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Blog: Time to end the UK's wacky welfare system

Author: Gabriel Hershman Date: Tue, Jan 24 2012 5 Comments, 11751 Views
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The debate in the UK about a cap on benefits would be risible if it were not so sad. In particular, the ludicrous handout known as housing benefit – prized out of hardworking taxpayers – does more harm than good. The only people with large families able to live in posh areas of London – Hampstead, Kensington, Holland Park, Richmond, are now either the very rich or the very poor. The idea that a ceiling on state benefits should be so controversial is evidence of how crazy thinking still pervades the UK.

Bulgaria has no such thing as "housing benefit" per se. Yet you do not, despite the ridiculous prophecies of the likes of Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, see children wandering the streets homeless or starving. This is because – strange as it may seem to the coalition of blathering bishops and trendy lefties – families actually help each other during difficult times, live within their means and very rarely have more than two or three children. (The Roma community is perhaps an exception but out of the scope of this blog).

You also (have you noticed?) do NOT, unlike in every British city and town, see hordes of drunks staggering around the streets of Sofia on a Friday or Saturday night. The reason is very simple. They do not have the money to go out and spend up to 30 to 40 pounds on a night out on the tiles. They are busy saving money to pay the bills, put food on the table, buy clothing for their children and set money aside to get a roof above their head.

I do not believe for one minute that any family is at risk of starvation in the UK were state benefits to be capped. You may ask, what happens to families with, let's say, 10 children who are already receiving unlimited benefits. Perhaps the people in question should: 1. Limit the number of children they bring into the world. 2. Cease to expect that the rest of the British population will pay for their brood. 3. Sell some of their precious computer, video games, spare television sets. And 4. Cease to get "bladdered" every Friday and Saturday night. But, if all else fails, the ceiling on benefits could be timed to come into force at some point in the future, so protecting vulnerable people. But then, say at the beginning of 2013, the party MUST end. We simply can't afford this anymore.

Taxpayers are already hard pressed to maintain standards in essential services – the national health service and the education system – without forking out vast amounts for other people's children.

The insidious notion that all problems in the UK can be dealt with by the government is dangerous and destructive. Individuals have a responsibility to account for their own actions – and that includes restraining their rates of reproduction if their resources are meagre. That is not an unchristian notion. It is merely common sense. Children – except in education and health care – should not be brought up by the state but by families. Hopefully, the ceiling on benefits will discourage parents from siring ever-increasing numbers of state dependent children and discourage migrants from entering an already over-populated country.

It suits those on the Left to nationalise every problem, to support higher rates of unemployment or housing benefit, to keep people on welfare or in uncompetitive state sector employment. Not only does it build up a client base of loyal supporters, it also absolves the advocates of this mad state of affairs of any personal responsibility.

Those who can afford to do so should get involved in charity work. Give of your time and money to worthwhile causes. But don't compel all hard-pressed middle classes – who can barely keep their heads above water as it is – to help out. You try to help as human individuals. Mentor a young person, take an interest in Britain's unemployed instead of thinking of them as cattle to be dealt with by the state. Start actually responding to advice genuinely sought with helpful answers. Take some time to discuss a young person's future with them. But don't expect Britain's overstretched working families to bail everyone out as if throwing handouts at a problem is a magical panacea. Believe me, it is NOT.

  • Profile preview
    tlt38492755 Rating: 8
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  • Profile preview
    Martine Brennan Rating: 8
    #4 19, 59, Fri, Jan 27 2012

    Anonymous - rents are high in London
    because the cost of buying a house/
    apartment is so high. Quite frankly,
    it is a better return on investment
    to be a Landlord in Bulgaria or the
    USA. Agreed both markets have
    tanked. There is no simple solution.

  • Profile preview
    anonymouse Rating: 0
    #3 11, 02, Fri, Jan 27 2012

    The problem in the UK is not Housing Benefit, it is the excessive rents in London and the south-east of England.

    Only one in eight people on HB is out of work. This benefit is effectively subsidising employers who do not pay enough for their workers to live on.

    Removing HB will force people to move to areas where there are no jobs. The result is they will be sitting on their hands where there are no jobs rather than available where there are.

    The solution to all [...]

    Read the full comment this is not the abandonment of HB but the introduction of rent controls, sadly abandoned by one M. Thatcher.

  • Profile preview
    Martine Brennan Rating: 8
    #2 19, 06, Tue, Jan 24 2012

    Agree absolutely and agree with David
    this should go in UK newspapers as

  • Profile preview
    davidc Rating: 5
    #1 18, 42, Tue, Jan 24 2012

    Well said - this should be printed as a headline in every U.K newspaper

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