OK so a lot has happened over recent days and even hours now which has made me a little mad, and as it all boils up inside of me, what better way to deal with it than a blog / rant.
So whats this topic that is eating away at me, whats this thing that drives me mad. I will tell you what it is, benefits and certain peoples beliefs.
Lets start with the basics here, the UK has a 'great' benefits system which covers many areas other countries do not support you on, hell some countries dont even have benefits, end of! We have the NHS, whilst not a benefit, it is OF benefit, and often forgotten when comparing ourselves o other countries. We dont have to worry about the cost of the dentist, or seeing a doctor, high priced medications etc, good ol' NHS has that covered for us.
So lets now look at the other bits, the main ones that cause so much trouble. Housing benefits, income support, unemployment benefits and other such things. First up, they are called benefits, but seem to be misinterpreted as some sort of right or gift. Wrong, its to support you, help you survive, help you get by. Benefits as badly named as they are, were introduced to give people going through hard times a chance, a foot up, and keep them afloat until the next form of income came along. Not to become a lifestyle or a choice. They were seen as a necessary evil, a little bit embarrassing, and something you wanted on and off asap.
Over the years these things have become exploited, landlords upping their rents in the private sector, taking advantage of the lack of affordable housing, driving ,monthly housing benefit claims through the roof, in some cases way over £1000 a month, and in exceptional circumstances much much more. People have found ways to work very lucrative scams, working full time for cash or under a different name, and claiming all the benefits they can. In some cases even pretending to be single parents to get the maximum benefits they can, while in fact living together and one being in a well paid job.
The time has come to start stamping all over this culture, and make a change. A change that has been called for over and over during many governments, but all have failed. Now that we are gripped in deep recession, and have a government who have the balls to go head on into a battle of the benefits, there is outcry. How will people live on so little, how can people be so blinkered to believe you can survive on £X a week.
Today a little tussle started after I dared to post to Facebook a comment about this, and it got me thinking. Daring to comment on it, somehow I felt that some people didnt feel I was qualified to comment in such a way. So lets do this, lets take a walk down memory lane with Uncle Snaz, and see some good old fashioned home truths.
I was born in 1973 to a single mum, living in a tiny one bedroom flat in Sydenham, South London. Growing up I dont remember too many perks. No games consoles, a black and white television, eventually. (for those who dont know, TV's were not always colour you know!! ;) ) School dinners were not something to be angry about or moan about, they were my one and only balanced meal of the day. The evening would sometimes see exciting things like toasted burger buns with tomato sauce. Snacks, sweets, crisps were pretty much a fantasy, and only came about when friends parents treated us all, or the nice neighbours took us for trips to the sweet shop.
Holidays were quite simple, twice a year we would travel to North Wales at my aunts expense to stay with them, and live a life of what I can only explain as luxury. I should say that by todays standards that 'luxury' is nothing more than what people 'expect' as a standard of living. I can still remember that a few weeks before going we would live even more below the breadline as mum saved up the pages in her benefits books, to try and maintain some dignity and support us while we stayed with her sisters.
Going to school was fun, being one of the few from a broken home, wearing a uniform that was purchased annually with ILEA clothing vouchers, and if I was REALLY lucky there was enough for a pair of trousers to play out in. As I say school dinners were much appreciated. Hell even school milk was nice to have. Talking of clothing, I still remember my first and only football kit. Every boy needs one, its his right of passage. What did I get, who did I support. Well I think I liked West Ham at the time, but got a Crystal Palace kit as it was cheap, and the only one mum could afford.
As the years passed at school and school journey's became an option to most, the simply became a pipe dream and a letter that I would bring home, and mum would cross through the WILL, leaving the WILL NOT be attending exposed, sealing my fate on that trip. Towards the end of primary school we finally moved from out 1 bedroom place to a 3 bedroom place in Forest Hill, where I still live to this day, and am grateful an feel blessed for what we were given. Carpets and a lot of furniture would have to wait, there simply wasnt the money for it. But a year or so later I got to go on a school trip. A few days to the wild, the amazing, the ever so distant, the exotic... Hindhead in Surrey. The Devils Punchbowl!
