Tag Archives: welfare

Our Welfare State

28 Mar

Today, Unite the union has launched a new website to tell the truth about our welfare state, attacking the key myths that have been used to promote cuts in welfare. #OurWelfareWorks

Society’s safety net has been much-maligned by the Coalition government. ‘Open many newspapers or listen to some politicians speak and you’d think that the only people who received benefits were cheating the system or living a luxury lifestyle. This just isn’t the reality,’ and the campaign sets out a few home truths about benefits:

  • A tiny 3% of the welfare spending goes on benefits to unemployed people, but 42% is spent on the elderly and 21% spent on working families.
  • If you were in a couple with two kids and lost your job (like the 100′s of people from Jessops) you would receive £111.45 a week in Job Seekers Allowance, out of this you’d have to pay for food, heating, water, clothes, travel etc…
  • A single person just laid off, from somewhere like HMV, will only have £71 a week to live on.
  • People talk a lot about welfare fraud, but 0.7% of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently……but at the same time, up to 24% (£11.77bn) of benefits go unclaimed.
  • Experts also reckon that the gap between what the government thinks it should receive in tax, versus what it actually gets (the Tax Gap) could be as high as £120 billion.

The launch of the site coincides with the start of a new, hard-hitting advertising campaign attacking government welfare cuts, using two digital ad vans. Supplemented by national online advertising, the billboards will tour London and starkly contrast cuts to welfare and tax credits which will leave an estimated 11.5 million households worse off from 1 April, made even worse by the government’s insulting £100,000 tax give away to millionaires.

Attacking those who rely on welfare, and using divisive language like ‘strivers and skivers’ serves only to pit people against each other, and wear away the reasons that the welfare state was established in the first place. ‘Generosity, mutual support and cooperation’ were the watch words of the post-war era, leading to a determination to build a better society for all. This community spirit led to the creation of the NHS and our welfare state. The current government is not only implementing devastating cuts across all public services, but is attacking long-accepted arguments that society should care for its vulnerable, and those who may have fallen upon tough times.

Of course there are things that can be improved upon, and of course there are people who take advantage, albeit a tiny number. But this is the case for a number of institutions in society that can be exploited but we all agree must exist – a classic example being the law against rape and sexual assault. There are a tiny number of people who might make false accusations of rape or sexual assault, but nobody argues that this therefore means we should abolish the laws against these crimes.

It is great to see that someone is finally making the arguments for the welfare system. If you agree that #ourwelfareworks, please share this campaign with everyone you know. It’s time we started sticking up for a decent and caring society.

Means-tested Child Benefit? You’re picking the wrong fight.

8 Jan

By Catherine Brockhurst

Before I launch into this post headfirst, please let me caveat what I am about to say;

  • I am not an expert in the benefits system, nor government public and social expenditure
  • I am not poor, nor am I destitute or about to be thrown into a horrendous spiral of poverty by the proposed and ongoing changes
  • I am not going to back up my assertions with a raft of stats.

Child Benefit and Winter Fuel Allowance should not be means tested. That’s it, no ifs ands or maybes. Want to know why? It does no good to anyone who actually receives these benefits. If you’re poor- i.e. you struggle to feed your family, clothe your kids, keep your home warm, would never be able to run a car, probably don’t have any luxuries like mobile phones, holidays (or any other thing that the Daily Mail derides you for having if you’re poor)-then you need Child Benefit. If you’re not poor, you don’t need Child Benefit, but many on the periphery of struggling to make ends meet rely on it.

If you’re not in the first two camps and wealthy, then OK, you might spend it on frivolous things like spa treatments, fox furs and fancy cigars (again, thanks Daily Mail). These things the people who don’t need Child Benefit and Winter Fuel Allowance payouts spend their money on are taxed. The money goes straight back in to the economy.

And here’s the crux of it;

There are way more people in this country who need these benefits than don’t. There are substantially more poor than wealthy people in this country.

Means testing these universal benefits is a logistical and administratively expensive nightmare and I want us all to be under no illusion, the money ‘saved’ by not paying out Child Benefit and Winter Fuel Allowance will not be ploughed back into the pot of money set aside with a big sign on it saying ‘For the poor and needy. It is just another number on a balance sheet to this government, where those in need get squeezed and those who are not don’t. We’ve all seen the nonsense in the limits for individuals vs. couples on the Child Benefit restrictions structure. It’s like a woefully mis-informed child came up with the idea. No wait, it’s like someone with no social conscience came up with it…Ah, wait, hang on a sec… Sorry if I sound sarcastic and angry. It’s because I am. Very.

I said I’d not provide a raft of stats, so just 1. In 2012 the entire welfare bill, including family and children, unemployment, housing, social exclusion, protection and other vital services made up 12% of the entire government expenditure. Given that people are all this country actually has it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that my tax pennies should go towards helping and supporting them. All of them.

Yet again, this government who we did not vote in, have hammered another nail in the coffin that is social welfare and yet again, we’re all arguing about who does and does not deserve to get their meagre hand outs. They knew we would, they knew these decisions would create infighting. It just serves to draw our eyes away from the genuine tragedies of a chopped up health service,  reduced family support services, reduced income support and housing benefit, increased student fees, massively reduced disability allowance, reduced rape advisory services. The list goes on and on, as long as your arm. And then the next person’s arm too.

Please step away from the smoking gun that is means tested Child Benefit and Winter Fuel Allowance, your argument is not with those earning £50k or more a year. It’s with those who are tricking you into thinking everyone has it better than you and has grabbed your cash. They haven’t, we’re all just trying to manage the best way we can while the rug gets pulled out from under us, just like you. So many of us, just like you.

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