Our welfare state shouldn’t be a source of shame, but of pride – and fury
Let me give you a hypothetical scenario to mull over. Should the worst happen – you lose your job, say, or become very ill or disabled, or the main breadwinner in your family leaves or dies – how long would it take for you or your family to become reliant on assistance from the state? I ask not just as a seasoned catastrophist (though I probably spend more time worrying about this sort of thing than I should) but because, unless you have found yourself in similar circumstances, you may not have thought about it.
Research from Shelter published today found that one in three working families in England are a monthly pay packet away from losing their homes. Perhaps you’re one of those people living pay cheque to pay cheque, stretched to breaking point. Perhaps your lack of savings means you lie awake at night, hyperventilating with the horror of what losing your job might mean. Government figures show that there are 16.5 million working-age adults in the UK with no savings at all.
It all chimes with the “deadline to the breadline” campaign, which two years ago found that on average people in the UK would be on the breadline in 29 days if their income stopped. Even more alarmingly, this fell to 14 days for working-age families.