The Philpott case should prompt debate about Britain’s underclass

4 April 2013

The Philpott case has already turned into a row about media reporting. You can see why. It is so much easier to argue about a newspaper front-page than to talk about the terrible underclass this country has created.

In a nutshell our problem is this. For hard-working couples, having children in 21st century Britain is unbelievably costly. Having been taxed at every turn of their lives they have to think extremely carefully about whether they can afford to have a child. Many will decide they cannot. Others will decide that they can but will spend endless nights worrying over how they are going to support the child they have brought into the world. If they find they can afford that first child they will still think very hard about whether they can afford a second, let alone a third.

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The cosmic joke is that at the same time that such couples are worrying about their bills, they will be paying money to encourage another group of people to have children with few such concerns. Of course most of this latter group do not live like millionaires. And naturally most do not burn their children to death. But there is a substantial class – or underclass – in this country which no longer shares the concerns of what used to be ordinary people.

If you think this is not an issue – like much of the political left – then you have to ask yourself a straightforward question. What is the long-term future for a country where responsible people are discouraged from having children and the irresponsible encouraged? And yes – it is not just irresponsible, but deeply, deeply irreponsible to bring a child into the world if you do not have the means to support that child, let alone no intention of obtaining such means. Of course some peoples’ circumstances change for the worse and the welfare state should be there precisely to support such people. But people who have no job and no prospect of getting one and yet have more children are bad and selfish people.

A simple reversal needs to take place so that people on welfare are dis-incentivised from having children and working couples are incentivised. Exactly how this should be done can be debated. But what should not be debated is that people on welfare should not just worry about having children as much as working couples do – they should worry about it far, far more. And that is not just because the cost of their actions ought to be higher, but because the cost of their actions is higher..

However, as the war against Iain Duncan Smith’s efforts has shown, this country appears unwilling to make such basic judgements. It often seems that we are going to have to hit the bottom and break completely before some people realise it needs fixing at all.

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Show comments
  • John leport

    I think England is beyond fixing, and any right minded person would look at other options. i myself am looking to perhaps move to Poland.
    I look at England now and think of thats scene in the film Eric the viking, where high Brazil is sinking.

  • JFT96

    Interesting that Philpott was a Tory voter…

  • Christopher Smith

    The fact is that it is no one’s human right to have a child. The state should encourage people to support children themselves and make it affordable, not give handouts. This is when socialist policies don’t work, when they take away from the responsibilities of the people and make them too reliant on the system.

  • Cumberland

    At the time when benefits were a safety net,a family on the lowest full time wage could manage to live, or keep body and soul together, on what one wage earner earned, if they had children family allowance was paid. Why did this change, why does government subsidise employers by partially supporting a family? Surely liberal left government intervention in all things is cause.

  • Simon Morgan

    Err, Douglas? I need help with Maggie Thatcher – the Left hate fest is full swing over at AM – where is your comment?????

  • Lisa Poole

    Living in a poor area is not how underclass was portrayed at all. Not working and having children regardless of that fact was the point here as was stated very clearly

  • Chatterclass

    This is a really interesting article on where benefits actually go. Before debating worth knowing the facts.

    • OffPiste

      Great article. But far too much reality for anyone on this forum to take it in.

      • Chatterclass

        I think people don’t want to know where benefits go because it would challenge their perception.

  • Frazer Glencross

    Douglas makes sevral very good points. People in work quite reasonably cut their cloth accordingly and often limit the size of their families due to finance yet if you are on benefit you get extra money, approx £62 per week, for every child you have without limit. It is grossly unfair, completely unreasonable, and has to stop. Maybe i should go to my boss if my girlfriend has a child and ask him for a £60 a week rise. I am confident i know what he would say.

  • Evil Zionist

    In Israel we have the same problem. Middle class hard working families are taxed to death and hardly have children at all while Ultra-orthodox, Arabs and low class families have all the children they want and are funded by the state. No wonder they are growing and the Middle Class is shrinking.

    The problem here is that the Middle class is the class that supports the country and keeps the economy going.

    • Daniel Maris

      Quite. I’ve noticed that trend in Israel as well. And not only that – but the Orthodox Jewish community doesn’t pull its weight on things like defence. Very similar .

  • Ytongs

    I agree with all of the comments about welfare posted here. I support the moves to close down the option of living on benefit. None are more vociferous than I, however.
    In the good old days people rivetted the sides of ships, mined coal, worked in steel mills, made cars. These jobs absorbed the most of those now claiming benefit.

    These jobs for endless reasons of overtaxing, overspending governments, bad management and union intransigence pushed up our standard of living to a point which could be supported, only for a few decades, by the economy.

