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Friday 5 April 2013

Benefits Lifestyle – The Sad Truth

The furore over the case of Mick Philpott and his extended family has brought forth some truly desperate scaremongering not just from the usual suspects in the Fourth Estate, but also – sadly and reprehensibly – from the Prime Minister and his Chancellor of the Exchequer. Living on benefits is being increasingly touted as some kind of “lifestyle choice”. The facts do not agree.

Young Dave, who along with wife Samantha is said to be worth several million notes, and The Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, also worth a seven figure sum, do not appear to have done their sums. Zelo Street has, and the numbers are not sufficient to support a half decent lifestyle, let alone a lavish one, as some pundits are suggesting.

When the six children who died in the fire, and the five of his mistress, were all living at the Philpott home, the child benefit, which admittedly was paid into Mick Philpott’s own account, would at today’s levels have totalled just over £8,000 a year. Out of that, eleven children would have had to be fed and clothed. That there was any significant amount left over is doubtful.

The rent for the house, it is believed, was paid from housing benefit, and as this would go directly to the landlord – whether housing association or local authority – Philpott would not get his hands on it. The remainder of the household income came from both Philpott’s wife and mistress working, their pay supplemented by tax credits – as with many other low earning folks.

And those tax credits, which, depending on those incomes, could have been bringing in an additional £2235 per child, plus £1890 per adult, providing the income level was no more than around £16,000. However you slice it, the total of all those benefits – including child benefit – does not far exceed £38,000. Where the £60,000 total comes from is unclear. Perhaps housing benefit has been included.

So the Prime Minister and his next door neighbour are telling us that a household consisting of fourteen members – eleven children and three adults – with a total benefit income of perhaps £38,000 (that’s less than £3,000 per person per annum) is a beneficiary of state largesse, and moreover that this could easily be stopped by making them live on rather less.

Plus the judge summing up before passing the life sentence on Philpott at no time mentioned any of this as a cause. After all, Philpott started being controlling, aggressive and violent when he was a regular soldier, and the papers wouldn’t think of taking that fact and using it to argue for the dismantling of the armed forces. So perhaps they could quit using Philpott as an excuse to hack at the welfare system.

Mick Philpott was the problem. So stop demonising everyone else.


Anonymous said...

If yuo're in a good mood and wish to stay that way I urge you not to read the letters page in todays Times.

Dave Eyre said...

The total according to yesterday's Telegraph could have been up to £100,000 if you add in his mistresses earnings.

Today that has become £100,000 in benefits.

MisterMuncher said...

Partially cross-posted, based on that Daily Mail article.

I cast an eye over the "£100,000 earnings in benefits" figures cited for the Philpotts. Firstly, it's the comparison of the Philpott's "take" with a post-tax salary. So not really £100,000, but 68-odd.

Then it includes the salaries of the two women: Not benefits, so that's another 14k off. 54k now. Source unstated.

It includes tax credits of "up to" £38k, obviously a maximum possible, fag packet maths figure. It could be that much, yes. It probably isn't. Eg: For 5 children, it gives a figure of £17870. They've got this by multiplying the (maximum) child payment by 5, and adding the (maximum) basic element and (maximum) couples/family element. This gives 17865, so we're rounding up from a figure that is almost certainly inflated already. Once more, no source given.

Council rent is stated as "£150 a week". Source, you'll be shocked to hear, not given. No mention of what actual benefit this comes under, just a bald figure with no explanation.

So you have a headline, and a vague methodology for how it was worked out, but no actual figures cited directly derived from the case. A huge, high profile case in which benefits were apparently a key factor. So they could have taken in £100,000. Or certainly no more than £54,000, and with some degree of certainty, even less than that. The only properly sourced, testable accurate figure is the £8k of child benefit.

SteveHolmes11 said...

If rent/mortgage and partner's income are included as "Benefit" I can't see IDS existing on his £53 / week.