Some of you may have heard about the second budget of the year, which the conservatives have planned for July. This is expected to be a crackdown on benefits. Many mainstream news sources may have portrayed most benefits claimants as scroungers. The truth is that benefit scroungers are in the minority, but seem to gain the most attention from the media.
What is all this about?
For those of you who aren't aware the #Government intends to cut £12 billion worth of benefits. Disabled benefits and housing benefits for young people are amongst those which have been mentioned in the cuts. However, there is some doubt as to how far these cuts will extend, as the benefit cuts mentioned in many news sources don't total as much as £12 billion. It may be that those who are in work, but on benefits such as working tax credit or housing benefit due to their low wage could be affected.
These are not people who are going for holidays six times a year or sat at home eating takeaways while watching Jeremy Kyle on their 50inch plasma television. Many of the people who could be affected are hard working individuals who are stuck in low paid jobs, possibly on a zero hour contract, while desperately trying to feed themselves and keep up with the bills each month.
So why isn't everyone working then?
Many of the unfortunate individuals who happen to be out of work would happily take a secure job, but the prospect of working forty hours a week in return for their low benefits is degrading. Although it could soon will become a distinct possibility for those on jobseekers allowance, when the human rights act is scrapped. Of course people who can work, should be working, but these should be real jobs with at least the minimum wage and regular contracted hours.
What do I think about this?
Financial help should be given to workers who still can not meet the basic costs of living. Disabled people should not be forced into jobs they can not do at the risk of their health. Carers need to be recognised for their efforts. Young people on housing benefits should be judged on a case by case basis, rather than a one size fits all. Not every young person has family they can stay with. We should be giving them the best start in life, not pushing them towards potential homelessness before their lives have really begun. Their minimum wage is much less than ours, so cutting their housing benefit isn't going to help.
What can we do?
These benefits cuts do need to be fought and protested against every step of the way to protect the most vulnerable people in society. However this needs to be done in the least violent way possible. It is understandable that some people will be fearful for the future and angry, but behaving violently or causing damage to property will only play into the hands of those who want to show people on benefits as mindless thugs, vandals and criminals.
What shouldn't we do?
An overheard conversation between two men outside a job centre left me concerned. One man was telling his friend that he planned on attending a protest in London, where there would be enough protesters to break down number ten Downing Street and drag out #David Cameron. The rest of the conversation only went further down hill from that point. While that scenario is an impossibility, the sentiment behind this disgruntled man's words is a dangerous one and it is undoubtedly not the way to fight these changes. So if you really do want to fight these cuts, then protest by all means, but don't live up the stereotype that the government in trying to imprint onto people claiming benefits. #Workforce