    These jobs have gone to countries where governments tax less and people are prepared to work for less and these jobs will not to return. What is left is a welfare society that relies more and more upon a reducing number of people paying tax from a diminishing economic base.
    We paid for previous recessions by selling off “the family silver” as Macmillan called it then another with North Sea Oil. There’s nothing left to pay with. We are now trading upon our credit. There is no government of any hue capable of sorting this out. They wouldn’t dare. Any that try will have severe civil unrest to cope with. They will just keep the lid on it as long as they can.

    We will just keep on borrowing and paying and complaining and arguing about it till something exterior to the UK stops us.

  • splotchy

    Excellent article, sad that it should be necessary to have the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ situation of pointing out the very obvious.

  • Jon Newman

    I wonder how many wingnuts think Kate Middleton should have an abortion?

    After-all the taxpayer will be putting them up in massive house that Philpott could could dream of.

  • Jon Newman

    Because people never had large families before the vile welfare state.

    It was the vile NHS and free contraception that stopped poor people from large families that they couldn’t support.

    • Daniel Maris

      What’s your point? That single parents should be allowed to have as many children as they want, all to be completely supported financially by the state? Is that what you want?

  • Democritus

    Douglas Murray are you suggesting that the Philpotts are a representation of a large group of people in this country? called the underclass?

    Your article is full of half truths and crowd pleasing innuendo but sadly lacks any facts outside of your own little world, much like the outpourings of Osbourne, Cameron and IDS. Lets look at some of them.

    “Hard Working Couples” well that is straight from Conservative HQ. In the case of the Philpotts two out of the three adults were in full time work. The husband/partner in this domestic set up described himself as a house husband as he wasn’t registered as unemployed.

    So a couple with children where the husband works full time and the wife stays at home looking after the children is now some sort of abomination? because they are not a “hard working couple”?

    “many (of these hard working couples) will decide not to have children because of the high costs.” So can you explain why we have a shortage of primary school places as the birthrates have gone up higher than expected over the last five years? Indeed rather than “hard working couples” not having children they are having even more children as the birthrates are more prominent amongst middle income earners.

    The rest of your article is based on your flawed argument that “hard working couples ” are having less children.

    “The war against Iain Duncan Smith’s efforts has shown that this country appears unwilling to make basic judgements.”
    70% of the cuts introduced by IDS were against people in work. The slogan they keep using that “work should pay more” is empty rhetoric when they are making cuts to income and introducing charges to those in work.

  • zanzamander

    Mr Murray, may I call you Douglas? You, me – our’s is a dying breed. We are the last in line. Our lot is going the way of the Dodo. The meek shall indeed inherit the world.

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    We a should continue as we are, those that can will leave and those that can’t remain. Eventually we’ll end up with a third world UK that people can visit to see what socialism does to a rich nation.

    • Democritus

      But we haven’t got socialists in power. The present government are doing just fine destroying our country.

  • Simon Fay

    “The cosmic joke is that at the same time that such couples are worrying about their bills…”

    Yes, a sick joke that I fell for, struggling to find and hold down work in a very much more complicated and volatile world than my parents knew during their working years. I rather wish I’d joined the Underclass twenty years ago.

  • OffPiste

    There’s a lot of hate on here today. It’s sad to see.

    • Daniel Maris

      There was a lot of hate in the Philpott household. I am talking about creating and maintaining a good, civilised society, not one that rewards bad behaviour.

      • OffPiste

        Rewarded for bad behavior? Please, do stop this ridiculous over privileged nonsense.
        The man will probably never be released from prison. In what puffed up,
        middle-class world is that being rewarded? No one on this forum has even
        mention the six child that died. It’s all just – if you haven’t made
        it in life then you just didn’t want it enough – How dare you fall back on the well-fare state. We hate you for it.
        Hate, hate, hate.

        • Mark Turner

          I think you will find hate is a lefty thing. What you see here is mostly people fed up because they could see this problem coming and when they tried to point it out they were shouted down by the ever so clever left. You will see the same occurred over mass immigration.

          Can you not see that although he was punished for manslaughter, he was initially rewarded by the amount of children he sired. You are willfully mixing them up to make a point. Plenty of people fall back on the welfare state myself included, I don’t hate the welfare state but I do think it needs to change. As for mentioning the six children, do you think that every post should have a little memorial statement before they post on the welfare problem? I see you didn’t feel the need to mention the six children in your first two posts, does that make you heartless?

          No I don’t see hate hate hate more despair despair despair at the mess that the bien pensant left has done to the country.

