A Feckless Family Fruitlessly Frittering Financial Future Away

It was news to me that there were people getting more that the £26,000 average household income from benefits, but it appears this is a problem, to be addressed by the Welfare Reform Bill. Which seems to have taken a kicking from some bleeding hearts in the House of Lords. The kicking is taking a kicking in the Commons as I write.

Let’s take a butcher’s hook at one of these offending families, kindly drawn to my attention by Lemondy, who was in the market for a good rant, pleased to oblige 😉

What’s been going on here? It doesn’t start well, we have a blended family of two of Ray’s daughters from a previous relationship and three of his wife Katherine’s kids from her previous relationship. Fair enough, these things happen, looks like there is no contribution from the other people who helped bring these children into the world.

Raymond, a former educational software writer, has been jobless since 2001. His wife Katherine suffers from bipolar disorder with an anxiety disorder and is also unable to work.

Says Ray: “The market for my skills dried up 10 years ago – there’s a total lack of work in my area of expertise.”

There are two problems here. One is that Ray, despite being unemployed for the last ten years, decided to sire a son five years ago. At least it was with his wife. Ray, me old mucker, precisely why did you decide to produce this child when you knew you were unable to support it? Perhaps you ought to take a look at what the NHS has to say about stopping this happening in future…

Don’t get me wrong, I am open to taxpayers supporting families up to three children in some cases. After that I believe family support should be supplied in kind – food stamps, clothing vouchers for named individuals with a photo, and free school meals. Why is that? Because having children when you can’t afford them should seriously screw up your standard of living!

I am happy with supporting normal sized families (that’s up to 3) through the tax and benefits system, though they’ll have to move to cheaper areas. However, larger familes should be actively discouraged if you’re going to do it on the public purse. In the past, when I asked myself whether I could have children, the answer was no, I couldn’t afford it. So I didn’t do it, FFS! What makes Ray and Katherine so damn special that not only do I not get to have the experience. I have to pay for them to do it?

When I was growing up, when parents couldn’t support their children longterm the children were taken into care. There was a lot wrong with that, but there’s a lot wrong with people like me paying for the likes of  Ray and Katherine to have that special experience of having a child of their own blood too. Supporting these children and only the children via food and clothing vouchers would at least screw up the parents’ living standard a bit while protecting the child’s essential needs.

The second thing wrong here is Ray’s assertion

“The market for my skills dried up 10 years ago – there’s a total lack of work in my area of expertise.”

Don’tcha think it might be time to learn something new, then, rather than sitting on your big hairy butt firing out children on the taxpayers’ dime then, Ray? You have sat on your lazy ass for longer than I aim to retire early. For a quarter of your potential working life you have done diddly squat, while Gordon Brown, in addition to saving the world solved child poverty by dropping money from helicopters to people like you. Solving child poverty was a laudable aim, but not if you start creating more of it by making it easier for people like Ray to sit on their Lay-Z-Boy recliners watching Sky TV….

Talking of which, let’s move on to the spending of this feckless bunch of time-wasters

‘There are four children to supply school uniforms – including gym kits – each year. The school trips aren’t days out to Alton Towers – they’re educational trips for several of the courses, like history, geography and media studies, that the school tells us will form an important part of their course. Then there are seven birthdays a year, and seven children to make Christmas happen for each year.’

Whenever anything that looks like frippery is given the adjective ‘educational’ we know we are being rooked. In the 1960s and 70s families sometimes just had to say ‘we can’t afford it’ to school trips. If enough families didn’t sign up, the trip was cancelled. It wasn’t the end of the world. And I’m sorry, but media studies isn’t even worth the time it takes in the school day, and it definitely isn’t worth some of my money to send Ray’s children on school trips for.

As for the seven birthdays and Christmases, well, used to be if you couldn’t afford Christmas you’d make the presents yourself. Ray and Katherine need a spine transplant, so they can say to their kids “we can’t be bothered to go to work to give you that iPod you wanted, so you’ll have to do with this tube of Smarties instead”. Instead they tell their children the lie that the fairness fairy will given them their heart’s desires, propagating the entitlement gene across the generations. Oh and you, dear reader, and I get to pay for it, too…

‘We get the Sky Movies package because we’re stuck in the house all week – otherwise we wouldn’t have any entertainment.’

