The recall of parliament to pay tribute to Margret Thatcher might have turned into the predictable “She was lucky to know me” Tory love-in had it not been for Glenda Jackson. So awesome is Glenda’s speech that no comment is needed from me!
Should non-working families earn more than working ones? Is it reasonable that families on benefit can live in houses that working people can only dream of? These might seem obvious questions but this is the basis behind the government’s proposed £26,000 cap on benefits which will mean no family can claim more than £500-a-week in welfare, the equivalent amount of a £35,000 salary after tax. Iain Duncan Smith thinks the answer is no, it’s not reasonable and the public seem to agree. For all the problems this government is causing people, when it comes to a benefit cap it seems impossible to find anybody who’s against it and it’s not hard to see why.
In my street alone are two six-bedroom houses and one eight bedroom one. I couldn’t afford to live in any of them despite working full-time as a teacher. All three are occupied by families with no-one working. I doubt that my street is unique.
It seems to me that we need to look fundamentally at the way we pay benefits. Benefit calculations bear no resemblance to the way wages are paid. Working people don’t get a pay raise because they have another child or move to a larger house why should non-working people?
It is strange for The Chimera Papers to support a Tory policy but on this occasion we do!
Iain Duncan Smith, the Darling of welfare reform, wants to stop people choosing to live on benefits. People refusing to work could lose their benefits for up to three year.
Now I’m sure that when that was reported this morning then a large number of people cheered. I’m not just talking about true blue tories here. Normal working class people, Labour’s natural supporters, find the idea of Benefit Scroungers objectionable. After all why should anybody work to support those who could support themselves but choose not to? I’m not talking about people who can’t work, I’m talking about those that choose not to. I’m sure that most people would agree with the sentiment that you should support yourself and welfare should be reserved for those that don’t have that choice.
When you start to think about however, there are a number of problems with the idea of stopping peoples’ benefit. The first is this idea of people who repeatedly turn down work. Now I don’t know what world Cameron and co live in but even in boom times employers don’t knock on peoples’ doors offering them work. Forcing people to apply for jobs just results in them being rejected at interview. Form that point alone this idea seems very difficult to implement.
My second and main problem however, is what happens when the government does stop someone’s benefit? What about if that person has a family? Will they just find their income has gone? The popular view is probably, “yes” but just think about it. Will these people just walk into the jobs they’ve been avoiding for years, will they starve to death or will they find some other way to get money? Lets not forget that one of the original reasons for the formation of the welfare state was to deal with crime. A number of people without access to money will resort to crime.
Falling benefit costs and rising crime, a dichotomy?
Is it just me or has anybody else noticed that every time any government is faced with an economic downturn they start attacking the unemployed? It’s as if the government blames the unemployed for the banking crisis.
It’s not as if I don’t agree with the general idea that claimants should have some responsibility for finding work. My problem is the timing. We are looking at the economy in recession and the inevitable raise in unemployment that what will bring.
I remember the last recession, our local Job Centre has no adverts at all for months on end. The local papers carried no Situations Vacant either and if I remember correctly the, then Tory, government started down this same old track.
Come on guys, we seem to have billions to bail out the perpetrators (the banks) but nothing for savers and the victims of banking greed.