  • Sam

    Given that the world population is continuing to spiral out of control — we add an entire new Canada’s worth of people to the world every 6 months — and the Earth will not be able to support us, I don’t think anyone should be encouraged to have more than 2 children. The question is how can this be achieved ethically?

    • trinidad_tobacco

      How do you know that the Earth will not be able to support us? Can you prove it?

  • Yvonne De Carlo

    Redundancy can befall anybody – regardless of the size of the family

    • Daniel Maris

      We’re talking about family formation here.

  • andagain

    Why is it irresponsible to have a child that you know someone else will pay to support? It may be unfair on the taxpayers, but you do know that the child will be supported.

    • Carl Thomas

      Expecting other people to pay for your actions is irresponsible as you’re ignoring your responsibilities.

      Ignoring responsibilities, in this case to support your own children rather than expecting other people to, is by definition irresponsible.

      • Democritus

        So couples on £300,000 plus are irresponsible to have state subsidised child care? Yes I agree with that

        • Carl Thomas

          Shame I neither said nor implied that, but a nice try.

    • Mark Turner

      It’s irresponsible of me to spend money on another car when I cant afford it, would you like to send me some money I promise the car will be well looked after.

      • andagain

        No. But if you offer to give me money to buy a car with, it would be perfectly sensible of me to accept the offer.

        • Mark Turner

          But that was not the point of your post. I actually agree, of course it’s sensible to accept money but it is irresponsible they way he went about it.

          • andagain

            I think we are using different meanings for the word “responsible”. I would not call it irresponsible to have children as long as you are able to bring them up and can afford to do so. Because of the way the benefits system works, there are probably a lot of people who would be irresponsible to go to work – they would be away from their children more and have no more money with which to pay for their upkeep.

  • darwins beard

    Sorry did people not have children before the benefits system ?

    • Democritus

      yes but the underclass used to eat their babies.

      • Lisa Poole

        Underclass and poor were not specified as one of the same

  • Austin Barry

    “But people who have no job and no prospect of getting one and yet have more children are bad and selfish people.”

    Yes, and preternaturally stupid. The Welfare State is, by encouraging the feckless and stupid to breed, helping the gene pool down the evolutionary ladder, as the London Riots suggest.

    • Democritus

      “But people who have no job and no prospect of getting one”

      Accounts for a tiny minority of the unemployed. There are currently 170,000 people who have been unemployed for longer than two years. In 2010 the figure was 32,000

      “helping the gene pool down the evolutionary ladder, as the London Riots suggest.”

      The Guardian did a survey of all those that were sentenced and found many had lower than average IQ. All that proves is that the more intelligent people were less likely to get caught.

      • Teacher

        Or it suggests they don’t want to be criminals.

    • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

      Darwinian evolution in reverse. There should be a name for that.

  • Karla

    If only those immigrants at Derby from India and Pakistan weren’t stealing the jobs that were supposed and should had gone to the Philpotts.

    • Democritus

      only one of the philpott household was not in work and he described himself as a house husband. This is the sort of factless moronic outpourings that we always get with such sensationalised stories.

      • Karla

        There are a little too many Mohammedans (Moslems) in Derby, which is a fact. Ten thousand in Derby is probably five thousand too many.

        • Democritus

          Your racism has nothing to do with the article. 2 out of 3 of the Philpotts were in work! The 3rd lived off the other two. Perhaps you were friends with the philpotts?

          • Karla

            No, I am only a good patriot against the Mohammedanisation of England.

        • Dalek_1963

          “Ten thousand in Derby is probably five thousand too many”

          Ten thousand in Derby is ten thousand too many

          • Karla

            I am not an intolerant person. I am not calling for a full expulsion.

      • Guest

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    UK trash culture: What else do you need to know?
    Britain’s social ills are not your responsibility, so take steps to ensure they are no longer your problem.
    Hate it and leave it, Britisher pals.
    Jack, Japan Alps

  • Daniel Maris

    There are a number of urgent requirements:

    1. Placing limits on child benefit. It should be made more generous but should be the same for both one and two children and should reduce by 20% if there is a third child. There should be no child benefit for a fourth child but the presumption would be that such a child would be placed for adoption if the parents are unable to support the child financially.

    2. Babies born to drug addicts and alcoholics should be placed for adoption.

    3. There should be a conveyor belt from school to work.

    4. Single mothers under 25 should have to accept the state as co-parent and move into supervised accommodation until 25, where the mother’s commitment to good parenting and the welfare of the child will be closely monitored. This will be a powerful disincentive to choosing the single parent lifestyle.

    5. The above rules should be made clear to children in schools from age 11 onwards.

    Do all the above and you will greatly shrink the underclass within 20 years.

