That was always unlikely - and even more unlikely with a relatively generous welfare state and a default assumption of honesty in claimants. True in 1948 but not true now. The benefits system is open to looting on a grand scale, especially by those with access to forged ID - which means not many Brits but an awful lot of Londoners.
Another hobby-horse is that the law-abiding are penalised for the sins of the lawless. Some hapless electrician with a Stanley knife in his pocket is pulled in because of youths being stabbed on London streets, children can no longer (as I did in youth on a classmate's farm) use an air-rifle unsupervised, I can't buy sodium chlorate weedkiller any more because someone might use it to blow things up.
Which brings me, by a roundabout route, to Ian Duncan Smith's Universal Credit, slated for implementation next year, and replacing Child Tax Credit, Working Families Tax Credit (which people with an income of over 50K could get - thank you Gordon Brown for this last-ditch attempt to encourage welfare dependency) and a number of other benefits.
"When implemented, Universal Credit will drastically affect the low-paid self-employed as well as anyone who makes a tax loss. It is proposed that Universal Credits, like the current Working Tax Credits, will be "limited to those who exceed the 'floor of assumed income'" based on the National Minimum Wage."
What this means is that a host of small businesses - often the "single mum selling her handmade stationery" type, which might make no profit or small profits, will be assumed for benefit purposes to be doing a 40 hour week for £6 an hour - whether they are or not. If you recall, the number of self-employed has mushroomed during this recession .
“A rise in self-employment may, in itself, be a good thing, however previous analysis from the CIPD found that the recent rise was less a sign of a resurgent enterprise culture, and more evidence of a growing army of part-time ‘odd jobbers’ desperate to avoid unemployment.”
Alas, come next summer this is going to go into reverse as large numbers of self-employed close their business down and sign on again. So why is this entrepreneur-friendly (well, wealthy entrepreneurs, anyway) administration stamping on what could be the next Laura Ashley or Party Planners ?
"I think it will cut out a lot of fraud, i am a housing benefit processor and the amount of self employed taxi drivers working 40 hours a week and declare £50 a week earnings is beyond a joke, however i do feel for the genuine people who are struggling, who will be hit by this i think it is unfair. if your not earning this money then your claim should not be based on this amount."
My HMRC spies (aka the DWP website) are quite open about it. Reducing fraud, along with "making work pay" (but not low paid self employed work) is what it's all about. The good guys (and gals) are suffering for the sins of the bad guys.
"Universal Credit will make it much easier to catch fraudsters as it will calculate benefit levels using real-time information linked to the PAYE system. By picking up financial irregularities, such as earnings whilst claiming unemployment benefits, it will remove the main opportunities for fraud and error in the system."
Well, it might, if there weren't 83 million National Insurance numbers in the UK for a working population of 30-million odd. Fraudsters are very resourceful people.
So while I have small sympathy for this self-employed, low income person :
"I am a seriously talented artist but no-one wants to buy art at the moment"
You can't but feel for this couple :
"I am employed 25 hours i have asked my boss to increase my hours but there are no available hours?? we have 2 children under 16,I think the answer is - "it isn't going to help" - and that's a great pity.
when my husband lost his job 4yrs ago down to the company going into liquidation etc,etc, he was forced into claiming benefits because after months of looking for work nothing was available, he signed on for jsa but didnt receive any money because of what i earn…. a job was going at a local bus firm term time only, which he applied and got and is still currently there… NOW this is the confusing bit…….. my husband is classed as Self-employed ?? He works for the local company and gets a weekly wage… BUT because the company dont deduct tax and insurance from this wage he is classed as Sub-Contracred-Self employed ... because his work is Term-time this means he only works for approximatly 38 weeks of the year, thus leaving our household with only my income for the other 14 weeks, we do rely on tax credit as a safety net during these 14 weeks, we have both and still are looking for more full-time work but its easier said than done and with 2 small dependant it is difficult….. so how is universal credits going to help my situation if we dont meet there criteria???"