Is the cap on welfare - well, fair?

(81 Posts)
Notsoyummymummy1 Mon 15-Jul-13 20:28:41

A £500 a week cap on the total number of benefits that households can received (not including disability benefits) is being rolled out today across the UK. The cap applies to parents and single parents whereas single childless people get just £350 a week. So basically you're better off living separately from your partner rather than living together! It's supposed to be motivating people to get back to work but it still doesn't deal with the problem of the lack of jobs, the cost of childcare and the fact that £500 goes a lot further in some places than others. It just seems to imply that most people are on benefits as a lifestyle choice when it's not the case - people are usually on benefits as a last resort and lots of families are going to seriously struggle now.

ParsingFancy Fri 19-Jul-13 11:54:52

I beg your pardon, Queen, yes, 26K is median family wage for working families. But not median family income, which is higher for working families.

I'm not suggesting adults in large households have less reason to work. I'm suggesting people who are unable to work because of disability (of themselves or someone they're caring for) are more likely to form larger households - adult children living with parents, granny living in the household, etc.

The exemptions for disability are very narrow, so I'd expect the cap to affect these people.

ParsingFancy Fri 19-Jul-13 11:36:17

That's the swings and roundabouts of buying vs renting, regardless who's paying the rent.

But if it's any consolation, many renters get very poor conditions as well as not being able to build capital in the property.

parsing from what I've read, £26k is the average wage of a working family. I believe the average working wage is around £21k.

Implementing principles is always where it gets tricky, I agree. The definition of people with disabilities who are excluded should be wider, and carers should also be excluded.

I don't agree that the larger a household, the less reason there is for the adults to work.

sonlypuppyfat Fri 19-Jul-13 10:55:49

I visited her house with a friend one who is a nurse her husband is a builder with his own company she said to me she's got the kitchen I wanted but couldn't afford!

ParsingFancy Fri 19-Jul-13 10:46:02

That's not being provided by benefits though, is it, sonly?

If they really do have those things, either they're on the fiddle, or things like the laptops are gifts from grandparents, etc.

And they must have a very unusual landlord to provide a top of the range kitchen for bottom of the range rent, which is all the family will get in housing benefit. Maybe you just meant "new kitchen to replace 1970s one"?

sonlypuppyfat Fri 19-Jul-13 10:38:44

Perhaps it is unfair on people in London but if your not working go and find work elsewear. We are a single wage family a very low wage but we have a friend who hasn't worked for 15 years has had at least 6 kids in that time they all have there own laptops brand new attic conversion brand new top of the range kitchen and new 3d TV someone please tell me how on that is fair.

ParsingFancy Fri 19-Jul-13 10:37:15

But the principle falls over immediately because it's done per group, not per individual.

The £26K is the average wage. For one person.

The cap is for a household, which could easily be 6 people including multiple generations and people with disabilities (only a few of whom are exempt from the cap).

In fact the more overcrowded a family is, and the more mild-to-moderate disabilities it's coping with, the more likely it is to be hit by the cap.

I'm one of the majority who support the principle of the cap. However I intensely dislike the benefit bashing, scroungers, lazy welfare lifestyle argument of the government and media.

But as a philosophy, I agree that a non-working family should not get more money than the average working family. This only applies to non-working families, at least the majority of which are in London (depending on your definition of London) and I'm guessing a significant majority is in the South East.

I don't buy the argument that it is hard to find work in these areas. Yes, the cost of living is high, but if you are in work, the cap does not apply.

For example, if I was a single parent of three kids, all I need to do is work 16 hours a week. I would still be eligible for the full range of benefits, so I think it's reasonable that I'm expected to work.

I also don't get this argument about childcare; if you're not working, by definition you don't need childcare.

I agree with other posters though that it doesn't deal with the issue that the minimum wage is to a living wage and we are topping up incomes, so that companies can increase their profits.

RonaldMcDonald Fri 19-Jul-13 08:55:02

niceguy I agree

I also know that most people are unaware that the welfare budget includes pensions. The Tories will not touch pensions as it will end their voting base.

RonaldMcDonald Fri 19-Jul-13 08:52:42

Perhaps families being forced to move out of areas in London and SE will be a good thing for the rest of the country

Maybe it will start to spread the concentration of provision around the UK a little?

I've moved on a number of occasions (between countries) including with the children and luckily for me it has been fine. Worse or impossible however if you rely on familial childcare or are a carer for family members etc

I am finding it hard to become very interested in the subject as I am unsure that the cap actually affects that many claimants

In general I am interested in the judging and bashing and smug blaming that I see surrounding benefits at the moment
It feels horrible and at best very short sighted

niceguy2 Fri 19-Jul-13 08:42:08

But the elderly need protecting because they can't work,

Of course we need to look after our elderly. But we can only do so with the money we have. If we don't have it, we can't spend it. And therein lies the problem.

We have a retirement age set decades ago when life expectancy was a lot lower. Many pensioners enjoy a generous final salary pension which is great for them but then when the state is in dire straits, if cuts need to be made then maybe we should start looking at means testing pensions??

As people are living longer the pension timebomb will just get worse. Ignoring this and focusing on back to work benefits is wrong in my opinion.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 05:55:40

"We had the money to pay for removals to bring all our belongings with us rather than leave what we had behind and start again from scratch with absolutely nothing."

Last person I knew who 'had to move' (couldn't keep up with the mortgage payments and went back to renting - nothing to do with welfare cuts) rang round a few mates, including one with a van and we helped shift everything for them. 'Starting from scratch' is over-emotive.

olgaga Thu 18-Jul-13 23:36:03

And I'd like to add that lottie makes a good point. Instead of moaning about "scroungers" and patting ourselves on the back for being so "independent" of the welfare state, we should be asking why it is that the taxpayer has to support so many welfare claimants who are actually working.

