The Case for Increased Benefits- it’s a long blog but stick with it.

Benefit reform has come to the forefront of politics this past week. It is a vastly sensitive and complex issue one in which many people espcially it seems in our party over simplify. I want to start out by saying that most people on benefits are no scoungers but people in real financial need due to cirmcumstances. There is a dependancy problem that does need to be tackled. This blog does not seek to address that problem but proposes a new way of distributing benefit money.

There should be an injection of individual responsibility in the benefit system. i would propose that there be a reduction in the basic provision of benefit for everyone. However the claiment would then be able to top up that provsion considerably. This top up system for example could be linked to a criminal reccord those who have one recieve the basic, those without could get a bonus for not committing crime. In families this could be linked to the crimes of the children aswell. This would provide a better incentive for those parents who are shall we say have a laissez faire parenting style to not be.

Regarding education, those who are on benefits who take training courses could get a further bonus. This would allow them to gain new skills and self improvement to better enable themselves to participate in the working world. With regards to families i would propse a significant bonus for those children who do well at school both academically and behaviourally. This extra money would allow for example a single mother who does a good job in bringing up her children in adverse circumstances the means to pay for th school trip, or buy a laptop for the home, or to afford the internet. The idea is that those parents (often single) who do an outtanding job of raising their family should have the means to provide their children with the same opportunites as those from richer backgrounds. This money would do that. It could come with advice about how best to spend it on the educational needs of their children. This system would allow those parents who desperatly want to offer their children opportunities but cannot afford to the chance. On the flip side of the coin those children who do not behave at school; would at school recieve all the extra help they need, but their parents would not qualifiy for the bonus.

I can apreciate that this perhaps sounds harsh and unfair as even the best parent can have a wayward child but the state cannot support those who do not conform to societies standard behaviours. i think in many cases it is the poor parenting that is the root of poor educational attainment and that is not omething the state should not fund. There must be an incentive behind benefits so that people have something to aim for to strive for and to provide those that do well a reward.

Working in the community is something that we have already proposed however the key difference i propose is that this community work should be one of the bonuses. if the basic allowance was cut people would off their own backs sign up for these projects to earn the higher benefits.

With single young adults i would propose the bonuses be relativly small as they should be in work; but for those single mums who say are single because they have chosen to leave a violent relationship and now struggle to bring up their children the bonuse should be significant and would in real terms see a raise in benefits. The state should provide well for those who try their best to achieve betterment

This policy must go hand in hand with promotion of the family, sensible familiy planning, reduction in teen pregnacies so as to try and reduce the adverse circumstances people face. We should not begrudge paying more to provide for those doing well enabling them to afford the same opportunities for their children as middle class families can provide.

Those on long term benefits who are without children and have no real reason for living on benefits should have them stopped after 2-5 years. This would be incentive enough for them to find job. It is important to remember most people on benefits would rather not be, and because they get them they are not seocnd class citizens. There is far too much snobby judgementalism still left in our party which condemns those less fortunate. The vast majority of claiments often have a job or are in really desperate situations. The state however should not fund bad parenting or people who are not wokring for no reason.

Benefits should be earned, the potential net amount that can be earned should be much higher. This system gives people a motive to improve their lot. Either improving their children’s education which benefits society or improving their own education or communities.


28 thoughts on “The Case for Increased Benefits- it’s a long blog but stick with it.

  1. I haven’t heard of this idea before. I do, however, think that determining benefits on such an intricate basis would be a nightmare to administer, and could end-up costing more than it saves.

    In any case, I’m not sure I like the socialist overtones of the policy.

  2. We live in a meritocratic society and a benefits system as easily exploited as ours or any is not worth the taxes that pay for them. If you claim to be ‘in need’ of benefits then you should be made to work for the council doing the jobs that nobody else wants until you find yourself other employment, not claiming money from people who have worked all of their lives! Benefits, if any, should be basic, disability benefits is one that i’m sure everyone agrees with, but job seekers allowance is just one that is exploited and exploited well.

    If you don’t have a job, find one, if you can’t find one, then the government should sort you out with council work. You should not get money from tax paying workers because you know how to exploit the system.

  3. Joe, I like your world. Except the rest of us don’t live in it.

    Firstly, the difficulty is how to define ‘exploitation’. It is not easy to determine who is genuine and who is taking the state for a ride.

    Secondly, you say work for the council. You clearly haven’t read your local jobs column. If you had, you might have realised that there aren’t that many council jobs available. Therefore, is it not the case that many of these council jobs will have to be created and so cost money?

