I saw a client today complaining about her benefits and not being able to make ends meet. She stated quite angrily "How do 'they' expect me to live, surely I must be 'entitled' to more than this" etc etc.
Quick background - She's from a lower socio-economic group, with no qualifications, a single parent with 3 kids from 2 different partners. Foul-mouthed as well, but thats a different issue.
After completing a full benefit calculation I could only confirm to her that the Dept.for Work & Pensions were in fact paying her correctly and that if she complains to them or appeals, it will get nowhere as she is receiving everything the law states is available in her circumstances.
Here's the punchline though...
In weekly cash benefits for food/water/gas/electricity/clothes/booze & cig's etc she gets £255.56
In weekly rent payments (covering her entire rent in full) she gets £199.45
In weekly Council Tax benefit (which covers all the local Gov tax liabilities) she gets £29.75
This brings her total weekly income (funded by tax-payers like me) to the grand sum of £484.76
£25,207.52 per year, which would require a job with a salary of £34,000 per year before income tax deductions etc. (or around $55,000 US dollars at today's exchange rate) - a long serving Sergeant in the British Army will typically earn this before deductions, up to a maximum of around £36,000)
Take into account that this client has no qualifications/experience/ability to conduct herself without using foul language, I imagine the best she could look forward to in employment would be a minimum wage job paying £12,480 (before deductions) for a 40 hour week.
I politely explained the reality of the the money she receives for doing nothing except taking 3 kids to school each day and picking them up in the afternoon. She didn't like it but stopped complaining.
The more I see over the years, the more I wonder about the demands and expectations of some people. And the saddest thing? The 2 daughters of today's client will probably get themselves pregnant at a young age and start the same process for a new generation.
*edit* Oh, and I forgot to mention, she also receives free school meals for the children, free school uniform & any school trips/activities, free dental treatment for the family, free eye-care (glasses/contact lenses), free prescriptions for any drugs/medication, and subsidised water bills.
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