The threats of the benefit system are counterproductive.
“John is my friend. John is a software developer, a brilliant one I have been told. His company went bankrupt. From one to another day, John had little money to survive on. He could not pay his bills from the 70 pounds he received each week: he had to pay the rent, council tax, broadband and phone, water and electricity, etc. The only way to make ends meet was by not eating; thus he decided to eat only once in two or three days; consequently, his health weakened, he lacked energy, and became ill. However, DWP demanded that he applied for a job, and if he would not do that he would lose his benefits. The council threatened to evict him as he could not pay the bills completely. John became depressed, felt anxious under the threats, and his self-esteem was undermined. Thus both his physical and mental health became extremely under pressure, which made it impossible for him to actively improve his situation. In the end, DWP had to give him illness benefits instead of unemployment benefit. However, against all odds, John was resilient and rejected to be a victim of the situation. He started to develop his own software, which he wants to sell on the long term. Thus he has started his own business, but the start-up of his innovative idea takes time to develop. However, he is afraid he cannot finish the product before DWP starts demanding again that he needs to apply for a job. John’s story shows two failures of the current system. First, the low level of benefits and the psychological pressure from DWP is counterproductive. Second, the system hinders innovation: by demanding John to apply for a job, he cannot finish his new great product from which he could make a big benefit and the British tax payer could earn on the long term. The system makes individuals like John more dependent on vacancies, instead of supporting them to innovate this country. The only effective and humane option is to offer individuals like John a reasonable unconditional basic income, so that he does not need to skip his meals and so that he does not feel the self-esteem-undermining threats and stigmatisation of DWP. This basic income will also increase the innovative character of the economy, as individuals like John can optimally use their skills in developing new products and enterprises. For instance, DWP demanded him to work in a supermarket as there are no jobs for software developers now; this would be a large waste of human potential: only a radically new perspective on jobs can support these individuals and improve economic innovations and Gross Domestic Product for each individual.”
I want to contribute to the backbone of society but the system stops me!
“My life has been changed forever in just one second. A taxi hit me on my bicycle. The driver admitted that he hadn’t seen me. Great that he expressed his guilt to me personally -although not in front of the judge unfortunately, so that I won’t get any personal injury claim-, but I am still feeling the consequences of the accident, every second of the day. On multiple levels in my spine, the discs are damaged and irritating the nerves; I am in chronic pain, and the doctors cannot help me. I am struggling. The prospect of a future in pain is daunting, but frankly speaking I am more worried about my financial future. I may never be able to work full time again, and consequently I could lose my job. As I am taking strong pain killers which leave me strongly sedated; fortunately, the pills help me to do some work, and I’d love to do some work! But I can only work on physically good days. However, no employer wants to employ a drugs junkie and irregular present employee. But I have been informed that -because I have some good days- I could be forced by DWP to find a job, despite the chronic pain and sedation. The low level of benefit will force me to move from my current rental flat, which I won’t be able to afford anymore; due to the housing market in London I will need to move further out of London, due to which I need to travel longer to any job interview, employer or social activity, which will be more painful. It is this future that worries me. I am on anxiolytica, pills against my panic attacks. The daunting pictures of my future overwhelm me, make me more tensed, and consequently aggravate my pain. A vicious cycle. If I would get a basic income, enough to live from, I would not be so worried, and I would possibly be able to better cope with my illness, I would recover sooner. I want to work, but only on days that I am physically able to; a basic income would enable this. I want to contribute to the backbone of society, despite my back, but the current system is stopping me.”