Wednesday, March 07, 2007


(A single mother contemplates the benefits system)

Welfare to work

The Freud Report and the country’s reaction to it is , in my opinion the most important political straw on the wind . It was always obvious that Brown, whose coronation is secure , would contest the middle ground, and this must mean revisiting welfare reform
The magnificently bitter Mr. Field popped up in the DT yesterday to say that labour were yet to grasp the issue , it was all carrot and no stick. . Lots of help is available to ,‘apply’, for jobs. New haircuts, new suits, and so on , but there was nothing to make sure that you actually worked . This will become another classic Labour non -solution .They have over legislated , and over taxed, but instead of removing the some of the burden , they introduce further checks and incentives ,to enforce good behaviour . Shall we all shout together .It does not work!
Sue Carrol ,( Mirror), unearthed this quote from a website this morning and it shows the scale of the problem .

A single mother writes….

“ Work used to the escalator out of poverty, but I `m a single mother with three children who was offered a brand new council house. I get choice of kitchen units , fitted bathroom , newly plastered walls, landscaped garden – on top of income support payments , free school dinners , no university fees. .and my house will be offered to me later under a right to buy scheme” …that would be at half price.

The last point is the crucial one. Politicians, including David Cameron, floating a, rent to Mortgage idea, treat welfare claimants as if they were needy and stupid . For the most part they are neither. Not only are the skilful and subverting the system, but they make long terms strategic choices ,based on the possibility of further welfare and tax payer largesse.One of the most important is to become a single mother in the first place.
Single mothers ,like widows, and simply good people, often do a good job , this is not the point ( Alan Johnson ). The point is to decide which policy structure gives children the best hope of the best start in life .
In the words of Al Gore , here are some “ Inconvenient truths “ ( except theses ones are true ).
Britain has 1.9 million lone parent households- an increase of more than 200,000 since Labour came to power- and the highest teenage birth-rate in Europe. An office of national statistics report in 2004 showed that children of lone parents are twice as likely to have mental health problems. Children aged 12 in one
Parent families are 2.4 times as likely to smoke and 1.6 times as likely to use alcohol. Drug taking is more common , children are more likely to be expelled, and, in the US , 63% of teenage suicides , 90 % of runaway children and 85 % of juvenile prisoners are from single parent homes
I do not take these figures straight myself, there are other factor as work and some false correlations, but nonetheless the picture of a state induced moral breakdown is fair.
When Mr . Johnson , says our benefits system must be bias free what I thought was this . I’ll take that thanks ,because at the moment ,we have a brutal assault on marriage in low income households. If one spouse earns £5000 and the other £15,000 for example they would lose £5400 of benefits.The true marginal disincentive goes a long way higher up the scale that that because of the housing issue above.

We do not need a return to Peter Lilly’s little list “Young ladies who get pregnant jut to jump the housing list” ,which was needlessly impolitic. We need the stick of a fixed period benefits system, significant cuts in taxes on income especially at low levels ,and an all out assault on the concept of entitlement. This virulent lie is alive and well in this unreconstructed inner cities that Blair and co. make sure there children will never know. I meet them and I know

Do not imagine that there is no part for moral outrage in this fight,there is a place for anger visceral horror and this is my policy....



CityUnslicker said...

Quite right N. The need for reform is urgent and waht is on offer is a wet flabby cheque to those already in receipt of taxpayer's largesse.

Work must pay, mimimum wage jobs should be better than the social. This is not as hard as it sounds if, as you quite rightly put, the lower tax thresholds are moved up so as there is little or no tax on these small salaries.

electro-kevin said...

I can vouch that it is true about the largesse. The other side of my family is largely welfare dependant and know all the fiddles. Their lifestyle isn't any worse than ours - we work a collective 70 hour week and they work around 20.

A slight digression though:

Bailiffs may be given powers of entry. I think the Government have wind of the idea that people like me have had enough, that they won't have the police to cope with debt collection. What a turn up if these dodgy debt collecting agencies start using cheap immigrant labour to do this work and you end up with Poles and Ruskies kicking your door in under the auspices of the government.

This really isn't about defending the funds of the indebted credit card companies either.

Newmania said...

I saw that Kevin and I agree that its very bad. I might do something on that.


Newmania said...

Cheers CU it was the quote from the Miiror that got to me , reading it to girls in theoffice you can see the hatered in their eyes . A couiple happen to be living like Nuns so they can afford a tiny flat

Arthurian Legend said...

It may habe been "impolitic" to the readers of the Groan and the listeners to the Today programme, but not so long ago Lilley told an assembled group (of which I was a part) that following his pronouncements on welfare, many ordinary people came up to him in person (in the street, on the bus, etc.) to say that they agreed...

Newmania said...

Thats a very interesting comment AL ...but the overall effcet of the " Nasty Party" was in the end , electorally unsustainable .
I think its because you have to win the argument and abuse makes it look as if you are losing it .

Those that already agree are not the point


I `m not at all sure about this though thats justs my first thought

istanbultory said...

It is sadly true that, under Labour, people on low incomes pay a higher rate of taxation than many rich people. People earning 10/11 grand a year are in fact staring 45% marginal tax rates in the face.

Newmania said...

...and much more than that IT really

sally said...

A single mother writes….

