired, or are disabled. To use them as a reason for stamping on benefit fraud or worklessness is misdirection and pandering to the Daily Mails of this world.

Utter tosh. Oh, and the 2.6million claiming an ‘out-of-work benefit’ for five years? Until I get a good definition of ‘out-of-work benefit’ I’m also calling hogwash on that. It looks like he’s lumping Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, State Pension, Widow’s Benefit and Carer’s Allowance altogether and again making it look like they are living off the state and giving nothing back.

He’s trying to fool us with Snake Oil, but I sincerely hope that no one is buying this bullshit.

 

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7 responses to “The Benefits Bluff

  1. Love your blogs, my favourite lefty. But a lefty you are, and looking at everything in a lefty way, the same as a righty would look at everything in a righty way. Maybe, just maybe, what he meant was that 1 in 4 adults don’t work i.e. pay tax into a system which pays out benefits (be them fair, desevered, whatever) to 1 in 4 adults i.e. that’s a lot of people to look after, and not enough people contributing financially.

    And I love you, but the abused wife/child benefit shout? Surprised at the comment … isn’t that patronsing to women? Good men? Does paying child benefit to women parents rather than any old claimant socially condition? Nearly as bad as “that’s why mum’s shop at Asda” type strap lines …

    • Ah, but some of those people are looking after family members instead of putting them in homes and saving the NHS money. Some are studying to make a difference. Some are raising kids instead of relying on state funded institutions. So actually a lot of these people are contributing to society by essentially volunteering and not being paid for it. Basically Cameron’s Big Society idea.

      And I’m not sure what you mean about Child Benefit. My point was, the reason it goes to women, rightly or wrongly, is so it gets to the children as it was judged that the majority of abusers in a family were men and so women were more likely to care for the children enough to spend the money on them. I think that’s sad, but Women’s Aid and Shelter have both said that in cases of domestic abuse, men can control women through money and therefore one of their only means of escape comes through this money. Obviously it’s not usually used like that, but to make it part of the universal benefit would take this option away and possibly cause many more women and children to live in fear with violence.

  2. Yes some people spend their time caring for others (not really by choice, granted), yes some are studying (by choice) … that’s great, but they still need financial support and aren’t paying into the system. There are LOTS of people who receive benefits for virtuous reasons like study and care (not sure about your point of raising kids vs. state care? It’s a parent’s choice and role to raise a kid, no special well done and thanks for not putting them into a home necessary) … ‘volunteering’ (only your looking after old/sick family members point applies here) is all well and good, but the bills need paying. I guess IDS isn’t saying fuck you lot you’re not having your benefits, he’s saying the long term unemployed (read: lazy), those on incapacity but capable of dancing/lifting (read: fraudelent), those who want to have large families and do so with no consideration how they will finance them (read: cheeky) need to sort their shit out and contribute to the society which funds them.

  3. It depends on what you mean by paying into the system. I would argue that someone caring full time for another family member or friend saves the state, generally via local council, the cost of a social workers (ave. salary £29,000) and then also things like nursing care, admin fees, beds, maintenance in residential homes, medical provision. All that for the cost of £54.50 a week, which is what carers get. If they are caring full time, then they can’t claim JSA, so the other benefit that they can claim is housing, and that’s been capped. You also don’t find many people with 6 kids caring for their parents – they don’t have the time.

    I completely agree that those that play the system should be caught and they should work. I’m not even going to go into how most people on incapacity have mental health issues so can dance and lift all they like, but are, say, suicidal and a danger to themselves and others. They shouldn’t be in work. But I’m all for preventing people having 18 kids and having to live off benefits, it’s just I a) don’t think that happens often, despite what the Mail might suggest and b) don’t think there are the jobs for these people to go to. And without these jobs, how are they going to live?

  4. I hear what you’re saying, and I’m not arguing that carers do save the state money – but saving ain’t the same as making. Maybe we’re getting into the realms of budget reshuffles here, i.e. for every pound you save the NHS you get a proportion of it in benefit? Obvs massively difficult to administer and wide open for fraud, and some people receiving shit care from family so they can make a quick buck rather than get the professionals in … I don’t know the answer.

    Jobs being out there? I think they are … I see job adverts in every recruiters window, in the papers, on council websites. I also see – and yes I’m going to say it so brace your liberal self – immigrants doing jobs that maybe Brits could/should be doing (and yes I know all the facts about social/cultural/tax contributions of those that come here to work, and I also know there’s plenty of lazy arse British who think they’re above some menial labour).

    Please don’t get on your highhorse (named Leftie) and suggest I’m implying all ‘foreigners’ be shipped home cos ‘British jobs for British’ workers, because that’s not what I’m saying. You KNOW what I’m saying.

    Oh, and re: the mental health issue/incapacity thingy, c’mon you, you know I didn’t mean people with those kinds of problems, been there, understand that.

    Ps, loving your exageration on the “18 kids” shout!

  5. I wouldn’t suggest anyone looks after people to get £54.50 a week – it’s hardly ‘cashing it in’, is it? I wouldn’t wipe my mum’s arse for that, I’d pay other people hundreds of pounds to do it because I earn money and don’t think I should sponge off the state. Mind you, my mum believes in the NHS because she’s paid her taxes all her life. So god knows what the solution is.

    I heard today that unemployment and JSA claims have both decreased, which is good news – it looks like several of those jobs have been snapped up. But as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the numbers simply don’t add up – and the CIPD have stated that the growth of the private sector to counteract the number of public and private sector redundancies needs to match our economic growth – and that’s too slow at the moment.

    There is good news, however. Today they said that the number of temporary seasonal jobs was going to be enough to help most of those unemployed find some work at least for two months, albeit at minimum wage. So that’s good. Shame it will be gone by mid January!

    And I know what you are saying about immigration. I also know that all workers pay taxes and those taxes go to our pensions, so I don’t particularly care who has the job, just that the job is being done and taxes are being paid!

  6. Right …

    Read my post again, I wasn’t saying or even suggesting people care for others to cash in. Did I? I said, if we paid these people more, i.e. to reflect the money they save the NHS more fairly, then there is a risk that SOME people may overlook their loved ones’ medical needs for the sake of extra income. Does Grandad really need to go into a home when I get £100 a week to bring him dinner and bath him? Only the really hard up or heartless pricks would do this. Both sorts exist.

    I don’t know what the answer re: private/public care of those in need. Lucky you to be able to afford “hundreds of pounds” for someone else to wipe your mother’s behind, but not everyone can. Hence carers.

    And re: you not caring who does the job as long as the taxes get paid, I’m not sure you’d feel quite the same if your job was given to someone living here, probably temporarily, simply because they will accept less cash … think about it logically and sans any innate liberal basic assumption panic – you can’t pay JSA etc. to millions of British unemployed and then allow others to come here and get the few jobs there are! Increasing the labour market at a time like this is bad for those looking for jobs, and too easy for employers to take the piss out of people wage-wise. It simply doesn’t make sense, and you must know that ….

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