Reaping the benefits


Two weeks into May and still my shiny new PAYG remained resolutely silent of job offers. Where was everybody? Still, twenty four years after leaving school at the tender age of sixteen it was nice to get a little time off. Weather was good too. I could get used to this.

It wasn’t paying the bills though, and the battered war chest wasn’t going to last for ever. Then there was that slight matter of the cheap second-hand car I’d decided to buy when the company car went back. You see, I got made an offer I couldn’t refuse and there went about two thirds of it…

So it was time to bite the bullet and cash in on the fantastic benefit system I’d been part funding for the last quarter of a century.

The Welfare State that we live in is great isn’t it? A huge safety net that guarantees that no one goes hungry and no one goes homeless. Ok so it has a few minor issues, like openly encouraging feckless teenagers to get sprogged up with instant rewards of housing, cash, support and freebies. Talk about lie back and think of England! And it doesn’t end there either. Bonus points for having extra kiddies, double word score if you manage to have kiddies of different sex as then they can’t share a room after a certain age and you all move another notch up the housing ladder.

Oh yes, we may have a system that is eroding the very core of civilization (see any “shopping mall” for full details) and turning the Darwinian theory of evolution on its head by penalising the strong and intelligent who go out to work whilst rewarding the thick and the lazy for breeding, but at least a safety net so strong and so widespread ensures that at least I’ll be covered.

Or so I thought. Turns out it’s not quite like that. An hour on the phone to the benefits call centre and it transpires that my careful and parsimonious life of graft entitles me to the princely sum of £64-30 a week and my council tax covered.

So yes it will keep a roof over my head. And yes it will feed me.

Just not at the same time. Not unless I can get myself pregnant at any rate…

Life is full of choices. I just wasn’t expecting to be forced to chose between shelter or food…


2 Responses to “Reaping the benefits”

  1. Shakethedisease Says:

    I disagree with your Darwinian theory. If ‘strong and intelligent’ = ‘childless.. then the human race isn’t going to survive long.

    A more believable concept is that today those working and not in social housing (82% of the English population)..can’t afford to lose 1 wage, or pay the childcare if they do have a child. They’d lose their house otherwise.

    It’s that simple.

    Also, just to point out that the vast majority of single parents, teenage and otherwise are actually in relationships when they do have children.


    Where she quotes ” And let’s clear up another issue while we’re at it: the majority of single parents are women who were married at the time they had their children. They are not all sorry examples of motherhood like Karen Matthews. Yes, it would appear that Karen Matthews had her “cash-crop kids” in order to claim up to £400 a week in State benefits. But it is an outrageous slur to suggest that every woman in the land has risked her life in the delivery suite to get her hands on a few measly quid in Child Benefit. ”

    We’re not all thick and lazy. Some of us just had relationships that broke up. And according to the Office of National Statistics :- “Almost half of all marriages in England and Wales will end in divorce if current trends continue, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday.” ( March 2008 ).

    Now if one wage can’t support your average mortgage or decent private rental and/or childcare where are these single parents, teenage or otherwise going to end up living ?

  2. charliecroker Says:

    Hello Shakey,

    I think perhaps you miss my point slightly. You are absolutely right in what you say, but as you acknowledge yourself there, those that are making their own way in life simply cannot afford to have children. Meanwhile those that do (“accidentally” or whatever) get pregnant are taken care of by the system (Karen Matthews, as you rightly point out, is a golden example of the breed).

    Now I’m not saying that therefore anyone with kids (single or otherwise) must be lazy and have done it for the benefits, because clearly (as you correctly state) that isn’t the case.

    What I am saying though is that the welfare system in this country most certainly does offer that choice for those that are that way inclined, and without doubt very many of the “Karen Matthews” types do take that route.

    So the way the system currently works it is a “lifestyle” route into free housing and generous benefits for many who are that way inclined, whilst simultaneously a lot of bright intelligent people who want to make their own way in the world find themselves financially forced to be childless.

    Nett result, children born deliberately in order to play the system by the “wrong” types, whilst the right types are often denied the possibility.

    Hence my assertion that the way the system works we’ve effectively turned Darwin’s theory on its head.

    Hope that clears the point up for you, because I agree with what you say completely.


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