An article in The Spectator the Postulant shared a day or two ago, made the point that the press, politicians, and, of course, Joe Public, are vilifying those receiving "benefits" on the grounds these folk are "milking" the system. The author of the article makes the point that many disabled folk are now "targeted" as being the most visible recipients of the "benefits" the government hands out. The article goes on the argue that, just because about 3.4% of benefit claimants are "milking the system" is no reason to vilify and penalise all recipients.
In that, I would have to agree. The problem is that it is very difficult, now, to sort the wheat from the chafe, and the utter incompetence of the Bureaucrats of Whitehall to actually deal with the abusers, makes it inevitable that ALL those on "benefit" are now regarded with suspicion. That is, in itself, a tragedy, compounded by the complicity ofthe politicians of all flavours who have, over the years, gold plated certain aspects in the name of "redistribution" or the "war on poverty." Thus, those on benefit who have multiple children can do so in the knowledge that each new addition to the "family" will attract further handouts from the state. And, as the "family" grows, the need to be rehoused - at the taxpayer's expense - becomes, in the words of Whitehall, a "statutory duty" for the Social Services, Housing Authority and several other Local Government and Central Government agencies ... It all adds up and the cost of administration is something no one seems to look at or add in when talking about "benefit."
Currently the government is talking, yet again, about cutting back the "benefit" system, and, as ever with Whitehall, they are not targeting the abusers, but the "soft" targets, the geniunely needy. I'm talking of the aged, the genuinely sick, the genuinely disabled and those in real need. As yet I have not seen anything about cutting back on the huge amounts handed out to "asylum seekers" and other "refugees" who, if the Media is correct, receive more than any pensioner or any of those in receipt of disability benefit. I suppose to do so would be seen as "targeting the underprivileged" or "institutional racism." The fact is that the man wanted in Jordan and the US on terrorism charges, and who has just managed to drag out a court case or two to prevent extradition (he lost, thankfully) costing the taxpayers several millions in £s, is receiving benefits totalling £43,000 a year. That's roughly one and a half times the average national wage.
The politicians and the left wing media are right to be concerned about the public anger over people like Abu Qatada and others. They are very right to be alarmed and condemnatory of the sort of action which sees families on benefit targeted by arsonists and chidlren killed, but they must look at the system they have created to see the source of that anger. In times when pensioners are struggling to make ends meet (and still paying tax!), when those in work are struggling to pay the bills and all they see is rising taxes, vanishing pension funds, non-existent services from government agencies and rising costs - to expect them to sit back and be happy about having to make sacrifices while the 3.4% live the life of Reilly without lifting a finger, is folly.
It is time to consider carefully what and how the taxpayers money is spent on and handed out for. My personal targets would be to cap certain benefits, freeze the upper civil service pay and Parliament's, provide the most basic support for the likes of Qatada and no more and to withdraw the lucrative "legal aid" being exploited by some in the legal profession and the abusers of "Human Rights" legislation, the benefit system and our societal norms.
The "benefit" system was set up to provide a safety net, not to provide a permanent and lucrative alternative to working for the 3.4% The Spectator says is the figure abusing it. Frankly, I'm not convinced by their numbers, since I think it excludes those with comparatively minor disabilities (the list of "disabilities" is extremely large and actually does belittle the truly disabled by including things that inconvenience a person, but don't prevent them living an otherwise full life) and therefore suggests that only those who are "work shy" are included.
In the meantime, the dishonesty in Whitehall and Westminster, compounded by the Media, is giving ALL those who receive benefit a bad name. The consequences are predictable - and likely to be tragic.
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