The inhumanity of the welfare system

Penny and Rich Baker, who live near Bristol, have decided they have no choice but to move to a smaller house.
Although Penny has a part-time job with a charity, her husband Rich has been struggling to find work as a chef.
Their rent, at £900 a month, has become unaffordable.
But much to their surprise, they have found that they are not entitled to Housing Benefit payments, which might have helped them stay in their four-bedroom home.

One unemployed, one part time, cannot afford to stay in a 4 bedroomed house.

The inhumanity of our welfare system.

Via CJ Nerd

35 thoughts on “The inhumanity of the welfare system”

  1. If the Micawber principle was a tenet of the National curriculum, this nonsense could be avoided after a generation.

  2. Low income couple annoyed that the taxpayer won’t foot for them to stay in a luxury house in an expensive area.

    I’m sure that the Grauniadistas get a pleasing hand-wring from the tone of the article, but out in the real world, where most people don’t have 3 spare bedrooms and pay for their own accom, I’m sure the response will be “fair enough, couldn’t you have found some more convincing poster-boys for your campaign”?

  3. The report identifies four groups who are particularly vulnerable:
    Couples who rent together. If one half of the couple loses a job, the income of the other might severely reduce their entitlement
    Singles under 35 who rent privately. LHA for such people only covers the cost of renting a room in a shared house
    People with “spare” bedrooms. Housing Benefit is calculated on the basis of how many bedrooms you need, with young children having to share
    People living in expensive areas. Levels of Housing Benefit reflect the lowest costs in an area, not the highest

    Sounds sensible to me… Why the hand-wringing? Wait, don’t answer that…

  4. I’m sure the response will be “fair enough, couldn’t you have found some more convincing poster-boys for your campaign”?

    This. I mean who is going to feel sorry for a couple who can no longer afford to live in their home with three spare bedrooms? If this is the best they can do then there really is no problem.

    It’s like “…to each according to his need” has become “…to each according to his wants”.

  5. It’s like “…to each according to his need” has become “…to each according to his wants”.

    From each according to their gullibility, to each according to their greed.

  6. They have three grown-up children who are no longer living at home, so they are classed as having three spare bedrooms. Again this reduces their entitlement.

    How unreasonable!

    “We’ve been thinking of going to a small one-bedroom flat. That’s what we’d have to move in to,” says Penny.

    How awful!

    This is one of the few topics where (as Tim has pointed out before) the bleeding hearts really have misunderstood how most of the population feel. I remember during the bedroom tax debate a few years back, a radio interview went viral because some bloke in a council house with a spare room said he needed it because sometimes his mates come over for a party and want to stay the night.

  7. Tim Newman: “This is one of the few topics where (as Tim has pointed out before) the bleeding hearts really have misunderstood how most of the population feel. “

    Isn’t that the majority of the ‘Guardian’s’ output these days?

  8. What happened to that business of moving all the council tenants out of central London? Was it quietly dropped?

  9. “They have three grown-up children who are no longer living at home, so they are classed as having three spare bedrooms. Again this reduces their entitlement.”

    They are classed as having three spare bedrooms because they HAVE three spare bedrooms.

  10. I wonder if he really wants to be a chef, I suspect he is doing alright on benefits.
    A someone who has never had 3 spare bedrooms I am very envious.

  11. The welfare system is there for your NEEDs, not for your WANTs. They WANT a four-bed house, they NEED a one-bed flat.

  12. The choice of exemplars is always odd with these things. I remember when the “bedroom tax” came in, they had an article about a couple that had to pick between eating and heating and published their income and expenditure. It included Sky TV, cigarettes, spirits and quite a substantial amount of beer (from memory) – each of which individually was costing them more than the “bedroom tax”

    The comments section was quick to point this out.

  13. @RA – indeed. Like when the Mirror covered the baliffs turfing that family out of that big house a while back – commentors were quick to point out the £500+ SLR camera, iPads, Waitrose shopping bags, massive TV and so on.

    I think the journos are too happy to have found a “scoop” to stick it to the Tories, that they are absolutely blind to the details, and to how ordinary people perceive them.

  14. The bedroom tax, barring a few problems was basically a sound idea, and anyone who knew about local government housing could have told you this. People have a family, need a big house, then don’t downsize when the kids leave home. This means young families don’t get those homes. It’s a big, well known problem.

    It really pissed me off that no one ever explained this. It wasn’t about evil tories robbing the poor.

  15. “I’m sure the response will be “fair enough, couldn’t you have found some more convincing poster-boys for your campaign”?”