    • SuzPa

      I guess I would have been one of those mothers (by accident) that you would of made co-parent with the state. The very thought of the state (and some of the idiots and perverts in it) having control over me and the way I chose to bring up my child fills me with horror. I chose to stay with, breast-feed, care, teach and protect my child because to me that was the most important and only moral thing to do, but then maybe my morality was skewed and I should have abandoned my child to crap unsafe daycare in the more important moral value of making money? Now my (caring and non-dysfunctional) child and I both pay back into the system.
      As someone who is taxed to the hilt now I understand the anger but am slightly worried by the “poor people not being allowed to breed” argument especially in a society where social mobility is well nigh impossible. You are effectively saying to someone born in a crap area with crap schooling and whose only prospect is a crappy low-paid job that you are a bad and selfish person to want and have a child.

      • trinidad_tobacco

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. The issue is of course more nuanced.

        It’s not a question of allowing or disallowing the poor to “breed”. But you’ll have to agree is that the current system is all of “rights” with absolutely no responsibilities.

        Whoever gets taxpayer help with their children – as a “right” – should also give something up in return. Something valuable. Such as the right to have MORE children, while on taxpayer support.

        At the moment the situation is that the underclass makes a lot more kids than the tax payers, because they are subsidised to do so by people who can’t afford to have [as many] kids themselves. This situation is scandalous.

        • SuzPa

          I agree with welfare reform I just don’t think a lot of these people are bad and selfish. Unlucky, disengaged through an inability to see a way forward and a bit feckless maybe.
          I see MPs and MEPs with their expenses and their large donations of taxpayers money to dodgy aid budgets as bad and selfish. They have more choices and should really know better.

          • Daniel Maris

            I never said single mothers on welfare are bad or selfish. They are often making the best decision for themselves and their babies under the current set-up.

            I am arguing for a system that allows and expects people to work and then supports them generously if they are on low incomes. It will be a lot easier to do that if we get people off welfare.

            • SuzPa

              I was meaning the comment by Douglas Murray (who I otherwise greatly admire) that it is bad and selfish for people to have children when they have no prospects of a job or can’t afford them. Let’s face it some people working hard 7 days a week in low paid jobs will still never ever earn enough to support a household and child at the moment. I don’t mean multitudes of children (Personally I think that would be some form of masochism).

              • Simon Morgan

                Times have changed, as Douglas Murray says. Pre war it would not have occurred to anyone to have a child unless they knew they could provide for it. Now that doesn’t even enter the heads of people living on welfare. ‘Welfare’ is seen as something the local council just hands out. There is no recognition that it is actually sourced from the real ‘working’ class.

                • SuzPa

                  I agree with that. It doesn’t occur to people where the money is coming from but there was also in the past more shame and fear around altogether. Shame for not being able to provide, shame for being a pregnant single woman, shame for various other things that resulted in a lot of misery/suicide. It was more complex then and is so now. As I said before I agree with welfare reform but I don’t think it will stop a lot of these families from having children.

                • Simon Morgan

                  You will be right in suggesting that welfare reform will have little effect on the ‘baby bonus’, unless people are forced to behave in a more responsible manner. That will never happen under Labor at any level of government, and it’s probably the case that the Tories and Lib Dems will only tinker at the edges. Any major reform of welfare, however much it is needed, is a vote loser. Perhaps what we all need is more shame?

            • Democritus

              40% of the welfare bill is spent on retired people. Another 30% is spent on people who are employed. The system already supports those on low incomes who are employed. This is why the recent changes by the chancellor are so wrong. 70% of those effected by the recent changes are in work.

              As I stated above the idea that the figure of 2.5m unemployed are the same people year in year out is absolute rubbish. In January the number of people that had been unemployed for more than two years was 160,000 which is the highest since 1999. In 2010 the figure was 32,000.

              The reason why there are 2.5m unemployed and 172,000 long term unemployed is because we are in the longest deepest recession in history. If we really want to reduce welfare dependency then George Osborne, rather than demonising people, should be putting forward policies to get the country out of recession.

              All this talk of welfare is a smoke screen to hide an inadequate chancellor and his disastrous policies

              • Daniel Maris

                Well your comments are reasonable. We need to get everything in context. However, to quibble about your stats: how many people are in an out of employment (AKA playing the system). It seems the Philpott “wives” would be sent off to work occasionally.

                I think also you are underestimating how much the dysfunctional families cost us in terms of social work, court time, probation officers and so on.

            • Swank

              There shouldn’t be so many single mothers. This is the nightmare that de-valuing marriage has wrought.