“ Work used to the escalator out of poverty, but I `m a single mother with three children who was offered a brand new council house. I get choice of kitchen units , fitted bathroom , newly plastered walls, landscaped garden – on top of income support payments , free school dinners , no university fees. .and my house will be offered to me later under a right to buy scheme” …that would be at half price.

How unfair that sounds but i can tell you it is not always like that... I am also a single mum, with 2 teenage boys... i got a housing association house after i had been taken to court.. where i had to pay the court fees too.
I had no choice to where my house was so its 20 miles from my work..... in a viallge where the buses stop at 6 not good when you have 2 teenage sons.
my house was stripped bare no carpet no lamp shades no curtain poles no nothing.
my problem is maybe that i work .
But i do get some benifits which i could not manage with out... and belive me its not easy managing with them
Just dont class all single mums as being scroungers living a life of luxury on benifits....

Newmania said...

I don`t blame anyone for taking what is given to them Sally. I complain about a system where people are encouraged to make choices they can`t pay for themselves.

It is highly unfair on those who have to foot the bill and at the margins that unfairness is felt keenly .. My point is nothing to do with a life of luxury I `m sure its not easy its to do with breaking the link between what you do and the consequences of it .

Thanks for your input , I am well aware that being a single parent is not easy, as i say, thats not what i want to get at

nick drew said...

Newmania this is a vital issue and, quite aside from your Rage policy, you are hinting at a subtle approach to it (in a good way, not a Hattersley way)

It certainly requires subtlety.

When I was chair of housing in a borough with which I believe you are familiar, I received more opprobrium (carefully orchestrated) for my modest attempts to address this problem than for anything else I did (which included several things that might objectively be considered more controversial). It was akin to the type of stuff that is chucked around by the Right to Choose lobby, which may not be a coincidence... tread cautiously

electro-kevin said...

Hi Nick,

This support can only be freely given when general wealth covers any grievances. This is changing I think. It can't be right that my state supported brother affords cruises (down market, ok) and we have to make do with tenting.

nick drew said...

I'm with you, electro, it's a corrosive social / economic / political / moral dynamic.

But ... harking back to a much, much earlier conversation (when you were just good ol' Kev, ooh, it must be weeks ago) - that 'overwhelmingly popular manifesto' of yours: wot would it say on these matters, when so many enjoy this state largesse??

(Or would the manifesto stick to capital punishment? if you see what I mean)

Newmania said...

Nick I must say I find that insight ( note the corrected spelling ) fascinating.. you must know a great deal more about this than you have the time to say.

I have been at an Excecutive meeting of the Islington party and we chatted about a few things .I find so often the phrase " I wouldn`t have started from here "
crops up.

David Allen is very good at this , the point at which nothing you say is politically possible and therfore it tends to the onanistic.

With the many dependants you have that is a terrible difficult problem. What exactly do you say to them ?

I also have some small experience of the realities of this arguemnt locally and it is another world from the Right leaning blogasphrere which I sometimes think is a bit Weimarish .

I am often very trivial myself of course...oops

electro-kevin said...

Indeed a painful problem this largesse, with a painful solution. I'll deal with that in a mo'...

I don't think the 'manifesto' is simply flog 'em and string 'em up anymore - there're a whole raft of issues and a much broader spectrum of people beginning to think this way. (I don't talk politics BTW, but I do listen a lot)

Back to topic:

The impetus for the innevitable dismantling of the welfare system will not be political but economic. Welfarism is propped up by an ever increasing influx of cheap labour which, axiomatically, is less and less able to pay the levels of taxation in order to support correspondingly increasing welfare burden - hence the invention of green taxes, speed cameras, stealth taxes all in place to extract funds from the middle classes.

Nor is it fair or worldly for us to expect educated foreigners (here and abroad) to continue funding the lifestyles of our Vicky Pollards indefinitely through sacrificially cheap goods or services.

I would prefer strong decisions to be made now - in fact it would have been much safer for them to have been made 10 years ago. What I foresee at some point in the near future is a slump in our ability to compete economically owing to our deliberately selective breeding of the useless. That selection was done through welfare.

The impetus for a new work ethic may spring from the collapse of welfare - let's hope so.

I would have preferred a highly educated, high technology economy. Disciplined, moral, proud, but I think it's too late for that now.

The nurturing of the state funded underclass has beem unnecessary and entirely against the common will.

In the meantime I see that the Government is gearing up for a clash with the likes of me who are fed up with getting out of bed at 4am to support this nonsense. The latest is the empowerment of bailiffs to enter property without police escort and I find it hard to believe that the motive for such a drastic change in the law is for the benefit of credit card companies, especially as they have always had the tacit approval of the Chancellor.

I believe that this proposed legislation (bailiffs) is aimed at the productive classes - a lack of prison space and a lack of police resources has necessitated this move which is timely in view of the forthcoming council tax increases, re-banding, road tolls, congestion charges...


BTW I'm quite a cheerful chappy, you know and it's nice to correspond with you again.

electro-kevin said...

'I don't talk politics ...'

I rarely, if ever, use anything other than the printed word on this subject.

nick drew said...

Kev, not just cheery, you are posting up some weighty thoughts.

Mania is right, I am rather busy just now but I'm sure we will synthesize fruitfully, bit by bit, courtesy of our host's provocative thread-leadership and priestly inclusiveness


Philipa said...

Oh not again!
Anyway I'm needy and stupid and want a new council house immediately.

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