Transparent Benefits?

There is an interesting article on the BBC News this morning about a family on benefits and how they will be worse off under the proposed benefits cap.

At first glance, it is very easy to feel sorry for the family.  He is unable to find a job (and it is fair to assume that he has been trying to do so) and she is unable to work.

But then I read some of the comments and looked at the breakdown of spending in detail.  £15 a week on Sky TV? A substantial amount of beer and cigarettes?  Now, maybe I shouldn’t be so judgemental about what people spend their money on, but the comment about “eight people having to choose between eating and heating” doesn’t exactly hold water.

I’d also speculate that some of the teenagers have a part-time job.  Additionally, although we’re told that some of the children are from previous marriages, we’re not told anything about how much time they spend living with the other side of the family, nor what “maintenance” they might receive from them.  I don’t feel that we have been told the full story, and there is a lack of transparency in the report.

At the end of the day, there will be some people who are worse off under a benefit cap.  The important thing is to make sure that those who genuinely need the support are still provided with it and sensationalist reporting such as this article from the BBC only serves to cloud the issue.  To imply that this particular family are in danger of starving or freezing is not right, and could ultimately be quite irresponsible.  One of these days there will be a report about a family who don’t have the money to spend on copious amounts of beer, cigarettes or television and – not unlike the boy who cried wolf – they will be ignored by a population who have become understandably cynical.



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