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The View On The Streets: Welfare Reform


The View On The Streets: Welfare Reform

The Welfare Reform Bill has been hotly debated in both the House of Commons and Lords.  By 2013, the government hopes to implement £18 billion in welfare cuts.  We are told this will help save cash, get the unemployed back into work and it is only fair that the unemployed do not receive more on benefits than working families on a low‐wage.  On the streets of Barking, East London, we asked the public what they thought and the response was instructive.

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Related topics: Economy, Social Change

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Mukthadir Ali said:

This was a hot debated subject of getting public’s opinion on benefit reform or putting a cap. I see it is unfair for those who have long term disabilities will a get cap in others words reduced benefit but seems the government are discriminating them. As for the young and unemployed people there isn’t much work out there. On top of that the public’s £1 trillion pounds debt is a huge one but increasing.

Andrew said:

Rich should be taxed more than the poor, miniminum wage should we increased , people on benefits should show evidence of active search for work, tax avoidance should be illegal .

Stephanie said:

I am getting sick and tired of everyone always blaming us the poor, the scum), for all the problems in this country. Sure it was us that was draining all the money on “expenses,” us that bailed out the banks and for what? How have we benefited from the banks mistakes? Any more jobs, interest rates any lower, of course not this is a system for the rich and sod the rest of us. My father worked all his life, so did my Nan and when she got sick my dad got NO help from the state, CRAP health services (which lead to my Nan’s death) and then just to kick a man when he’s down hardly any help with the funeral. Now when my father got sick the NHS gave him a sub standard operation that had not been used since the 80’s because it failed within 2 years and lead to other health problems which then directly lead to his death and now I’ve got to defend myself. Yeah great system we have. I’ve heard that defence myself “my grandfather died/served for this country” for those that are to work shy but tell me how often do we really meet people like that? Yes it is a terrible shame that we have a system that does encourage a MINORITY to watch TV all day and generally sponge of the state, use riducioulous excuses for why they don’t work but why should we punish those that really need the help? We pride yourself on living in a “caring society”, but tell where is this supposed help? For those that have visited job centres how are the staff, kind, helpful, eager to get you back into work? Of course of not, they are degrading, unhelpful and in my opinion bitter and twisted indivials that have far too bid egos. They hurt instead of help people and then have the audacity to judge those that need help! When you go job agencies they are helpful, know and do their job, what system actually achieves their goals? Private over state! Why can no one see this? It is the system that creates this problem, not the people and now they want to cut of the little bit of help we can get! How does this help, how is this fair? The problem in this country is the government, they run around like headless chickens and we wonder why other countries treat us like a laughing stock! Why should I have to defend myself and my family just because I don’t have money? In a world where the middle and higher classes are seen as people and the poor as the root of the problem it hardly seems that we live in “a caring society”! The majority of our government come from a middle class upbringing (let us not forget the majority are decedents of royalty, the ladies and earls) and the higher classes spend their lives attending “charitable functions”, (i.e. social climbing), all profess to want to help instead they spend their lives judging and destroying us. It is a horrible fact, this country is for the rich, they are the rich and the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The banks helped us to get in this situation while the government looked the other way. For years credit cards were handed out like sweeties with no real thought to how the money would be repaid while the banks handed out huge bonuses to the bosses who only got their jobs because of daddy’s family connexions. In a world where higheracrcy rules and the rest of us suffer why should we accept and adapt to losing this golden ticket. It is not fair that the rest of us pay for the Vicky Pollards of this world but it is so unfair that the disabled and old have to suffer because the government does not want to work. If anyone had a bit of sense they would realise that yes the old and disabled can work on some days, on good days, but what about the times when they are too ill to get out of bed. What kind of company would allow employees to work on an infrequent basis whilst paying a steady wage? Anyone that can answer that question has just saved England. Never forget that we don’t all have the skills to start our own businesses or work from home. And the government’s solution is to cut funds for benefits. Now that’s what I and my family pay our taxes for. I have known people that started out at low paid positions and worked their way to a better job, it can be done. But just how can people start their work lives when there is no help available. Cutting benefits is not the solution, it will create more problems. But you know what would help, if we truly stopped the rich cutting taxes (fun fact, a high paid company once paid less tax than a middle class family, why do you think they employ so many accountants, they use legal loopholes to avoid paying taxes), and paid the government less, no longer let ourselves be robbed blind for “expenses”, that would certainly help our country’s debt. Yes it is not the government responsibility to create jobs, it is the private sectors that bear ultimate responsibity but it would help if someone in government could gain some true life experience and realise that the way to success is by giving a helping hand, not leave everyone without help and inadequate services, the we will truly be a caring society, until that day happens our country will still be stuck in a rut and a sham.