Bit of a battle for the old remote control, eh? And why are we paying the Digger £780 a year, Ray? Tell you what, since you’re so keen on things ‘educational’ howsabout you haul your lazy ass down to the library and borrow some of those flat things called books, and get your lot to read?

Anybody who has Sky TV should have benefits docked to the same amount. It’s a want, not a need. My TV delivers enough entertainment without Sky, I reused the dish for FreeSat. Want Sky to watch the footy? Get a flippin’ job, Ray!

‘Most of this goes on our eldest son’s bus fares to college and back. For me, if it’s less than five miles, I’ll walk.’

For the first time, I tip my hat to you, sir. That’s the right attitude. Heck, I’d be okay with putting some of the saving from the Sky TV package I’d cancel to get you a reasonable pushbike.

‘My wife and I have mobile phones, and so do all of the teenage children. You try telling teenagers they’re going to have to do without their mobiles and there’ll be hell to pay.’

How about telling them where to get a paper round if they want a mobile? It’s back to spine transplant time for you, Ray, my boy. And why the bloomin’ heck is this costing you over £1500 a year? What part of PAYG and ‘shut yer gob’ do you and yours not understand? I have never paid £1500 a year for mobile phone service. Nor even £200, which is the per head rate, and I don’t plan to start. Ever heard of Skype, since your lot seems to spend most of the time at home?

‘Gas and electricity bills have gone up massively over the last couple of years – two years ago we were paying £20 a week. If they do cut our benefit we are going to have to choose between eating and heating the house properly.’

Even when I was running a video conversion firm with loads of electrical gear I never paid that much for heat and power. Presumably the jumper is not an item of clothing your family is familiar with? Or the clothesline, though I accept that may have limited use in Wales.

‘ Rent £76: This is social housing in Wales, so the rent is hardly massive. If we rented privately in this area, then the cost would be four or five times as much.’

Nicely played, sir. At least it is a different bunch of taxpayers keeping a roof over your head… There’s a lot to be said for diverisfying your income.

Weekly shopping £240, Includes food and household goods, 24 cans of lager, 200 cigarettes and a large
pouch of tobacco:

‘Our biggest expense. We do all our shopping at Tesco or Morrisons in one big go. Mostly we buy the “value” range – tinned meatballs, baked beans etc. On the cigarettes, my wife tried to give up, but she missed one appointment on the course and they threw her off it.’

Looks like tobacco is £65 then. So I can sort your £82.40 weekly saving at one fell swoop. Cut the ciggies right out, drop the Sky TV and the remaining couple of quid can either come off the children’s Christmas and Birthday presents or you can drop a tinnie or two of the lager. They do have Aldi or Lidl in Wales?

There you go, Ray. Fixed that for you, and you’ll have your no doubt lovely wife with you for that much longer because she doesn’t smoke now 🙂

For far too long the goal of reducing child poverty has led us astray.We did not raise our eyes to the monster that we were creating as a byproduct, of increasing the ranks of the undeserving poor.

It’s all very Victorian, but we need to start discriminating again between the deserving and the undeserving poor, because at the current rate of progress we are all going to be poor.

We could start by making access to a higher level of welfare payments contingent on having paid into the system in the last few years, like many European countries. I wouldn’t mind paying toward’s Ray’s brood if he’d been working for the last 10 years and then lost his job in the current downturn. What incenses me is that he had another child while on benefits! We could make child benefit payable in kind, particulary if the child appears more than 9 months after you’ve been claiming!

Something that always puzzles me is how many poor people smoke, or is it that smoking makes you poor. In the end if you can afford it I don’t give a toss if you smoke or not, as long as you don’t do it near me. If you’re on benefits then I do mind. If I were on benefits I would expect to have to drink less!!!

A first step of capping benefits at £26,000 (the average wage) seems like a pretty good start. Bring on the Welfare Reform Bill. £26,000 is a high proportion of my annual wage. Hearing slackers like Ray and his bunch get it for free make me feel like a right mug for working for a living and going without to try and buy myself a few years out of work.

