Things Rich People Never Understand

This list is ‘in progress’ I will update it if I see any more equally stupid comments. Feel free to send me a tweet @miss_mcinerney if you ever see any.

Every year I watch Conservative Conference and every year I find myself shouting at the telly in a vain attempt of educating rich people about how poverty actually works, and not because I ever lived in deep poverty but because I lived around it for a good amount of my life and I bothered to pay attention.  I wish politicians would do the same.  [NB: Obviously some rich people do understand. Unfortunately they just don't seem to do a good job of passing the message to the ones in power]

A List of Things Rich People Never Understand:

All these people on benefits can pay for Sky – OR you have a fake Sky card (yes, they exist) or you do what one member of a nearby street did and have one person in the road collect subs off everyone and then you run a wire through the houses that connects each person’s box.  OR, you think to yourself “I can’t afford hardly anything in terms of leisure – it costs a tenner to go the cinema, and DVDs are expensive, so I’ll get Sky and that will keep all the members of my family happy for about £1.50 a day”

People on benefits choose to be unemployed – What, all of them? Most of them? And if so, if people on benefits really enjoy making this choice, why will that change if you take the benefits away?  Some rich people say: “Then they’d have no choice but to work”. Except, that’s not true.  Instead of working I could choose to burgle people’s houses and sell their stuff at Cash Convertors.  I could choose to nick razors, meat and coffee from the local shop and sell it in the pub. I could choose to squat, I could choose to forfeit all my bills and spend years avoiding going to court before eventually saying that I will pay everything back at £2 a week and then start the process all over again. I could start a loan sharking business, I could take cash-in-hand jobs, I could sell drugs.  Rich people never seem to understand that if you take away benefits you don’t take away all choice, you take away one choice, the most decent choice, and in doing so the choices that open up are almost always far more damaging to society than having people be on benefits.

All these people on benefits are walking around in fancy designer clothes – Okay wealthy-people-wearing-real-Ralph-Lauren, listen up. There are five ways this happens: (1) The designer gear is fake – quite likely, (2) The designer gear was acquired from ‘the back of a lorry or a pub’ – medium likely, (3) The clothing was bought by a parent who gave up eating for a week in order that their child wouldn’t be the only one in the local area laughed at for not wearing designer clothes -happens more than you think, (4) They were bought before the person lost their job or bought with the money they got in redundancy – again, happens more than you think,  (5) They are real and were bought at full price while on benefits – true about 5% of the time.

My dad/grandad/long-lost-uncle-bob toiled against the odds to make the person I am today, and these people on benefits should do that too – Good for you. Most people’s parents toiled to make them the person they are today but maybe they just didn’t get so rich. Having worked as McDonald’s counter staff and as a management consultant for a top 4 firm I can tell you which one was harder work and which one made me richer. Note: they weren’t the same job.  Furthermore, your statement actually shows that there are circumstances beyond the individual which matter. You say that your success is down to your parents?  Great. What if your parents had been crack-dealing abusers and so you spent the first twenty years of your life protecting your younger siblings from them while also trying to frighten the bailifs away from your door?  Do you think during all of that you would have been excelling at your GCSEs?  Would you have been developing a congenial attitude to being told what to do by a boss? Because I’m thinking that if I was in that situation I’d have been learning how to fight every last person in authority who, as far as I could see, was just another person in a long line of adults letting me down.  Yes, some people overcome these circumstances. Yes, more support should be available for people who have gone through so much they can’t easily get a job, and no, I’m not suggesting that someone’s childhood is a reason to be on benefits. But this sort of “my dad did” argument is not a reason for people not to be on benefits either. It’s a story, not a policy.

UPDATED: 25/10/12

How come all these people on benefits have a flat screen TV?  Because Brighthouse only has flatscreens. And if you don’t know what Brighthouse is, google it.

**

Right, that’s it, if you see any more daft comments, do let me know.



Categories: Randoms

62 replies

  1. Thank you for putting this into words at long last. I’m now going to go away and retweet you as many times as I can get away with!

  2. Well phrased Laura! Hope some people who hold these attitudes will come across this and start to understand

  3. “My dad/grandad/long-lost-uncle-bob toiled against the odds to make the person I am today, and these people on benefits should do that too”

    The biggest lie here is the bit about toiling “against the odds”.

    My parents were both born into urban, working-class families (and broken homes at that), but worked hard and managed to put their kids through private school. We’re all successful professionals with families of our own now.

    What an achievement, right?

    You might think so, but my dad is the first to point out the differences today. He got into the local grammar school, landed a decent apprenticeship and spent most of his career working for a state-owned company that paid well and provided amazing benefits, including a generous pension.

    Hardly any of those things exist today.

    Sure, my parents were born poor by today’s standards, but they weren’t born into an unemployed underclass. They were working poor, in the same boat as everyone else. There was almost no middle class in 1945 and the opportunities to climb the social ladder were abundant.

    When we talk about today’s poor, we’re really talking about a group of people facing very different opportunities.

  4. Where can you back up these figures?

    I don’t doubt for a second that the majority of people on benefits want to work and are there by no fault of their own. Sadly, in towns like Rochdale where I live there is a high percentage of families – on 3rd or 4th generations who have not and will not work. The young women become baby farms pushing out 2 or 3 before they’re 21 into fatherless households and will claim an extortionate amount of money. Unsurprisingly people who work don’t like this.
    Its about living within your means. I, like you have been, am surrounded by poverty.

    • Nowt like blaming those feckless baby-farming women for all our ills, eh?

      Maybe we can add another to the list, the one that exains how child are costing more than the average wage per week means women can’t work, that divorce and domestic violence actually really happens, that contraception isn’t infallible (and proposing to limit abortion to 12 weeks won’t help). Oh, and also that it’s no-one else’s right to tell a woman what she does with her womb (especially not a man, who will never have one and so will never face the consequences of childbearing). Amongst other things.

      • Childcare is expensive. For decent quality care for young’uns, you need one adult for 3 or 4 children – in other words, the sort of ratio you get if a parent is caring for them. There are overheads associated with childcare – building rent, heat, insurance, extra staff to cover employee vacations, employer’s national insurance and so on. It just doesn’t make economic sense to pay for someone else to look after your kids so you can go and stack shelves in a supermarket. This is true whether the state pays or you do.

        It only make sense if your home is such a toxic environment that it’s in the state’s interest to get your children out of there in order to significantly improve their future prospects.

    • I largely agree with the above post and it is great to have all of that articulated, but this commenter’s post is incredibly valid. I too see this day and daily and it frustrates the hell out of me. I’m from a working class family and have battled to get a top class education for myself. I am 27 and have a doctorate, and you know how I make my bread and butter? I work for minimum wage in a shop while otherwise working constantly to do all the things required to have a chance at getting a job I am trained and qualified for. I do not have a single day off in any week. That was the path I chose, so fair enough. But when in the shop a significant amount of the customers are exactly as Dom has described: third or fourth generation professional baby factories buying cigarettes and lotto tickets – not food, certainly not of a nutritious kind – with their child benefit, which my taxes pay for. Each to their own, grand. But why should my back break for their pleasure and willful ignorance? This is a truth too.

    • I live and work in Rochdale, these people are in the tiny minority.

    • “The truly double-generation long-term unemployed family is, then, a rare species. As for the politicians’ “third-generation” perma-idlers, these are on the critically endangered list – if not entirely fictional. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation set out to identify and investigate 20 such “never-worked” families in deprived Glasgow and Teesside, but it found not a single one.” (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/02/workless-families-convenient-truth-editorial)

      If you do know of someone who *actually* is the third generation in their family to have *never* worked, do get in touch with a social researcher, because many are dying to meet one.

      • I’ve know and have worked for 20 years with women who churn babies out prolific rate, more often than not to different fathers. Five generations in a 60-year period is relatively common. Often these offspring will breed with their extended family, and sometimes with previous generations.
        A high proportion of these kids end up in care, and a significant proportion end up in prison.
        Health problems abound. ADHD is almost obligatory in the kids. Many of the older ones will be addicts in some form. Due to unhealthy lifestyles mobility at 60 is a luxury.
        They spend a significant proportion of their income on drugs, booze, fags (un-taxed imports), and scratch-cards, but dine on Aldi’s cheapest.
        Yes, much of what they have isn’t a result of our benefit money – that’s just provides steady cash-flow. Their widescreen TVs are from BrightHouse, and their Sky TV is knock-off, they ‘earn’ windfalls from dodgy insurance claims, they order catalogue goods in the names of their absent neighbours. They deal in drugs, illegal fags, pirate DVDs & video-games.
        They’re not adverse to occasional work, but more often than not it’s cash in hand, and will readily steal anything that isn’t nailed down – even from their own families and friends.

        Do the kids stand much chance? Not really – 90% of them will re-enter the same cycle to a greater of lesser extent. Their parents won’t support them in anything and will exploit them wherever whenever it suits.

        Should I be grateful they don’t subsist entirely off benefits? Hell no – every form of their ill-gotten gains eventually comes from the honest proportion of society – written-off debt, higher retail costs, higher insurance premiums. Their out-of-control kids drag down the standards of our comprehensive schools. Their array of ailments drains our NHS. Their criminal and anti-social behaviour requires teams of police, social-workers, probation, judiciary. They’re undermining the resources and the credibility of the welfare state that our grandparents fought so hard to establish for us.

        Are they worse than white-collar tax-dodgers? Financially – no, socially – yes.

        These are the extreme end of the welfare state, they’re not the majority that the Daily Mail and others like to pretend, but the academics who can’t find these people and middle-class lefties who deny their existence are deluded fools. A dozen such families exist in every sink-estate in every town.

      • Christof

        If a dozen such families exist on every sink estate why when an organisation like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who wants to help and find ways to break the cycle goes looking for them it fails to find any let alone a dozen in each place it looks

    • Can you let the Rowntree Foundation know because when they did actual research they couldn’t find any culture of worklessness and couldn’t find any 3rd (let alone 4th) generation families who didn’t work.

      Incidentally, I grew up in a single parent household with an unemployed mum who had 4 kids by age 23. Never a penny or a visit from our “father” who had already abandoned one family. 3 of us have degrees, all of us ended up professionals in socially useful jobs,

      They were banging on about TV ownership versus poverty back then too.

  5. Great, insightful, article. Bit weird having a pay day loan ad appear at the bottom though.

    • The Brighthouse thing? Hadn’t thought of it like that but can see how it might be construed that way. Someone tweeted me the line about flatscreen TVs and how the only rental choice now is flatscreens so that’s how it got added in. Will muse on whether or not to keep it.

      • I think Scott was referring to the actual advert- I’ve got Natwest on mine. The Brighthouse thing was a good point that needed making.

      • Your point about a Sky package applies equally well to Brighthouse TVs. A big Brighthouse TV is £10 a week and a small one is £6. Which would you go for as your family’s only form of entertainment?

        By the way I suspect that the payday loan ad is an inappropriate google adsense thing being seen by someone viewing the post on a mobile device.

      • Even if you’re able to avoid Brighthouse because you’ve managed to put a little bit by for emergencies, Argos only sells flat screen TVs, so does Comet. Even the refurbished TVs that Comet sells are all flat screens. As I tweeted during Question Time last night, I’m unemployed and have a flat screen TV. I bought it five years ago (while I was working) because my CRT set had died, and there weren’t many CRT sets on sale back then. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a family member that’s got a spare TV they’re willing to lend (give) you, buying a new one is your only option.

      • I think Scott is talking about the sponsored ad at the bottom – for me it’s currently a computer, but for Scott it was presumably Wonga or something.

        Nice post, anyway, people on both sides of the fence say a lot of ill-informed things, it’s important to expose these as the cliches that they are – thanks!

      • Yeah – I can’t see it on any of our computers (even when I’m not logged in). I wonder if you are seeing it via a re-pressed site [i use wordpress] and it is picking up the adverts from the person who re-pressed it.

        I don’t have adverts on the site. Not because I’m particularly moralistic about them, but mostly because I don’t understand how you would even activate it.

  6. The real crime is that successive governments got rid of all the social housing so now the tax payer has to foot the bill to pay off private landlord’s mortgages. That’s not the fault of the poor.

    People I know who claim benefits (jobseekers) are claiming 4 times more £200+ per week in housing benefits to pay private market rate rents which even I can’t afford on a very good salary.

  7. Have to disagree with the entire principle of this post.

  8. Re – “All these people on benefits are walking around in fancy designer clothes” –
    Could be some buy their clothes from charity shops. I’ve bought some amazing things very cheaply that way. I do live in London though and there’s plenty of choice of charity shops.

  9. I’m not entirely sure that a world view which suggests that in the absence of welfare people would turn to crime is necessarily a more generous and pleasant one than the caricature of views of “rich” people. Are we naturally so corrupt a species that criminality is a more natural reaction to adversity than work?

  10. I must be one of these stupid people because points 1 & 3 have definitely crossed my mind at some point (lived and worked in tower hamlets for 5 years – 3rd most deprived area in England). If any of those figures can be referenced, I would happily change my views.
    If you’re looking for more things stupid people like me can’t understand; how can so many (not all, not most – but many) people on benefits not afford basics like food/rent/bills but find the money for tattoos / pets / cars / cigarettes? Again, if I’ve grossly misjudged it, feel free to change my views.

    • People on benefits often don’t spend much money on the pets, having to abandon them when they get sick – this is one of the reasons why animal rescue homes become so stuffed during recessions. Giving up pets is particularly traumatic especially for people who have worked for a long time, lost their jobs or become sick, and then find they have to give up an animal that they love. In fact, I’ve even known people to give up their *own* food in order to continue feeding their animals because it is the one stable, loving thing in their life. I’ve even known some people taking the embarrassing step of writing to family and saying they won’t be able to afford presents this year because they’re having to pay off vet bills (NB: Pet insurance rates are obviously lower among groups who don’t have much disposable income and who therefore try to ‘risk’ it).

      Cigarettes are an addiction and that is as true for someone living in poverty as for someone wealthy. Given the stresses of poverty, and often the fatalism that comes with it, I actually think cigarette use is entirely logical even if it isn’t helping the money situation – although you’ll also find that most people don’t pay full price for cigarettes. The importation economy and the use of roll-ups is a big help here.

      Tattoos are a one-off cost and from my knowledge are most likely bought for birthdays, celebrations (e.g. births), commemorations of deaths or when working. It’s not as if the person can take it off again just because they are in benefits. I’ve known people for whom it was cheaper to get a tattoo to commemorate their parent’s death than it was to get a gravestone – so that’s what they chose.

      • Cigarettes… right, I am going to admit to one of the most shameful episodes in my life. The time when I was so broke, I had NO money for anything. I was living with family members and was not receiving any benefits at the time (waiting period etc – DSS refused extra help because I was staying with family). I could not afford cigarettes unless some one gave/bought me a pack. The local “beer off”* sold single cigarettes for 5p or 10p (I can’t remember which) & I would send my younger cousins to get me one or two. I was so desperately addicted that I never, ever threw a cigarette butt away until all that was left was the filter. I salvaged all of the tobacco I could. I would smoke one cigarette for a few puffs and then carefully pinch it out to smoke again later when I was desperate again. So far, so not so shameful, right? Try the next step for shame then, taking other people’s half/three-quarter smoked butts from ashtrays in pubs etc for the tobacco.

        That’s what desperate tobacco addicts do when they have no income. That’s how addictive it is. If you’ve never smoked, never been addicted, you have NO idea what it feels like to NEED a cigarette. Just one. Even just a single puff. The tiniest roll-up made from stale tobacco and ashes. Oh, and using whatever paper you can find… roll-up paper costs money, you know?

        The one thing I didn’t do was steal from my grandparents or other relatives, that was a step too far for me. But it’s not a step too far for some.

        I stopped smoking about 15 years later – a decade ago now – after 15 years of continual failed attempts to stop. I still want a cigarette. I always will, I think. But I know the depths I can get to and I won’t let myself do it again.

        * local-ish for off-license/bottle shop/”corner shop that sells booze and other stuff”

  11. It’s much more difficult to save up for things and get yourself into a better life when you’re poor. You’re less likely to get a mortgage, so can’t build up equity, instead spending that money on rent that leaves you nothing to show for it. If you need to take out any loans or an overdraft or have a credit card, then the interest payments alone on these can easily get to hundreds of pounds a month, making it much more difficult to ever pay them off. And if you default, well, there goes your credit rating. Plus, you can’t make the smaller savings, buying things in bulk. The poor lose a much greater percentage of their income this way than the wealthy do, leaving them in a financial trap that is very difficult to escape no matter how hard they work.