    Reminds me of a similar campaign a few years ago by the BBC. They found some family in Notth Wales where the father, despite being a computer programmer, had been on benefits for years and the feature was one long Progressive whinge about how evil the benefits system was. It was a bit embarrassing to see what he spent on fags and booze though, rather deflated the Dickensian atmosphere.

  16. Anyway, this is how all Welfare systems collapse, even those with a highly cohesive trust-based culture – sooner or later a critical number of people think they are entitled to live the lifestyle they desire and that others should pay for it.

  17. “Nevertheless it would be nice to feel that because we’ve paid into the system, we could have some support back when we’re going through difficult time.”

    Middle-class entitlement in a nutshell. I wonder if she has ever considered how unsustainable a welfare system which paid couples to live in four bedroom houses would be. I doubt it; her thoughts stop at “we’ve paid tax, we are entitled”.

  18. abacab: “@RA – indeed. Like when the Mirror covered the baliffs turfing that family out of that big house a while back – commentors were quick to point out the £500+ SLR camera, iPads, Waitrose shopping bags, massive TV and so on.”

    Oh, indeed!

    That ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!’ show on Ch5 is quite the eye opener. I couldn’t do their job without going postal after a week.

  19. I find it amusing to read some of the begging adverts in Private Eye and the reasons they want money.

    Does anyone know if people ever send money to them?

  20. Good points all on housing bens and expectations. It’s a system that only works for those housed by the state (who enter it when they first need a home) and stay within that system forever.

    If you develop a need for it partway through your life, it’s horrible; as temporary support during a time of hardship, it’s shit.

    From anyone’s perspective, it’s hideously expensive, and overall, it likely perpetuates the problem.

  21. Personally I think a nationally run system can never work perfectly. Locally run might be better, partly because one person can save a lot more money as a percentage of the total budget.

  22. Personally I think a nationally run system can never work perfectly. Locally run might be better, partly because one person can save a lot more money as a percentage of the total budget.

    The problem with a locally run system – as with the current council house system – is people cannot move to another locality to find work without losing their house and moving to the bottom of the list in the next place. They effectively have to find work in their own locality, which is usually pretty hard when the sole factory shuts down.

  23. Really, the only sensible way to do this is to have a portable voucher system to permit low-income people to move to follow the work.

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    @Rob,

    I doubt it; her thoughts stop at “we’ve paid tax, we are entitled”.

    Indeed. They never consider the free healthcare for them and their children or the free education and in many cases free school meals. for example.

    My guess is that most people who make that claim are net recipients for the welfare state.

    As to the the subject of the article, I find it hard to believe that they could afford a 4-bedroom house on a chef’s wages augmented by a part time charity worker’s salary. My brother was a chef, not a bad one by all accounts, and he got out because of the crap wages, and my son manages a charity shop and they pay even less. There must have been a big fat wedge of welfare when the kids were young and that was withdrawn as they grew up.

  25. I used to work in a kitchen – the chef in the restaurant was probably the highest paid member of staff, certainly higher wage than the restaurant manager.
    There’s chefs and chefs – the decent ones with a lot of responsibility will earn decent money, the assistant ones not so much. The local pub chef can be decent money too.

    Still £900 a month rent was affordable for them at one time. Now its not.
    Can be any number of reasons why someone cannot get work as a chef. Loss of driving license, bad rep, difficult to work with, unwilling to travel….

  26. “My guess is that most people who make that claim are net recipients for the welfare state.”

    Child tax credits. And possibly some housing benefit in more generous times.

  27. Why stop at subsidising middle class couples in four bedroom houses? Why not subsidise me in a London penthouse? I’ve paid my dues.

  28. Tim Newman:” I remember during the bedroom tax debate a few years back, a radio interview went viral because some bloke in a council house with a spare room said he needed it because sometimes his mates come over for a party and want to stay the night.”

    That was Paul in Clerkenwell, interviewed on LBC by Julia Hartley-Brewer.

    He also turned down a job because it would have meant getting up at 7:30, was forced to take it, but lost it for being late twice in two weeks after late nights at parties.

    He refused a bakery job because it meant wearing a hat over his long hair.

    ISTR he also refused one job because he would have had to address his boss as “Mr Bloggs” rather than “Fred”.

    (That’s actually a smart move by the boss- can’t be accused of discrimination, but it’s quite an effective way to reduce the chance of getting staff who turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth.)

    Then he got offered a supermarket job, but refused to wear the uniform.

    http://www.lbc.co.uk/jobless-man-refused-to-wear-uniform-for-job-78004

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