Monday, 3 February 2014

Who's benefiting?

Channel 5 has just broadcast a live debate 'The Big Benefits Row'. There seems to be no end of programs at the moment showcasing people claiming benefits in the UK and often portrayed as lazy and wanting to take advantage.

Ironically I was working through some personal budget/financial figures as I had this debate on in the background.

Unfortunately I found the show didn't really answer much or tackle all that much detail, it was more about certain figures having bitching sessions with one another.

However, as someone who works hard for their pay, I feel sick every time I see the National Insurance and tax payments that come out of my paycheque. 

Even now I always remember my Dad saying to me wait until you're earning and you see how much gets taken away from me. As a child I'd laugh and tell him not to be so miserable. Funny how once you get older you soon see their point of view! 

I also feel somewhat sick to see people who get homes for 'free', whilst I battled to get on the property ladder. And now saving up and going through the process of looking to buy a house the topic is somewhat raw with me yet again.

Don't get me wrong, I understand in some situations the benefits are needed and people are in situations where they have no choice. I'm not disputing those people who need help as they have a genuine disability for example.

Those people who claim everything under the sun, don't work and conveniently have some sort of breakdown, health issue or 'emergency' just at the right time do drive me insane though! 

As I see friends struggle with the job they're in for various reasons because they need the money or stability I get so annoyed. "They're lucky to have a job" people argue. Of course it's better to be in work than to be unemployed we're all agreed on that. 

Yet what is the difference between them and the people who argue certain jobs are beneath them? Why should they stick at their job and go to work miserable each day? Why shouldn't they say they don't like it and just go try claim benefits?

What I also find is that those people that do work hard and pay towards the system then often then find they are not eligible for help when they do find themselves in this struggle scenario.

In all things in life I feel unfortunately there will always be those who take advantage. Those who see kindness, empathy and understanding and take advantage.

Then as in many situations (not just benefits), many people get tarred with the same brush or everyone then gets hit with a harder line.

I always remember one place I worked had a ridiculously strict and unreasonable sickness policy, all because at one point they were fair and people took advantage. Therefore they felt they had to take a tough approach and as a result those people who acted reasonably also got punished. 

I've experienced both sides of the debate. One set of grandparents owned their own home and worked hard to get money to support their family. The others lived in a council property (they did also work I should add). 

When it came to later in life both my grandmothers needed to be in a home for different reasons. One grandmother had to have her house rented out and this was used to help pay for her care home. The other got a Bupa care home for free. 

Fair? Probably not. As both were relatives of mine obviously I just want what was for best for them and am glad they were both cared for regardless of how that care came about.

It does get you thinking. I often over the year have joked with my parents for example I'd have been better off 'getting up the duff' when I was very young and I'd be laughing now - receiving lots of help, having a cut price home and more.

Would I be happy? Probably not.

I don't claim to have all the answers and I don't have a strong view either side of the debate since some form of benefits system clearly is needed.

However as with most things in life, there will always be those who push too far and are selfish, and it's the people who are fair and try to do what's best who suffer. 

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