I may be banging on about this, but benefits is a huge business in the UK and the current generosity with benefits makes life for those like myself, on low wages difficult.
I've already outlined the perks you get on benefit, that someone like myself doesn't get like free school meals, free prescriptions, etc. The way the system works is that one benefit unlocks another: you have to be receiving benefit in order claim another.
There is no assessment of need, or means testing. You receive such and such benefit, you are then entitled to x y and z benefits too.
We came a cropper on this a couple of years back when the wife was employed and I was out of work. Now because I wasn't working, I stupidly assumed that we'd get some help like maybe council tax relief, housing benefit, or tax credits, or maybe something to offset the fact that 90 percent of the wife's wage was actually going on paying the rent and keeping a roof over our heads.
In fact we got no benefits, other than my jobseekers, which ran out after 6 months.
Actually much worse than that... the council assumed that because we were so badly off, we would be entitled to some housing benefit and started paying us. Only 3 months later to send us a letter demanding all they'd paid us back, because we weren't claiming or entitled to certain other benefits. I'm actually still paying that back in small instalments. And while I was out of work, we survived by not paying bills such as council tax, gas and electricity. Mainly because we couldn't pay them! Again, I'm still paying off a few of those debts, which doesn't help.
This is where the system is totally wrong. Had my wife left her job, then we would have been able to claim all the benefits under the sun. But being proud and my wife actually likes her job she didn't want to give it up just to sponge. Or if I'd moved out, splitting up a perfectly functional family we would have both received benefits in our own rights. But being together with just one person working, we got penalised.
There should be no circumstances in any system of benefits for the non-disabled, where it is more advantageous to be on benefits than it is to work.
Actually the system of benefits we have in the UK hugely skews certain markets. Take for instance rented accommodation; with the demise of council houses, the rented sector is now the domain of the private landlord. Because of housing benefit, rents are pushed to the absolute upper limit, rather than what the market would normally stay at. That's because its the government paying a large proportion of rent to private landlords. Its pretty obvious when you look at the discrepancy between true social rents and private rents that the ability of the government to pay no matter what, pushes up the cost of rents by around 50-100%. I've seen some horrid homes rented out for stupid money by unscrupulous landlords, but the local councils still pay the money. Of course in that situation the tenant has no hold over the landlord like the option of withholding rent if certain work isn't done to maintain the property. Its a pretty shitty cycle of no maintenance and landlords getting inflated rents for doing sweet fa renting out shitty houses that get shittier over time.
Its a cycle that also has to stop. State-funded rents need to be capped to bring down rental costs across the board.
NEW ARRIVALS -
2 months ago