Benefits trap

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Blogg, Jul 18, 2009.

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  1. And a big one it is too.

    "When you lose your job or you get sick, the State steps in to look after you. That's a good thing, right? Well, it is until you get hooked on it. Like painkillers, it helps to begin with but you can become increasingly dependent on them and find that you can't get off them. Having read The Welfare State We're in, which details how the benefit culture may have contributed to a breakdown in British society, I know that the trap is now sprung and I am on the verge of becoming stuck.

    I am not sick, but I did lose my job in November. I got a reasonably generous redundancy package that was not enough to live on but with savings it was too large to qualify for benefits. That was fine. I would rather make my own way in the world than rely on the State's handouts. All well and good, but life goes on. I had a flat that I had to pay rent on. Food to eat. People to see and some fun to have. Not having a job but having some money has the upsides of being a student and having a job: both Time and Money at the same time.

    I wasn't being stupid though. I had enough money coming in from doing odd jobs to keep afloat and I wanted to save most of the money to offset various debts (student loan, etc). However, with interest rates crashing down this seemed less and less viable. What is the point in having a full ISA if you get £8 a month?! Additionally, oddjobs dried up, so my bank balance began to creep down to the point where my savings no longer close to offseting my debts. At this point I decided to empty my savings and pay off as much of my debt as possible.

    The reason for this is simple. If you have any savings then you get less dole money. But this doesn't take debts into account. If I wanted to get my Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) then that is what I had to do. It was painful getting rid of everything that I had saved up and leaving myself with no financial cushion or room for manœuvre if something went wrong but it had to be done. So I called up the Department of Work and Pensions (0800 055 6688) and spent 45 minutes telling them all the tedious details that they need. They seemed more concerned with finding out which disability I might have had than actually processing my claim. It was almost as if they wanted to register me as disabled so that I didn't count as unemployed.

    I went to the JobCentre Plus in Hammersmith the next day for an interview only to find that they had put me down for contributions based rather than both contribution and income based JSA. The difference essentially being that if you haven't paid enough NI then you can't get contributions based and income based is limited to about £64 per week, the level that the State thinks is the minimum you can live on. Sky dishes on council blocks anyone? That's another story....

    As this was my first job since university and having been working in Zug, Switzerland my NI contributions were not enough and additionally I had to fill in a form explaining why I hadn't been working in the UK (more money, less taxes & better services just about sums it up). Obviously I was seen as Patriotic enough and passed that test. I even managed to make it through the interview with an incredibly patronising fat woman. She didn't seem interested in what I had done or was good at, but wanted to tell me exactly what I should be doing (reading the Guardian twice a week) and she didn't ask for a copy of my CV. Why would she? She probably knows exactly what kind of job is right for me just by looking at me.

    So, I got my money each week, but not before agreeing to certain conditions, the Jobseeker's Agreement. This sets out that I will be looking and available for employment, make suitable efforts to find work, etc. I record everything I do in a little book but must make sure I complete three jobseeking steps per week. An example of this would be to phone the local baker to see if he has any work. So not exactly strenuous. I filled up the book and went onto another sheet of paper in my first two weeks and from listening to the other people, it is clear that you don't actually have to do anything for them to give you the ok. Indeed you could make it all up.

    There are two conditions that are important. One is that you can't work for more than 16 hours in a week and the other is that you earn money you will get your benefit + and extra £5 - the amount you earnt. So if you earn £20 in the week you will get £64+£5-£20=£69. There is a small incentive to work if you are going to get less than your benefit amount, but not much. And if you are going to earn just more than £69 in a week, then you are going to have to do a lot of work for it when you could do nothing and get your money anyway. Also, you can't do more than 16 hours unpaid work. The reason: you won't have enough time to conduct your job search properly. Seriously, that is taking the piss. Weekends? Evenings? They can't actually want anybody to be looking for work.

    And now, the best part. Hammersmith & Fulham is my council. They have an eight year waiting list for council housing, but those on JSA can claim housing benefits. I would be eligible for around £150 per week renting a private flat and £15 per week council tax benefit. All of this is income dependent so if you are earning money you get less benefit. So let's add this up. £64 JSA + £150 Housing Benefit + £15 Council Tax Benefit = £229 per week. Let's call it £230 for simplicity. That works out at £11,960 per year. Not a bad wage (starting salary as a squaddie is around £15,000) for doing 5 minutes work per week.

    So, how much would you have to earn to take home £11,960 after paying council tax at £15 per week? About £15,675 by my calculations. The State has decided that there is an income that people need to survive but they still tax you if you earn that much. How does that make sense?

    So you have a choice when offered a job worth around £15,500 or less: take it, work hard, earn your own money or do nothing and get the same amount of money. What if you are offered a job for £16,000? You would be better off by £6.63 per week, not £9.61, due to tax. That's not a lot of money for a lot more work. £17,000 makes you £19.90 better off per week instead of £28.85 because of tax.

    The State seemingly doesn't want people at the job centre to get jobs (or it would be making them do a lot more), and even if they are offered a job, unless they are offered a good wage (average in the UK is about £25,000) there is little incentive to take it.

    If I decide to move into a flat on housing benefit, I will have a large incentive not to take a job unless it comes with a good. So, no bar jobs, no part time waiter work, etc. It just doesn't pay. The same goes for the other 2.38 million people."
  2. The system is and has been for so long now a combination of the feckless professional claimants, and then others who genuinely need help some short term some long term but actually get little, help or support.