An Austere View on Welfare | Dave Clements said:

[…] government and opposition, all sounds eminently sensible. And if you ask people on the street (of Barking, East London, for instance) there does seem to be a degree of consensus in wider society […]

J.Howey said:

Despite being on benefits and I recognise the lack of jobs, one problem seems to be that young people have aspirations to do great things but no idea that that takes serious work. There is a sense people think they should just be given a great creative job that they are entitled to one, or is that too meritocratic or harsh?

Laura Walters said:

This video raises very important debate. Those who are for the government, supporting the free market case, seem only to see things in terms of saving cash as one woman points out. People’s living standards seem to be secondary to economic needs. But surely economic growth is worth pursuing to make us all more prosperous not for some abstract purpose. Benefits do not seem to be the reason we have a dearth of growth either. Welfare itself though does need to be questioned as it rests on the assumption that full employment is impossible, some even argue capitalism needs a ‘reserve army of labour’. The question then becomes is capitalism able to deliver prosperity for us all? At times it has clearly improved our lot which suggests if revolution is not on the cards, more must be done to make it work for more of us. I would say that has to mean supporting increased production, hence jobs, making a living wage for all a bottom line and opposing austerity from all sides i.e. from the free marketeers and trendy anti-growth merchants. I have read quite a bit on dependency culture and do see the problem of victimhood, entitlement and looking to the state all the time as making us incapable. However this is a political, cultural problem NOT a product of us living a great life on punitive benefits.

Caz said:

I have been hit by these Welfare Reforms and I am not happy. I have been taken off incapacity benefit and put on Job seekers although I have several medical problems that make life difficult for me. I will now have to try and survive on almost half of what I was getting.
I’m not hopeless, incapable or useless. And I certainly do not sit at home making kids as one woman insinuates.
The poor are definitely gonna get poorer with these reforms.

diana E said:

wellfare…..welfare……’s as controversial as racism or xenofobia….I’m almost scared to talk about it as there is no universal truth.
It is difficult to be objective on this matter. A lot of people’s feelings are involved here.

Is the lack of jobs the problem or the amount of lazy people that want money without working? This is the dilemma. We could only know the answer from statistics. But are they reliable? We live in an era of disbelief, confusion and hopelesness.

Now, what the government could do is focus more on who and in what circumstances is eligible to claim benefits rather than cutting the amount of money they give. I am sure there is a fair number of people that do get benefits because they know how to trick the system.
If you are healthy and unemployed you should settle for whatever job is available first EVEN IF YOU HAVE HIGHER ASPIRATIONS. You can’t stay on benefits until you get the job of your dreams. It’s true that good things come to those who wait….but in this case, they come to those who try to work.

Mijanur said:

The general belief that people choose to go on benefits is absurd. Everyone has aspirations but cannot aceive those goals beacuse of lack of opportunity. This is due to a lack of investment in the economy, thus jobs are scarce. As the gentleman mentioned, the Job Centre forces people into jobs they do not want. This is not the message we want to be sending to younger people. It would lessen their motivation. A public attitude exists which consists of ‘people living off the welfare state’. This view exists throughout Europe and many do not realise that it is not a lifestyle. People feel that they have no other choice as they cannot find good jobs.

