Opinion | Impact of Low Wages on UK Welfare and Benefits

Opinion - Impact of Low Wages on UK Welfare and BenefitsOpinion – Impact of Low Wages on UK Welfare and Benefits

On the subject of UK welfare and benefits, it is interesting to examine the make-up of our welfare budget. The figures for 2011-12 show that the total welfare budget was £167 billion. Of that, the biggest outlay was £74 billion – state pensions. Second biggest outlay was £48 billion – government debt interest. Then housing benefit – £17 billion; total disability benefits – £23 billion; benefit to unemployed: £7.5 billion. Support for those in low paid jobs: around £20 billion. (Simplified and using rounded figures from DWP)

So, support for those who are paid less than a living wage is almost three times greater than for those on the dole. How can that be right? If people were paid a proper living wage, that would be unnecessary; as it is, we taxpayers are subsidising either greedy employers, or businesses that are actually not viable. Housing benefit is paid both to those who are not paid a living wage, as well as to those on the dole, the lion’s share to those in low paid jobs.

Clearly, disability benefits add up to a large bill; does that not create a case for expanding the Remploy system, rather than demolishing it and putting almost all those disabled on the dole? Disbanding Remploy saved a shilling to spend a pound – as well as creating despair and humiliation for those disabled who were at least partly supporting themselves on the scheme.

Overall, my criticism of this government is not about politics, but about lack of competence, promotion of greed, and poor management of the country – indeed, putting the perceived interests of party and “friends” above the interests of the country, especially long-term. The ultimate consequence of continuing on this path will, in two or three decades, be an economy like that of India or the Philippines – an elite of very wealthy people, with the majority in poverty and with no health or unemployment net. Is that really what our people wish for its future generations?

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