The state owes us nothing

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 17 August 2011 in Diary
As a mother of a 15-year-old mum-to-be reveals her pride of getting a bigger council house, Francesca Preece argues why society needs to lose its sense of entitlement

As parts of England begin to rebuild after sabotage and opportunism won the day – or rather the week – David Cameron has revealed his disgust at the teens, ballet dancers, Olympic ambassadors and gang members apprehended during the mass thuggery.

Our dear leader told a beleaguered nation. “In the banking crisis, with MPs’ expenses, in the phone-hacking scandal, we have seen some of the worst cases of greed, irresponsibility and entitlement.”

Yet as he condemned the riots, one family epitomised all three of these terrible qualities.

A mother revealed proudly in the press how her daughter was expecting a baby. The source of her happiness was not, however, the birth of a grandchild to her 15-year-old daughter but that she would be now entitled to a bigger property to house the underage mother and baby. It is a pathetic state of affairs when a baby is seen as a means to an end – a baby step on the housing ladder.

She told a magazine, "Once the new baby comes the council will have to find us a place with four or five bedrooms. We've already started packing.”

In my eyes, this is one of the worst cases of greed, irresponsibility and entitlement. It is a sign of a generation raised to believe that the state, not themselves, is their provider.

So often you hear people say ‘the state ought/should/must help me’. Where did this grotesque sense of entitlement appear from? The state should merely be a fallback, not a way of life. The current welfare system has its origins in ensuring breadwinners earned a wage when sick. Yet today, people are making a living out of welfare. Many of these people who happily take from society’s wealth are able-bodied, work-shy individuals who are brought up to believe the world owes them something.

Many people my age from my home town in the southeast know full well how easy it is to take advantage of the country’s generosity. For many, their plan is, ‘work a maximum of sixteen hours to keep working tax credit topped up nicely, have as many children as possible and sit back as the council housing offers come in’. I have watched with horror as people I know have brought a child into the world purely for selfish, monetary reasons. This irresponsibility and greed is ingrained into their very beings and this cycle will continue until the government stops letting them get away with it.

What these people need is a taste of tough love. You have to be cruel to be kind to change society for the better.

My first proposal is for an end to rent-free handouts. Some council house tenants need to appreciate the gift they have been given. Everyone, irrespective of circumstance, should pay a small sum of their benefit back, either towards their council tax or rent. Stories such as the Somali immigrant whose £2m townhouse rent was paid in full by the local council are simply unacceptable.

Secondly, housing should not be in sought-after areas. It should not be uninhabitable but its location should serve as a deterrent. In any case, council properties in expensive neighbourhoods are assets that should be for sale in these impoverished times. Fundamentally, it mustn’t be a more attractive option to not work and be given social housing than to have a job and rent privately.

Thirdly, and I know this is happening, but those classed as able-bodied must contribute to society in some shape or form, be it helping in the community or learning skills/acquiring qualifications to get them back into work.

Fourthly, we must do away with this one-bedroom-per-child mentality. Until you reach the age of puberty, a child does not need his or her own room. Children can share rooms and quite often are happy to do so (it didn’t do me any harm!). It seems to be the way that councils allocate larger – and more expensive - properties based on the number of children.

Fifthly, like Poland, benefit claimants should have at least 12 months’ employment history to show for themselves. Genuine claimants should not be punished for the greed of others before them.

Perhaps sixthly, a lesson in how lucky they really are. Make them aware of their responsibilities as parents and citizens of this fine nation.

It is time to drum the message home that it is no one’s right to have a home. End this ‘something for nothing’ culture and then perhaps we will notice results in years to come.

Welfare must only be reserved for those who really need and deserve it. It’s time to derail this benefit gravy train for good – and for the good of all.

Tags: David Cameron, Riots, Welfare

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