A timely reminder
by Elias Blum
I saw this on a comment made underneath a Wings Over Scotland post, and I thought that it was worth quickly re-posting here. This is a well-put, significant, truthful and timely reminder of the basics: the principle of reciprocity that should be at the root of a working social security system
Robert Louis says:
Something which so far I have see no mainstream media mention in relation to this right wing ‘welfare bashing’, is the way the system used to work.
Many years ago, I worked a lot, but on occasion I would be unemployed, but not of course through choice. In such circumstances, I would go the unemployment office, and tell them of my circumstances, and regardless of how many jobs I was applying for or writing for, IF I had paid enough National Insurance contributions over the previous two years, I would automatically qualify for what was termed unemployment benefit.
IF however, I hadn’t been working very much in the last two years, and hadn’t paid in enough National Insurance contributions, then I would simply NOT get unemployment benefit. Sound harsh?? No, not really, because if I didn’t qualify for Unemployment benefit, then I would receive what was called supplementary benefit instead (with its own whole new set of forms etc..). Supplementary benefit was paid at a lower rate than unemployment benefit, so there was a clear advantage to having been in regular work.
The point of telling this however, is simply this, it was NOT a something for nothing system. I paid my national insurance which provided unemployment benefit if I lost my job. The clue is in the name ‘National INSURANCE’.
Now both Labour and their cousins the Tories seem to have spun an entire population to think that such benefits are for scroungers. They simply are not. It is partly what National insurance is for.
There was what you might term a contract between worker and state, you made sure you paid N.I (your stamp, as it was), and when you lost a job, you automatically got UB. As it was something you had effectively paid for, although there was help to find a job, there was none of the bullying and working for nothing that happens now.
People in the UK have effectively been cheated by both Labour and Tories from getting things which they pay for. So far as I know people in the UK still pay National Insurance, so UB is simply NOT a freebie. It is NOT something for nothing, as Labour’s Johan Lamont likes to say.