Who are we subsiding? It seems to me that it's the employers who pay no more than minimum wage on zeto-hours contracts who get the most out of the welfare state.

The welfare state enables employers to pay the bare minimum to their employees, thanks to the generosity of the taxpayer who pays to top up their emoyees' income to a bare living wage.

olgaga Thu 18-Jul-13 23:17:34

It's not about the welfare budget, or silly perceptions that the poor pluck the fruit of our labour from a mythical "money tree". This will save a piffling amount in terms of the overall welfare budget.

As for those saying "We had to move, blah blah" yes I know all about moving. We're on our third move from London 15 years ago. But on each occasion we moved for a better life than we had before. We made money on 2 out of three moves, realising capital growth on property we owned.We chose the houses and the particular areas we moved to. We had the money to pay for removals to bring all our belongings with us rather than leave what we had behind and start again from scratch with absolutely nothing.

Which is no doubt what most people do when they "have to move". It's not remotely comparable to the difficulties faced by those who have no money and no choice.

lottieandmia Thu 18-Jul-13 20:21:34

But the elderly need protecting because they can't work, much like disabled people - so it's no wonder it's the elephant in the room.

WRT the rail link I agree to an extent and see what you're saying but there is not 'no money' then is there? The Tories want to cut the welfare state because it's their brand of politics, not specifically because there is literally no money.

The reason tax credits and housing benefit are needed by so many people is because low paid jobs don't provide enough money to run a home - perhaps employers pay less and expect the government to top up people's wages?

niceguy2 Thu 18-Jul-13 18:08:24

Lottie, if you are referring to HS2 then i'm going to disagree with you. I think we do need a high speed rail link.

What I'm not so sure about is if it is worth the money, nor am I convinced the government will pull it off given they rarely do.

However, the need is clearly there. It's like arguing we didn't NEED the M25. Of course we didn't NEED it but the advantages of having it are massive.

JSA is only a small portion of the welfare budget, I agree. But then that's not the only benefit paid is it? Housing benefit, free school dinners, council tax, tax credits. It all mounts up.

I do think the government and press have spun the 'fraud' angle more than they should but that's hardly a surprise for MP's. That's why I would love the personal tax statements to be published so people can easily see for themselves what proportions they pay for what service.

That way we can hopefully talk about the elephant in the room, namely pensions are literally crippling the welfare budget and it's going to get worse with time. So to me that's what we should be focussing on. Nipping & tucking a little here & there is all very well but not if you are ignoring the proverbial elephant.

lottieandmia Thu 18-Jul-13 16:47:35

niceguy - If the state doesn't have a money tree then why are they going to build a railway network that we don't actually need? As my understanding is that out of work benefits account for only 10% of spending on welfare.

EeTraceyluv Thu 18-Jul-13 16:30:49

Apparently we are 'squeezed middle, we have a mortgage and jobs and live in a city which is equally as expensive as London. London is not a special case. It has been suggested that people who live here be moved away too, making the city 'gentrified'. Sadly, for us, that is a good thing as house prices will carry on rising, but for others it really isn't sad

Cutting your cloth is fine, and ideally nobody would have children they can't afford.

But setting caps ignores salient facts such as (1) circumstances change and (2) sometimes the long-term cheaper option costs more in the short term, and vice versa.

Family with two incomes has three children. Redundancies occur.

Family realises it is priced out of an area, so wants to move. But the new deposit, man&van hire, etc are too much for their budget at the moment either.

Oversimplifying for effect, but hope I've made sense. Hardly anyone deliberately lives beyond his/her means; it's almost always the incremental product of circumstances.

niceguy2 Thu 18-Jul-13 16:25:15

The welfare cap is overwhelmingly supported not just by Tory voters but by voters in general.

I don't believe this is about sending a message that the Tories hate the poor. But more a realisation that even the state does not have a money tree and the old fantasies of taxing the rich until their pips squeak and give to the poor also no longer work in the global world we now live in.

Bowlersarm Thu 18-Jul-13 16:25:11

"Don't expect to have as many children as you like, and live where you choose, if you don't expect to pay for it yourself"

confused

What is so unreasonable about that?

noddyholder Thu 18-Jul-13 16:20:09

Why don't people want to move according to their income? When we outgrew our flat in London and realised we couldn't afford to move within it once ds arrived we moved out to where we could afford to live. Thats what people do.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 18-Jul-13 14:57:04

"Don't expect to have as many children as you like, and live where you choose, if you don't expect to pay for it yourself"

In other words, the same respectable 'cut your cloth' values that working class people have adhered to for years. Not hatred of anyone but support for responsible behaviour. That's why it's so popular.

olgaga Thu 18-Jul-13 13:44:52

This is going to affect 40,000 out of almost 25 million households in Britain. The average loss to those affected households will be £93 per week.

20,000 of those households are in London, most of the rest are presumably in the South East or commuter areas with good transport links to London.

So the overall effect will be quite small, but on an individual basis it will be extremely harsh. The purpose is not to get people into work, or even to make any significant savings in the welfare budget.

The purpose is to send a message to working voters that the Tories are getting tough on "welfare dependency" - ie "shirkers and scroungers".

The real message is "Don't expect to have as many children as you like, and live where you choose, if you don't expect to pay for it yourself".

The Tories have a special hatred for the "undeserving" poor who have the temerity to think they can live a normal life.

Now if the same time spent on benefits would be spent making sure that families had a more equitable taxation system, the utility companies and transport companies were brought in to line to stop above inflation increases it would put benefits in perspective

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