Isn\’t this fun about IDS?

An online petition calling on Mr Duncan Smith to give up his £134,565 salary and live on just over £200 a month had obtained 300,000 signatures.

But Mr Bennett’s challenge, delivered via John Humphrys, the presenter of the Today programme, was not all it seemed.

It later emerged that Mr Bennett, who was back on his market stall selling household goods on Tuesday, receives £232 a month in housing benefit and £200 a month in working tax credit, triple the amount of money he quoted in the challenge to Mr Duncan Smith.

His average weekly income, including market stall earnings, is in fact £156 a week.

30 thoughts on “Isn\’t this fun about IDS?”

  1. Luke, use “GBP” not the “L” sign. That seems to work. However, will this…:

    From the piece:

    “Mr Bennett claimed that he made just GBP5 on his stall, in the Co Durham town of Crook, after paying for his stock, rent for his pitch and diesel for his van. Mr Bennett had described himself on his Twitter profile as a

  2. Ha!

    Try again (it hates quotes within quotes):

    …described himself on his Twitter profile as a poker player, self employed ducker and diver, but on Monday it was changed to

  3. Ha!

    Try again (it hates quotes within quotes):

    (missed a set)

    …changed to market trader. He did however admit he was still placing the occasional bet on horse racing, claiming it was nobody else

  4. (and again)

    …it was nobody elses business what he did with his spare money.”

    IanB, JohnB and PaulB and probably lots of others Bs will be delighted. It’s “imiserating” not to be able to spend other people’s money on the horses and the cards, after all!

  5. “His average weekly income, including market stall earnings, is in fact £156 a week”

    Shouldn’t that be, “declared weekly income”? He is a market trader, after all

  6. Yeah, all market traders make 5GBP after expenses. They really only do the job for the fulfilment of self-actualisation, dunnthey?

  7. This is my fave from the Graun (not using quote marks, everything after the colon is theirs – quite the snide assassination):

    “If I had to, I would,” Duncan Smith replied.

    He has spoken of how he signed on the dole after leaving the Scots Guards in 1981 at the height of the recession. He experienced another period of unemployment in the late 1980s when he lost his job as marketing director of the property firm Bellwinch.

    The Daily Mail reported Duncan Smith as saying: “It was a shock

  8. More to the point – well just as fascinating – is where and how the BBC/Today dug this guy up. A quote market trader unquote is not the usual cutz victim of choice for the comrades at Broadcasting House. My suspicion is that this guy has a more interesting – and politically involved – background than has been disclosed so far.

  9. I think you may be right there, Hugo. As smears go, this one is rather careless, and I think it shows that the BBC – being composed largely of left-leaning youngsters who joined straight from university, and never have to worry where the next paycheque is coming from – simply *does not get* how outraged ordinary working people are at the idea that you can actually receive more in benefits for doing nothing than they can earn for a 40+ hour week.

  10. Last go. Seems anti climactic now.

    That petition must have been started by Tory spin doctors. Of course he can manage on GBP53 for a week. No rent, no bus fare, and his wife is, as I type this, stocking up the fridge. But getting a tame Tory stooge with over GBP 100 in weekly benefits to issue the challenge is a stroke of genius. (Socialist market trader? I think not.)

  11. Stuck, for Chrome:

    Click ‘Customise’ (the spanner icon) and go to ‘Tools’ and then go to ‘encoding Unicode (UTF-8)’.

  12. Don’t forget his earnings from market trading are his net earnings, after allowable expenses. It already says he has a van which the business is paying for, so the 156 quid per week he has to spend doesn’t have to run a vehicle. Technically he shouldn’t use it for personal use but I doubt that stops him. And there are all sorts of other expenses (a proportion of house bills for example) that can be claimed as business expenses, even some clothing, a mobile phone contract etc etc. Thats before one even mentions the amount of undeclared income there might be in a business that deals in 100% cash.

    The more one reads about the “hard cases” that the media are throwing up as reasons not to change, the more I think “Is this the best example you can come up with?” If the poster boy for not reforming the welfare state is a dodgy ducker and diver of a barrow boy who has to live on 53 quid a week after all his bills are paid(and has a van to drive around in too), it doesn’t seem the changes are the end of the world really.

  13. Jim, the fact is that living on the dole, if you play by the rules, is shite.

    My cousin, abandoned by her shit of a husband with the four kids, needed her benefits and keeping body, soul, house and family together was a full time job, leaving no time for ducking, diving, owning vans or market trading.

    It would be fantastic if we could find a way of separating people like her, and there are plenty of them, from the idle or fraudulent, and the irresponsible like our arsonist friend from Derby, Mr Mick Philpott, who lived a pretty full life at the expense of everyone else.

    (As an aside, the guy who prosecuted him and the other two is a friend of mine and there is a lot more about him to come out yet.)

    One way might be food stamps, or part-food stamps (not to repoen old wounds).

  14. Oops, Bookman. Welcome to the site’s bullshit detector. (We all fall prey to it occasionally.)

  15. “But housing benefit isn’t real money – it’s just a handout to lazy pigdog landlords”

    Never mind that those of us who aren’t entitled to benefits have to pay our mortgages or rents out of net income.

  16. Surreptitious Evil

    I would have to agree with Mr Bennett that is would normally be absolutely nobody’s business what he did with his spare cash. But he chose to ram his benefit entitlement into the public debate. Particularly as he appears not to have been entirely accurate in his descriptions (well, market trader – eh?), that does morally, if not legally, entitle the public to a little scrutiny. And, of course, our press do have that legal entitlement (DPA98 s3a).

    I would note that although many market traders would not be considered ‘good socialists’ by the Gramscian commentariat, many of them will vote Labour.

  17. Reminds me of that long-term unemployed computer programmer (????) in North Wales the BBC dug up last year. In their weeping article about his hardships it turned out his weekly shop included quite a lot of beer and 20 fags a day.

    Fair enough, he can buy what he likes, but then whinging that you don’t get enough cash from people who work for a living is preposterous, but the BBC seemed oblivious to this.

  18. SE, Rob, at risk of opening that festering old wound – seriously, how on earth can it be right that Bennett earns X, but needs a top-up of Y out of the taxpayer’s pocket in order to pay for his gambling?

    Was that *ever* *any* part of the welfare state as envisaged way back when?

  19. Interested,

    My view would be that measures to restrict what is bought essentially treat people as not fully adult while being more costly and easily gamed.

    It makes sense to me to determine what is an appropriate sum and let people spend it how they choose. If they sometimes choose to go without certain things so they can buy treats, I don’t think that should be the Government’s concern.

    Obviously, the key here is determining the appropriate sum.

  20. Er, I’m not sure what Mr Bennett’s income has got to do with anything? Why should his income have any bearing on the question?

    Iain Duncan Smith said, on the record, that he could live on

  21. (Continued – dunno what happened there)

    ..that he could live on £53 a week. This has been met with general incredulity, which I share.

    Shooting the messenger doesn’t answer the question.

  22. Churm: what is salient is what is being backed out of the figure, which does sort of require some knowledge of the question’s provenance. For example, the GBP53 figure is definitely assuming housing costs are already paid for: but is this the only thing which is being removed? Who knows? We need the context for the question. Once we have established that, there are then also the non-cash benefits such as claimants’ discounts to take into account.

    My suspicion is that the experiment would show it is barely possible to do, and probably only if someone is unemployed (as they can do things like use their time to find the cheapest food etc.). But in full-time employment, I suspect it would be extremely difficult to pay for everything except one’s roof on GBP53 per week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *