At the moment there has been plenty of media coverage about ‘Social Security’ and ‘Welfare’. It seems if it isn’t the UK, it is Spain or the US that are fighting for more or less of the ‘Nanny State’.
The ‘Nanny State’ is a complex, and often antiquated system founded upon a set of ideals, which works to maintain the status quo of welfare, so it is available for everyone to access; but is it still doing its job and is it this enough in the modern world? Could a radical shake-up of the system be justified? How radical a change would be called for or tolerated to help to reform or re-create the system? Especially a system which might have served a country for so long, it is difficult to imagine being without it.
Welfare in the form of unemployment, sickness and disability benefits have changed lives; brought people out of poverty, saved people from poverty, and helped to support millions. Yet, there are always a number of individuals who spoil the system, flouting the premise of welfare rules just to con the country out money for nothing. This is where the negative begins to impact upon welfare, and soon the rot sets in to unravel any good that was ever done by it.
It is common knowledge in the UK that there are people claiming a benefit under false pretenses, Hell, I should know I have worked with said people! I know the scams and I know they are completed successfully as the system has no safe guard to prevent such fraudulent actions. Consequently, the amount of tax payer’s money leaking from the system every year is unquantifiable. Reasons being are that fraud is difficult to prove, and the evidence alone can take time and yet again money to pursue. So, how can this misuse of time, money and services be prevented?
It seems there is no answer, no Government has found one anyway, or maybe they are unwilling to do what is necessary to stop this. Maybe it would be too radical a step, but then what would be worse; continue pouring billions down a never-ending drain every year, or, fix the problem once and for all so those who truly need help get it!
The fact that there is help available for all, as long as people meet the eligibility criteria for a benefit, is a great thing, but therein lies the parody. A 24-year-old who is physically fit and able, can in theory and practice, claim unemployment benefit in the UK forever. The whole world seems to know this too, as there are many who come to the UK in search of work, and then they too end up claiming benefits. There was a case in the ‘Daily Mail’ recently regarding a Latvian woman, with 10 children, claiming every benefit available to her and still; demanding more. Now, there are people working in the UK, barely scraping by, what with the economy being as dire as it is; but yet they are not eligible for any help, why, because they work and are deemed wealthy enough. Yet, someone who has never worked, and there is no reason that they can’t, is eligible to take from a pot they have never paid into. The contradictions in the system go on and on to the point where people are beginning to question; what is the welfare system truly there for? Is it for those who genuinely need its help or is it just for those who want to scam the system?
I have met so many people who don’t claim what is rightfully theirs, because they feel ashamed, don’t understand the process or don’t know they are eligible; and then I have met others who milk it dry. I have met young men and women who could secure work, and even turn down jobs just to stay on benefits. I have met men of 45 made redundant having worked since the ages of 14 and 15, and they are told they can only claim a benefit for 6 months, and their mortgage payments won’t be covered by the welfare system. Yet, I have seen people claiming they live alone, when they have a partner with them, and they are receiving housing benefits for houses they don’t even live in! I have met people with extreme physical disabilities who get refused benefits, and some who don’t even think to try to claim anything as they just go to work; whilst a person with psoriasis is deemed disabled! Aren’t these the very contradictions which prove the system isn’t working as it should be? That the help isn’t being received by those who truly need it?
Oh, and one final thought: during my time working in the unemployment sector, one specific case stuck with me, and it wasn’t as unusual as it might sound. It was of a man in his late 30’s (physically fit and healthy), married with 5 children; he and his wife had been claiming benefits for many years. He said himself it wasn’t worthwhile him working, though he had been offered jobs, because the salary was so little compared with what benefits he received. Between unemployment benefit, tax credits, child benefits, housing and council tax benefits the man’s income for a month was £2000. That is equivalent to somebody’s monthly salary, and they wouldn’t be eligible to receive any benefits.
So, is it worthwhile maintaining a welfare system that perpetuates unemployment, because it provides more stability and income than an actual job, or, is it about time there were more restraints, and checks to ensure that only the truly in need received the help? Maybe a sliding scale of benefit payments, which could be assessed and based on individual needs, so that not everyone receives the same amounts? Or, is it time to bin the system and start all over again?
What do you think? What is the welfare system like where you live? Have you experience of the system? Do you think it works or is it failing? Do you think welfare doesn’t go far enough, and people need more, not less?
Leave comments below, thanks!
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