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The Problem with the Benefit System

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When it comes to the benefit system here in the UK everyone appears to have his or her own take on it. There are those who believe some individuals and families are being given too many benefits and therefore an incentive not to work, and then there are those who believe that without these benefits some would slip into absolute poverty.

Only this year there was a huge debate about capping benefits for those claiming that saw an array of different opinions spouted out. I mean, who hasn't logged onto their Facebook or Twitter accounts and seen someone having a rant about supposed benefit scroungers and thieves, or that they aren't being given enough financial aid? But then what about those people who are living way below the breadline and simply cannot claim a penny?

Over the years I've been guilty myself of indulging in one of these rants about those on benefits, but more recently I have found myself without any form of support from working or through the benefit system.

Recently I published an article about how a number graduates were coming out of University and finding themselves without a job due them being overqualified or inexperienced. However in my case, as I'm sure is the case for many others, I wasn't always in this position.

Throughout my days as a student studying for my A level exams and my degree I worked. One job I had was as a part time cleaner, this was when I was 17 so any money earned was spent on clothes or going out. I then moved on to do a job that absolutely bored the living daylights out of me on a production line in a factory (which I did during my breaks from University and during the summer before.) But apart from sitting there and wishing the end of the world would hurry up I still worked, as I needed the money.

Now however I find myself without a job, without a student loan and without any rights to claim benefits, and because of this I regularly find myself without food.

Now you may be wondering why this is, because surely someone who has worked and needs to buy food, pay rent and other bills should be able to claim something? Well it turns out that whilst I did work throughout my A Levels and University, as I was a student I was exempt from paying tax, which now means that I can't claim. Secondly because my partner works full time he is expected to support me, which he does. But when one person's wages barely covers the bills where are you supposed to find the money for food and the bare essential to live?

These are issues I'm faced with on a daily basis and I'm sure there are others who have also been in a similar position. Now if I didn't live with my partner in my own house and lived with my parents I would be able to claim job seekers allowance, along with this I wouldn't have to pay rent or buy food or pay any bills therefore allowing me to do what I wanted with the money.

This all seems a little bizarre because surely someone who needs to pay bills is in more need of a little help financially than someone who isn't? Aside from this during one of my routine phone calls to find out why I was unable to claim any form of assistance an advisor told me that if my partner decided not to work then they could help us. Now am I wrong when I say this shouldn't be the kind of advice given to someone actively seeking employment, considering the role of the job centre is to get people off benefits and into the workplace?

It looks as though the benefit system in this country and its workers are a little confused on who needs help and what advice they need to give people (I have been told so many different things on several occasions by different members of staff.) Until this confusion is resolved and the claims made by people are assessed a little differently it looks as though those who are in desperate need of help will have to go without, whilst others will be afraid of entering the workplace as they will be worse off financially, therefore being left in the category of "benefit scrounger" despite the fact they probably aren't.