Friday, 26 November 2010

Welfare

I studied Social Policy graduated 1996 BA Honours.

The fact is that the welfare system never was intended to provide for long-term mass unemployment, never mind people on long-term incapacity because they cannot work, or single-parent families; not having a go at those groups of people just stating a fact.

What has changed since the start of the welfare state is the attitude to work and the expectation of a lifestyle committed to welfare benefit.

It matters not if immigrants or nationals are on benefits, what matters in the central collective understanding of a work ethic.

Most of the media and financially wealthy moguls, people the young admire or sadly idolize, give the impression that it is the norm to get what you want and start at the top. It was not for most if not all of them and it is not for people living in the real world. People have to stop saying that they will not get out of bed for less than £300 (£15,600 year) to £400 a week (20,800 year); that’s £7.50 or £10 per hour @40 hours a week, before tax. The minimum wage in the UK for people over 21 is £5.93 an hour; £4.92 for people aged 18 – 20 and £3.64 for people aged 16 – 17.

How do they think working folk in low paid jobs survive? Look at the wages of those jobs that are available; and their taxes also go towards welfare benefits.

Taxes, by stealth or otherwise are needed to pay for the welfare state. Otherwise we would have to go down the path of the USA and the implications of insurance based contributions for health, education and homes – or be without if one cannot afford or falls foul of the small print clauses and exceptions.

It is not just the “system” that needs a shake up it is the reality check of having to work and taking and making responsible life choices. It is hard. It is disappointing to work for a low wage. But that is life. Truly wish it was not. I don’t want my family working all hours for a pittance, but work they must to try to better themselves, work and save for their pension so they do not have to rely on the state to survive, but to live slightly better lives.

I think it would be better to scrap the ages for minimum wage and just say anybody regardless of age gets the upper limit.

I would also bring housing benefit payments to 16 year olds so that they can learn to stand on their own or with their partners or flat mates, it is not applicable to treat them like children when they are in fact adults.

Give young adults, 16+, a start in life to look towards and work at being responsible citizens not little children.  That means treating them as adults – wages, benefits and access to other so-called adult areas such as:

  • Marriage; the minimum legal age for getting married is 16 years old. In England and Wales the written consent of the parents or Guardians is required for persons who have not reached 18 years old and have not been previously married. If either of the persons is below 18 a birth certificate must be produced.  
  • Alcohol consumption; before the age of 18, you are not allowed to buy alcohol in pubs or shops, drink alcohol in pubs or outside in public places.  It is also unlawful for anyone else to buy alcohol for you if you are under 18 and the drink will be consumed in a pub or public place.   [However, if you're aged 16 or 17, you are allowed to drink wine, beer, or cider (but not other alcohol) with a meal in a restaurant, hotel or part of a pub set apart for eating meals. You can only do this if someone aged 18 or over is with you at the meal and buys the alcohol.] 
  • Voting; 16+ year olds can register to vote but cannot vote till they are 18.

Time to not just rethink the welfare state policy or shake it up by tweaking it.  It is time to get back to basics and see what it was about – universal vs means test ideological aspects also need rethinking.

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