Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Welfare Bill


It's like a dirty word rolling around our mouths, taboo.

It wasn't always so.

Let us picture for a minute a young woman. 23, single. With a young child. A baby. This young woman works a forty hour week for minimum wage. This young woman works for a shitty firm with no clear pay structure, no clear career progression, but still she works. She works because she knows that the experience will mean some sort of security for herself and her child, that one day she might get a well-paid job, one day the skills that she has learned and the life-lessons will stand her in good stead for a better-paid position.

For now, the money is poor. She works every possible hour, studies part time for her degree and meets her bills, just. But there is one shining light and that is WELFARE. Her government looks after her. Her government is aware that she does not earn enough money to keep a roof over her head, food in her belly, warmth in her home and childcare for her baby. Tax payers (whom she is one of) top up her wage so that she can live. So that she can keep on working all these hours. Until eventually she might finish her university course, until eventually she might not need to rely on these top-ups. Until such a time where she can take care of her own welfare.

Now let's put in place a Welfare Bill. We will limit the amount that she can receive back in top-ups. Why? Because we need to save money. We will take precisely £135 a month out of her pocket, £1,600 a year, or one week's childcare, whichever way you want to look at it.

What does she do? Where does she go? How will she live? Will she finish her degree? And what of her child? What of her daughter who she has worked so hard for?

Somewhere, across time, we can also picture a not-so-young-woman. Ten years between these women. Married, three children. First class degree, good job, decent money. She spends a lot of money on facecare products, wears an expensive diamond ring and has designer handbags. She likes freshly brewed tea at night and appreciates everything she has. This Welfare Bill affects this woman in a different way. This very same Welfare Bill will give her and her husband £1,600 per year extra, as they will not have to pay this in tax.  This is a new boiler, a week away to Spain, a new driveway.

Of course both of these women is me. I count myself lucky that I can see both sides. Feel both sides.

As a single parent, I needed that money. I don't need it now.

Why are we taking from the poorest and giving to the better off? Why are countless people across the country being driven further into poverty? Surely the idea of the Welfare State is to provide WELFARE to people who need it most.

Like me when I was young.


  1. It is absolutely unfair. As a single mum, I am absolutely grateful for the money I receive from the government but I constantly feel punished for receiving it. Things are hard enough as it is without all of this extra pressure. TV programmes, like Benefits Street, are put on to 'prove' that poorer people don't 'deserve' to be helped. Totally judgemental, biased rubbish. BUT many people watch it believe the propaganda. Creating a smear campaign against people less fortunate seems to be the best way to keep the money in the pockets of the rich. It's ok though. If you change the definition of poverty, then it will be eradicated. Job done :-/

  2. I became a single mum in the late 90s when my first marriage broke down. There was little in the way of top ups and no childcare help. I had to leave my full time job in which I was also taking my ILEX exams and training as I had no way to make one end meet the other. Had this happened a few years later, the support provided by tax credits would have enabled me to stay in work, complete my training and be far less reliant on the state in the long run.

    Tax credits provided many with the chance to work and improve their lot. Like you, I don't need support these days (tho never say never again) but am really saddened that people may end up back where I was 17 years ago - being forced give up on a chance to improve themselves and their child's life because the support isn't there anymore.

  3. I'm that currently the first. Not working because of my anxiety but studying and alone. Before I had J I worked up to 126hrs a week (no lie) as a support worker so have definitely paid my fair share of taxes. Yet can barely afford to pay our bills. So frustrating. X

  4. Such a good post and when you put it like that, I can't actually believe how barmy it is. I have always worked but when I was on my own with my son I had to claim working tax and child tax credits to top up my income. Every penny of that was needed. Where is the sense in taking from those who really need it and giving it to those who...well, don't. As much. I just can't get my head around it. x

  5. I'm not joking Kerrie, go into politics I'd vote for you. Welfare helped you improve your life and that needs to be put across to other young people. x

  6. I was the poor one, then we were okay, and by bringing our families together actually saved the govt. a lot of ££££'s. Now in my 40's I'll be the poor one again because we'll soon have 4 young people here studying and we'll be expected to support them and house them until they leave university - or watch them all get into massive debt.


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