Monday, 4 October 2010

A benefits revolution

Following George Osborne’s speech today at the Conservative Party Conference, it looks like the country's about to experience a benefits revolution.

This may come as a huge shock to the likes of Graham Clark from Grimsby who I read about in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

When explaining one of the reasons why he’s spent 19 years claiming state benefits instead of getting a job, he said:

‘I don’t know if I’m being a snob but I believe that you have the right at the very least to say you like your job. It’s not just about putting food on the table of clothes on your back, it’s about being able to grow experientially’…… ‘It’s important that employers take into account a person’s holistic needs’

I loved this quote, it made my Sunday afternoon. It made me laugh so much I felt I had to share it with people.

If you wanted an example of why this country needs reform of its benefits system then that quote tells you everything you need to know.

We’re used to hearing stories like that of Graham Clark, but there are also thousands of middle class, middle income families who have also grown dependent on benefits, and are in for a big wake up call.

I actually back much of what George Osborne said today. I agree with preventing people from claiming more in benefits than the national average salary. I also agree there are too many middle income and above average earners claiming things like child benefit.

According to the Sunday Times 14 billion pounds of benefits go to these middle and upper income households, people who I don’t really need it.

What’s going on, we’ve got a Conservative dominated government hitting the middle classes and helping the less well off, I’m all confused. Why aren’t they being the ‘nasty party’ like they’re supposed to be’

Of course, I understand there’s going to be losers, such as the single parent earning family where the parent has a salary of over 45,000 a year.

They’re going to lose out in child benefit, but for me £45,000 is still an exceptionally good salary way above the national average.

So some kids might have to give up clarinet lessons or whatever after school activity it is they do, but they’ll still be able to cope. These people aren’t being pushed below the poverty line!

The glaring anomaly that’s been pointed out is that two parents earning just under 45,000, but taking home a joint salary of over £80,000 will still receive benefits. I admit this makes no sense, but overall I still agree with what the government is doing.

A lot of the old certainties of what the welfare state can and should provide for are having to be reconsidered.

We’ve reached a stage where people from various backgrounds and incomes have just become used to and even spoilt by the benefits culture in this country.

I’m not laying any blame on such people, for generations there’s been an expectation that the government will provide a salary top up, particularly if you’ve paid your national insurance contributions.

This will still be the case for many, but there’s now a growing number of people where the justification for such benefits no longer appear to exist.

Even if the budget deficit is halved or completely reduced in the next 5 years or so, it still looks as if we all need to start adopting a different mindset to our benefits system.

3 comments:

  1. Good post.

    On this topic, I was talking to a friend of mine, who earns around £50,000 a year after bonus's. He didn't even blink at this announcement. Why? because he lives within his means with his family. An additional £80 a month for his son would not be breaking the bank. The funny thing is he never ever wanted the benefit in the first place, but this just sums up our country.

    I think this is only the beginning with cuts on the benefits system. The days of people earning more on benefits, than having a full-time job are over under the Tories. Which couldn't come sooner as the state is extremely large for our fragile economy.

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