random musings

Some truths about UK benefits.

Seeing as I aim to clear up some other misconceptions I found in the swirling mess of over brewed tea that is my life, I thought I’d throw in this too.

So for those who don’t know, there’s a welfare system in place in the U.K which we’re lead to believe is amazing, easily abused and one of a kind. Firstly other countries do have welfare systems too. Secondly, it was a great concept when it was first imagined, but like other creations of man, it got twisted and warped. Now it’s almost impossible to get the help you need and our minds are filled with examples of benefit cheats getting £1000s a month and sucking the system dry. However I’ve never met anyone who thought the benefits was a cheap f*ck  that pays well. The system isn’t easy to navigate at all. Overall the system leads the needy to be ashamed of needing help so they don’t ask for anything until they’ve gone beyond breaking point.

So yes I’ll hold my hand up and say I’m in the system. I’m a claimant. I had to fight for this whilst on the brink of a mental brake down. I had no help when claiming, I’m not getting help now and every day I get told “my conditions aren’t real,” or “they’re not really a problem”. I get barely any money, no help, no support and I’m stuck.                    I hate the benefits system. 

So if you’re still listening I’d like to hare a few basic truths about the system that you wouldn’t know unless you’re in the system.

Firstly, not every Job seeker claimant is a drug user, lazy, or fat. It’s true that most claimants of benefits have some issues or conditions or have a lifestyle that doesn’t comply with the husband, housewife and 2 kids ‘norm’. You are more likely to meet a claimant that is a victim of child abuse, victim of domestic abuse, has been homeless since they were a teenager, transgender, someone who is sick and can not get better but is not sick enough to get help, or an asylum seeker.

 You don’t get to go on holidays galore on benefits. Look ignore the T.V documentaries about this one. Channels will generally use this holiday propaganda to rile people up. Take a minute, breath and do the math. If a job seeker claimant gets £228 a month (I think it’s £250 for a couple.) Spends £30 a week on groceries, pays rent to a family member or friend (because they don’t have enough capital to have their own place,) or lives in sheltered accommodation, say £50 a month, pays the bills which can be up to £100 a month, how are they supposed to go on holiday with a negative income. Most claimants just scrape by and the rest are in debt. There’s no money to go off globe trotting. Those on ESA aren’t that much better off. Plus when you are in the system you are basically a slave. You have no voice, no one cares if you get bullied by those who work in the job-center, you can barely visit a friend for the weekend or take time out for a family funeral without being financially penalized. So you really think those who are scraping by or are in debt are really going to go on holiday (even in the U.K) and have there only support cut? Claimants are the country’s bitch. To make it worse they use threatening, intimidating and controlling behaviors often seen in domestic abuse cases. They aim to get into your head, wear you down, until you have no self respect and take what ever scraps or jobs they have.

Having parents on the ‘dole’ doesn’t make you want to claim too. Sadly my parents were made disabled, one in service to the army and one in an accident. So I have a lot of experience in this area.  Let me ask you a simple question, if you’re parents were sick/disabled/couldn’t work, you never had enough food, never had lots of presents, or had birthday parties with friends, never went on holiday, never did anything and you saw your parents being taken the piss out of by a system that was supposed to help them, would you really want to be the exact same when you grew up? Would you give any future offspring the same horrible child hood you had? You should say no if you have a brain. Why would you want that? Surely you would try anything you could to escape the system you were born into and make a better life for your self, right?

You don’t need more and more money, you need time, help and support. This is a common misconception in the system it’s self . Yes more money would be helpful for claimants so they weren’t in debt however claimants aren’t money pits. Giving them more and more money is not going to help at all. Having no interaction with claimants does not help either. That just encourages them to get worse. What the average claimant and especially ESA claimants need is support. How can someone get better if you don’t give them any treatment? Whether that be a social worker, help accessing the medical treatment they need or actually asking if they can help. It’s simple logic.

The employment numbers are false. If you are in the system you will be fully aware that if you go on a training course or get sent to a work program you are technically classed as being in education rather than being a claimant. If you are sanctioned, you are not a claimant. What they don’t tell you that the cost of sending people on training or to work programs whilst at the job center costs more than the claimant gets in 2 years and the success rate for training leading to a job is low. The work program I was forced to attend got paid £2000 a head. They got more if you had a serious condition. They would then send you on more ‘training’ which was funded by the government.

Finally, it’s not impossible to eat healthy on benefits. Many people blame weight gain whilst on benefits on not being able to afford healthy food. This isn’t true. It’s more likely that a claimants reduced activity will cause that. Here’s some tips on how to eat healthier whilst on benefits. (By the way I spend £20 a week on food and its mostly  healthy, vegetables and a small amount of meat.) Loose the mentality of “I’m poor, I’ll shop at £ stores.” They depend on people like you, making poor shopping choices and will charge you more for the ‘luxury’.  You can also freeze food even if you are not Iceland. I save a lot of money by freezing food items such as fruit, vegetables, home cooked meals and even bread, by simply portioning it off and freezing it in freezer bags. This also helps reduce food waste to almost 0! Plus because of my dietary requirements my bread is 3x the price of a cheap loaf. So I keep it in sets of 3’s which is enough for a sandwich and toast and barely ever spend money on bread.and it lasts me 2-3 months. So be brave, do some research and utilize your freezer for your own creations. You’ll be amazed at what you can freeze.

So there’s a few truths about the benefit system in the U.K. I will say from my experience, that if you are in another country and think benefit claimants have a sweet life and want to come here and experience it… stay home. Unless you are in serious danger and need a new place to live that is. But seriously stay home and fall in love with where you live again, because you don’t want these shackles. It’s like playing countdown and your only prizes are depression, debt and poverty. You’ll spend your time jumping through hoops like an animal just to stay alive only to be punished at every turn.

And to those who are in the system and reading this, firstly I hope I’ve shed light on some of the issues we face everyday. Secondly you’re screwed, we all are, but don’t give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up fighting your corner and never be afraid to show your face in public because of how people on the outside see us. Use what I’ve brought up here and change people’s perceptions and keep smiling.

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