Many countries around the World see the UK as a Welfare State gone mad. This presumably is because of what makes the news. The media searche for wild and dramatic stories usually staying away from the mundane.
For this blogger the UK welfare state offers a safety net for those in need, and this has been systematically abused by some. The fraudsters come from all age groups and walks of life. They tend to have no morals, it seems to me. After all if you fake illness in order to qualify for disability payments you are robbing the disabled. Without such rogues there would be more in the pot for the genuine cases.
As it is successive governments, especially Tory ones, have tried to cut welfare beneifts. In the end the genuine cases tend to suffer and the fraudsters prosper. Let's face it many of those people are adept at pulling a fast one.
Some countries rely more heavily on charities than the State but is that practical and should it be a preferred method?
Your view will depend upon your personal circumstances during your life. It will have been touched by that of your family and what you have learned from history. For those who would like to see the welfare state in the UK dismantled read on and see if that would still be your choice.
Born in the early 50s in Yorkshire this blogger was lucky enough to know the NHS. Founded in the 40s the NHS promised health care in the UK from the cradle to the grave. Listening to elderly relatives when I was young I soon realised this had not always been the case.
A great aunt of mine had become the woman of her household at the grand old age of 12. When her mother died that was as far as her schooling went. She had to be the home-maker for her father, two sisters and a brother. Never marrying she worked till her late sixties cleaning. Her limited education had prepared her for little else. The addition of my father, her nephew, to the household as a young child added an extra burden. Money became so tight that when in time she needed her teeth removing for dentures this was done without anaesthetic. After all that cost sixpence.
Visits to the doctor were few and far between in the post World War One period in the UK as that too cost. My Mum and her siblings were lucky as Grandad always had a job, working for British Rail. This meant that unlike classmates they also always wore shoes. In a Yorkshire city the climate is hardly temperate enough for bare feet. Sadly Grandad did not make old bones, in line with too many in my family. Who said hard work never killed anyone?
Mum did not walk for quite some time when she was young as she had Rickets. There was also a young brother who died. Such were the times.
Whilst there will be many younger people in the UK who think that the Welfare State should be a thing of the past they should consider all of this very carefully. The above is not meant as a sob story but just a small part of my family history. There is much more, some just as bad. It is meant however as enough to prove a point. That point is that you cannot rely on charitable money or Church donations.
The family were all church goers. Believers to the core. That did not help them when money was tight. Without the State they struggled to survive. They made it but not all can and not all do. Along the way children are too often damaged.
Charities do sterling work. They are vital in plugging the gap. They however not should be left to provide the only help. In times of financial trouble donations to churches and charities often dry up. Without a safety net many, including children, will face an uncertain future.
The family history above begins in early 1900 and does not improve until the 1940s with Welfare State legislation. The NHS and the Welfare State have saved many a soul. In the worldly way that is. The fact that it is now abused does not mean that it is a bad resource. Simply that we need to re think how to police it in line with 21st Century greed. It should be there for those who suddenly become unemployed, have to retire early through ill health and more. Expecting all people to provide for themselves does not work. We cannot all be highly paid medical professionals, for example. There will always be a need for people to work in the lower paid jobs. That should not exclude them from the basics of life.
However smug you may feel in your own life remember times can change. Unemployment, ill health, natural disasters and war are just a few of the events that can rapidly change your life for the worst.
If you are in the US you will no doubt agree. That is your prerogative. For me I have always worked but the fact that should the worst happen the NHS will provide healthcare, The State disability allowance and more helps me sleep at night.
This week it was the anniversary of Charles Dickens. We should never forget that his horror stories of Great Britain in the past were based on fact. People were thrown in jail for debts, they were sent to the poor house and the work house because a parent died and in general the poor were abused. That must stay a thing of the past and never return. So charities keep up the good work, as and when you can, but government leave our NHS and Welfare State alone please.
Related reading - Is Welfare really necessary?
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog