The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Benefits Budget and How It Is Spent

This is all from a Facebook page, a public post going the rounds of being shared.  Click here to read the original post and see the comments it is getting.  You don't have to have a Facebook account to see it.  The sentence I like best I have put in bold.

What do you think of the following?  Were you already aware of the distortions in some parts of the popular press?  Did you realise the immense degree of spin and exaggeration - I hesitate to accuse anyone of out-and-out lying - being put on this topic by many cabinet members?

Ok, I can't keep my gob shut any longer. I'm sick to death of seeing posts on Facebook about benefit scroungers. Do you know the figures? Because if you did you might see it in another light.

Did you know that only 3% of the benefits budget goes to people seeking work? 53% is pensions and other related old age benefits, 18% is Housing Benefit (which currently goes directly to landlords) 18% is working tax credits, and the rest disabled benefits and other bits and bobs. (And by the way, the Government figures say the fraud rate for disabled benefits is 0.3%)

In fact, the majority of folks claiming housing and council tax benefit ARE IN WORK.

I could write a bloody essay on this because I deal with it everyday. Our benefits budget is not out of control. According to the OECD Britain's benefit bill per head is nowhere near as generous as half the countries in Europe. (And unemployment benefit is particularly stingy compared to most)

The vast majority of folks just want to get on but minimum wage jobs are not paying enough. (This might explain why at work we're seeing working people going to bloody food banks every week.)

This shitty government is turning people against each other. And it's totally unwarranted. Yes, welfare needs reforming but you don't do that by kicking people out of their homes, stigmatising them so that they get spat at in the street and driving them to suicide. - these have all happened so far.

In the last two years 80% of people applying for housing benefit were all working. We can reform welfare by bringing in a living wage so that people don't have to claim benefits to get by. At the moment the welfare budget is subsidising low pay and private landlords on a grand scale.

When you see a post that puts the boot into benefit claimants, think twice before you like it because let me tell you, we are ALL only three mortgage payments away from disaster.

(If anyone wants the sources of the figures I have quoted, I will only be too happy to provide them)

I've attached a pie chart from 2011 to give you an idea. Figures will have changed a bit.


  1. Benefits as currently envisaged benefit those who batten on people needing a little help.

    1. Do you mean by that private landlords can charge more because the difference between what the low-waged can afford and the price charged can be met by Housing Benefit? if that is the type of thing you are referring to, yes, then I agree, Fly,

      The trouble is,since the right-to-buy scheme was introduced with such a fanfare, local government has never been permitted or funded to build enough social housing to replace the stock sold. Housing associations haven't been able to meet the need either, so it's private landlords who have mostly benefited, in my view (and in my experience) from Housing Benefit and the gap in the housing provision.

  2. Hari OM
    Of course I cannot really comment on the facts and figures side as have been 'gone too long', but am interested... (you might like to know that the link goes to blank page "content unavailable").

    I confess a little confusion - is the italic content here from the page unavailable or is it your own commentary?

    Either way it is pertinent to note that there have always been naysayers of the welfare system and plenty who would indeed kick the downed man. It is also a sad fact that there will always be the wastrels who expect all for nothing, thus spoiling the pot for all the genuine needy.

    What I can say for sure is it came as a shock to me recently to see how low the pay is in UK. The base wage in OZ is two-thirds as much again... but this does need to be tempered with the fact that our cost of living is higher. Pensioners of all levels are having to knit threads and strings and try to have a woollen garment (as it were), just as they are at your end of Earth.

    Ever a conundrum. YAM

    1. The part in itallcs is the Facebook post I wanted to publicise. I wonder if it has been taken down. After all, if the man who wrote it works for a government department he may be at risk of being disciplined for writing it, or even of losing his job

  3. Not being able to read the FB post means that I can only guess that it's a typical Daily Mail-type benefit scrounger rant, of which there seem to be more and more.

    Sadly they reflect a major change in public (not just governmental) attitude to benefits over the past 25 years, well described in this article from the Guardian:

    Even more sadly, this change in attitude, which started under Thatcherism, continued almost unabated during the 13 years of New Labour and of course hasn't improved since the last election.

    Faced with a big drop in the proportion of the population that thinks the government ought to spend more on welfare benefits, the coalition obviously reckons it has public opinion on its side in its attempts to slash public spending, not only on benefits but a very wide range of other public services. 'I'm alright, Jack' is obviously still alive and kicking in the UK.

    1. An even more recent article from The Guardian, dateline TODAY, which says everything i think and more.