What Laura Thinks: Benefit Bashing

Sunday, 14 April 2013

I've been sitting on my hands trying not to write this post. 'Who cares?' I thought. Weeks later I have determined that I care and that is reason enough to write it. I have found my thoughts to be the thoughts of many although these thoughts aren't as widely published as those on the opposing side of the argument. I'm talking about benefits. The big bad welfare state that all of our country's problems are currently being pinned on. A generation of work shy scroungers whose entitlement baffles belief vs the hard working tax payers of this country.

I'm here to let you all know I am not sat in front of my 42" flat screen TV hanging off my balcony window in a luxury flat with a Lambert and Butler cigarette hanging from my lips screaming "Screw the workers".

I am on benefits. Chances are if you have children, you are too. The majority of people with a family who claim benefits are working. Tax credits, child benefit - they are all benefits and they all contribute to this 'welfare state' that has got the country into so much trouble, as do pensions. Yet all you hear about are the claims of families with four or more children living in luxury, taking holidays and never giving anything back. You hear sensationalised stories of the minority because if we were to paint the picture of a family where every penny is accounted for, taking out high interest loans just to make ends meet rather than to live beyond their means and making the choice between food or electric there just wouldn't be so much support for this regime. We are turning on each other in a time where we should be looking at a Government who used the deaths of six innocent children to gain political points. We are turning on the scroungers, the immigrants, the single mothers, the teen mothers who seem to be getting everything for nothing while people work full time plus overtime to make their ends meet - we are a nation born of envy.

It's not so cut and dry. The Gospel according to the Daily Mail isn't how this works in reality.

So, for starters, who should be bashed? People seem to agree that child tax credits, working tax credits, child benefit, pensions and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are 'good benefits'. The benefits that are awarded to those who work as well despite the fact that they make up the vast majority of the figures making up the welfare state. So that leaves Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for those who have an illness, long term or short term that keep them out of work. This one is a bit mixed as if you see a person claiming ESA walking down the street they must be fraudulent as they definitely don't have a disability. Because you can tell by looking. What about those who are truly ill but have been demoted to Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) due to the rigorous tests they put you through? Do they deserve to be bashed under the JSA free for all? Do we feel sorry for the single mother who was left with nothing but her three children who live well but count every penny or does she not deserve to be felt for because she could get a job and put her children into childcare that would eat up almost the entirety of her wage? Should she give them up to foster care because of the 'Don't have children if you can't afford them' mentality?

The truth is that nobody deserves to be bashed. Yes there are lifestyle claimants who have no intention of ever working but they are in the minority. What people are doing is not having a reasoned discussion about what to do with the welfare state, they are attacking people. There can be no rational discussion about policy when there is so much anger toward these so called 'scroungers'. There can be no rational discussion when people say if you were a Muslim you'd get everything paid for you and a job to boot on the grounds that you are an immigrant.

Our Government may not be the best and they may not be making the correct decisions to benefit the welfare of all but turning on each other and believing everything we read in the local daily rag is not what we should be doing. I understand the hatred toward claimants when the headlines read that 'x' amount of families are living in top notch London homes and receiving the average yearly wage in benefits but these are the minority.

Let's thank the carers who get paid minimal benefits to care for their elderly family members day in, day out or our care homes would be more overrun than they are. Let's thank the single mother for doing her best by her children when some days it would be financially easier to give them over to the care system. Let's thank the disabled people who work but still claim DLA, the elderly who receive state pension but have worked all their lives and the families who work but still claim in tax credits. These are the majority of people working - the majority of claimants. Very few statistically are 'lifers' and most JSA claimants are so for a finite period of time. That being said because wages are so low they may always be benefit claimants in some form.

When there are enough jobs and wages are high enough to be able to cover general expenses without luxuries for all, then we can weed out and 'bash' those lifers because they will be the ones claiming. Until then, feel for others rather than hurt them. You could be one redundancy away from this life and I'd bet you'd be glad for this support system that some countries don't have if you ever did find yourself among us.


