"A Big Issue seller is claiming victory in a landmark case to have her work classed as a proper job and thus be eligible for extra benefits.
Romanian Firuta Vasile was refused housing benefit because a local authority judged that her job selling the magazine "didn't count".
But she has successfully argued that because she bought the Big Issues and sold them at her own profit or loss she was self-employed.
Speaking through an interpreter, Vasile, 27, said she came to the UK in 2007 to look for a job, but could only find work selling the Big Issue."
Romanians and Bulgarians aren't allowed to work here unless they're self-employed. And you'll have noticed the terrible shortage of Big Issue sellers which is crippling British industry. But it sounds as if the Big Issue is their flexible friend :
"The Big Issue exists to offer homeless people and those at risk of homelessness the opportunity to work and earn an income. This is offered irrespective of a person’s background or origin. Earning their own money reduces dependency on hand-outs from the state, charities and the public.. "Even when the entire raison-d'etre of "earning their own money" is to get "hand-outs from the state" ? It's not surprising that Roma Big Issue sellers are an increasingly common sight.
The good news is that, come October, all this will stop and our self-employed sellers will be assumed to have an income of around £250 pw - whether they have or not.
The bad news is that, come December, the entire populations of Romania and Bulgaria will be free to move to the UK, self-employed or not.
I do wonder if the aim of our rulers is actually to push immigration to the levels where the Brits will, of their own volition, call for the end of the Welfare State. Maybe that Grant Shapps isn't as stupid as he sounds, only as unpleasant as he sounds.
As I've said before, benefits are meant to afford a minimum standard of living. Raising them by 1% a year for three years, when inflation on necessities is probably over 5%, will drop them a long way below that standard. Now maybe that standard was set too high. But that's not what he's arguing. He's arguing that it's "fair" that a minimum standard set by Parliament should be reduced because other, better-off people are tightening their belts.
"I do think that it’s right for the taxpayer at large, who after going out, working hard, paying their taxes, should feel that they’re not having to pay for people who are in receipt of benefits to get a higher effective pay rise than the people actually working. So I think this is an argument about fairness."
I said he's not stupid. People working and still struggling to pay the electric bill aren't going to be overly sympathetic, to put it mildly. Good politics if lousy humanity.