A safety net or a lifestyle choice? Making work pay


RECENT headlines that migrants will be free to claim full UK benefits from May 2011 when a special scheme introduced under EU rules in 2004 is abolished were really provocative. Now, of course, any healthy society benefits from a flow of immigrants, just as many Britons make their lives abroad – like here in Spain, for instance, where British entrepreneurial spirit is to be applauded.

But between 1997 and 2010, there was a historically unprecedented surge of immigrants to the UK to work, study or settle for a year or more – 3m more people came than left. And 1.6m people granted permanent right of residence, mainly from developing countries.

But the issue isn’t so much about immigration and people coming to claim, as the UK welfare system that continues to fund individuals who have made a lifestyle choice to live on benefits rather than seek work – allowing people to claim without having put anything in. Economic rights without responsibilities.


I believe in the welfare state as a safety net and the universality of benefits, but the system has become a way of life for some, rather than the last resort or active means of poverty alleviation. It has entrenched poverty of both wealth and ambition.

However, I don’t hold claimants wholly responsible – though some EWN readers may disagree with me.

Instead we should point the finger at successive labour governments who had a vested interest in perpetuating a Ponzi scheme (taxing an ever-shrinking productive private sector to fund an ever-growing public sector and welfare-dependent underclass) in the pursuit of power – buying the support of poorer sections of society with other people’s money.

Labour’s “open door” immigration policy was also designed to entrench their electoral position given the tendency of immigrants to vote Labour, but at what cost?

The standard of living in the UK has declined as the cost of living has increased, while the UK (the SE, in particular) is tangibly over-populated. Consequently, the quality of public services (health, education, transport) has diminished given the inability to cope with this overpopulation, and increasing demands of those who take from the system without ever paying in. A situation only exacerbated by the Coalition’s planned austerity cuts in jobs and services.

The system is broken and needs a root and branch reform, starting with politicians who continue to fail to recognise that the welfare state rewards inactivity – rather than hard work and aspiration.

Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca 



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