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View Full Version : The stupidity of the UK benefits system.


Espada III
26th Feb 2015, 16:15
The attached is an anonymised email received by the manager of one of my branches from a dedicated member of staff.


"Hello xxxxxxx,

Just a note to ask if I could ask that my salary increase, be decreased, back to its previous level? This may seem like an odd thing to ask, given that I was most grateful for this from you and still am, so it is with some regret that I am asking this. However, because of the additional payment on my salary each month, it has greatly affected my partner’s benefit and what little there was to start with, is now somewhat less! So much so, that my salary cannot make up for the deficit, making it a bit more difficult to pay bills etc. It really doesn’t pay to be honest does it!"

You couldn't make it up....her partner is entitled to those benefits and to reduce them by more than the salary increase, increases dependency on the state.

MG23
26th Feb 2015, 17:25
It helps Labour keep their captive voting class.

G-CPTN
26th Feb 2015, 17:38
Another peculiarity of the benefits system is that, should you get a job (and subsequently lose it) there is a period of no benefits before you can re-enter the system - therefore it doesn't pay to take a job unless you are certain that it is 'permanent'.


I had a 'gardener/wallbuilder' who did odd jobs for me (evenings and weekends) whilst he was employed elsewhere during weekdays.
He was made redundant (ie paid off) and signed-on for unemployment benefit (he had a wife and family to support). He told me that he could no longer do my odd jobs as he would lose all of his benefit.
This was at a time when he could really use the extra money!

sitigeltfel
26th Feb 2015, 17:42
Didn't something similar happen some years back with military salaries where some senior officers were given a pay increase that pushed them into a higher tax bracket resulting in a decrease in take-home pay?

BabyBear
26th Feb 2015, 17:58
I can't see how that could happen, unless there was a very different tax system back in the Dark Ages.:confused:

Pelikal
26th Feb 2015, 18:03
I don't understand how some of you on here think that 'living on benefits' is some kind of grande life style. It isn't.

Some of you really need to grow up a bit.

BabyBear
26th Feb 2015, 18:20
You're right, especially when there are more appealing ways of life (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-31636846).:rolleyes:

Pelikal
26th Feb 2015, 18:51
Basil, I spent 30,000 hours of my life in a print factory. Taken over, not needed. Savings gone.

John Hill
26th Feb 2015, 19:09
Child benefit is an investment in the future of society.

Pelikal
26th Feb 2015, 19:28
Basil, thanks for those fine words.

I could have handled the situation in a very different way. I did not, my loss and I suppose a burden on the current tax payers. I am grateful.

MG23
26th Feb 2015, 19:35
Child benefit is an investment in the future of society.

Not when you have a feral underclass who just take the money for churning out another generation of kids who'll spend their entire lives on welfare like their parents and grandparents.

JWP1938
26th Feb 2015, 22:24
Some years ago wife and I were on Housing Benefit. She got a pension rise of 4 per week - just over 16 per month. This took us over a certain threshold and our benefit was stopped - 50 per month. So, her 16 pay rise actually cost us 34 per month. Crazy system.

Krystal n chips
27th Feb 2015, 06:10
" Child benefit is an investment in the future of society."

A nice thought, however, it also comes in rather useful in many cases for investing in the second holiday of the year at "the little place in France" etc.

Hence the howls of hypocritical outrage from the "squeezed middle classes"

" Not when you have a feral underclass who just take the money for churning out another generation of kids who'll spend their entire lives on welfare like their parents and grandparents

Very true. Some of them even open up their residences to the paying public. Others can be seen on carious moors in August, and in various rivers, as well as attending certain race meetings, boat races and cultural events. Many, in fact, have well established close family histories and connections.

For the pious on here who are unaware, the present ( soon to be consigned to history ) Gov't has done a remarkably efficient job of reducing benefits under the guise of "austerity measures" and thereby ensuring several million of the UK population now live in poverty.

Nobody denies there are those who exploit the benefit system.

However, for the vast majority, who, through no fault of their own require benefits to simply live, this is not the case.

denachtenmai
27th Feb 2015, 07:11
KnC
For the pious on here who are unaware, the present ( soon to be consigned to history ) Gov't
Remember Kinnock '92? :E

ShyTorque
27th Feb 2015, 08:08
Child benefit is a tax on hardworking single people who don't go doing silly things they can't afford.

Would that include your parents, then?

radeng
27th Feb 2015, 09:53
I really can't help wondering how some of these politicians are so stupid that they don't investigate what the results will be every time they fiddle with the benefit system. There could certainly be some merit at some future date in restricting the number of children for which child benefit is payable as an incentive to use birth control. Now that could be argued as religious intolerance, but we already have accepted such intolerance in terms of the legislation limiting those of certain religious persuasions denying services to gays....

Wingswinger
27th Feb 2015, 10:05
Remember Kinnock '79?

Wasn't it '92? The shambling Donkey Jacket was leader in '79. Or was it Lord Jim?

Wyler
27th Feb 2015, 10:48
I support ther benefits system.

My daughter and her boyfriend work in the Hotel business and both found themsleves unemployed a few years back. I pushed them to 'sign on'. They did and, through their own efforts got a job interview. Only problem was it was 300 miles away. They did the round trip and interview in one day. Got the jobs and came off benefits. The system contributed to their petrol money and gave them a small allowance for clothing etc to start the new job. Without that assistance they would have struggled to get that job. They have remained in employment ever since.
Those who are not so lucky and have to stay on benefits long term have anything but a cushy life.
Those who make living on benefits a life choice are in the minority. I would suggest that their 52" TVs and smart phones are, in some cases, sourced from 'other income streams' that fall below the radar.
The system, used properly, is very good and should be supported.

denachtenmai
27th Feb 2015, 11:00
wyler
Mea culpa, '92 it was :O

Lon More
27th Feb 2015, 11:11
The system, used properly, is very good and should be supported.

I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately this government seems keener to support the alternative benefits system run for the benefit of the already wealthy

It's time to bust some myths about benefit fraud and tax evasion - Comment - Voices - The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/its-time-to-bust-some-myths-about-benefit-fraud-and-tax-evasion-9520562.html)

Yes it's the Independent, the Fail and co. are strangely reticent on the subject

Wyler
27th Feb 2015, 11:33
Liked the article.

In my part of the world the local area is dominated by a 'Duke'. A very wealthy one at that. His stranglehold on local farmers and businesses is disgraceful. When I bought my house I incuured a 600.00 fee because a shed had been added and this was a charge made by the this mans estate. Allegedly, he had a small wood chopped down so that it would not appear in one of his daughters wedding photographs.... Even worse we had to put up with Prince Andrew's horrible offspring walking about the place for a weekend.

Pitchfork and burning cross anyone? :mad:

Mr Chips
27th Feb 2015, 11:33
And that whole article is strangely reticent about those who treat benefits as a lifestyle. This conversation should not be about benefits fraud, but about benefits abuse.

late-joiner
27th Feb 2015, 12:13
Didn't something similar happen some years back with military salaries where some senior officers were given a pay increase that pushed them into a higher tax bracket resulting in a decrease in take-home pay?

I am a few years out of date now, but it was to do with pensions. If you got promoted say from Maj Gen to Lt Gen, then you got a pay rise of x per year. Your future (final salary) pension therefore rose by x/2 per year roughly. In order to pay that, your notional pension pot must have risen by 20x, which meant in that year you had notionally contributed over the annual allowance and therefore a tax charge was due (sadly not notional). You were also likely to breach the life time allowance rules unless you had fixed protection in place.

It seemed a bit hard on those who got promoted to receive a tax bill. I was not at those levels. I believe it was mitigated by saying the tax charge could be rolled up until the pension came into payment, but I am not close to the detail.

I do not think the admirals, generals and air marshals attracted a great deal of sympathy at the time, because of their perceived salary levels and perks.

However, with the reduction in annual allowance for pension contributions and the reduction in life time allowance, these issues are now hitting lower ranks as well.

And today I hear a future labour government will reduce tax relief on pension contributions to fund 6k university tuition fees. That is likely to kill the golden goose as there will be little point making pension contributions unless good tax relief is there. They might have learned from 50% higher rate tax reducing the tax take.

I am all for tax simplification and low tax.

Superpilot
27th Feb 2015, 13:28
Today, if I earn 49,000 per year, my kids would get their child benefit paid in full.

If the missus then gets a job paying 49,000 per year (currently no work), we would still get child benefit paid in full.

Now.....For the first time in 9 years, I am about to start permenant employment in the UK paying around 60,000 per year. We will, as a result, lose all child benefit.

I have searched high and low for a justification of this. If anybody knows please could you tell me what exactly our politicians are using as justification for this aparrent absurdity.

Private jet
27th Feb 2015, 14:16
I suspect that a lot more revenue is lost due to those loopholes in the tax code that "clever" accountants are paid a lot of money by wealthy clients to know about than through fraud in the benefits system.
The key to living on benefits as a "lifestyle choice" is down to children. The more you have the better, and people no doubt have extra children in order to do very well out of the system because of that.
The vast majority of people are on benefits because they need to be and if you're single with no children I believe its about 72 a week and that's your lot. Not a lot. If you've got more than 16k in savings (not much in the modern world) you'll get diddly squat, even if you've spent a career paying NI contributions. The social security budget is primarily the size it is for 2 reasons; 1. there are a lot more people than jobs and especially a lot more people than jobs they can actually do because of the chronic shortfall of useful vocational training over the past 30 years (useless degrees instead) and 2. a big chunk of the expenditure is state pensions (which people have paid contributions for and rightly deserve).
I find the attitude of the current government arrogant and somewhat unpleasant. The system needs reform and simplification but I dislike their "witch hunt" attitude to people on benefits as a whole. Most need the benefits to survive. The only good thing they've done is try to sort out those often fat lazy people "on the sick" who were diverted there by the previous Government to keep the unemployment figure artificially low.

ORAC
27th Feb 2015, 14:44
Especially interesting news in here for our antipodean cousins.......

The joy of welfare funded holidays in the sun (http://www.thecommentator.com/article/5634/the_joy_of_welfare_funded_holidays_in_the_sun)

Art E. Fischler-Reisen
27th Feb 2015, 14:47
The only good thing they've done is try to sort out those often fat lazy people "on the sick" who were diverted there by the previous Government to keep the unemployment figure artificially low.

Not to forget that they also encouraged school leavers to opt for university, to conveniently and temporarily reduce the numbers of "unemployed" and saddled many of today's younger working population with a debt for life.

DType
27th Feb 2015, 14:50
I wasted an awful lot of time interviewing people who shamelessly stated that they had no intention of taking any job offered. Initially I was frustrated that the Job Centre did not force them to take the offers, but soon realised that the last thing I needed was a troublemaker on the premesis seeking (gainful) dismissal.
Don't know the answer to that one.

Mr Chips
27th Feb 2015, 16:16
The vast majority of people are on benefits because they need to be
And this addresses those who choose to live on benefits how?
1. there are a lot more people than jobs and yet our EU chums seem to find employment quite easily
if you're single with no children I believe its about 72 a week and that's your lot. Is this inclusive of HB?

ORAC
27th Feb 2015, 17:11
1. there are a lot more people than jobs

and yet our EU chums seem to find employment quite easily


CHART OF THE WEEK: EU Unemployment Comparison- February 6th, 2014 (http://www.economicvoice.com/chart-of-the-week-eu-unemployment-comparison/)

http://www.economicvoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/EU-Unemployment-Comparison.jpg

Mr Chips
27th Feb 2015, 17:18
Orac, for clarity I meant those pesky immigrants, coming over here, taking the jobs Brits don't want, working hard, being successful etc...

MG23
27th Feb 2015, 18:18
Orac, for clarity I meant those pesky immigrants, coming over here, taking the jobs Brits don't want, working hard, being successful etc...

Interestingly, I read an article a while back claiming that many of Britain's hard-working Poles are now Britain's welfare-collecting Poles, as they realized they'd make more money by doing nothing, or by only working long enough to max out their 'tax credits' (aka 'subsidizing business profits by ensuring the taxpayer will make up the difference between what the company pays and the actual market rate').

Mr Chips
27th Feb 2015, 18:41
Interestingly I'm talking from direct experience...

MG23
27th Feb 2015, 18:58
Interestingly I'm talking from direct experience...

Which is about as accurate as eye-witness testimony.

The Poles I knew in the UK were eager to work hard for peanuts when they first arrived, because it was a lot compared to what they could earn at home. But that doesn't mean they aren't on the dole now they've discovered just how much money they can get for doing very little.

gingernut
27th Feb 2015, 19:28
I'm convinced that, in the majority of cases, work is good for the soul. Trouble is, some employers aren't that clever and squeeze the last ounce out of employees-hence our "it's Friday, let's get leathered" culture.

In terms of sickness benefit, I've seen a massive change over the years. At one time (Maggie years), DHSS workers were actively encouraging to obtain a "sick note" from their doc. Apparently it was a massage of the figures.

Then someone checked the bigger picture and realised that the total benefit was actually quite large.

The reforms came along, headed by Lady Carol Black (?Dame), then a carte blanche approach came along from the Government. They just cancelled everything, and it probably earned some quick brownie points from the voting public. (Gideons speech about us going to work when your neighbours were languishing on benefits etc etc).

Trouble is, that did affect the really needy. I had a patient who was dying in his bed, attached to a syringe driver, awaiting a hopefully peaceful death. His last worry in life (he died 2 days later) was the order from the job centre Plus, that his benefits had been stopped.

Secretely, some GP's were quite happy that some of their patients had their hands forced. I had a lot of respect for a young girl who cheerfully served me at our local Asda store- she had crippling deformities, but managed to work with a smile.

Something does need changing, but it all seems adversarial, the benefit seeker seems to be being blamed for the shyte system we embrace.

P6 Driver
27th Feb 2015, 19:43
DType wrote,

I wasted an awful lot of time interviewing people who shamelessly stated that they had no intention of taking any job offered. Initially I was frustrated that the Job Centre did not force them to take the offers, but soon realised that the last thing I needed was a troublemaker on the premesis seeking (gainful) dismissal.
Don't know the answer to that one.

Some will be either asked or mandated to attend job interviews by Job Centre staff. If a claimant wants to be disruptive, a common tactic is to tell the interviewer that they're only there because the Job Centre made them go, and they didn't want the job anyway.

If the employer reports this back to the Job Centre, the Work Coach can send the case to a Decision Maker for a financial sanction to be considered. When it comes down to one word against another, the Decision Makers will often side with the claimant if they have the brains to lie about what happened, and if so, no sanction is then imposed.

On a slightly separate tack, a phrase I heard used recently gets my vote: Can't feed? - don't breed.

Private jet
27th Feb 2015, 21:53
Is this inclusive of HB?

Well Mr Chips you like quoting a lot, but very selectively.
No its not, but what do you want? Hundreds of thousands of people living on the streets like India but with cold weather? Yes, housing benefit does subsidise the rental market and push up rents across the board but no government has the guts to pay less and enforce it in statute. It would probably result in a legal challenge anyway so tell us what's your answer? Please don't say build more "affordable" houses. They would basically be sheds, houses in the UK are expensive not exclusively due to demand but also the huge profit margins on new builds. Nobody ever seems to question this? Banks yes, hedge funds yes, energy companies yes. Construction firms et al, NO.
Back to the benefits system though, we have arrived where we have due to the fact that it has been the way for politicians of all affiliations to offset and hide governmental incompetence for the last 40 years, and yes that includes the "beloved Margaret" (which i'm sure will incense a number of contributors on here)

Private jet
27th Feb 2015, 22:08
Gingernut;

Trouble is, some employers aren't that clever and squeeze the last ounce out of employees-hence our "it's Friday, let's get leathered" culture.


That occurred when people stopped being "personnel" and became a "human resource", and the company department was renamed appropriately....

Mr Chips
27th Feb 2015, 22:29
Well Mr Chips you like quoting a lot, but very selectively.
And there is another quote. To say that a single man gets only 72 per week "and thats your lot" - another direct quote is patently a lie, because it doesn't include the Housing Benefit element, so its NOT 72 per week at all.

If you want to discuss the rented sector - both private and social, I'm happy to have that debate having worked for two RSLs and two private developers, so I kinda know what I'm talking about!

Please don't say build more "affordable" houses. They would basically be sheds, houses in the UK are expensive not exclusively due to demand but also the huge profit margins on new builds. Nobody ever seems to question this? Banks yes, hedge funds yes, energy companies yes. Construction firms et al, NO

Nope, wrong again. Affordable houses are not "sheds", they are properly built by proper builders and inspected by proper building control officers. They are often built by/on behalf of RSLs so not a question of Private Developers taking profits
Should there be more affordable homes built? Yes, absolutely.
Are there benefits claimants who have made it a way of life? yes. Is there a sense of "entitlement" in social housing? yes. Is there a problem in PRS housing around affordability? yes. Are buy to let landlords automatically evil? No Are there large profits in private housebuilding? Generally, yes, huge ones.

What is your suggestion? (Other than blaming everyone for everything)

Private jet
27th Feb 2015, 22:59
You didn't answer my question though did you? What's your solution? Like a politician you cherry pick what is convenient to your argument and ignore everything that's not.
Personally (on a tangent I know) I think the house building industry should be investigated (and btw in this country the building standards for domestic properties are not exactly exceptionally high). I also think there is a good deal of profiteering going on, possibly the result of lobbying and vested interests, but unquestioned by our representatives the media or anyone else.
If you disagree with my views then i'm afraid we will have to agree to differ. From your posts you seem to be a person that is not interested in debate and more one who has to prove a point. I don't.

Mr Chips
27th Feb 2015, 23:03
Private Jet I couldn't see a question in the middle of one long paragraph. If you'd like to repeat it I'll have a stab at answering it.

As for profiteering in the construction industry, I'm sure that it is no secret that profit is around 40% and penthouses (not including fittings) is closer to 80%

What part of that needs investigating?

As for debate - I think I even said that I'm more than happy to discuss social housing, but then again I've worked in that sector, and I'm almost certain that you haven't....

Gertrude the Wombat
27th Feb 2015, 23:48
Are there large profits in private housebuilding? Generally, yes, huge ones.
Only if the PA is crap at fighting s106/CIL viability claims through the courts.

(Or if there's already such a local surfeit of infrastructure that s106/CIL isn't needed, but I'm not aware of any such magical places.)

Andy_S
28th Feb 2015, 11:13
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that the UK has a 'Universal' welfare system as opposed to the 'Contributory' systems operated by many of our continental neighbours. Surely the fact that anyone arriving in this country can begin to draw a range of benefits very quickly is one of the attractions that draw migrants here.

G-CPTN
28th Feb 2015, 11:59
When I returned to the UK in the mid 1980s after a short domicile (three years) in Europe, I was told that I didn't qualify for any benefit (not even child benefit) as I had been absent during the 'qualifying year'.

In order to qualify I would have to have paid National Insurance, and in order to be able to pay that I would need to get a job (which was my intention).

As soon as I got a job (not without difficulty and several weeks later) the 'benefits' (ie child benefit) started to flow. We could have done with CB when I was not working and not able to claim unemployment benefit (or social security due to my savings). Once employed and receiving salary we didn't really need the CB.

Have things changed?

airship
28th Feb 2015, 17:00
I see that someone earning 150,000 pa in UK might soon see their tax-relief on private pension contributions (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31658296) limited to 20% and a max. of 30,000 pa. And that 1st time home-buyers will be able to obtain a 20% discount (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31668135) on the cost of their homes. Sometimes I wonder just who are the real beneficiaries (or scroungers)... :confused:

PS. Apparently the government's 20% discount only applies to those 1st-time buyers aged 40 or under. And currently limited to the first 100,000 new homes. Would anyone here mind if I registered anyway? I'm older than 40 and don't even live in the UK anymore. But I'm still not a house-owner. I just thought that if I did register early, I might be able to sell my reservation to someone else a little later on, maybe on ebay. Would that be scrounging? Or demonstrative of the entrepreneurial spirit that is supposedly the backbone of the UK and all too sadly lacking there ca. 2015...?! :p

Gertrude the Wombat
28th Feb 2015, 17:36
Would anyone here mind if I registered anyway?
It's possible that you might not want one. As far as I have gathered, the discount is achieved by not requiring the developer to make the normal contributions to essential local infrastructure. So you might be buying a property without essential local infrastructure, the sort of soulless housing estate desert that we thought we'd given up building some decades ago.

So actually you might prefer to live somewhere else, where things have been build properly.

P6 Driver
28th Feb 2015, 19:27
When I returned to the UK in the mid 1980s after a short domicile (three years) in Europe, I was told that I didn't qualify for any benefit (not even child benefit) as I had been absent during the 'qualifying year'.

In order to qualify I would have to have paid National Insurance, and in order to be able to pay that I would need to get a job (which was my intention).

As soon as I got a job (not without difficulty and several weeks later) the 'benefits' (ie child benefit) started to flow. We could have done with CB when I was not working and not able to claim unemployment benefit (or social security due to my savings). Once employed and receiving salary we didn't really need the CB.

Have things changed?

It sounds like you failed the Habitual Residency Test which can sometimes mean that British nationals living abroad don't automatically qualify for certain benefits immediately on their return to the UK.