        • Democritus

          Do you have proof that people on welfare have more children than those not on welfare? There is a lot of so called facts flying around in this debate that aren’t always real. This thread is about one individual case that is not normal in any way. However the two mothers were both tax payers and none of them were unemployed.

          The other issue is this belief that those unemployed or in receipt of benefits is fixed ie the same people year in year out. It’s not, it is very fluid with different people coming onto and leaving the unemployed register on average about every 4 to 12 months. The same goes for in work benefits although at a slower rate. Calling this group an under class is insulting and factually incorrect.

      • Daniel Maris

        I meant to say single mothers dependent on the welfare of the state.

        Were you under 25 and dependent on welfare? If so, that is irresponsible.

        That’s the idea: it should fill you with horror and you would be deterred from becoming pregnant.

        It is not a question of poor people not being allowed to breed. Two children is plenty of breeding and lots of people have to limit themselves to two children for financial reasons, though they would dearly love to have more. But they are responsible.

        You’ll see I made clear that there should be a guarantee of employment for all school leavers – so you can forget the “no prospects” argument.

        • SuzPa

          Believe me , I was already filled with horror at the idea of becoming pregnant! It was not a lifestyle choice. How would you guarantee employment for all school leavers? The reality is that a lot of these people (not as it happened me) at the moment have no prospects.

          • Daniel Maris


            Well, since you raise the subject one has to ask: how on earth you didn’t know about contraception in this day and age?

            • SuzPa

              I didn’t raise the subject but feel I should inform you (in case of complacency) It’s not 100% effective.

          • ChrisVikernes

            As long as there is no standard of morality in the system those with no prospect will see dependency through breeding as a lifestyle choice. It needs to be stamped out now, this country’s gone to the dogs.

            • Donafugata

              Agreed but it is impossible to turn back the clock. Years ago shame did help to make a lot of people responsible but that no longer works.

              Single mothers, MPs fiddling expenses, bankers,celebrities, there really is nothing to deter anyone from taking advantage whenever the opportunity arises. Disgrace and shame are extinct.

        • SuzPa

          Also, why would you make my child suffer from a state upbringing because of my sins?

          • Daniel Maris

            We are talking averages here. If we obliged young single mums on welfare to live in supervised accommodation we will be able to ensure the infants get proper nutrition, aren’t left alone while Mum goes clubbing and receive proper stimulation as they grow up to aid cognitive development.

            Sounds like you are bound to the silly sentimental idea that mum is always best. Lots of mums neglect their children, fail to supply their nutritional needs and have no particular interest in their development.

            • SuzPa

              Sounds like you are bound to the silly sentimental idea that the state is always best. Scary!

        • Democritus

          “Two children is plenty of breeding”

          Only as long as both those children live into adulthood and most of their working lives.

          The biggest problem we have in this country is old age. For those in retirement to be supported we need a large workforce. encouraging less births and therefore less workers means the numbers of pensioners will need to decrease. Perhaps Euthanasia at 70?

        • ChrisVikernes

          House them in dorms- why should they be given homes? That should be a privelege of those that succeed. A roof over the head of anyone choosing a life of dependence is all the state should be obliged to offer

          • Donafugata

            You have a point there.
            In the “bad old days” a young woman who got pregnant would either be taken care of by her family or, if unsupported, she went to a mother and baby home and lived in a dorm, as you suggest.

            Today this would be regarded as a violation of human rights, or something but it did keep accidental pregnancies to a minimum.

            The massive explosion of single mothers is a result of them getting a council flat and generous benefits.

            It’s the same story with immigrants but who can blame them – they are only taking what the system offers.

        • Swank

          The very thought of being pregnant would fill me with horror. But it’s not the sensitive, the delicate, and the thoughtful that are making the welfare state burst at the seams….

    • Tanya Gold

      So you essentially want to imprison [ital] single mothers? And do you refer to using or non-using alcoholics?

    • Jon Newman

      Ahh yes, The ultimate nanny state!

      • Democritus

        I just watched the film “Somebody has stolen our dinosaur” The Disney version of the nanny state!!!

    • Democritus

      Considering the number of children that are awaiting adoption in this country far outweighs demand what you are proposing would lead to children living in a care system and/or moved from one foster home to another.

      What about Families on middle or higher incomes? Although they may not be in receipt of child benefit now nobody can predict the future. If they fall on hard times would your system remove one or more children if they had too many?

      As I’m sure you are aware the philpott family were in no way representative of anything. The term underclass is ridiculous as many who grew up in poverty have in adult years proven that to be a myth. Class in modern Britain is far more fluid as people move up the social ladder so others move down.