Hearing him whingeing about having to choose between heating and eating when outing the tobacco and the Sky TV would more than bridge the gap makes me want to slap him round the face with a wet fish and insert a bit of steel into his spine, and tell him to man up and sort out his responsibilities rather than moaning about his rights.

Oh and I’ve borrowed the concept of a complainypants from Mr Money Mustache. And tagged the posts about moaning benefit recipients as such. In the end if you get benefits, then that’s nice. Just don’t build a lifestyle on it, OK?

Why do I say that? Look at the words of Bill Gross from PIMCO where he asks where credit goes to die.

Where does credit go when it dies? It goes back to where it came from. It delevers, it slows and inhibits economic growth, and it turns economic theory upside down, ultimately challenging the wisdom of policymakers. We’ll all be making this up as we go along for what may seem like an eternity. A 30-50 year virtuous cycle of credit expansion which has produced outsize paranormal returns for financial assets – bonds, stocks, real estate and commodities alike – is now delevering because of excessive “risk” and the “price” of money at the zero-bound.

We are witnessing the death of abundance and the borning of austerity, for what may be a long, long time.

Your frickin’ benefits are being paid from that abundance. Austerity won’t be paying them in future. Child poverty will reappear. All benefits will fade away. I’d be surprised if I get to draw a State Pension in 16 years’ time, it will probably be means tested and hopefully I will have too much capital, though Bill’s prognosis isn’t so good for that either. That is the trouble with relying on benefits – governments can take them away, just like they did for people that paid into SERPS who took the shaft recently.

So don’t have kids on benefits so that you get more CTC. You’re likely to see that kid go short over the next 18 years unless you get a job. The writing is on the wall, pal, and it’s going to stay up there for a long time.

We are witnessing the death of abundance and the borning of austerity, for what may be a long, long time.


36 thoughts on “A Feckless Family Fruitlessly Frittering Financial Future Away”

  1. whats more worrying is the guy *isn’t* a complete muppet or chav with no brains, he must have *some* IT skills if he once wrote software, and there *are* still a fair few IT / tech jobs in Wales, the Chinese Police actually buy some of their surveillance and comms kit from Wales (I think they also use a similar system to Airwave nowadays).

    I nearly went West rather than East myself when my last job got downsized.

    I suspect though this is also how/why he manages to play the system and claim all these benefits as the forms aren’t that easy to fill in and have to be done in a certain way and the appointments etc kept, he would need to be articulate in either English or Welsh.

    BTW I suspect *both* of them smoke as it is less usual for someone to smoke both normal cigarettes and also roll their own, and usually rolling your own is done by men and younger women whilst a woman in her 30s-40s would smoke normal cigs, so he is cleverly trying to use his wifes habit to divert the scrutiny of the media from his own.

    I don’t own a car nor take a regular holiday, I could afford both (including getting a full license) but time is more of a problem.

    I worry more for the youths/kids as some of them simply can’t cope when times get bad/pressurised, and their parents get the knock on the door from the ashen-faced detectives saying that their kid is at the bottom of the Orwell/Thames/Severn or worse, has lost it and hurt someone else (I am already aware of a 27 year old young man from a good family background who murdered a University classmate on a whim following a number of setbacks in life, now he is in jug for a long time…)



  2. Although I don’t wish to beat up on the poor, I have to agree that Ray is way outta line: SKY TV ? I’m free-to-air myself and have more than enough frivolous TV programming, to waste my time with, as it is.

    How can a guy with IT skills be out of work for ten years ? Is SKY TV really that good ? Maybe I should try to get British citizenship so I can live on welfare, procreate and write my novel !

    You have a right to rant. These people are clearly out of control. You can’t tell me that if you’re seriously looking for a job that you can’t find one once a decade !LOL !


  3. There is still no public appetite for addressing this sort of thing, alas ermine, and the stupid salaries at the high end haven’t made it any easier. We live in a ‘latch on the tap and slurp it up while you can’ culture.

    Plus in our secular, relativistic culture (allegedly) kids are the last sacred taboo, the highest class, the Brahmin of modern society. I have some sympathy for the little blighters, in that they didn’t ask to be born and can hardly be blamed for this state of affairs, and of course I don’t want to see them up chimneys.

