Monday, November 08, 2010

Archbishop in the Wrong Kind of Spiral

The Archbishop of Canterbury has waded into another political row, this time accusing the coalition Government of encouraging social zoning, spiraling people into despair and making them vulnerable through plans for welfare reform, including capping housing benefit and stopping benefits for those who able to do so, yet refuse to give something back to society in return.

I’m furious, not because he’s spoken out – he has every right to express his opinion – but because despite his academic background, he’s clearly just repeating the extreme left-wing line without thinking his argument through.

First and foremost, this deeply offensive rubbish about ‘social ‘zoning’ is particularly insulting coming from the Archbishop. I’m usually happy to put my money, voluntarily, into the collection plate every week to contribute towards keeping him and his fellow bishops living in luxury in their Palaces - when they’re not making daft political statements they usually do a good job. But he has no right to tell tax payers such as myself that we are wrong to question why we should continue to subsidize benefit claimants to the tune of up to £100,000 a year to live in houses we couldn’t even dream of buying or renting. Labour’s election slogan, ‘a future fair for all,’ isn’t remotely fair if people on benefits have better choices that those who aren’t.

Under Iain Duncan-Smith’s plans, absolutely no one is going to be homeless, or driven out of ‘smart’ areas into slums. I did the maths: on a tax-free income of almost £21,000 a year – the ceiling amount the Government will put on housing benefit claims – I could pay my mortgage, my home insurance, water, gas, electric and phone bills, and still have enough money left over to buy a brand new Mercedes ‘C’ class. That’s hardly an ungenerous amount to be given in return for doing absolutely nothing at all. Why shouldn’t you make what contribution you can in return?
Welfare reform will achieve precisely the opposite of what the Archbishop suggests. Not having a job or some meaningful work to occupy your time is what leads to vulnerability, depression and despair. Getting out into the community, living a routine, working with others, means you can get references, boost your confidence, and build skills and experience. I started my working career on unpaid work experience. I knew that was what I was going to gave to do and I did it, and I’m very glad I did. I can’t understand why the Archbishop can’t see this, instead insisting that doing community work in exchange for benefits will somehow make people feel vulnerable.

As I’ve just said to PR Week, members of the Church of England put in countless hours each week to give back to society, often in addition to demanding day-jobs. To suggest this can lead to vulnerability will be something of a kick in the teeth to those of us who try and do our bit.



Blogger Abbie Hemmings said...

I have at times had to rely on the benefit system completely to survive and still do recieve some help due to a low income and a sick husband. Over the last few weeks I have been amazed at the amount of money people have been able to claim and yet still they complain.
I am grateful for the help I get so I can get myself back to being able to fully support myself and my husband without having to worry about the basics in life.
Benefits are not supposed to be a lifestyle choice, but it has become that way for many and this is what leads to the downward spiral. I have seen these kind of people first hand and I know for many of them going out and doing some work will be a real experience that will encourage the ones with potential to do something with their lives. Of course there will always be the ones who make an art form out of shirking work and it is about time they lost their benefits and realised society does not owe them.
Its about time the media and public figures stopped the scaremongering. Give me a platform to speak from and I could tell you many reasons why these welfare reforms are fair and long overdue.

2:08 pm  

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