Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Benefits, unfair?

Let's be factual for a second. A couple that are out of work, without kids,in social housing, get £5.5k to do with as they like (when I say this, it means to pay for their food, drink, heating, electric, water, clothing, insurance, petrol, maintenance costs for various things...and all the more optional things like mobile phones, sky, internet, etc). This is just over £100 a week.

A couple who both earn £18k (which takes us to around the same level as this benefits cap in take home pay) will have £560 a week before mortgage/rent and council tax. After paying those two things (I'm going to arbitrarily choose a rent of £600 a month, and council tax of £1000 per year...I think these are low, but here goes). This means the couple on around the "benefit cap" of earnings are £370, or £270 a week better off than the same couple on benefits.

How low do the two people have to go on their earnings to be worse off? Technically if both are earning £7k and are working lots of part-time hours, they are a couple of pounds worse off than those on benefits.

Add 2 kids in to the scenario, and the "free loaders" get £411 a week. Our 2 person couple who work get £226. The earning couple are still £190 better off in this situation.

This isn't to say that there aren't people out there on higher benefits than those who earn, and obviously there are plenty out there *under* the average family earnings amount. But you have to compare fairly. It is ridiculous to look at amounts of income based purely on the amount they're entitled to, since most of the entitlement that people have is for their rent, which they never see. If there is a problem with people on low to average incomes affording those rents then the problem is NOT benefits payments, but the price of rent, and the disparity between earnings and the areas those people earning have to live.

If there are people on benefits that find they'll be worse off by going in to work the problem is NOT the benefits payments, but the fact that our government(and past governments) seem to think that a fairly low level of weekly income, poverty level I would say, is not viable for supplementary income support. To be clear, two people earning £7k (minimum wage, part time but over 16 hours a week) will earn barely enough to pay their rent, council tax, bills and basic provisions, if they have enough at all, and get little to no benefits or support. The reality is that the government allows people to earn this amount of money, but not to necessarily be able to afford to live, at least not without making compromises on food or heating...deadly in the winter.

Yet the public, it seems, would rather deal with the non-issue of the benefits claimant. Much fairer, you see, to bring everyone down to a standard level of poverty, than to try and ensure no-one has to endure that.

All of this fuss for around 0.2% of the households in the UK (1% if you talk about benefits over £20k) while the opposite 1% in the country, the highest earners (who incidentally make up at least 0.6% of UK households if we assume that all highest earners are paired up in to families) are fretting about being close to being taxed an extra 10% on their income, of which they already accrued around £100k after tax before having to pay more.

Food for thought, moving the 50% tax rate from £150k to £100k would see around 0.3% of uk households (at least, see proviso above) paying an extra £480-960 a week (on average) into the governmental pot, and another 0.3% an extra ~£100-200 a week (on average). Basically, this tax change would (assuming no tax dodging, HAH!) bring in over £100m a week. Cutting 67,000 house holds benefits? I'd be surprised if it saves more than £16m a week.

The difference? That £100m a week comes from a set of people that, even after the change, still have AT LEAST around £700-750 a week each as individuals, therefore not taking in to account their partner's earnings...even after the basics of living are removed. Two of these very wealthy people together would still have at least £1500. Taking the money from those 67,000 households above the "cap" limit reduces their income to £500 a week, though they still need to spend a significant amount of that on their rent, council tax and other basics of living.

Yet somehow this increasing of taxation is less popular than giving those freeloading scroungers a kicking. Of course this makes sense, since the scroungers aren't working, and therefore are all scum, contributing NOTHING to society, and that don't deserve any money whatsoever, while the super rich work their hands to the bone every day...

What a wonderful society we live in that jealous spite will drive something like 60+% us to agree to deprive people of something like £100 a week (assuming an average drop of £6k in benefits for that 0.2% of uk households) while only 45% of people think taxes on the wealthy, that could pay for proper income support for extremely low earners for example, should be increased.

I guess my TL;DR is this... wealthy families, especially ones with landlords in their family unit, must be laughing to the bank while poor people try to belittle and reduce the amount that other poor people have to live on.

1 comment:

  1. I also think we've forgotten that part of the reason we give everyone enough money to live, no matter their personal circumstances, is because one way or another everyone needs enough money to live. Lifting low paid and jobless off the poverty line should be a small price for our society, otherwise we just end up paying for it in other ways.


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