  4. benefits are already administered in a large case on an individual basis, therefore i do not think it would neccessarily create more paperwork. however ia ccept that, that is a valid point and one i have no definite answer too.

  5. I believe the benefits issue raised here points to a larger issue…the fact that benefits are being allocated to the wrong people and there are those who unfairly benefit at the expense of others. Currently I am highly opposed to JSA, to name just one, as it is nothing more than a charade. I know of many people who were on the JSA at 18, who openly boasted that they had no desire to go to work, all they had to do was turn up once a week on a thursday (if I remember collectly) and as one person put it “make the right noises!” These are just one set of unscrupulous people. Then there is another set. The decent forgotten majority….Pensioners.

    My Grandmother (here in Birmingham) hasnt recieved a penny of pension since the day my Grandad died last november. She is not a wealthy woman, she does not live excessively, she has worked all her life and in a period which has been undoubtedly expensive for her (in more ways than one) the government tells her she isnt entitled to HER own money that she has paid in to all her life.

    Instead of relying on the government to give her what is hers and what she is entitled to… she has to rely on her self and her own savings. To make matters worse she isnt even classed as a “widow” by the government… in a change in rules and regulations inn 2001 she is now classed as “single” and thus is not entitled to a widows pension as would have been the case 10-20 years ago. Therefore a marriage and partnership of 50 years is seemingly disregarded.

    It boils my blood to think that there are older people, decent people, subsiding on a mere £87.30 to pay bills, buy food and generally live. Then there are young thugs and hoodies running around the streets, causing havoc, claiming benefits and being socially disruptive. These people have no desire to work. They have a desire to be kept. The state has been foolish for far to long to think that if you give people cash incentives they will work. This is self defeating as if benefit claimiants get paid for doing nothing… why bother doing something?

    I personally believe people who can help themselves should be helped to find work (that is what we pay job centers for) but never in a million years do i think think we should give them money! As far as I am concerned that is as ludicrous as the suggestion a few months back that we pay our children to go to school! As far as I am concerned the free assistance in finding work is reward enough.

    Cameron is right in his latest proposals regarding benefit cheats. I just wish that now he would focus more on the inequalities of the system and recognise just how much the pensioners have suffered under Gordon Brown.

  6. I take that point, Daniel, and i’d respond by saying that instead of council work, then why not set them up with agencies who will provide them with temporary work – then surely, if they impress enough at the companies they are placed with, they will gain a permanent. Perhaps I am wrong, and I can accept that, but I just think that any work for these people is better than no work; if somewhere is under employed for any amount of time there should be people that are on the JSA that should be filling in at a moments notice. Perhaps this is a ludicrous suggestion, but in my mind it is the right one.

    And on exploitation I mean the people that go to their 3 interviews however often it is and have no intention of getting a job, they’re happy collecting benefits from honest working peoples taxes.

  7. Dan – unrelated, but I’m tired of you saying things like this:

    1. “I know of many people…” (proportionally you don’t know anyone)

    2. “My Grandmother hasn’t received a penny…” (Unfortunate, but so what?)

    3. “Then there are young thugs and hoodies running around the streets, causing havoc, claiming benefits.” (Do young people claim benefits?)

    4. “America is not ready for a black president” (Still unsubstantiated)

    5. “From what I gather…” (You didn’t gather anything, it’s an opinion)

    6. “Based on personal experience…” (Oh well then, that’s settles it)

    7. “After consulting a great many American friends…” (Can I suggest opinion polls, as a more scientific gage of public opinion)

    8. “Saddam Hussein was well-regarded through much of the world…” (Most of the world? Really? On what basis?)

  8. Perhaps daniel that comment could have been made in private not in public.

    regarding the blog i think joe’s modification of daniel’s idea is a sound one and would provide thos on job seekers’ allowance to gain work experience and be exposed to many idfferent career options.

    i would also say that job seekers’ allowance should not be scapped as it ptovides a life line for many people who are out of work for say 6 months when they are between jobs. an example would be the MG Rover workers who were all made redundant quite suddenly here in our own city.

  9. I think Dan and Dan are perfectly capable of constructive debate, without having external moderation.

    That said, I’m yet to finish reading this blog. I shall! I shall!

  10. Admin issues aside (your proposed system doesn’t sound more complicated than the kaleidoscope of benefits we have at the moment), I like the principles behind this idea, Ryan. Somewhere along the way, unconditional rights seems to have become the received wisdom. I prefer a government that rewards people who play by the rules within the system – your policy idea could be part of this agenda. Well done on challenging the orthodoxy.

