What’s it all for?
I took part in a G+ discussion on the benefits system tonight, hosted by Nickie from I am typecast. There were a variety of different experiences and points of view represented. Afterwards the conversation continued mainly on twitter it appears and it occurred to me there was an area we hadn’t covered.
What is the benefits system for? Why do we have it, and should we?
I tend to the opinion that it’s the mark of a civilised society how we behave towards the vulnerable amongst us. Providing a safety net that is there for anyone when they need it is a good thing, something I’m proud of.
But I do think the system has become warped and is being abused.
Because we have tax credits paid to people in work, companies can get away with paying low wages. The tax payer is subsidising shareholder profits. Sometimes of course the shareholder is then in turn the taxpayer but not all the time. The people receiving tax credits didn’t design this. They didn’t look for low paid jobs just to get tax credits – does anyone really think that?
Because social housing was sold off and successive governments have subsidised home ownership through right to buy and incentive schemes we have artificially high house prices and rents which are also inflated through housing benefit. That housing benefit doesn’t make the tenants rich – it goes into landlords’ pockets. (If you’re paying a high rent you don’t think of that as a positive do you? So why is high housing benefit so often presented by media as a positive for the tenant??)
Too much of the benefit system is going to support profits, while politicians stigmatise those claiming in work benefits that they need to survive.
So maybe there are grounds for saying that we should take some parts of the benefit system apart and look at things differently.
What do you think?
Finally, the youtube video! It’s quite long. Get a drink first.