UNEMPLOYMENT / JAN. 10, 2014
version 3, draft 3

Benefits Britain: Does it Still Exist?

Government Benefits and people getting money for doing nothing has always been a hot topic, especially in the UK. But recently there have been many changes to the benefits system, which challenge the concept of Benefits Britain.

No matter how PC or left wing you might be it is always hard to stomach when you find out that someone has been defrauding the state. Given the recent economic crisis and the stagnant wages of most common working British people this has only amplified. In fact the recent cap on benefits earnings has been one of the most popular measures the government has brought in with roughly 80% approval. With some families pocketing over £60,000 a year from benefits people were quite rightly becoming outraged. Given that the average middle class family earns roughly £36,000 it is a considerable amount of money.

The government of course had to take action especially as we currently have a Tory government. The first idea was to cut benefits to a maximum of £500 per week per household. But there are of course calls from the public and within the government itself to reduce the benefit further to £400 per week or less; perhaps limiting it to £20,000 per year. As £500 left people with almost £30,000 per year. The public naturally want people who are out of work to be worse off than those who are not and also to have an incentive to look for work.

It is of course not as simple as that, because many unemployed people are actually looking for work but because there is a recession, work is not always that easy to find. So the cries of get off your ass and get a job do not apply to everyone in this case. Of course those who are being lazy are seen as the perfect examples of Benefits Britain.

Given the recent cuts made by the government, however, does this term still apply. It is now extremely hard for someone to live a lavish life from benefits payments alone. The government has even announced their intention to stop paying child benefit to children who do not actually live in the UK but their parents work here. Indeed they have also removed housing benefit payments to the under 25’s. Do we still live in Benefits Britain?

If we take the view that any state with a free health service such as the NHS and a substantial social security system is a benefits state then yes we do live in Benefits Britain. However, that seems a very broad and one sided ultra-right wing view who would remove any kind of free benefit. Benefits Britain may indeed still exist but it is in a much reduced state. The UK is certainly not a country where you can just go and ask for a free handout anymore. Your views and comments on Benefits Britain please!

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