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Where Is Benefits Street

January 22, 2014

Somebody posed a question on Twitter a few months ago and that was ‘If you were a young Mum did you ever stop being a young Mum?’ For me that’s an easy question to answer and that’s no, I am still a single Mum in my mind, even though my children are grown up. I suppose it’s like class and status do you ever move up the ladder or do you just appear too? For example I’ve seen several people on Twitter who to me seem like middle class state that they are working class. Are some things intrinsically part of you know matter how far you distance yourself from them physically?

My friends and I lived on our council estate bringing our children up together and over the years our lives have separated I no-longer live on the estate though my financial situation is worse than some that remained and better than others, you don’t have to be out of work or live on a council estate to be on benefits or poor, you just escape some of the stigma if you’re lucky, hiding in your privately rented house amongst the owner occupiers you could nearly become one of them. I wonder what’s more important you knowing or others? Mind you everyone in that row of seemingly owner occupier houses could be claiming benefits believing they’re better than those on actual Benefits Street, or they could praying that the neighbours don’t find out because well just because.

Now myself and friends have adult children and are now becoming Grandparents and I just witnessed a Facebook attack on one of these children because of the money they are spending on their child. She is a full-time mum living with her working boyfriend who owns his own house but she is still seen as one of those kids off the estate with the single Mother. Apparently she still lives there. Benefits Street isn’t just a place, isn’t just the place the unwanted are sent to, isn’t the purgatory that some want it to be. I think people like to think that generations upon generations of work-shy people live on Benefits Streets because that way they can pretend that they wont end up there themselves, because they’re better than that, deserve better than that. The reality they see is that it’s hard to move from Benefits Street literally and figuratively and the reality they avoid is that is that anyone can end up there through no fault of their own like illness, redundancy and through other events out of their control, as well as consequences of mistakes that we all make throughout our lives.

I’ve decided to try (and it’s surprisingly hard) and not to judge my successes by others successes, or failures for that matter, seeing others fail does not make me a success and vice versa. Having a job, claiming no benefits or owning your own home doesn’t mean you’re more deserving or necessarily¬†harder working, it doesn’t make you a superior being, it’s a difference just as being healthy and unhealthy is. One day those hating on those ‘Others’ on Benefits Street will be collecting their pensions, their pensions that they’ve worked hard for and deserve but is still a benefit when all is said and done if you want to argue that point; but this benefit is paid from a pot that we ALL pay into through VAT, income tax, fuel duty, duty on alcohol and cigarettes, council tax, income tax and so on and we all take out of the system from birth to death, what is fair about this system is each according to their need , it’s not about amount it’s about support, you get the minimum amount you need to live on and no more.

Where is Benefits Street? It’s everywhere, as wages freeze and rents rise the minimum amount needed to live on becomes harder to get hold of and the need for support is going to grow. It’s an employers market they have control as do the landlords and anyone with money, it talks you know money and it says if you don’t have me no-one has to listen to you and they wont and those with money will try to persuade you that you deserve this and the really sad thing is you might believe them.

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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy

feministmeup

Lady things, explained.

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"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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