Elam said:

That’s a great point that the lady makes, the Working class are always used as a scapegoat and are demonised – people are made to believe that the people on a lower income or those that are unemployed and have no aspirations.

People seem to not realise that Britain is currently and have been for hundreds of years raging wars abroad (Even wars that we don’t know about) ! WAR costs Millions and BILLIONS of pounds – and this I believe is the reason why all these cuts are happening.

Dan said:

Its interesting that people blame a lack of work ethic on an absence of ‘support’. Where was the lack of work ethic when people just picked up the dole cheque at the post office? People don’t need government training or counselling, they need to be left alone to do things for themselves. The government cant ‘create’ aspirations for work and independence.

Chloe Dean said:

Remy is my boyfriend… don’t tell rolex

Remy said:

I agree with Beksi Milan

Beksi Milan said:

I think the points made were very valid, and the dude near the end in the blue sweater made a good point about the importance of welfare for the government , as their main objective is to reduce the budget deficit… 20:00 onwards, check him out, he’s sexy too

Jenny P said:

Hmm this raises a lot of questions and I am really not sure that making young people more skint makes them get up off their bums and do great things. Lots of people who have been great writers and thinkers and inovaters in the past were rich with a lot of free time. I don’t think treating the state as a surrogate parent is the way forward and it is mind numbing but that about politics, clulture, attitude isn’t it not about £51 a week.

Frank said:

There is something to this dependency for me. The welfare reform bill will do nothing for this mind you but i think the guy in the beginning who questions how we are all getting so stuck on government “help” has a point. I thin kit is really worrying that more and more we bow to our fates, dop our cap to those who really don’t have a clue. I for one am getting sick of just throwing my hands in the air and saying ‘what can i do’…but what can i do?

Stacey said:

Well Tamara, what the government could do as a starting point is close down the countless centres full of counsellors and the bureacratic costly structures of the welfare state and share it out to those of us unemployed. But suppose you would think i would spend that all on goodies, tell you what, I’ll start a business, might fail, but then the government can bail me out!

Bern said:

I now earn less than half of what i earnt last year, but I work harder, much harder. My firm say to us “no work this week, as we have to give so and so a job as they were off last week so its onlyl fair”. Now I guess you could say that was them being fair, spreading out the jobs they have, but it is just wrong. It’s always been the case that unemployment just lets the oiks know that we better not whinge, we better not whine, or we will be much worse off. How about a basic income for all, that way i could have more leverage at work, say I am leaving if you don’t do this or that. But now I suppose this argument will be seen as feeding into the lazy kids out there who will just sit on the butts all day. Really? How many actually do that? And are we all to penalised for a few?

Natascha said:

This focus on cutting back and limits do us no favours, the guy who talks about there is only so much of a budget is a good example, we all just start shrugging our shoulders and saying this is how its got to be. IWhy? And the focus on taking money from people who are already getting knocked about in the current economic climate is just insulting.

Gary Hutchins said:

This is the governments pathetic answer to everything – “more small businesses”. The people who run the country are not really doing their job – there should be housebuilding schemes, roadbuilding schemes, telecoms schemes and routes made into new scientific research for new products. They always treat unemployment as if its an individual or “underclass” moral failing rather than a failure of vision on the part of those at the top of society.

Tamara Jones said:

Why don’t these long term dolies pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and start a business of their own more often? It may mean hardships but surely getting out of state dependency would be worth it. I don’t know what sectors though and I don’t just mean shoe-shine businesses either.

Pierre Girault said:

There is welfare (money from the government) on one hand – which everyone could need access to from time to time. Then there is the condition of dependency on the state (welfarism) on the other. They are not simply mutually determined because one is financial and the other is sociopolitical.