    The system is also geared towards making it harder for those in need i left the new deal scheme on the advice of the DWP and was put on ESA as i was and for those that know me now obviously mentally ill the reasons are varied some as a result of my service some not , i also am less able physically than i was this time last year, also as result of service and other things.

    Many despise having to claim and accept charity it isn't easy, many then are also trapped into the spiral of debt isnt the only thing that keeps one trapped its a lack of skilled help to be able change one situation and deal with the effects of medication, that is more important and less given.

    Job centres cant make work where none or little exist nor can they with the best will in the world change the rules to make those that want to work to be able to afford to work, labour have had ten long year's to make the welfare system work, and to have it as a way forward for someone not a trap or a lifestyle choice.


    After the general elections welfare state benefits will be cut and cut to the bone along with every other dept. Sadly though what ever cuts are made the feckless will be unaffected.

    I only hope that i can find an employer who will be prepared to give me a job, given that i might never fully recover to full physical or mental health, one that will give me back my self respect but that wont leave me in poverty, unable to improve my life.
  3. msr

    msr LE

    You can have up to £6,000 of savings.

  4. Why do you think so many people on the dole will work cash in hand....? No paperwork, no taxes, no NI and you get the cash plus your benefit. It's not rocket science to you or me but it's a complete and utter mystery to Government.....
  5. Cash in hand work don't even start me on that scam... Worse still its those who employ them knowing full well they are encouraging benefit fraud and are the type to dodging taxes themselves.

    Yes its not easy for some small business to cope with the raft of bureaucracy that has been thrown at them and in so many cases making it impossible to be able to offer work to those who would benefit most from it.

    I don't have any answers though, other than to only start taxing anyone once they have reached a certain threshold of earnings, this isn't new and has been discussed many times. Vince cable has said for years its the way forward!

    But it will never happen because of this government have only the will to spend money to take wealth rather than spend money to create wealth. I pray that the Tories pick up there game and do something to work to this rather than just slash and burn.

    Cnuts the lot of them.
  6. It's probably no consolation but you're not on your own Halo .

    Actually I'm shocked how difficult it is to find a job these days . I thought it was just a case of filling in a few application forms and send them off to employers then with the law of averages I'll be getting a job in no time . I was only applying for stuff like night porter and kitchen porter etc . I'm not proud , just despeparate to get some money saved up so I can do a bit of backpacking for a few months , but in the last month I've only had one interview and I'm starting to lose hope :(

  7. I have only had two shifts this week, but that will take me over 16 hours, so I can't claim knob suckers allowance and I have earned too much to qualify for housing benefit. After paying my rent and less what I would have been given for lazing about I am only £50 better off. However I think £50 more is better, it pays for a better standard of living, new car mobile phone, internet, holidays abroad etc. I can also hold my head up high and feel proud that I am working.

    You sound like a negative person, you probably think it's not worth getting out of bed, because I will only have to get back into it soon.
  8. The whole Benefits System needs root and branch reform. It should be a safety net for people who, through no fault of their own, simply cannot pay for their own food, housing etc. It should never be an alternative to work.

    One possible solution would be to force those claiming benefit to work for the money after a certain cut-off period. For example, when you first register as unemployed you get three months benefit(providing you can prove you are looking for work)help with training etc. After three months, you start working for the State. Nasty, unpleasent work; working alongside street-cleaners, binmen etc.

    This should eliminate the Jeramy Kyle Generation who view Benefits as a right and as an alternative to contributing to society.

    Another change would be to provide benefits in the form of coupens that can ONLY be used for food, clothing etc. Want cash? Get a fcuking job.
  9. What same as it is now ?
  10. 2 of the best jobs I ever had, and that was before wheely bins, hard work in the fresh air great stuff. Apart from that agree with every thing else in your post.
  11. I can tell you for now the unions would go apeshit over that. Add the fact that you would effectively put binmen etc out of work as it would be getting done by the long term unemployed.

    Coupons? No chance mate, I remember when they did that with asylum seekers - difference being they had never contributed to the system whereas others, like me and halo, have.

    Getting a job isn't easy, I have over 1000 applications under my belt and out of that I have had about 3 interviews. You can't penalise people for being unemployed, only if they are not actually out there looking for work. You can't force someone at gunpoint to employ you, if you could I would have done that ages ago :lol:
  12. spike7451

    spike7451 RIP

    I'm out of work at the moment,getting JSA/HB.I'm just back from annual camp away with the ACF.I know (& dont expect) to get dole while I was away.
    I went on camp for three main reasons:
    1-The work
    2-The chance to earn money (MOT & car tax due soon!)
    3-It gives me money I need to set up my own business,(starting in Aug/Sept,works slack at present)
    Obviously cheap beer in the mess & getting the £uck outta Norn Iron's a bonus!
  13. Maybe digging holes and filling them in again would up their character a bit?
  14. Since we have people who have been living on Benefits for DECADES, I venture to suggest my ideas would be a radical change. :wink:
  15. Stab, the binmen up my way are on strike anyway, so fcuk them. :twisted:

    There's a world of differance between people who are busting a gut to try and get a job and the Jermey Kyle's, who only drag their fat arses off the sofa to sign on. :evil: It's those untermench I want to see cleaning gum of the pavements with a toothbrush. In November. At 00DarkThirty... :twisted: