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To think the £53/wk furore is ridiculous

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PostmanPatricia Fri 05-Apr-13 23:13:53

IDS has been told to live on £53/wk by a market trader, who actually lives on £156/wk, and maybe more than that since he is self employed and coincidentally claims to be earning exactly the level to get tax credits.

While there are certainly people who live on this much, and less, making a media managed show over someone who certainly isn't doesn't seem designed to improve the tenor of public debate.

Welfare gets reformed every few years because of acknowledged faults in the old system - e.g. the Tories brought in Family Credit in 1988, to replace a scheme they had introduced in 1971, and intending to make it easier for families to work. Labour brought tax credits in in 1998, and said that costs would increase from £3.5 billion to £5 billion. Costs are now close to £30 billion.

Only 75,000 families received the family supplement in 1979, 600,000 in 1997 and now I think around 5 million.

This could reflect a number of things, some would say that the government subsidises low wages, others that we now have a more flexible (read: low-paid) labour market, but clearly the exponential growth of payments cannot continue forever.

Obviously some people do relatively better, for instance if you live in Newcastle and can buy a family house for £60k, then minimum wage plus tax credits is a sustainable income for a family to pay a mortgage. Others clearly not so much, in London house prices are out of sight, rents quadruple what the would be in the north, and a minimum wage job plus tax credits would give no way to ever buy a house, and in certain areas you'd be hit by the £26k/yr benefits cap (which is actually largely a cap on welfare for landlords due to high London HB rates).

There will be other families where in theory incomings are enough, but debts are eating up the income.

Anyway, my point is that clearly when the government massively increases welfare spending, as it did in 1998, people will be happy. When t tries to bring it under control, there will be people who lose out. They should be considered, but on an actual basis of 'a single parent family with two children previously would receive £x and now only £y, and this isn't enough to survive', rather than claims from self-described 'wheeler dealers and poker players' that they are living on £53/week and I challenge you to do the same.

As I understand it to be living on that kind of money you would have to be unemployed, with no children, although I believe the actual benefit rates are higher than £53/wk in this scenario. If people are therefore arguing that unemployment benefits should be increased, they would say so.

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