      Your issue with single mothers is rather odd. If a woman under 25 is in a steady relationship and has a baby and later that relationship ends, she should be punished by being moved into supervised accommodation? No mention of the father or his responsibilities? Of course a woman under 25 should make sure that the relationship doesn’t end even if her partner is unreasonable, abusive, started taking drugs/drinking etc, she will have the choice to stay with him or face restrictions by the state?

      What you are proposing comes close to what the peoples republic of china instigated 30 years ago.

      Are you aware of how modern social services operates? Drug addicts/alcoholics/ certain mental illness are already monitored and children every day are removed in the interests and safety of the child.

      “3. There should be a conveyor belt from school to work.”

      Brilliant, another communist ideal. Unfortunately the UK is not a communist country, we have capitalism and the free market with boom and bust. And thankfully so, the idea of having to wait 10 years for your first car and receiving a Lada is more than most could bare. There are presently 2.5m unemployed, they are not out of work because they are lazy or feckless or an underclass. You may not have noticed but we are in the middle of a recession, the economy grew 0.1% last year and although pay rises were on average below inflation they were far more than the rise in productivity.

      During recessions unemployment tends to rise and when recessions end unemployment falls. Now this where people who push this underclass claptrap fall down. Such an underclass obviously is out of work, living their whole lives off state handouts. Well actually there are relatively few that live in this way. The number of long term unemployed is actually quite tiny. Today their are 170,000 people who have been unemployed for over two years. Three years ago there were 32,000. Now the question is how many of those 32,000 are still unemployed today? You see figures such as this don’t tell the whole story as with the unemployment figure of 2.5m. yesterday 2.5m were unemployed, today the same number but are they all the same people? As the average time spent unemployed is eight months the answer is of course they are not all the same people.

  • FrankS

    Welfare dependency should not be considered in isolation.
    As little as 40 years ago, it was quite usual for a couple in their 20s to start a family funded by just one average full time income, buying a house on a mortgage from a frugally minded building society, and with little assistance from the state – I think there was something fairly modest called family allowance.
    Nowadays that is pretty well impossible. Families on well above average incomes expect – and arguably need – child benefit, and low-cost child care is demanded so that both parents can work full time.
    The alternative is to enter the welfare system full time, where cash and benefits in kind are handed out purely on the basis of perceived need.
    This is an enormous change in the space of less than two generations, and has spawned a mindset where some kind of state benefit is seen as a normal part of life for people prosperous and poor.

    How did the economy come to be so skewed? Did no one “in charge” foresee this?

    • manonthebus

      I think there are a number of reasons, but for one, the high cost of childcare, the answer is simple. Mothers demanded more and more regulation and got it. The cost goes on the bill to the mother. It’s called ‘life’.

      • Democritus

        The majority of laws in this country including child safety are drawn up by men.

        • DougS

          The majority of laws that apply to this country are not made in this country, but in the anti democratic, unelected troughers of the EU!

    • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

      Two major factors I think, increasing demand for housing for single people due to higher divorce rates and immigration forcing up house prices

      We can do something about one of those things but not the other, I suggest we limit immigration only to experts in their field and the very rich.

      • Democritus

        80% of those that divorce remarry and only 10% of those go through a second divorce. The reason why we haven’t got enough homes is because they are not being built. Building companies such as Barretts are not going to build houses they can’t sell. with banks refusing loans and mortgages the market is flat. All the major house building companies are sitting on billions of acres of prime land with planning permissions.

        • Sue Ward

          I’d like to see your figures for that. I was under the impression that second marriages have a higher failure rate than first marriages?

    • martin_lowe

      The economy became so skewed because not enough homes were built to meet demand.

      Lack of supply led to the cost of housing rocketing – so much so that most need a dual income to afford mortgage payments, or Housing Benefit to afford the rent.

      And this brings us to the elephant in the room – the cost to the taxpayer of Housing Benefit (which is the second-largest UK social security expenditure after pensions, and dwarfs items like Jobseekers’ Allowance or Family Tax Credits).

      Housing Benefit is essentially a subsidy to landlords, and is the easiest thing to cut in conjunction with imposing rent controls. Unfortunately landlords today are either large corporations with property portfolios or they are Conservative voters, so we’ll continue to tinker at the edges rather than make a real difference to social security expenditure.

      • FrankS

        As you say, housing benefit is a subsidy to landlords (including providers of ‘social housing’). But the level of rent that makes housing benefit necessary is a result of the inflated housing market – the same thing that takes two wage earners to pay the mortgage.

        Lack of supply doesn’t act on its own – prices rise to absorb the money available. Profligate lending has fueled this – if building societies (as they used to be) had made stringently cautious valuations and lent accordingly, the money to ramp up prices would’nt have been there.
        Similarly tax credits appear to be a way of subsidising low paid jobs.
        But the trouble with the extent of welfare is not just the expense, but the fact that it makes swathes of people in full time employment dependent to some extent on the state.

