Saturday, 22 January 2011


Thousands of people over the age of  forty feel their lives have already come to an end as they collapse into deep poverty and build up massive debts caused by dramatic changes that are threatening their existence. Most face losing their homes and everything they have spent their lives working for. The rigid laws of the Welfare State completely fail to take into account the individual needs of those who may have lost a business they have slaved to build over many years or lost well-paid jobs; suffered from long term illness or become disabled. These life changing circumstances in the majority of cases have arisen through no fault of their own, yet a system they have contributed towards throughout their entire working lives are denied them when they unexpectedly need help and are at their most vulnerable. None of these people are spongers; indeed most are extremely embarrassed by their situation and will have delayed going cap-in-hand to the faceless Jobcentre Plus until their own money has run because they view seeking help to pay their household bills to be a totally alien and hostile experience.

While we are all familiar with the cases of fraudsters, benefits cheats and foreign nationals who have got away with millions of pounds in taxpayers' money, those that are genuinely poor and would give their right hand to find a job, are being left to sink deeper into the mire. Those who find themselves out of work for the first time in 30-45 years are forced to sell their cherished possessions and cash in their pensions in order to pay what still remains on their mortgages. But any money they may have managed to save rapidly disappears once their period of unemployment extends from weeks; to months; to years. The terrifying risk of losing the family home then kicks in as stress levels increase and couples start to get at each other's throats, often causing them to split up. For some the burden is simply too overwhelming and they contemplate the ultimate sacrifice; by committing suicide. Many see an early death as their only escape from their all-engulfing problems. Many honest, upright citizens who have worked and contributed towards the welfare system throughout their careers have considered suicide when they reach rock bottom and feel they have nothing left to live for, having been rejected for countless jobs and fearing what will arrive in the next post. The feeling of total hopelessness is very real more especially as the State has left them to rot.

Despite Iain Duncan Smith claiming that he will overhaul the entire benefits system by making it fairer, we are now nine months into this Government's tenancy and there is no evidence that the most needy are getting a fairer deal. Quite the contrary. The poor need money today, not in six months time and there is no time left to wait while bureaucracy considers their needs only to shatter their confidence by refusing any help. The Government has calculated that a couple should be able to live on a total income of just £202.40 a week yet, this figure takes no consideration of the outgoings they have to meet just to pay for housing, buy food, keep warm, have fresh water and to maintain even the most basic form of life. Once a 26-week period of unemployment is reached, Job Seeker's Allowance will end if a claimant's spouse works more than 24-hours a week. This is considered to be full time and any benefits will only be paid to make up the difference between  the partner's earnings and the £202.40 set by the Government. This is simply insufficient to live on by anyone's standards more especially as no consideration is given to inflation and the prices of basic essentials  that continue to rocket. How anyone with a mortgage is expected to continue paying for their home beggars belief and yet the Government will claim they are committed to defeating poverty and homelessness. Is it any wonder there is a widespread belief that some people are better off by not working?

But in reality nobody cares - certainly not politicians although they will say they do. Meanwhile Britain's so called under class is being over-populated by those that were once part of the working class.

Well worth reading:  Hard Work - Life in Low-Pay Britain by Polly Toynbee (published 2003).

Things have not changed; they have merely got worse as Britain declines into a 21st century version of something portrayed by Hogarth.

Romanian fraudulently claims more than £133,000 in benefits
Jailed cleric's home paid for by taxpayer 

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