Saturday, 22 November 2008

Families... With Benefits

There's been quite a flap this week about a change to the benefits system which will mean that lone parents of children over 12 will have to go onto Jobseekers Allowance and start looking for work. Personally I can't think of anything more sensible.

My Grandad left my Nan when my Mum was about 12, meaning Nan had three kids above 12 and two below and had to fend for herself in those days before child support was considered a right. She held down several jobs whilst bringing up her five kids who all turned out to be very special and gifted in their own ways despite the fact their Mum went to work to keep them in food.

My Mum fell pregnant with me when she was 15. I was born not long after she'd finished her O-Levels (GSCE's for us youngsters) and she could probably have gotten away with moping around and being unemployed. This was the eighties and times were tough especially in our home town. But she didn't. My Nan, as you might understand from the story above, was very poor and so my Mum had to get a job. But she didn't just do that. She put herself through college. No special education grants, no money from the family, she just worked her socks off. I remember nursery, I had a great time. And my Mum, a teenage mother from a large working class, lone parent family, has two degrees and a job as a company director. Sometimes I worry she works too hard because no matter how hard anyone tries she will always do the housework herself, even when others have already done it! That's all after she's been at work until late. Worst part was we once hired a cleaner... which just made Mum worse as she kept doing a thorough clean of the house the day before the cleaner arrived so the cleaner didn't think we were dirty. Mothers. Who'd have 'em??

So when I see or hear people saying things like "I can't work, my children will suffer" or "I am contributing to society, my children will be taxpayers so it's fine for me to just continue to claim benefits" my blood begins to boil. If my Nan and my Mum could bring up children and work their hearts out (during a period of incredibly high unemployment might I add) and still not have neglected me why on Earth can't these other people?? Benefits are there as a safety net, to protect those who can't work or have found themselves out of work for reasons beyond their control. They are there to support lone parents whilst their children are very young. But when your child is old enough to be allowed to walk to school on their own, then it's time to give up being just a mum and become instead something better; a working mum.

I laugh at some of the people's claims "I've been looking for work for 3 years and can't find any" (as a recent job seeker [who's never claimed jobseekers allowance!] I'd beg to take issue with a claim like that!) or, even better, "I just don't think companies are very parent friendly" (every big company I've ever worked for has been bending over backwards to offer flexible hours to mothers and fathers).

There are people out there who have extreme mental health issues, physical disabilities and really tough life situations. And then there are people who freely choose to have children and then to claim benefits who are causing the benefits given to those who truly need it to be so small an amount as to be almost ludicrous.


1 comment:

Shea said...

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