      • Donafugata

        The expenses scandal revealed that MPs across the political spectrum have acquired considerable propert portfolios for themselves. There was much flipping by the Balls Cooper duo and surely you haven’t forgotten a certain Jackie Smith.

        They have all profitted from the house price boom and that is why no-one should expect legislation to control rents, too many MPs have become BTL landlords.

    • v_3

      But 40 years ago families were not paying for the internet, cell phones or other electronic gadgets. Also, not every middle class family sent their children to university (those tuition fees have to be recovered in future salaries)

      Life was simpler, as it was before electricity or when we all lived in caves wearing skins.

    • Swank

      Britain is a spectacularly mismanaged country, having given up on common sense and the simple calculations of incomings v. outgoings. That, and most of the brighter non-elite left the country, beginning in the early 70s.

  • darwins beard

    At last the most common sense and coherent argument out of this quagmire that is purposely been muddied by the likes of Owen Jones and Ed balls.

  • Julieann Carter

    One of the problems is that there is no real consequences to pay for those who do get found out for fraudulently claiming benefits. Except in extreme cases, one will get prosecuted for stealing say, a pair of shoes from a shop; but will not for 100’s/1000’s pounds of benefit fraud. They simply have to pay it back per week, in very small amounts. And can continue claiming benefits. This is a problem, according to a housing benefit officer I know. Also, maintenance payments, including spousel, are not taking into consideration when awarding housing benefit. A recent case where a woman was in receipt of £2000 per month from her millionaire ex, could still claim HB. The government is just giving it away. Another factor, I’m told, is the culture today. Not so many scruples to be found.

    • Democritus

      What absolute rubbish. If a person commits an offence of theft (or anything else) and is fined their income is taken into account and a magistrate can order an “attachment of earnings” (which includes benefits) and take an amount on a weekly/monthly basis. Most so called fraud is actually overpayments because the claimant has not supplied updated information. In these cases an attachment to their benefits is made. All income a claimant receives has to be declared. If income is above income support levels housing benefit is reduced pound for pound.

      • Frazer Glencross

        Not rubbish, I used to work in a department at DWP dealing with overpayments and have seen dozens of cases where people have fraudulently obtained benefits to the tune of 20, 30 sometimes 40 thousand and not received a custodial sentence. It does happen, but rarely. I have also seen those same cases where they have had to pay back overpayments at as low as £2.00 per week. Not bad eh? Steal 40 grand, get a suspended sentence and pay it back at £2 a week. It’s not exactly a deterrent is it?

  • chris_______________

    There is a simple solution. Have benefits taper-off after a certain time period. In the US they fall to zero after six months. A UK version could see benefits fall from £71 to £51 after six months and £41 after one year – as an example. That means that people in need still get full support. But people trying to make a career out of benefits won’t get far.
    I’m nearing mid-30s, and am still unsure if I can afford kids, some of my slightly older friends now find they can’t conceive – a severe price for being responsible.

  • Noa

    I suggest it should also prompt debate about forcible castration and capital punishment.

    But all debate about the Bill Sykes of our time, the welfare culture they were spawned in and any remedies proposed will be nothing more than embittered taxpayer’s rantings.

    • Jon Newman

      Hitler tried that and look how it ended for him,.

    • Democritus

      We all are tax payers.

      • Ridcully

        I’d be interested to know what you actually do to pay tax, considering how you seem to have so much free time to post so incontinently. Or is this your full-time job?

  • Eloise Konieczko


    • FrankS

      Sleep well, dearie!

  • Lesley-Anne Brewster

    raising children is work. Hard work.

    • C Cole

      I don’t think anyone’s disputing that. But at the same time, I hope your implication isn’t that the state, meaning the taxpayer, should pay people to have children – which is effectively what’s happening now.

  • tom w huxley

    As with economic matters, Howard Flight has proved far more prescient on this than the political class that condemned him for it.

  • John Lea

    Even if the country implodes, it won’t change the mindset of the middle-class left, because they won’t be touched by the fallout. The champagne socialists who denouce IDS tend to live in leafy suburban areas which are free of crime and social blight, and work in comfy universities, law offices or government departments. They don’t live anywhere near the likes of the Philpotts, or the sink estates which breed such lowlife. The only people who will suffer are the ones who suffer already: good people who live in rundown areas – many of them working for very little, some retired – who cannot afford to move away.

    • trinidad_tobacco

      All tax payers suffer, through increasingly onerous taxes.

