I really didn’t want to like what prime minister David Cameron said yesterday about the need for benefit reforms but the more I read, the more I was surprised to find myself agreeing with some of his reasoning.
Normally when a member of this government starts talking ‘benefits’, it is to paint a bleak picture of ‘scroungers’ and ‘wasters’ who are draining our nation dry and leading us all into bankruptcy. There is rarely any regard for the vast majority of claimants who are in genuine need of the financial assistance, and support, we all provide to help them to get back on track.
But…. why should families who earn high incomes still be able to live in subsidised council accommodation? Why should claimants be able to receive incapacity benefit by just filling in a form and with no medical assessment? Why should foreign nationals who have never contributed to our system be able to arrive in our country, claim benefits and expect us to pick up the tab? Why should some women be able to pursue a career in ‘baby production’ and expect the state to support them unconditionally?
We all understand the need for change, but luckily we don’t all accept we live in Mr Cameron’s ‘ideal world’.
Of course, it would be perfection if we were all born blessed with the same abilities and were able to support ourselves in whatever we take on. It would, also, be perfect if there were enough jobs for everyone and unemployment was no longer a fact of life. It would be wonderful if we all had perfect health and could easily perform the manual labour that so many jobs require. It would be ideal if we all paid full taxes and the government was drowning in riches but…….none of the above is, was, or is ever likely to be, true.
Instead, we have individuals who are trapped within the present system and who have never known confidence in their own potential or belief in their own worth. It is a problem that has grown over a generation and one that will not just change because of the words of a prime minister.
However, what made his words even less valid from the perspective of the people he should have been trying to convince – those on benefits – was that he was not speaking from a location in the middle of a council estate in Hull, or any of the many other despairing and deprived areas of the country; he was speaking from Bluewater in Kent, an upmarket glitzy mall that was, until recently, Europe’s biggest out-of-town shopping site.
It seems, once again, he was just trying to buy votes from an audience who are unlikely to ever understand the reality of living in the real world of benefits!