    But parents and the left’s more soppy minded supporters can stamp anything with KIDS to justify it.

    When I think of my great grandparents, who were very active in the Labour movement and fought for basic human rights and a safety net, and what they’d think of how noble aspirations have descended into this sort of scrounging, demeaning, client voter state nonsense, it’s mournful.


  4. Understandable anger, but benefetistas aren’t to blame for their good luck, any more than Gordon Brown is to blame for the tax cascade from the credit bubble which fed the benefit system and public employment boom.

    How many takers of these ficitional jobs believed they were really ‘working’?

    The same unearned benefit accrued to zero taxed property investors, sorry owner-occupiers, gifted many tens and hundreds of thousands each, also for ‘not working’.

    How many believed it was from their industriousness that their reward was reaped?

    The problem is the system not the people subjected to it.


  5. @Alex, like the Kinks track 🙂 I thought I’d stick with making savings in the known areas. It’s quite awesome to chunter through 200 a week as it is! Some of what makes this more galling is he is obviosuly playing the system. Doing that for a year or so is okay, doing it for 10 years is not.

    @g, this guy is electively poor. In itself that’s fine, but benefits are there to draw a line under which people don’t fall. It shows that some of these benefits need to be given in kind, IMO, so that other people don’t end up working for his wants, just for his needs. I have no issue with the latter.

    @Monevator, I think there’s some hope in that the benefits cap seems to be going ahead, so there’s some appetite for reigning in the excesses.

    It has always struck me in the UK that we romanticise children without creating a society that is good to them. I had far wider freedom and community support from the wider adults as a child in the New Cross area of London than the helicopter parenting that is common now. Both children and adults seem to have lost out along the way.

    The dreadful keening noise that comes when people moan that families with children are taking the shaft with the Tory cuts are precisely because they benefited more in the Labour good times, so the cuts will hit them harder by definition. The benefit cuts haven’t hit me, because I don’t get any…

    @Trevor, you’ve got a good point in that it is the system than is at fault, and it is definitely the system I’d like to see changed. You’re talking to the wrong guy about property investors, I managed to lose money on buying a house through my own damned incompetence. These guys are also presumably going to get to eat the crow now as they have to pay down the negative equity or go bankrupt…


  6. I agree. My daughter (29, hard-working and industrious) recently bought her first property – a one-bedroomed flat. We live in an expensive borough of London, and I would dearly have liked her to be able to buy something near us. This would have been particularly welcome as she has always helped me to provide care for my very elderly mother who lives near us. But my daughter could not afford to buy in our area, and has had to buy further out from the centre of London. That’s fair enough, market forces, and she is not complaining. But why should others, whose rent is subsidised by the taxes from her(modest)salary, be able to live in my borough when she cannot? I am becoming very impatient with the culture of entitlement and would like to see more personal responsibility. Rant over.



  7. An amazing coincidence is I too grew up in SE14/New Cross, I guess barely 5-10 years after ermine. Even by that time my parents moved out to Reading, SE England by 1977 as they no longer felt safe there.

    looking back at British history and events of the era, I got the impression a similar economic depression to today, which resulted in dissent, then riots and the community fracturing around racial lines which meant their reaction (as a young British Asian family with a small child) was perfectly understandable.

    Peoples houses and businesses were getting burned out, folk going missing and back then the cops were a bit more “life on mars” than today.An uncle of mine (who is Tamil Indian like Mum and had a number of white girlfriends) was *always* getting beat up when seen with them.

    OK SE London hasn’t improved all that much TBH, but at least nowadays when people attack or kill each other often those responsible tend to get caught (at least when folk swallow their pride and talk to “feds”) whilst actual judgement is left up to proper judges.

    Even when my parents arrived at Reading though I had slightly more freedom than a similar kid today – for instance to ride my bike etc and to be a child my parents were still very concerned about my safety.

    They also didn’t trust “good British” organisations like the Scouts and even Youth Clubs. Both Mum and Dad implied they were either full of of imperialist nonces or people with other political agendas and “not safe” (without going into excessive detail until I was old enough to understand).