  1. Amazing. I want to give this post a standing ovation. I was brought up on benefits by a single mother and we lived below the poverty line. We didn't even have a tv until I was 5 and we only got that because someone was giving it away. I think this post will really help to see past some newspapers propaganda and basically slander against those claiming benefits. Thank you xo

  2. I couldn't agree with you more! And while I've personally never claimed anything I always remember my mum going to the post office to get the family (child) allowance each week. I think people - the government and especially certain aspects of the media are all too quickly ready to point the finger and blame a so called drainer aspect of the society, which may exist but it certainly does not exist to the extent that they claim. Sadly some people take and believer everything they read in certain tabloid newspapers which aren't worth the paper they are printed on. I also - to carry on your argument a little more, have issues with people who love to blame immigrants for taking up all the social housing and for claiming everything too, when statistics actually showed the other week immigrants are far, far less likely to be claiming anything.

    Any and all positive insights about benefits are always welcome in my book - there needs to be more of them!

  3. Amazing post, lovely.
    I've been living off of JSA for a year or so now and people bash me all the time and say why don't I get off my arse and get a job. I wouldn't mind if there were jobs left right and centre, but there's nothing going, even when there is I never hear back from the ones that I apply to.

    It really annoys me when people my age (19) who have a child are bashing me for living on JSA, when I know for a fact that they are living on what their baby brings them and yet they're swanning off on holidays all the time while I sit here wondering what the hecks happening. I don't know...maybe I'm living wrong.

    Laura x

  4. So you're saying the Daily Mail isn't Gospel? aha. I agree, the people who have huge houses and thousands of pounds a month are a minority xx

  5. Being a young working parent I rely on my benefit top ups to live. Minimum wage barely covers bills each month and don't get me started about nursery fees. I am so grateful I have a job as I know so many friends that have lost jobs, not been allowed to return after giving birth and other various reasons. I don't bash people on benefits as I know how hard it must be. Thank you for writing this! Laura xx

  6. Amazing post. There are people out there who abuse the system; I've met them but they still didn't live a 'swanky' lifestyle but were just happy to not have a job. However the vast majority of people on benefits are entitled and shouldn't have it taken away. I have two members of my family who rightfully claim disability allowance and I myself once claimed JSA for about two months. My mum had to make me go toget it as I was afraid of judgement. Completely stupid looking back on it.

  7. 1: I agree with you.

    2: I didn't know working tax credits existed and now I'm off to see what I qualify for.


    1. Oh well, don't qualify because I'm under 25. :(

  8. I love this post. Just recently I've had to make the decision between returning to work (only to have my wage go straight to childcare) or leaving my job and struggling on benefits. Fortunatly my son's dad has stepped in just at the right time and it's not a choice I need to make anymore. I'm going back. Phew.
    I hate the "workers vs shirkers" mentality that the government and news media are trying to drill into us, and I hate the fact that it's working. We are all better off for benefits. The neediest are having vital resources taken away from them, and on top of it all they're being demonised for struggling. :( We all need to stop taking our frustrations out on each other and focus our energy on bashing the bankers, MPs, and newspaper editors who think that a spare bedroom is a luxury, or living on £53 a week is easy ... sat in their million-pound homes, spare homes, claiming expenses for breakfasts which cost almost £53. They're the real shirkers!


  9. I freaking love you! I was brought up on benefits. We had terrestial TV, no computer or internet and one holiday in 16 years. My brother and I were always well fed, clean and with appropriate clothes because my mum put every penny towards us. By the way, she was married with a job and mortgage when she had us, so the "If you can't afford kids, don't have them" theory fails here.

    When Rich had mental health problems a couple of years ago, and I was a student, we survived on his benefits. They were pathetic and the stress of living hindered his recovery. We certainly were not living in the lap of luxury- We could only afford one meal a day for three months!

    As for the "Muslim immigrants getting everything" ranting, don't even get me started!


  10. This is so brilliant. It's so true- again, people judge without knowing the whole picture. And don't even get me started on the Daily Mail. For God's sake, anyone who believes the tiniest amount of that paper needs to take a reality check. Yes, there are a lot of people who genuinely shirk work, or think they're too good for some jobs when chances are, they aren't. But there are a hell of a lot of others who desperately want to- particularly at the moment. And it is SO unfair to tar everyone with the same brush when actually, pretty much everyone is struggling at the moment. xxx

  11. Just found this post whilst browsing the #bbloggers on twitter.

    Wonderful, wonderful post. I only wish everyone saw things this way.

    I'd say more but there's nothing to say, your post is perfect