  12. It’s not just the Conservative Conference. Last night on Question Time Paul Nuttall (UKIP) launched into a remarkably similar attack. It reminded me of Tory Conference in the eighties, Norman Tebbit comes to mind. I still fail his cricket test but it’s still not a deportable offence so never mind.

  13. i really like where you’re coming from here. although i do think there should be limits on how easy it is for people to live either comfortably or exclusively on benefits. there are definitely cases of unemployed people being supported financially in having any number of children, thus taking away (or softening) the need to support themselves. meanwhile, some working people must restrict the size of their family as they cannot afford to bring up more children. i’d like to see society better educated in the art of living to your means.

    • I’d like to see people look at the bigger picture than just at some young girl pushing a pram.

      This govt (and Labour) want the elderly to work longer and retire later because we have an “aging population” and there aren’t enough children being born (lots of people between the ages of 20 and 40 make a conscious decision not to bother having children) to ensure the continuing support of pension to those who have yet to retire. So, what’s the solution? Demonise families with more than two children and cut Child Benefit (all the while implying that only the unemployed get CB, of course).

      We are not supposed to add the two policies together and ask “WTeverlovingF are you on?” Just get angry about all the useless shirking mothers “churning out crotch-droppings” while claiming a whole £16.50 a week for a child (that’s CB for the first eligible child, it’s around £11 for subsequent kids). Apparently none of this ever goes on the kids – we must have huge numbers of homeless, naked, filthy and starving children roaming the countryside, in that case.

      I get so sick of these stupid claims by people who really should know better.

  14. The other thing that is missed is how EXPENSIVE being poor is. You buy the small, uneconomical packs of everything because you couldn’t pay for all your shopping otherwise. You take out payday loans because you’ve got no savings left to dip into when your washing machine blows up. You buy third party only car insurance because it’s cheaper and pray that nothing goes wrong, and pay for it monthly because you don’t have any savings left to pay the full amount up front.

    • This is so true! Like my parents – my mother was on incapacity benefits for chronic illness, but has, despite her severe Crohn’s Disease and crippling depression, just been deemed ‘fit to work’ by Atos and has thus been cut off without a penny, not even JSA; she doesn’t get this because her husband, my step-dad, is working on a very low salary but enough, according to the DWP, to support her on (in spite of the fact this is the first time he’s been able to find work in years). Because of the loss of her benefits, they now can’t afford to run a car. My stepdad rides his motorbike to work (from Chatham to Dover, such fun and so safe in this lovely weather!). My chronically ill mother is effectively now housebound; when she does HAVE to go out (for doctor’s appointment, job interview, or bullshit Atos assessment) she is unable to go on foot, due to her illness; and as she doesn’t live on a bus route, she has to get a taxi; ridiculously expensive short term solution to a long term problem of not enough money; and so the cyle continues, whilst people on her street glare at her and say ‘look at Lady Muck there, getting into her taxi!’, judging what they don’t understand.

      • Hi, this is probably so late you won’t see it, but your mum must appeal her decision. Best done within 28 days of the decision, but can be applied up to a year afterwards if you have a ‘good’ reason (like the sneaky DWP phonecall not telling you your entitlement too). See if you can get advice from Citizens Advice or the local council or even a Crohn’s charity. The site Benefits and Work gives excellent help for £15 a year or even tweet me as I’m a benefits advisor. Your mum should appeal and be paid her appeal rate while that goes on (only £71 a week) but keeps the wolf from the door. It’ll then go to tribunal who are independent of the DWP and may lead to a much better result. Good luck!

  15. Let’s replace ignorant rich people’s ill-informed and subjective generalisations about the poor with this writer’s ill-informed and subjective generalisations about the poor. Or else we could deal in cold hard facts.

  16. Bang on.

    It sickens me to see Cameron proposing to cut housing benefits to under-25s as well. It’s disgusting. Two of the most successful people that I know (one is a teacher, the other is a lecturer at a top-ten UK University) are both under-25 but cannot live with their parents as Cameron proposes as a result of mental illnesses, disability and squalor. Cameron lives in this land where all parents are perfect and can provide for their children but this is simply not the case.