    Looking today at the Police “cold cases” reports all the way from Cambs/Lincs to metpol and TVP from the 1970s to the early 1990s (where I briefly moved back to SE London for my ill stared “University” days and had to be wary of BNP types (same area and time where Stephen Lawrence was killed, even used to use that bus stop)) I really don’t think they were being overly paranoid.

    Although in my case race was also a factor, I get the impression things really weren’t much safer for white kids either, backed up by contemporary news reports where these nonces, bullies and self appointed hard men/enforcers that blighted urban areas from the 70s to 90s are only *now* being brought to justice and judgement. They are only less common nowadays because cops and other “nanny state” authorities are keeping a sharp lookout for them, not because wider society has progressed.

    Worst of all it wasn’t the “stranger danger” you were warned of even in the 70s/80s but often “middle class” people in trusted positions, particularly teachers, youth workers etc.

    I’m youngish but not a youth any more, so we are talking nearly 20-40 years ago when the rot was already setting in.

    Today the welfare benefits pays for youths to have x-box and a computer, but our society can’t make the street safe for them to walk in without being stabbed by other youths their own age simply for going into the wrong postcode area, or even in a “nice” area to ride a bicycle without fear of being knocked off by a middle class lady driver and just left in the gutter (was reading some comment from some hard nosed traffic cops who were so shocked by this).

    Other young people I know who are actually from middle class areas and family backgrounds are selling boatloads of drugs and in some cases even their bodies (and being shameless about it, then wondering why they are being villified by wider society and/or nicked) as they haven’t been set boundaries by their parents (many of whom are my age but had kids in their late teens/early 20s) and are simply trying to emulate or exceed their parents hedonism (the days of rave and britpop), but just like many of my generation end up paying dearly in the end – physical and mental health problems and finding that wider society will never forgive and forget all your excesses, especially if you are stupid enough to brag about them on farcebook.

    what is happening today and has got worse since the 80s/90s is clearly a toxic environment to grow up in.


  8. @ermine: Hope you feel better for that. To a large extent I agree with your views.

    @Monevator: “We can’t have child poverty” may be used as the excuse, but how will those same children feel when they grow up? They will suffer then as they are taxed until they bleed to repay the monstrous debts built up during the Brown era.


  9. The last governement certainly increased welfare benefits to the extent that a lot of people found it easier to claim all these feebies rather than struggle to get paid employment.
    I have worked all my life, put money away for a rainy day and saved in a pension. Now I am in my late 50s and unemployed. I don’t qualify for benefits because of the savings.
    Obviously I feel a certain resentment towards people who are living the sort of life you describe on handouts from the welfare state.
    At the same time I sometimes feel a bit of a fool to have gone down the work/savings route and ended up no better off than this family on benefits [scratches head in puzzlement]


  10. Another excellent rant, ermine, to which I must mostly comment ‘hear, hear’ 😉

    I was somewhat surprised when I first heard that the proposed benefit cap was to be £26k, which seems way too high. I think £15k would be more realistic… It makes a mockery of those who do work. Maximum benfits should not exceed the equivalent of 40 hours a week at minimum wage – INCLUDING all child benefits. As some of our transatlantic cousins express it: “You breed ’em, you feed ’em”. If only there was some way to means-test fertility….

    There is some serious, Olympic-class complainipanting going on… bah! 200 fags a week is approx 30 a day, that must be a tenner a day. I’ll try not to get too high on my high horse as I’m just over three weeks since my last one, and feeling quite smug and occasionally homicidal through all the withdrawal symptoms, but I’ve done it with no courses or meetings or whatever, so I have absolutely no sympathy for ‘I can’t quit because I missed a meeting ner ner ner blub blub’ Missed a meeting??? FFS what other pressing appointments can they have in their oh-so-busy days??? Certainly nothing that’s worth £70 a week, I’d guess.

    But the biggest red flag was that “The market for my skills dried up”. WTF??? All that time exposed to ‘educational’ software and he never worked out what it was that education was for? Like learning new skills, keeping up with the jobs market, etc etc? Aaaarrrggghhh! Perhaps I should reclassify myself as a dolmen builder or flint-knapper and queue up for a free hand-out too.