Are you getting the picture yet? No fancy toys, no pushbike, 50p pocket money as I reached 10ish. Still no colour TV, that would not come until I was 16 and had my own job, and even that would be rented from Granada for years. Winters with the heating in the house turned to OFF, fashionable clothing WAY out of reach. Once I reached secondary school mum could finally claw back her dignity, and get a job, working at the local Sainsburys. A job considered a little below some I went to school with, but it meant we could start eating real meals, and really start to have a life, but it remained pretty humble.
When I reached 15 and 3/4 I did some work experience, decided school was boring and took a full time job, and started earning. I truly have not looked back since. Taking any job I can and sticking at it through thick and thin, my only time out of work was my decision and was for the first few months of my daughters life. Something that is too precious to miss if you can afford it. Almost 25 years later I look back and pat my younger self on the back for the decision I made. No exams, but no excuses, which is more than I can say for some I grew up with.
See this social dependency isn't a new thing, its not a new generation being lazy. Its repeat generations being lazy, bone idle and too afraid to lift a finger to earn. Relinquishing the chance of a worth while life, and instead choosing to claim what they honestly believe they are entitled to. Maybe its the language that is all wrong, 'benefits', 'entitled', 'owed'... What the hell. When I was 16 I caught chickenpox and had to take 2 weeks off work. I got NOTHING for that time off as I hadn't worked for my employer long enough, and hadn't paid enough NI. These days people will smash up a benefits office for less!
This money is there to SURVIVE on, not live on. So before saying its not enough, its not fair, its hardship, take a look around you. Computers, mobile phones, cars, large flat screen TV's , Sky subscriptions, pets, expensive lifestyles, drinking and smoking habits and addictions, heating on 24/7. Benefits are not meant to pay for ANY of these things, let alone holidays, designer clothes, or the latest washing machine. Food, roof, warmth, existence, THATS IT!
I of course realise that there is a fair percentage that works hard for a living and earns the right to have a better life style, and in certain cases misfortune deals them a blow where for a while they are down on their luck, income drops or ceases, and suddenly they are left struggling to get by. I have been there too, having been the long term carer of my sick mum, running out of sick pay, and being left heavily in debt. I do think to a degree the benefit system lets this group down a little, but not totally. I dont think anyone expects the tax payer to keep up payments on your car, or help you maintain a luxury lifestyle while you find work. But I have to say that if it was not for all the people expecting and demanding payment because they are too lazy to work, or too dishonest to declare their income, there would be more in the pot to help the genuine people who have fallen on hard times, and just need that hand of support until they can recover.
To be honest there will never be a 'fair' benefits system, or legal system etc for that matter. There will always be the minority of dishonest and disinterested people who cant be bothered to be a part of society, and will behave in a way they choose, and not in a way which others find acceptable. Then there will always be the PC brigade backing up those poor suffering souls, and trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Claiming things are not fair, people will suffer and more should be done. But never offering a sensible solution to the issue. A bit like every shadow government for the past 30 years.
The genuine person will always be the one who suffers for the ignorance of the others, but the genuine person will always have the smallest voice, and the least chance. Its not fair, its not right but society allows it.
I say society and not the government as I am sick to death hearing how Blair, Brown, Thatcher, Major, Cameron etc are to blame. They are the government, you are not meant to like them. They are there to make decision based on what facts they have and chosen by us to steer this country in the right direction. B+B Brown and Blair, or Boom and Bust, which ever you which to call them, there were good times for some and bad for others, and now the worm has turned, reality has set in and the UK is broke.
Cuts are never nice, but times are hard, and the cold hard reality is things need to change. Immigration needs capping, spending needs curbing, and benefits need reform. Its not going to be pretty, its not going to be easy, and I feel for the genuine people out there affected by the changes. But the people to blame surround us daily... Society as a whole. Not the 1%, not the MP's not the bankers.
Take a long hard look at where society is right now, where is going, and what it has created.
Welcome to the UK in 2013, our creation!
I stand by every word I have written, and speak strongly from experience in many aspects. We are all entitled to our opinons, and these are mine.
FLAME ON !