Kate Taylor: Benefit caps – Hoodwinking and apathy

On Thursday a High Court judge ruled that the benefit cap to lone parents with young children was in fact illegal. In a move that shocked no one, the Department of Work and Pensions has said that the news is ‘disappointing’ and plan to appeal (thus the cap stays until the appeal has been processed, leaving children to suffer for even longer).

Many have argued that the fact that said parents could be entitled to £20k or £23k in London which is ‘more than enough’ to live on. Firstly, many do not get this much, or they have to cope with random sanctions implemented by a struggling department. Secondly; as someone who has been a single parent for many years, including with a three year old and newborn baby, money does not stretch far.

Here in Lincoln renting a family home for less than £600 is nigh on impossible for new renters, depending on area. In Nottingham and surrounding areas, a three bedroom house is closer to a thousand pounds per calender month.

Adding average household expenses not to mention all the extra costs of young children in particular, along with the staggering number of lone parents who are having to pay off high interest debt accrued trying to survive (not buying a new widescreen TV as some people may believe) increases a household budget rapidly. Not to mention this cap could be for one child or several.

Trying to avoid sounding like the Marxist manifesto, but the problem our society has in general, is apathy. We have become cold and resentful in our struggle for survival at the hands of the wealthy who have turned us against one another.

Division between the social classes has become less obvious and more manipulative. The poor are not the reason we’re struggling. Benefit fraud has been proven time and time again to be miniscule in comparison to tax evasion and various banking and investment frauds.

Those who argue that those out of work should not be entitled to more money than themselves who are working hard to put food on the table are missing the point.

Those in work should be entitled to adequate boosts in income and those out of work should not be punished; even if they are as ‘feckless’ as the right make them out to be, surely their children should not be punished for this?

Childcare is as expensive as is it is difficult to find, and not everyone has the luxury of an accommodating extended family. The regulations on self-employment have been ravaged and thus closed off as a viable option for many single parents; not to mention finding an employer who is willing to give 16 contracted, flexible hours is about as viable as a D.U.P coalition.

Before the mess over the Iraq war, Blair became a modern political idol – with the invention of tax credits, Sure Start centres and various childcare provisions; for the first time children from all backgrounds were able to live without fear of abject poverty.

With the continuous increase in food bank usage, pay day loan companies making insane profits and children having what may be their only hot meal a day about to be taken from them – the next generation are growing up with a self-fulfilling prophecy to struggle, to fail and to resent.

We cannot keep up the venomous divide of bitterness between high earners, low earners and indeed, no earners. We have been thrown into the pit by said top earners and taught that we’re suffering because of the laziness of those less fortunate than us. Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t many people who do not want to support their children financially themselves, particularly given the stigma attached to claiming financial aid.

As with everything in society, we need to stand together and make it known we cannot and will not fall for the delusions put upon us by the government. We are all deserving, and one day you might have to be on benefits, whether with a small child, or because of illness or redundancy. If we do not stand up for everyone else, you may end up being told to ‘try harder’ and ‘stop being lazy’ or ‘wasting money’ whilst in a vulnerable position yourself.