    I suffer from acute mental illnesses and am very fortunate to be able to live with my parents whilst I’m in remission. I feel a deep sorrow for those in my position that cannot live with their parents yet Cameron thinks should for whatever sheltered reasoning he uses.

    The whole thing fills me with rage. What World are they living in? Sure, Cameron plays the ‘my Dad was disabled’ card at every opportunity he gets but he also forgets that his Dad was wealthy and supported enough to be able to live an ordinary life. So many in his position aren’t so fortunate and not through any fault of their own. So often disability affects the ability to work beyond the physical and that can be just – if not more – debilitating than physical disabilities. This is especially the case with those such as myself that cannot work due to illness but outwardly appear to be fine.

  17. The bit you don’t get is that its not rich people saying these things, its people earning £16k like me. Its not the amount you receive on benefits which is the difference, its the items you don’t have to pay for. Once you find a job and start paying your rent, your council tax, your transport to work etc you ask these questions.

    I am sick of getting up, going to work, paying my taxes and my bills and having nothing left for a new TV from Brighthouse or even a pair of jeans from TK Maxx, while people on my street do have Sky without running cables down the street (never heard of this before reading it here) and big TVs.

    • But this is not the fault of benefits, or of benefit claimants. This is because too many jobs in this country do not pay a decent wage. The answer is not to take away help from those who don’t work, but to give more to those who do.

      But this government won’t do that, because they don’t like poor people in general, whether they work or not, so what they will do, is turn the working and non-working poor against each other, so we don’t notice who it is that’s really shafting them all.

      • I would like to believe you but am I really that poor? If I can get promoted to Team Leader I will have 10 people reporting to me and a payrise of £5k, taking me upto the average salary.

        But if everyone in our processing centre got big payrises the work would just end up getting moved to India or Manilla, which is the reality of the world today.

  18. Many of those commenting making a distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor should read this – http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2012/10/support-the-undeserving-poor.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  19. Theres a misconception that a house or flat with a dish must have a Sky subscription. Might be connected to Freesat (no subs), a lapsed Sky sub from when they were employed which would still give access to BBC etc, or connected to nothing at all because the dish was already there when they moved in.

    • Indeed. You can also get a ‘Freesat from Sky’ card for about a quid on eBay, and old Sky boxes are almost literally two a penny. People are throwing out their first-gen flatscreens – like, you can find them in skips. Car boot sales are chock-full of PS2s and Wiis and game discs… I could go on…

      Really, it’s an amazing trick to be able to skip from “globalisation works because it gives us cheap consumer goods” to wondering “how /can/ poor people afford all these goods?” in the same breath.

  20. Firstly, to talk about ‘rich people’ as a category falls into the same error that you are criticising (that of some people categorising ‘benefit claimants’ as stereotypic). Secondly, to talk about ‘rich people’ fails the logic test immediately. What is a rich person? A UK benefit claimant is rich by the standards of the majority of the world; no really – good dwelling, heating, electricity and running water makes one rich by global standards. So to talk about ‘rich people’ as a category only means ‘nasty people who have more than me’ and sets you up right in the centre of jealousy politics. (fyi, I have never earned more than the national average).

    Well then, forgiving those two points, surely the issue at hand is that *some* benefit claimants are using the benefits system in a way that a majority of people would see as not how it was intended and not fair. If your only defense of that is to wail, “What, all of them?!?”, you’re in a bad way. The difficulty that the adults are thinking about is how to give benefits to those who need it and not to those who don’t, while minimizing false positives and false negatives. Not an easy problem to solve I’m sure you’ll agree.

    • Yeah, the ‘rich people’ thing is a fair point. The headline is deliberately provocative because I figured “Stuff some people don’t understand” wouldn’t be quite so catchy. I do say upfront that I don’t really believe all rich people think like this.

      • Hmm. I wonder if the opponents to your ideas might be similarly provocative to get attention. I wonder if anyone actually believes what they actually say or if it’s just fighting party lines. I wonder what would happen if we all just stopped doing that.

      • I believe everything I say in the post. As mentioned, I do say not all rich people believe this stuff.

  21. Mobile phones is another comment I often hear. How can unemployed people afford mobile phones? Pointing out payg mobiles are cheaper than having a landline & if you are applying for jobs you need a way for employers to contact you doesn’t seem to satisfy them.

