Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Caught in a Web or Safety Net, benefits?

The changes to the benefits system went live today

I was on Twitter this afternoon and I have never seen it so angry.

Most of the tweets were about the changes to the benefit system. The Sea Ducks get child benefit for the ducklings but that's all. Mrs Sea Duck was getting contribution based Employment Seekers Allowance, but that was only for 26 weeks as I work full time. 26 weeks is the total length she can get ESA for when her partner is working full time so that ended about a month ago now.

The chattering classes and tweeting classes will always chatter and tweet. But why are they so steamed?

Yougov published a poll noting that 75% (three out of four people) thought us Brit's spent too much on benefits. Is that because they have a negative view of people who live on benefits? Or is it a system that has become a trap for people removing power from them to dictate their own life and aspirations. I spoke to a friend who receives housing benefit, his was going to be reduced by about £10.00 per week. The average loss for someone in the East Midlands is around £12.00. He's not effected by the 'bedroom tax.' If anything he's in need of another. He sleeps in the lounge of his flat while his teenager sleeps in the one and only bedroom. Overcrowded, but no houses available within the High Peak area. Caitlin Bisknell leader of High Peak Borough Council notes that there are 4089 properties to let for the council housing in our area. All are occupied and there is a waiting list of 5639! So probably not going to get a house soon my friend.

Thinking about people who live on benefits. There are some who are labelled 'Scroungers' but some have no other choice. A disabled person and their full-time carer I don't think should be labelled in such a way. Disability is not a life style choice. Disability could happen to anyone. At the same time there are those who will take everything they can get and more. Only today there was a conviction regarding the deaths of 6 children in Derby. The fire was set deliberately it is reported, by the parents so that they could blame his former mistress. Thereby obtaining custody of the children he had with her and then claim the benefits for the extra children. BBC Report

The honest answer to all this angry tweeting etc is I don't know. I do know people who have taken the life style choice of living on benefits. At the same time I know people who do work and the benefits help them make ends meet. With prices still going up for petrol, gas, food I can see why when some one who has 'done the right thing' according to George Osbourne suddenly find themselves worse off.

Gingerbread which is a single parent charity notes about the lack of flexible working hour jobs out there. That the 59% of single parents who work are going to loose out over the universal credit. I think this is quite a point. It's okay saying the people who can work, should work, but there has to be work there for them to do. They also have to be able to do the work. A parent within a family would have to work around the children's school hours. If these positions are not available then they are not going to be employed in them. Mrs Sea Duck has found this exact problem. One of us needs to work around the children's schooling hours and even though she has got to many an interview that flexibility just isn't there. Something I don't blame the employers for. If they need someone who can work weekends and start 9-5 then that's the person they're after.

At the same time I can see the negativity towards someone who chooses to live off the rest of us. The benefits system is in need of reform, but it needs to be a safety net rather than a web which traps people.

Okay I'll get off my soapbox now. Start talking about something less controversial like the weather again.

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