    I suppose I ought to start reading Dickens, because right now I’m having trouble finding a decent answer to this question: what, exactly, was wrong with the workhouse?


  11. Hi. I’ve popped over from the Monevator link 🙂

    There are a couple of things that spring to mind when I read this, some of which hasn’t been mentioned by other commenters.

    Firstly, social or private renting aside, where is he living to be paying £76 a week?? My sister lives in a private rental in the centre of Leeds (quite literally next door to Primark in the centre of the city) and doesn’t pay that much a week. I find it very hard to believe that he wouldn’t be able cut costs back in housing if he needed to. Where in Wales is more desirable than the centre of a metropolitan city?? When I lived in Durham, I lived in a 5- bedroomed house for less than that. Granted, it was a half hour walk from town, but that’s the price you pay for saving money!

    I agree with everyone else about Sky, cigarettes, booze, phones, etc. When I was growing up, our household income was £15000 for my Mother and two children. We lived quite well (my Mother was very good at managing money) and we didn’t have any of the above. When I got a phone, I bought it with wages (I started working at 15) and paid for it from that. Many people manage to survive on less than he has without asking the state for help (ignoring child benefits).

    Finally, I went to uni and now working in a job at £15000. Now, I’ve made a conscious decision to do this, and I knew I would sacrifice income for my lifestyle choices (I work in the charity sector), however, it is not fair that I work hard and spend carefully and yet if I had kids and stopped working I could earn double what I earn now. I think the benefits should be cut back to minimum wage. If actual working people have to live on less than I earn, why can’t those out of work?

    There are my thoughts anyway 🙂 I thought your post was spot on, except for the rent costs, which as mentioned I think are high!


  12. I knew I’d forget something! My other thought that, is with the proposed cap as it is, the Government should reinvest this saved money in the CSA (instead of cutting funding to this, as proposed, and charging parents to use it) and get useless separated and divorced parents to take some responsibility for their children. As you note, it would appear currently in Ray’s life that there are two parents not paying for children. It takes two to tango!


  13. Brilliant deconstruction of the blight of the un-entitled living off the rest of us, Ermine.

    Benefits should be a safety net for those who temporarily drop out of the work place. They were never intended to be a permanent lifestyle choice for the likes of Ray and his ever expanding brood of hangers on.

    I hate to hear myself say it but I’m becoming one of those people who say, “Something must be done.”


  14. @Jane, couldn’t agree more. I moved out of London because I couldn’t afford to live in the City where i grew up in and studied, so why shouldn’t other people? In the end if London inds up forcing its teachers and refuse collectors out then the residents will either have to pay over the odds for thse services or pay will reach a higher equilibrium. I don’t get the HB hooh hah at all, though I do agree with some sort of transitional support over a year or so.

    @Alex yeah, the delights of Eltham, eh, I went to school there after my parents moved from New Cross. It was quite nice in ’69 but went downhill. Indeed most of the places I’ve lived have gone downhill over the years. I hope it’s not me 😉

    @FrugalScot, yep, every so often an ermine needs to sharpen his teeth. I blame Lemondy, anyway, for highlighting this peach to me! I felt better after that…


    I sometimes feel a bit of a fool to have gone down the work/savings route and ended up no better off than this family on benefits

    Me too! I’ll have a lower income that these buggers when I’m retired, where in life did I take the left when everyone else took the right?

    @Macs, heheh, like you I am not sure that I consider having children is part of people’s universal human rights. It’s a privilege that should go along with working to support the little bundles of joy…

    @Millie, I’d read the hosuing costs as monthly, but you’re quite right, it was weekly. Having said that an annual rental cost of £4k doesn’t sound totally off the wall to me, but it really should be cheaper in Wales. You’re spot on that NMW should really be the bench-mark for benefits, though if two people are claiming that works out to £24k which is not a million miles away from the £26k of the proposed welfare reform bill. And yes, charging parents to use the CSA is a bit loony, really. It would improve Ray’s situation, from the taxpayer’s perspective.

    @fatherb, aha, but something has to be done 😉 Else we’ll all sink in a sea of infantilised fecklessness…


  15. “You’re spot on that NMW should really be the bench-mark for benefits, though if two people are claiming that works out to £24k which is not a million miles away from the £26k of the proposed welfare reform bill.”