  11. Joe, Ryan…

    The notion that “any work is better than no work”, is flawed. Any work is not always better. In the case of temporary work, does it not occur to you that there might not be much available on the job market? Perhaps it also doesn’t occur to you that there might be a mix-match of jobs between the temporary placements available and those unemployed?

  12. Danil, as we have discussed tonight anyway… i disagree with you. Politics isnt based on other peoples opinions… it is based on YOUR opinions. If you form your politics on the advice of others then I feel very sorry for you. I base my politics on my own experience… If you ridicule that then fine. As far as I am concerned its the only way we can form an opinion. If 10,000 polls told you that God was real… would you believe it? If not… why not? Is that not a personal opinion contrary to “facts”?

    I shall now attempt to reply to your “points” :

    The American presidency argument concerning polls… do not all the polls predict a clinton win?! So why would you say I am wrong?

    As far my gran… I shall refrain from using abusive language… all I will say is when the government shit on your gran… maybe you will be a bit more hostile. They have barrged coutles pensioners with bureaucracy and legislation to restrict their ability to claim that which is rightfully theirs… yet they give benfits to those who they “deem fit”… F****** NANNY STATE! Interference to the extreme.

    “Proportionally you don’t know anyone”… so you know more?! how can you tell me I am wrong? You are suggesting by that comment that you know I am wrong… I would like to know why…

    “You didnt gather anything”…. hollow argument to say the least

    “oh well that settles it”…. Who said I am settling anything? Issues are not there to be setteled… you cant claim to have an ANSWER to anything… politics is complex

    As for consulting my american friends… opinion polls can say what the researchers want them to say… F*** OPINION POLLS! I prefer to rely on candid responses from a diverse range of REAL american citizens not from F*****G Pollsters!

    And as for Saddam Hussein… who are we to cast judgement… was it not us and the west who armed him…. was it not us and the west who supported him… was it not us and the west who encouraged him in his war against iran which cost over 1 million lives…was it not us who waged war against him only to find that our logic and reasoning for war was flawed?! I am no supporter of Saddam Hussein… neither do I have the gall and ignorance to condemn him!…. He was seemingly useful once…As far as I am concerned Saddam hussein is a name we best leave alone… as we dont have a leg to stand on.

    All in all I think your comment is flawed… personal… and nothing more than windy rehtoric. Cleverly worded… poorly founded.

  13. I think theres some merit in the blogcontent, but I wonder what will happen to those at the very bottom with the most depressed circumstances?

  14. I’ll be controversial here – and will probably expand the thought on other, more lefty, blogs but I wonder whether the whole tone of the social security debate needs changing, rather than the sums which calculate it.

    I’m not aware of any survey/study/poll which conclusively shows how much money a person needs to live. I’ve seen a few which tells me how much a person needs to survive (as in three meals a day and a roof) but in terms of clothing, travel, water, electricity, gas, toiletries, culture, socialising, TV/phone/internet/, opportunities to celebrate holidays and so on – I’ve not seen a thing.

    And I think that these things are important. Through the whole of the social security debate, we have to remember that people are human beings. No unemployed person should have to be hammered into a flat Cameronesque experience where they spend 24 hours a day looking for a minimum wage job and if they’re unsuccessful they have no right to speak to friends or enjoy Christmas – the only obligation that society has is to put poor quality food in their stomaches and stop them getting rained on.

    The traditional Tory tone has been that people who want to purchase hair conditioner as well as potatoes are exploiting a system and that we should crack down on it. How dare the unemployed, who are by definition scroungers, enjoy anything other than a Victorian life style? For shame…

    In the wonderful Beveridge model of the welfare state, the social security system was designed to eliminate Want, not Idleness. The employment systems of the nation should be absolutely military class and should get more people into excellent training or higher paid jobs faster but the social security systems are there to support life. I think that the tenor of a debate which says that we only believe that children are worth feeding if their parent satisfies some official need to ‘look eager’ in finding work is very sad.

    Social security is an amazing, absolutely wonderful part of the democratic state cultures we live in. We should celebrate the fact that as a country, we’ve come together to feed, clothe, develop, clean, entertain and improve the lives of people that need it. Democracy in the post-war government created an absolutely irrevocable commitment to a society where we support each other – through taxation into education, healthcare, social security, housing, employment and so on. Ace.

    And that is why I take issue with the content of the original post and replies. Benefits should have to be earned through overcoming obstacles. Like the state pension, we should be pleased to give it to the parts of society which need our help.

    Before I am attacked as a bleeing heart with no idea of how people can exploit systems and a tinted socialist view of the world – of course I know that there are benefit fraudsters

    (I also know that there are farmers commiting fraud in support claims and business paying very expensive lawyers to get around their fair share of tax – but they are using their ingenuity aren’t they, strugglin to get by past red tape and shouldn’t be challenged in a Tory world ;-) )

    but lets talk about how we improve things like the New Deal and raising the school leaving age to make people more employable and in good jobs. We shouldn’t use the threat of taking away food as a way to get people into work because that argument lends itself to well to removing health and education, and we must draw the line here.

  15. Ryan’s plan makes everyone an employee of the state. He differs from the status quo merely by rewarding behaviour of which he approves. He misses the point about why welfare dependency is a bad thing. We should get people into work not just to save the rest of us money or because ‘bad’ people get benefits, but because with work comes responsibility, self-respect and ambition. We need to incentivise work by making life on benefits (with the associated cash-in-hand top ups) significantly less desirable.

  16. Gary raises an interesting point and I look forward to him on expanding on that. Our Conservative policies should be targetted to help the poorest in society. That’s why as well as part of any welfare reform we should ensure the very lowest paid shouldn’t pay any income tax (don’t forget Gordon doubled the lowest rate from 10 to 20% with is last budget) or exorbitant prices on the basics (scrapping the CAP would remove the inbuilt regressive transfer from relatively poor consumers to richer landowners).

  17. ‘This top up system for example could be linked to a criminal record those who have one receive the basic, those without could get a bonus for not committing crime.’

    Ryan, have you lost your marbles mate, at what point should the state ‘reward’ a subject for not committing a crime?

    And if parents are ‘desperate’ to improve the lot of their vile progeny then they (or at least one of them) can get a job and give pensioners in this country who can’t afford to pay heating bills a council tax break.

    The sad thing is that people will never get off benefits if they have ‘incentives’. There’re are people in this country who actually see the benefit system as a career. Sometimes its multi generational, a family business you could say – Bob & Sons ‘Taking your money since 1980’.

    Whatever there is to be said for Cameron’s proposal yesterday’s polls showed it to be very popular with a variety of voters.

  18. the basic premise for the argument is that benefits are paid out by the state to everyone who needs them in the same proportion. this means that the state often funds those who are criminally minded. that is a ridiculous situation. this system would provide those who behave with an incentive to and those who dont would be punished finacially and in the courts. therefore the state funds crime to a lesser extent.

    furthermore i fear people are missing my point in the blog which would reduce benefits for those who take the mickey.

    ultimatly i think benefit reform needs to be more holistic and widespread and whislt cameron is on the right track he is not spot on in my view.

    i am glad this has sparked debate it is interesting to see peoples’ true views on this issue in response to the blog

  19. Motion followed that benefits should be somewhat incentive driven, but the bottom line is that they are there for a reason and are important for upholding an equal society. Anything otherwise is purely capitalism with shades on.


  20. I agree with you Ryan, I think that whilst it is positive that Cameron is tackling the issue, much more needs to be done, and those that exploit the system need to be found out and have their benefits stopped. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the near future, but it doesn’t seem the Government are ready to tackle the issue.

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  22. Would incentives not to break the law etc. only be paid to the unemployed? Isn’t this in itself a reason not to work – being unemployed entitles you to payments (for something you should do anyway) that those who do work aren’t entitled to? it is the same principle as paying badly behaved kids to go to school – work hard all year and get nothing, or mess about for a term then put in some effort and get rewarded; surely an encouragement to behave badly at first? part of the reason many people are so fed up with the current system is that the harder you work the less you are entitled to, and this would just continue this problem – if you work then you would not qualify for these payments. what is wrong with the traditional stance that if you break the law you get punished (it would work if it was properly enforced).
    also this would enforce the belief that society owes the unemployed and we should be grateful to the ones that aren’t scrounging, breaking the law etc. as though that is the norm and to do the right thing is exceptional. this belief is one of the main causes of problems in society – rights without responsibility, people thinking the world owes them a favour. encouraging people to look after themselves and encouraging the view that benefits are not a lifestyle but just a lifeline in times of financial emergency would surely be more effective in changing attitudes.
    Also, there seems to be an assumption that no-one should have to work for the minimum wage, but of course there will be some inequality in wages to reflect the differece in skills, responsibility etc. if a cleaner got paid the same as a company director, what incentive would there be to take on that extra stress and put in the years gaining experience and skills vital to get a career and make a good job of it? there has to be some starting point – someone somewhere will earn the least. i’m not suggesting anyone should work for a wage that is not enough to live on, but wages should reflect that some workers are harder to find than others. Minimum wage would not seem so bad if benefits were not good money for doing absolutely nothing – anything seems hard work compared to money paid for nothing.
    sorry to have ranted – needed to get it out of my system!

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