Friday, 5 April 2013

Welfare, construction and why it’s not about scroungers…

Between the bedroom tax, cost of living and the media showcasing of extreme examples of people taking advantage of the system, welfare has developed a bit of a bad reputation at the moment. People who are struggling to make ends meet, whilst holding down jobs, are questioning why others only have to sit in front of the telly all day and receive benefits that, if you read the daily mail, will keep you in the lap of luxury.  

Between political infighting, using benefits as a weapon to showcase how badly the last party dealt with things and the media’s recognition of public hunger for people to name and shame, I can’t help but feel it’s all gotten a little out of hand.  That maybe we need to step back, take the emotion out of it and consider why benefits exist in the first place – and what value are they to those of us that work in the construction industry.

Firstly, I support the benefit system - I know that 0.02% of claims are fraudulent and whilst I would prefer that that number was zero, no system is perfect and constantly flouting small flaws as a means of undermining an entire system won’t get anyone anywhere. 

Whilst the media has encouraged us to look at those who claim benefits as work-shy scroungers there is a bigger picture and it includes me and you. In a transient, project-based industry that is now predominantly dependent on self-employment, labour gaps in employment can be frequent and, occasionally, long. Many save for the low periods but that’s not always enough to get by, especially when there are commitments and dependants to keep. The benefits help to cover that gap; they mean that you don’t fall at the first hurdle in the down-period, but instead, have the chance to pick yourself up and carry on.  They mean that people do not have to sell the tools of their livelihood to get by and that makes it a little easier to get back to work - it also means that when we, as an industry, need the workforce they are ready to start.

I know a few people who feel they are owed a living by the state, but the majority of people I know will avoid benefits till the last moment, only to find that when they do claim (out of necessity not apathy) they are vilified and made to feel somehow unworthy, which is not conducive to raising self-esteem and helping people to win work.

Let’s try and appreciate the scaremongering of Benefits from a different perspective -what if it is simply a political smokescreen to stop us talking about Starbucks not paying tax, or the media taking advantage of our desire to prove we are better than other people. If these things are true we need to fight for, and protect, our benefit system by refusing to further accept the myths that are sold alongside the welfare state.  Instead we should be proud of our heritage of helping those most in need and look at ways of getting people back into work. 

Make no mistake, if the system is allowed to degrade in this manner, it is not just the fabled work-shy scroungers that will suffer; it is society as a whole. 

Happy building, 


For all things construction and equality, get yourself over to the Constructing Equality Ltd. website. 


  1. Unfortunately people are being conditioned by the media and government officials into believing that all people on welfare are scroungers. Thankfully the majority of people out there are too intelligent to be conditioned by such nonsense and fully understand the need for a benefit system that helps those in need.
    By Wendy Danks

  2. Chrissi.
    I fully agree with you on this one.
    I have been in the trade for 40years and as such have seen many recessions, what is not considered is that after each recession we lose a large percentage of trades,they just do not come come back to our industry. And can you blame them, we as an industry do nothing to help them, they are thrown onto the dole, as they have no option, and they then have to suffer that indignation.But god alone knows how they would look after and feed there families if this option was not available.
    Not everybody is a scrounger, but its a hell of a knock for any proud man to take.
    The systems need to be brought up to date, but it is a system we need so lets push to have it streamlined and modernised to meet the needs of the people that really do deserve it.
    By Ronald Pye

  3. Too True,I myself only claimed this year after being made redundant,what a horrid experience!How anyone can live on what is an absolute pittance,is beyond me I went from £68K plus bonus etc to £56.00 a week, then had to wait 9 weeks for the money. It goes to show you what those people who man those places mindset is,when they say "you could not have earned that much"! Well when I produced my wage slips it was a different story.But the best and funniest part was when they sent me to learn how to write my CV,just like "Pauline s Pens"Superb waste of my life as well as resource. I have now found employment and would not wish Job Centre Plus on anyone! Why do we not raid the Bankers and the ideal rich;s accounts like Cyprus,those S--S do not give a stuff about anyone but themselves,where is there "Big Society"Nowhere!