    Not to pick nits etc, but that £24k for NMW is gross before any deductions, the £26k bung is ‘take home’ figure. Which may not be a million miles away – but it’s a good 30% more, and plenty enough for justified wrath & ire, imho…


  16. > the £26k bung is ‘take home’ figure

    I was under the impression you get taxed on benefits income too? Or are benefits tax-free? I guess the intellectual capacity of some of our claimants may not be quite up to filling in a self-assessment tax form…


  17. I’m no expert on benefits, I admit I was just going on someone else’s comment that “£26k is like £35k before tax…” so assumed this is a nett figure; and you’re right – filling in a tax return is too much like work for many 😉


  18. Coming late to the party, I’ll just comment on this:

    >Supporting these children and only the children via food and clothing vouchers would at least screw up the parents’ living standard a bit while protecting the child’s essential needs.

    Token systems, I think, would me a bad idea as they will complicate systems which are already too complicated and backfire financially.

    The emphasis should always be on reduction and simplicity: overall cap, limit CB to 2 kids, freeze non-contributory benefits in nominal terms, etc. Great post, nonetheless.


  19. Benefits are means-tested, but not taxed. There are a very few benefits that are not means-tested, but they are still not taxable. Strange, but true.



  20. Good post Ermine. I am another person who is worried about falling into the trap of working hard to provide the same (or lower) standard of living over the course of a lifetime as I could have had by living on benefits.

    It makes me frustrated and annoyed in equal measure…

    My own proposal would be to drastically cut benefits, but allow people to earn what they can in addition to that. It is possibly what was intended through working tax credits, but perahps hasn’t worked smoothly enough for many families.


  21. *Slams head repeatedly on desk*

    The mind boggles. Really now. Sky? Kids’ mobile bills? YOU SMOKE, YOU CRETIN? Oh and your house is apparently heated to 30 degrees at all times.

    There are, undoubtedly, many many people in this country who are, due to circumstances outside of their control, claiming benefits because they have fallen on hard times. They’re probably hard working people, with a sense of proportion, who don’t consider a Sky Movies package essential to their existence. It’s a shame that moronic families like this tarnish deserving claimants too.

    I cannot fathom how a software writer has been out of work for a decade. Surely re-skilling would have been so much easier for him than someone in unskilled work? Presumably he had mathematical, analytical and problem-solving skills that he could have taken into another profession?

    I’m also worried about the lasting impression these parents are having on their children. It would be all too easy to grow up thinking if you can live your life with all the material items you want without doing a day’s work in 10 years, why bother?

    Worrying times.


  22. This stuff used to make me rage but now I’m just used to it. This country is destroying itself and I want to be long gone by the time it all implodes.
    This Ray guy is an absolute joker. I write software for a living. I know a bunch of people in software that got new jobs over the last year. In fact, one had the luxury of choosing between 6 separate concrete offers. Ray needs to accept that he’s nothing but a lazy twat and poor excuse for a role model. The nature of software development is constant change. If you haven’t bothered to learn anything for 10 years, of course your screwed. I can actually think of one educational software company OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD that currently has two vacancies for software developers. What a pleb.


  23. I felt guilty about not taking my 3 kids on holiday for the last three years but reading this just realized that I was being sensible and living within my means!

    I also had to cancel SKY tv as I couldn’t afford it any longer, my kids literacy went up since they stopped watching American tv programs so all good 8)!

    The only sensible comment I can make, is when does the demonstration start and where!!!




  24. I wonder, do you think that individual bad choices and misdemeanours, are things that should be taken into considerations when social policy is constructed. Ray is not clever, or wise, but I would hate to think he has the influence to change the way we want things to work. He is not representative of the “needy” and as such should not really be worthy of comment, unless we have a hidden agenda?


  25. @Amanda – in a world of finite resources it’s people who take the mickey that damage the system for the needy. If Ray’s not representative of the needy than he shouldn’t be getting anything from a system designed to help the needy. I’s disagree that Ray isn’t clever – he is being clever to get others to pay for his elective lifestyle.


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