The Benefit System, Welfare to Work

April 2013 Welfare changes

April  2013 Welfare changes

April brings significant changes in the welfare system, supporting what the conservative government have labelled as a Britain for “hard working people”.  This morning introduces the across-the-board welfare benefit cap in the London boroughs of Enfield, Bromley, Croydon and Haringey, where no welfare claimant can receive more than the average annual household income of £26,000 in benefits.  For the first time in history, working-age benefits and tax credit rises will be capped at a below inflation rate of 1% for the next 3 years.

David Cameron’s rhetoric consistently evokes the “hard working people of this country” and against a system that he describes was causing “resentment”. And there is certainly strong public support against what has become a sensationalised epidemic of “benefit scroungers” and benefit frauds, a 2012 YouGov poll indicating the stark perceptions against the reality. On average people think that;

  •  41% of the entire welfare budget is spent on benefits to unemployed people,
  • the true figure is 3%:
  • public believe that on average 27% is claimed fraudulently,
  • the actual figure stands at 0.7%.

Reactionary policy, particularly in times of economic hardship, is often popularised by a very superficial evaluation of a problem.

The fact that there are so many unemployed in Britain, the 7th richest country in the world, is a problem. The Coalition government’s agenda does not tackle the problem, but has a lot of misinformation and promotes an easy pandering to be tough on welfare claimants.

The idea behind the cuts is to “make work pay” and discourage dependency on welfare; without effective investment or opportunity in the jobs market, what is the point? Not only are the number of jobs limited, often only part-time work is available, many people currently do not have the skills, or cannot afford childcare on a minimum wage. There is an endless list of considerations and obstacles that need to be tackled if the government genuinely intends to create an assembly of tax-paying “hard working” individuals; this cannot be achieved by punishing those that struggle, but will only create a greater number of poor and those who will constantly be balancing on poverty’s edge.

By Atoosa Khatiri

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