Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life on Benefits isn't a Life Choice

I listened to a radio phone in this morning and was on the verge of picking up the phone to call in.

The discussion was about David Cameron. The programme wanted to know how people rated him out of ten. It was on Radio Scotland and he's not rated very highly up here. I didn't feel compelled to phone in to talk about him though. Talking on the phone is painful at the best of times, so I wouldn't waste my energy phoning a radio show to give my former Prime Minister a big fat zero.

Then along came Edwina Currie with her views. (Yes, the Edwina Currie famous for eggs, salmonella and John Major). She sang David Cameron's praises. Then said, "he HAD to do something about benefits in the country. People were becoming too dependent on them. It's not right to give people benefits like that. Money should be spent on roads and things like that."

So that was when I was frantically looking for a phone number to call in to that radio show. That was when everything in my vision turned red. By the time I found a phone number, they had changed the discussion topic. Maybe just as well.

Most people who are dependent on benefits, are dependent on them because they have no other option.

The Welfare State was put in place as a safety net for the poor, the out of work, the sick and disabled (people like me) to live as normal a life as possible. A lifeline to enable us to eat. To live in a house like other people. To pay for essentials like clothing, heating and lighting. To enable us to still feel like valid members of society. But many politicians nowadays believe most of us are just dependent on those benefits because we want to be....a life choice. Because it's the easier option.

It is certainly not a life choice.

Believe me, if I could choose, I wouldn't choose a life on benefits. I would choose to wake up in the morning pain free, jump in the shower, get the kids ready for school while getting the laundry sorted, living room hoovered, kitchen floor mopped, then grab some breakfast while getting tonight's dinner into the slow cooker before heading to work.

I can't and never could choose to do those things because of my pain. I couldn't choose to have kids because of my pain. I couldn't continue working because of my pain. I can't put a foot out of bed without thinking how to do it best without making pain worse. "Grab some breakfast"......that is the only thing on that list that happens most days. On the other days, my husband has to grab breakfast for me.

Being on benefits is not a life choice for the majority of people, but time and time again, it is portrayed that way. What does the government want? Bring back workhouses? Send the sick and disabled into workhouses so they can spend welfare money on roads instead of on us, the unworthy lowlife of society? That is how we are made to feel.

As you'll have gathered, Edwina Currie's comments this morning hit a nerve.

I know many people like myself who depend on benefits and have no other option. We feel like the government wants to whip that safety net from under us. And it's not a nice feeling. Actually, it's a very frightening feeling.