Idle British Youth? What is the truth?

The article below was posted by an acquaintance of mine, Tom Winnifrith (http://tomwinnifrith.com/) who writes on financial and political matters as well as owning a pizzeria Clerkenwell, London.  The simple question I pose is why he has received no applications from young British people to work at his restaurant?  It is in a location that is well connected by public transport and is not a location that is nasty to work in.  Working in a pizzeria may not be everybody’s dream job, but it is certainly not a horrible one either.  So why the lack of British applicants when so many young people in London are without a job?

“When I discuss unemployment and welfare abuse with my father, step mother or any other deluded middle class lefties, it is their insistence that those claiming benefits would rather work, feel shame in claiming benefits and that they maintain only a marginal economic existence on welfare. The evidence, of course, shows that they are wrong. But if you watch the BBC, read only its sister publication (The Guardian) and have no contact with either the working classes or the private sector you can be forgiven for having such a world view. But it is profoundly wrong. 

The case arose about ten days ago of a couple who picked up total benefits of £18,000 a year and flatly refused to work. Having stated this publicly it seems odd to me that they can still be allowed to claim the “Job Seeker’s allowance” since they are patently not seeking any job but I guess that the chances of them losing that (let alone having past payments taken back since they were by their own admission made fraudulently) are nil.

I do not actually blame this couple. They are playing the system. And it is the system that needs fixing. The reality is that if this couple both opted to work they would need to generate well over £20,000 of taxed income in order to be as well off as they are on welfare. The two reforms needed are a dramatic increase in the thresh-hold at which anyone pays tax and a dramatic cut in welfare benefits. Surely if the average wage in the UK is £25,000 on which tax and NI is payable, the amount that those who are NOT working should be getting should be far, far lower than that. 

Somehow, I suspect that the benefits culture is now so ingrained in some quarters that even the seismic shifts I propose would take a while to change the attitudes of some folks. I noted before that when we advertised for a waitress position at The Real man Pizza Company we received ZERO British applicants who could be bothered to make it in for an interview. A good waitress with tips could be making £20,000 per annum. You do not need a degree just a willingness to do a bit of hard work and put in a 35 hour working week. But not one Brit could be arsed. Hence, we have a Polish waitress. 

And now I am hiring a cook. Guess which language he or she will speak? English as a mother tongue? Forget it. I think I have hired someone who as it happens has experience in the kitchen but wants to improve her skills. Her English is rotten but since most other folks speak perfect Italian at Real Man that is not an issue. She wants to improve her English. If she improves her English and culinary skills we will increase her pay but pro tem (and I almost feel guilty about this) I am paying her 1p an hour above the minimum wage for 32 hours a week. Not only will she take the job but at zero notice she trekked across London on Friday night just for the chance of that job. Her take home will at the start be less than half of the amount paid out in benefits to that couple who elect NOT to work. And you know what? I could hire another dozen or so waiters or cooks on the same rate tomorrow and ALL would be non English as a first language speakers. I do not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a native Brit to take on such a job, even if it offers a stepping stone to improving their hourly rate, number of hours, skill set and thus offering a real wage and a career. 

Our welfare and tax system has become so lopsided that there is now not only an economic but a cultural battle that must be waged. If Britain is to avoid bankruptcy welfare spending must be slashed. And if the UK’s private sector is to regain competitiveness wages must be cut. That could actually lead to an increase in disposable income if tax thresholds were increased dramatically. 

I might sound like a capitalist ogre but what I propose would see reduced Government spending and increased disposable income for those in work. And welfare transformed from a lifestyle choice to a safety net. That some families on benefits “earn” a sum equivalent to the average (pre-tax) national wage is a disgrace and an unaffordable one at that. Benefits should be strictly capped at half the post tax national average wage. Having raised a generation of idlers it is time for some tough love.”

Nick

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