Britain's Benefit, But Whose Really Benefitting?

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In the history of Britain, the welfare state is  a relatively new concept. Introduced after WWII, it was  to ensure that no family went hungry or without a doctor ever again: a  supposed  thank-you if you will  to all those men and women who helped defeat ze Germans. The welfare state encompasses everything from the NHS, to free education. However there is one pocket of the aforementioned that always seems to cause a bit of a stir: Benefits, those who are deserving and those who are not.

 

 

One of the most difficult aspects of the whole benefits shebang, is that if your not on them, you tend to know very little about them. You hear stories ranging from ‘ Woman on benefits drives a car made from gold and holidays to the moon every year with her fifty children.’  Then again, you hear of tales ‘of  ‘a girl named Jack’ a woman living so desperately below the breadline she was forced to sell her curtains in order to put food on the table for herself and her four year old child.

 

The handing out of benefits, as I discovered under the alias of ‘Bob’ is all rather complex and complicated. You have to fill out a variety of forms, hand in an assortment of documents. They want to know everything from your martial status (easy) to Household income (but not from Bob’s child saving’s nor from Bob’s main home. (Difficult). In fact I would go as far to say that if you deserve benefits just for filling out all the forms, it’s seems so complex. I jest of course.

 

However as I come to the end of my university career the world of benefits

seems to become a stark reality. When you leave the golden bubble of late starts and hung-over seminars, when the student loans stops coming in and you are yet to find a job that will support you finically with no help from your parents where do you turn? If you wish to live away from home, as many young people do when they leave university, is it fair to expect a hand out from the state and take away from people who may deserve it more. As myself and Bob journeyed through the myriad of forms, it struck me that their might come a time in my future where I will have to make a choice as to whether I want to fill in those forms whether I understand them or not.

 

There’s also issues like housing benefit. If people want council houses, how much should be they have to sacrifice in order to have one. If you live in London for instance and the government decide to uproot you to the North, is that fair?              Or should you accept that you are living in accommodation for free and should take what you are given and be thankful for it. When it comes to benefits where is the compromise between compassion and the practicality of funding a very expensive welfare state?

 

There is no doubt that the world of benefits is a murky one. Who gets them, who deserves them and to what extent can the taxpayer  fund it.  To me the answer is rather simple and at the same time, mind bogglingly difficult. Those who need should have and those who need not should have it taken. Therein lies the dilemma. Are claiming benefits in 2013 to easy?  Has the system got to the point where benefits can be seen as a lifestyle?  Or have we not gone far enough to ensure that the most vulnerable of society are taken care of?  

Joanna Bateson-Hill

Originating from Brixton, London, I study Theatre and Performance at University of Leeds. I love everything to do with film, theatre and most of all writing, with the occasional bit of swimming thrown in for good measure. I hope to write articles that make people laugh but also make them think. To me, writing is a fun, cheap and healthier form of therapy. I hope that people have as much fun reading my articles as I do writing them, which is a lot.

Website: brixton-rose.blogspot.co.uk/

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