      Of course, those who get their money from the state (their purchasing power is usually much better protected – see the final salary pensions or the public sector pay rises far higher than in the private sector) or those who get their money through state collusion (thus getting a lot) don’t care much about it.

      The actual victims are the workers in the private sector who depend on voluntary transactions. They are the ones who have to pay the most, who take the most risk, and who have to worry the most about paying for all the above plus the underclass.

      • Democritus

        everyone pays taxes. The ones who pay the least have their money squirrelled away in tax havens or spend half the year out of the country.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Agreed. I can see Polly Toynbee sticking her fingers in her ears and singing la la la as we speak.

      • Ridcully

        As is Alex Massie.

        • Simon Morgan

          Yes- I think he still believes that money grows on trees, bless him.

    • Democritus

      Yes and they are tarring everyone one ,with the same brush. You live in a poor area you are the underclass. Can’t you see what this emotive language is trying to do?

    • Frazer Glencross

      Very well said John. i managed to move away but many poor sods can’t.

    • terregles2

      Think it a bit of a sweeping generalisation to say that the leafy suburbs only have champagne socialists living there.
      I live in an affluent area of my city which includes many large detached properties but very few socialists. In recent years many of the houses have been purchased by the ” buy to let landlords “. This has resulted in a dramatic change in the area. We now have many large groups of people passing through. who leave litter in their gardens and the houses are not properly maintained. We now have a rising crime rate as some of the new residents are heavily involved in car crime and stealing metal. Children now run around the roads till all hours at night.
      The landlords don’t care as the rents are paid. In spite of living in a very good area we could quite easily have a Philpott nightmare next door.
      It all seems to have turned into an equal opportunity socialist dream.

  • Chris Harker

    Changes need to come from the top. This article and Gideon’s recent statement are part of a Tory attack on benefits claimants; demonising the poor to distract from the real reasons for such poverty of wealth and morality in the first place; the flagrant abuses going on in the upper classes. who are only in it for themselves and their chums.

    • Noa

      And you propose …what, exactly?

    • Colonel Mustard

      And the Labour government did what exactly to change this situation from the top from 1997 to 2010? 13 years! Invite the Gallagher brothers to No.10? Take a guitar to Chequers? Go to war? Preside over a secretive policy of mass immigration to displace the English?

      • Shazza

        You forgot to mention that it only took 13 years of Labour misrule, to turn a solvent, first world country into a near bankrupt, third world country.

        • OffPiste

          Bankrupt? Third World? You should be embarrassed by that. Lest we not forget the bailout of a corrupt banking and financial sector that our children’s children will still be paying for.

          • trinidad_tobacco

            The current 1.2tr pounds of debt (expected to rise to 1.6tr during the course of this government) has not one penny of the much-hated bailouts*.

            This debt is fuelled by the systematic mis-management of public finances and the state spending significantly more than it can afford to, year after year.

            *Please note, I am against such bailouts. In my opinion only the small depositors should have been protected (as was legally provisioned).

          • Shazza

            Yup, caused by Brown’s (Labour) credit fueled boom, spend and borrow, off balance sheet debt, gross enlargement of the public sector not to mention importing hordes of third world immigrants (future Labour voters) – the Labour Party aka weapon of mass destruction – Boom – borders, public finances, NHS (Staffordshire, health tourists, etc.), education, freedom of speech, It was Brown who bailed out the banks – look at Iceland now, no bailout and they are booming. Third world postal vote fraud, third world ghettoes aka no-go white areas. Take the rose coloured specs off and yes, your children and children’s children will be paying for it – they will be so thankful, your daughters as they gaze upon this through their burkas (freedom sacks) and go down to the local square on Saturday afternoons to watch the stonings/beheadings etc. that will replace the Premier League..

            • Democritus

              in 2007 the UK had the second lowest debt in the G7. in 2009 (after bailing out the banks) we had the 3rd highest debt. Today we have the most debt of the G7.

        • Democritus

          Yes what a terrible job Labour did, halving unemployment, doubling GDP and reducing debt until the bankers crashed. What has this Government done? tripled unemployment, borrowed three times more than the last government. drove the economy back into recession.

      • Democritus

        “And the Labour government did what exactly to change this situation from the top from 1997 to 2010?”

        Low unemployment? This government talks about hard working people and demonises the unemployed of 2.5m. The last time unemployment was so high was in 1993 under John Major’s Tory goverment.

    • darwins beard

      Im glad we have the torys to blame for this new thing called crime and immorality, thank you for opening my eyes.

      Next time I’m at a cash machine at night I wont be looking over my shoulder for chavs, its the Bullingdon boys on a night out that are the real danger

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