I'm a single mother of one on benefits and I'm fed up having to defend myself against ignorant people who think I'm a benefit 'scrounger', that I'm lazy and using my child as an excuse not to go work.
Well let me tell you something, I am on benefits but I am also at college trying to get an education. I don't want to do a menial job like cleaning toilets for the rest of my life, I'm sure you wouldn't want to either.
At college there are some right stuck up students who have mummy and daddy pay for everything. I don't have that luxury, I have to pay for everything myself. I got asked how I manage to pay for my education and I replied honesty, because that's the kind of person I am, that I am on benefits. It caused a whole discussion about people who do jobs to pay taxes that go towards 'lazy' people on benefits, that they should go out and work, and that I'm one of them.
On one side I can understand their frustration that their parents work so someone else can sit at home but what they don't realise is that not everyone on benefits is like that. Benefits were originally intended to be short term, to help people in need until they found work and were able to provide their own income. Sadly the system is being abused and it doesn't help that some jobs pay minimum wage which is often less than what you would get from being on benefits. Some people on benefits are trying hard to find work but it is difficult especially with the economic downturn and that for single mothers finding adequate and affordable childcare is a challenge. Last summer I did a student job in a call centre, after two weeks of working there the call centre closed down, I was left jobless. Everywhere businesses cut corners and if they can avoid hiring new staff, they will. They are often reluctant to invest time (which for most equals money) to train new staff when they can get their old staff to take on multiple tasks.
The money I'm getting from the government I'm using to invest into my education so that after the 2 years I've got left to do at college, I can earn a degree and work. When I start working then I'll be paying taxes too. Who would you rather your money went to: a person who didn't want to work or a person who was trying every path to find a job? In my case the path I'm taking is through education. Without the support of benefits this would be near impossible. I've already had people suggest to me to do adult education in the evening, yes I could do this but then I'd have to take a low income menial job and cover the costs of childcare while I'm working/attending school. If I didn't have a child then I would certainly chose this route.
The fact I have a child was a huge factor in making the choice to go back to school during daytime hours. It means that I'm home when my son is home, that I can be a mother. I know some families where mum and dad work from 9 'til 5, their children are in care from when school finishes to the time mum and dad are home, then it's cook food, feed the kids and put them to bed. Sure these people earn a lot of money, but they lack time spent with their children. Children need their parents around to guide them, to raise them, to love them and to care for them. I've witnessed as a teacher in training what pupils can be like when they don't get enough attention from their parents, they try to get attention by any means which can often be negative such behaviours as disrupting class, back talking, vandalism of school/other people's property, bullying, causing fights, ... I could go on. If parents paid more attention to/time with their children maybe we wouldn't have so many frustrated and angry young people? If you want an extreme, I quote "extreme", case of this behaviour then look at the London riots.
So yeah to summarise: being on benefits is for me a temporary situation that will benefit me in the long term by helping achieve my goal in education. Education that will lead to work.
Next time you hear someone is on benefits don't be quick to assume things
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. "
P.S. sorry if that was a bit of a long rant, I just had to get it out my system
P.P.S. I should point out that there is nothing wrong with menial work, just for me it's not something I see myself doing for the rest of my life, only shot term and if there really is nothing else available. I've done menial work before.