- Reform Poverty Trap Welfare
- Offer a Hand Up, Not a Hand Out
***Updated July 2022***
Figures from UK Government up to August 2020 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/dwp-benefits-statistics-february-2021/dwp-benefits-statistics-february-2021) show that despite our Government hailing the lowest unemployment figures since the 1970’s, people receiving welfare in the UK is out of control.
In total, people claiming DWP benefits was 22.8 million. My first issue with this is that this includes the state pension (12.4 million), which IS NOT A BENEFIT. The state pension is a payment in exchange for your contributions over the years.
The most shocking figure is that 9.5 million working age people receive at least one welfare benefit in the UK.
In total, latest figures 2020-21 show total welfare spending of £212B, up £20b in just one year. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/283954/benefit-expenditure-in-the-uk/)….. more than double what we spent in 2000.
What could we possibly have done during the past 22 years that could lead to us doubling the amount of people who claim benefits?
Safety Net, Not Lifestyle Choice
There was a time when Welfare was an affordable safety net. Somewhere along the line it has turned into a lifestyle choice which traps many recipients with it generous offerings.
There was a time when the total cost of welfare rose and fell in line with unemployment figures. This is no longer the case. Regardless of how well we do reducing unemployment (or the figures at least), the welfare bill continues to climb.
There can only be two reasons for this: Either the unemployment figures are not true and there are many more unemployed that we are told, or we are are just handing out ever increasing amounts of Universal Credit to an ever wider proportion of the population.
Whichever the reality, the bottom line is that it is not sustainable to continue financing an ever growing number of people who don’t or can’t work to finance themselves. Before you misunderstand me, I am not saying we should stop payments and let people and families suffer. I am saying that we need to be tougher on those that ‘choose’ not to work. To redesign the system to offer a hand up out of the poverty trap. To let people work without penalising them for doing so.
We should give then the skills they need to improve their lives, but we need to develop a tougher approach so that living off the welfare state isn’t a long term option.
We need to make working for a living the more favourable option. Maybe anyone receiving unemployment benefit or universal credit should be available 9 – 5 Monday to Friday picking litter, scrubbing graffiti, weeding parks etc. Maybe they should earn their money by contributing to the area in which they live (like the rest of us have to)… just a thought.
We need to reform the poverty trap that welfare has created. The average UK wage is £29,600 per year. The maximum universal credit (outside London) is £20,000.
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To take home the same money that universal credit provides, a person would need to earn £26k. To make work pay, people need to be better off working than not working. For a single parent, who would need to pay for childcare while working this just isn’t possible.
We can’t blame people for not wanting to work all week just to be worse off. This poverty trap needs to be addressed, either via subsidised /free childcare or additional support.
I would also introduce a system of food vouchers for real, fresh food rather than paying cash into recipients bank accounts. I believe that anyone claiming benefit should appear in person to claim that benefit.
If tax payers have to feed you then you should be required to buy and cook healthy food, not junk food and takeaways.
I would also put a time limit on payments for private rent. Once the welfare state starts paying your rent & all your utilities, it becomes a poverty trap where credits are limited to £20k per year.
This means that you would need to go and find a job paying £26k + to be as well off as you are doing nothing. It’s ridiculous and stops people from getting back into work.
We need to support those who need it while they get back on their feet.