Benefits: What is the problem?
I watched Nick and Margaret| We all Pay Your Benefits on the BBC last night. The programme seemed to look at common misconceptions about unemployment and benefits that are spread by newspapers like the Sun and the Daily Mail. I picked up a copy of the Daily Mail in the hospital waiting room yesterday. It was absolute rubbish, but people believe that propaganda.
The programme didn’t really look at the real problems with the benefits system. It did scratch the surface of the culture that goes with the benefits system though. Notice how many of the claimants had piercings or tattoos? Where these to impress prospective employers? I think not. They are a symbol of what is sometimes termed the ‘chav’ culture. People on benefits become part of a sub culture in society. The programme did briefly touch on the fact that job seekers benefit is a small part of the overall benefit bill. A lot of benefits go to pensioners. Why? Because pensioners need a pension to live on. Pensioners also need housing benefit and council tax benefit because rent for social housing are now extortionate (an economic rent…). Council tax bills went sky high after Thatcher scrapped the rates and introduced a disaster called the community charge and then financed local government empire building with the council tax.
Look around, look at the picture above. Not an old labour exchange is it? No we have to have purpose built buildings for Jobcentres now. I would like to know which building company built that and how they got the contract. I would also like to see their annual report and see how much profits they make building these iconic buildings. I would like to know the salaries of the executives of that company too, complete with bonuses.
I must admit that I came from a working class family, a big family. We didn’t have much because there were so many kids, but we didn’t have to rely on a food bank. Rent and rates were collected by a rent man once a week. Food was much more expensive then and we ate offal and things made from offal like sausages a lot. The problems started with local government reorganisation. What do we have now, traffic calming, mini roundabouts, private companies running prisons and hospitals. I paid £2 to park my car for 40 minutes at the hospital yesterday. The hospital has a Costa, I bet a coffee would have cost more than £2.00.
I noticed many of those claimants on TV last night drank coffee and the food they ate seemed to be the crap advertised on TV. The graduate who had a 2:1 in ‘media studies’ had an Iphone and wouldn’t be seen dead in clothes from Asda. I don’t blame him for not taking a job in a shop on minimum wage, but he is caught up in a culture where the designer trainers and the smart phone are seen as essentials. He lives with his grand parent rent free, so can afford to run an Iphone. If I had a smart phone, I would buy it cash and have a ‘goody bag’ from Giff Gaff.
Overall, I think the problems people on benefits have are with a system that wants cheap labour. It wants to force them to take minimum wage jobs. We need social housing rents frozen for years. We need council tax frozen for years. We need water charges frozen for many years. We need energy prices frozen for many years. These charges are making it difficult for working people and people on benefits to live. Rags like the Sun newspaper try to stir up hostility between the low income earners and vulnerable people who are unemployed, sick or disabled. How about Rupert Murdoch and the high earners at News Corp paying more tax instead of picking on the vulnerable?
What do you think? Do we need more food banks? Do the chief executives of our hospitals and councils deserve 175,000 a year? Does Boris Johnson deserve 250,000 for writing a weekly column for a newspaper on top of what he gets for being mayor of London? It seems to me that there is a culture for the rich and a food bank culture for the poor. What do you think?
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