I’m again going down the topical route here. Cait Reilly has today won her court battle against Government legislation which required her to work for nothing at a local branch of Poundland to receive her unemployment benefit. Now if Cait was the Jeremy Kyle guest type of girl, her name spelt Katie, (pronounced KateEE) pregnant by her Dad and/or Brother at 13 and a half, dressed in shell suit with no education this case would not have got this far. Katie would have been labelled a benefit scrounger by everyone (me included) and told to get on with it.
Cait however is a Graduate, well spoken and nicely turned out. She took the case to court because she knew it was “wrong” and yes to make people work for nothing is wrong. This is where it gets weird though. We all know the type of person who has never worked a single day, a Katie. Never had any inclination to work, a person who is quite happy to get all the handouts in world, with not a care that they might be taking the piss a little. Staff at the job centre have to deal with people like this all the time.
Cait is not one of those people. She I’m assuming got her degree with the hope that she could use it to get a decent job. However the arse has fallen out of the job market right now, as employers seem to want carbon copies of what was there before and are simply not interested in developing anyones potential. So Cait needs the benefit system to support her in her endeavours to get a job and pay into society. Once she has a job she will pay (probably) a high rate of tax which will pay any benefits she is entitled to now back in no time.
Katie however knows how the system works. She had been on all the benefits since she was 16. She is also stuck, because even if she tried to find work she has no experience so she has no hope of getting a job that pays better than benefits. Katie would benefit from a work placement. Cait would not.
Neither Katie or Cait should be made to work for free. But then neither should be allowed to take and keep on taking. Cait won the court action because the legislation was not clearly defined, not because it was a wrong idea. Surely the benefit should work so that those that are willing to work in Poundland (or wherever) get more benefits, payment for work, than those who refuse. However this puts a huge amount of pressure on Job Centre staff who are already required to pass moral judgements on people.
The benefit system should be there for all of us when we fall upon hard times. People should receive a tailored service to develop them into someone who can get a good job, for their own self worth if nothing else. In reality this will never happen as there always will be those who will play the system and the system is always required to take a uniform approach and treat everyone the same. Which because of the Katies of this world is usually with cynicism and contempt.
It’s wrong and unfair. But such is life.