AFTER watching Benefits Street for several weeks, I am shocked by what I am seeing. It is very clear that Channel 4 went all out to try to ignite an age-old debate about benefits culture and the show is very biased.
However, it has made me think of the “can’t work/won’t work” culture. I cannot accept that anyone chooses to live like this, but instead I feel that maybe they see no way out and instead have just accepted their lot in life and embraced what they can get.
Is this their fault or that of society? Are we too keen to pigeonhole people into a class level?
The main “star” of the show is a lady that openly wants to do nothing and live off the state, yet she goes out of her way to help her neighbours. Has anyone taken the time to show her that this is a skill that she could use more productively?
There will always be an element in the community that do not want to work and this is something that must be tackled by benefit reform and education.
However, there is also a large proportion claiming benefits that simply do not know how to gain employment and do not have the confidence to do so, thinking they are worthless and cover this with bravado.
These people need to be reached and shown help is available if you ask. Education and training opportunities are more widely available than ever before.
Perhaps, instead of trying to force people to work, instead spend time looking at the reasons they won’t, more could be achieved. Too quickly we all judge each other and those in work rain judgment on those who don’t. Very often there may be a legitimate reason.
There is work available in Yeovil for those who want it, it may not be ideal and your life-long dream, but it’s still available. There are so many voluntary positions available locally and demand is always high.
I believe that if you can’t or won’t work, then you should all volunteer in some capacity, to give back to the people that do help fund you. Maybe then those in employment would not resent the unemployed so much.
We are fast becoming a “spoon-fed nation”, where will this end? In a few generations from now, the country could be faced with a population of “career benefit” recipients that it cannot fund and those who are in real need of benefits, will find they are not available.
Nearly all those that I watched on Benefit Street had a skill that could be used within a job role, but I fear that this has never be pointed out to them, instead leaving us with a programme filled with people proud to be on benefits and having no aspirations to come off them and actively encouraging their children to do the same.
The benefit system was created as a safety net for those in society who needed it and was to be used as a temporary measure, so what went so wrong that it is now seen as a career choice? I believe the answer is, simply, it was made too easy and very little was done to enable people to come off of benefits, so we developed a benefit generation and the problem is still getting worse.
There are many reforms coming in, in an attempt to tackle this but I feel that they are coming too hard and too fast. Very little has been done to resolve this and the new measures scream of panic by the Government to tackle a situation they created.
If you want people to want to work, don’t just take their money away and make their lives harder, invest in more accessible training and individual support to enable them to. Most do want to work, they just don’t know it or think they can.