  22. Thank you for this post. I have a chronic illness which has got worse year by year since 2001. I used to work 60 hour weeks, now I can hardly do 20. As a teacher i worked 20 hours a week (plus all the prep time) and it paid me less than benefits would, I couldn’t afford the dentist, new glasses, or insurance for our phones as simple examples. I pay car insurance monthly because I have to, and I pay extra for the privilege, I pay road tax 6 monthly & that’s extra too. So many things are cheaper if you can afford to pay for them up front…. It’s a vicious circle.

    I have some lovely possessions, from a time when we had more money, like a car that I could never dream of buying now, and yes, a flat screen TV. But we have cancelled cable, we have freeview, and my fuel gauge is always on E these days. I hope I will find a good job, nearer home that will pay me the same as I was on before, but without all the travelling and stress. I keep applying for loads… But when you have a chronic illness employers don’t really want you.

  23. The probably even more common answer to ‘how do they afford a flatscreen’ (or whatever), is that they bought it while they were employed. I may count as long term unemployed due to disability, but I had a good job for 20+ years before I was pushed kicking and screaming out the door! It’s particularly apparent with disability benefits, but there is a distinct element of bullying jealousy in all of the complaints directed at benefit recipients, and they’re almost universally not supported by the actual facts.

    • David – that’s a really important point about items that people had before being on benefits. The rhetoric of the news (and even my own tone here) is somewhat pointed towards the idea that people have *always* been on benefits – but the reality is that it’s a support net and most people have moved in and out of it’s support. Have tried to add a few comments into the blog to reflect this and will make sure to do so often in the future.

  24. A point about housing benefit.

    Housing benefit is not paid in alignment with whatever a private landlord is charging. It may have been, but not any more.

    We are allowed housing benefit at the rate of requiring one bedroom because that’s that the government has decided we require. We live in a 3 bedroom bungalow and we pay the difference in rent out of our other benefits. That’s our choice and we economise accordingly.
    From next April, even that choice will be taken away from us when this government will start cutting our housing benefit by 7% for every bedroom it has decided we don’t need. We can’t afford to lose over a quarter of the housing benefit to which we are entitled, as well as make up the rest of the rent. So, we, like thousands of others, are being forced to move out of our home and find somewhere else to live in an environment where social housing was sold in the 80s and no consistent replacement has been made.

    “Well, get a job then!” I hear people shriek. I’d love to except both me and my husband are disabled. Neither of us are able to sustain a job and it’s not because we don’t want to, it’s because we can’t. We both worked all our lives before ill-health over took us.

  25. Hello,

    Liked your post … Good points well made, off on a tangent here but would like to hear your views on ‘all these foreigners n immigrants taking our jobs’ that I’m hear lots lately.

  26. It doesn’t have to be “rich” people – anyone who has never had experience of the cul-de-sac of poverty rarely does.

  27. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!

    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later on. All the best

  28. There are 2 sides to each story. I’m sure some are genuine and some not. I wasn’t able to claim a single penny when I lost my job – that was definitely not fair as I had been paying into the system for 8 years and really struggled to scrape work in! It is true that those who work are paying for those who don’t to live, whether it be their choice or not. If there were no benefits, perhaps taxes could be used to supplement minimum wage salaries for all….. and childcare, rather than cash….

  29. On the flat screen thing, they’ve got them because they don’t make the other ones any more.

  30. Hurray! Brilliantly observed and well put.

  31. Additional to the Designer Clothes part: secondhand/thrift shops, hand-me-downs from friends/relatives not so bad off…

  32. “People on benefits choose to be unemployed…”

    .. Even more of a fallacy when you consider that only ** 2.6% ** of those on Benefits are actually Unemployed.

    .. 42.3% elderly on pension;
    .. 20.8% low income earners on tax credits;
    .. 18.4% families receiving child benefits;
    .. 15.5% sick/disabled on permanent DLA.

    Data for 2102, via @Welfare_Reform

  33. Another possibility for poor person wearing nice clothes is that they bought them at a charity store or yard sale. That’s where all my clothing comes from.

Trackbacks

  1. Daily Blog 10/26/2012 | Spinneyhead
  2. Why don’t they knock a quick bruschetta together instead? | Matt Hood
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,852 other followers

%d bloggers like this: