Thursday, July 19, 2007

Better off apart

Would it surprise anyone at all to know that News Of The World hacks are a bunch of lying shitehawks? Thought not. Here's the News Of The World story about the couple living apart to get more benefits.
A MARRIED couple revealed how they split up —because under Britain's crazy benefit system they are BETTER OFF living apart.

Sean Ash and wife Chloe agreed to break up after realising they would lose out even MORE when he takes a new job.

They spoke in the wake of a major political row this week, sparked by Tory leader David Cameron's tax-break pledge to give married couples an extra £20 a week.

Sean and Chloe, who have both been on benefits, explained why they decided to join what Mr Cameron called "our broken society".

As a couple, they had a joint net income of £1,702 a month. But after the split, Sean now gets £1,184 and Chloe £1,396—making a total of £2,580.

That means they are £878 a month in benefits better off leading separate lives.

Sean, 25, soon expects to start a job with London Underground earning £22,000 a year. But he says he had to leave his wife and one-year-old son Dylan three weeks ago when it became clear that him working would bring their joint income down to £1,472 a month.

Naturally, this is not the whole story: in fact, the couple emailed Mike Rouse with their version of events. And his story does expose some of the pure stupidity of our benefits system (as the News of the World should have done).
What [the NotW] failed to mention was the affordable housing issue that is at the root of the Ash’s problems and the reason Sean Ash contacted the News of the World in the first place. Contacting me in relation to my earlier post, Sean said:
“... the story I gave [The News of the World] (not sold them, gave them) was originally to do with housing and how the local council failed to help house me and my family. They accused us of making ourselves intentionaly homeless and placed me, my wife and our son into a 1 bedroom flat on the Milford Towers Estate in Catford, South East London”

He continued to tell me that while living on the estate there was a fatal shooting of a man in his early 20s pretty much outside their front door. Since that incident the family began to receive threats themselves for no reason. Naturally, Sean wanted to move his family out and approached the council for help.
“... they didn’t help us which left us no choice but to rent private, costing £800 a month where as people coming in after us, i.e single mothers & immigrants, ended up being housed before us.“

What the News of the World failed to convey was the true situation about the couple’s working life, instead opting for the headline “We Split Up to Get More Benefits“.
“I wanted to go back to work, I passed telephone interviews, assesements and was 1 of 7 people to pass and get the job out of 15.”

What Sean did was to add up the sums of the prospective salary and compared it to what he was getting from benefits and was as shocked as anybody to learn that the state was paying him more money to stay out of work.

Fucking brilliant, eh? Well done the sodding state. Thanks a fucking bunch, Gordo, you one-eyed cunt of doom. But wait! it gets worse...
Sean didn’t even take benefits in the first place, something that he told the News of the World:
“... they focused more for their own headlines in making me and my family look like scroungers which is the last thing we want to be... they also failed to mention that when I was diagnosed with Sciatica I did not claim any benefits for 1 year because I did not want to take from the state! It was a year later when Inland Revenue sent me a letter asking for tax I had not earned. Because I was not claiming benefits they assumed I was working so from that point I was forced to claim benefits.”

There is something seriously wrong with “Breakdown Britain” when the state is forcing people to claim benefits. Surely if Sean opted not to claim benefits while he was not working he should be supported in that decision.

Mike is, of course, throughout this article, attempting to tie-in Sean's story with Conservative Party policy and their idea of "breakdown Britain." Fair enough, but fundamentally the Tories have not actually proposed anything which would address this kind of lunacy. Can we move away from these lunatic fucking benefits that remove the financial incentive to work and move towards the Citizen's Basic Income yet? Please?

As an addendum, Sean is feeling mildly aggrieved because the News of the World have made him look like a scrounger. With all due respect, perhaps he should have tried a more serious paper than the News of the Screws, but still...
Sadly, the situation gets worse for Sean as he falls victim to a manipulative newspaper that has made him and his family look like scroungers. In this he is particularly critical:
“It’s amazing how the News of the World will go to the lowest points to make me and my family, with a child of 1 years old, to look bad in front of the nation. Now I am paranoid to go outside as people have approached my parents today accusing me of being a grass and selling people out.”

“With the headlines they have used they have blackened my family name and made people think that I recieved some sort of payment for my own advantages.”

“That is what I get for trying to do the right thing, to be a good person, to try and bring awareness to politicans that there are people like me in the same situation who want to go back to work off the sick but need help with affordable housing.”

It is interesting that people think that Sean has ’sold out’ as if raising awareness of this government’s failures to help people back into work is a bad thing. Perhaps the people in his community are more than happy to continue claiming benefits—it’s clear that the government is more than happy to continue paying them.

Another fucking triumph for British journalism, eh? After the politicians are executed, there will still be plenty of lamp posts the length and breadth of England—when your humble Devil takes over there will be a lying, scumbag, opportunity-squandering, shitbag journo hanging from every one of them...


Mark Wadsworth said...

See also Frank Field's recent musings or Patricia Morgan's recent book at the IEA.

The only answer is either a flat-rate citizen's income scheme or no welfare at all. And being a softy, I'd go for the former.

Umbongo said...

Let me be slight less soft than MW: citizen's flat rate benefit only for those who have at least two grandparents born here. As I (think I) recall this was a qualification for a civil service position - at administrative level - until the 60s.

Roger Thornhill said...

At the centre of this story I believe is the issue of the State as Landlord.

It practically has a monopoly on affordable housing and you have to "ask permission" to move while it allows all manner of n'ere-do-well's to remain. It is Communism.

Subsidised housing will always be full unless it is of sufficiently low quality and small in size as to make it undesirable for all but the truly needy.

This sounds really shocking to some, but think about it - if affordable housing was ok to enough people it would NEVER be available unless someone dies alone and childless.

If councils gave out peppercorn rents on their land to a plurality of not-for-profit organisations to build and operate affordable housing (with a covenant that the least will be revoked if any sales occurred) then we might see some progress.

Short of land? Bulldoze rotten estates.

Nosemonkey said...

An additional bit, from my own (demoralising and highly unpleasant) experience of having to claim the dole several years back:

While on the dole I did two days' work for a former employer, earning the grand sum of £150. I foolishly declared this to the dole office, who promptly cut my jobseekers' allowance and housing benefit for a fortnight, with no possibility of claiming it back.

Add tax at 22% on top of the loss of c.£150 a week combined housing benefit and dole, I ended up the best part of £190 out of pocket. Which, at the time, was a hell of a lot of money, and screwed me royally for months.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Nose, I shall politely ignore your first comment, as to your second comment, what we need is a Citizen's Basic Income welfare system.

If you are claiming and work you pay tax on what you earn (claimants don't get a tax free personal allowance) but there is no need to report this to anybody and no need to lose benefits.

It's then just a question of haggling over the precise figures.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Rog, in your manifesto (and elsewhere) you have said you'd adopt a pure waiting list approach to allocations. Good. And that the size of accommodation you get depends on the size of household at the time it first applied. Good. Both ideas have been adopted into the MW manifesto.

You've lost me with the above post.

Here's my take on all this. This idea in turn suggestd by somebody else. I just did the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for picking up the blog post DK.


Roger Thornhill said...


The post was revealing the consequences of subsidised housing. It distorts the market because it provides significantly better value for money to the renter than the low end of the private sector. Therefore the queue is HUGE and people do not give it up readily.

I cannot locate the link to the report where it was proposed that the only rational solution was to provide state housing of such low desirability that only the truly needy will apply, however shocking that sounds.

Right now we have four broad, potential scenarios.

1. No subsidised housing (= no queue...)
2. Limited subsidised housing of good value vs private = huge queue.
3. Sufficient subsidised housing of good value = limited queue.
4. Sufficient subsidised housing of limited desirability vs to private but of lower cost, i.e. small, basic = limited queue.

In 2, the queue dramatically limits mobility and increases the temptation to interfere by introducing arbitrary judgements on who should get housing. This is where we are now.

In 3, the portfolio is going to have to be huge. Scotland?

In 4, the size of the portfolio depends on the extent of the compromise made in the nature of housing provided. Small and basic, for example - studios for childless singles and couples, for example.

One way to somehow attack the issues of bad tenants and monolithic queues is to break the dominance of the State in provision and move away from the concept of housing "entitlement" which, frankly, screws up peoples' heads by removing the implication of consequence over one of the basic human needs - shelter.

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...