The reality of life on benefits


The actuality of living on benefits is often far removed from what the general public assumes.

The increase of so-called ‘poverty-porn’ on TV has further embedded benefits stigma into mainstream discussions.

A Turn2us study has revealed that despite benefit fraud accounting for 1% of claims, one in every five people believe a majority of benefit claims are false.

This is compounded by 36% of the public feeling that benefit claimants don’t deserve help, and a further 24% of the public feeling that benefit claimants need help because they are lazy.

A result of this widespread belief means that 85% of benefits claimants feel an institutional stigma and 50% feel a social stigma.

The reality of living on benefits is a topic that needs to be handled with compassion and care.

A 28 year old from Northamptonshire shared his experience on Reddit: “I lost my job due to ill health in December. I won’t get into details of salary but I was comfortable enough that I was looking to move in with my girlfriend around now had I been able to stay at work.

“As such, I have expenses reasonable enough for someone who was in a slightly above entry level admin job. A contract with the gym, £30 a month, a phone contract plus insurance, £46 a month, a car – essential as I live in rural Northamptonshire with no public transport links – which I own outright, but the insurance is £35 a month, my Labour party membership, £5 a month, my credit card bill – which I was slowly paying off after getting into difficulty post-university - £38 a month.

“My monthly expenditure is £157. My monthly benefits payments are £318. This leaves me with £160 for petrol to attend interviews, doctor’s appointments, pay for parking and other expenses.

“I spend almost all of my time looking for work, and yet I’m consistently called lazy by the DWP staff who I have to see fortnightly.

“When I get calls from agencies and employers the change in tone, when I explain my work situation, is palpable.

“Living on benefits is a miserable existence, and yet it is constantly demonised. People have even asked my girlfriend why she’s with me, as if she should be ashamed. It’s making me feel awful.”

To see how much you could be entitled to, use our Benefits Calculator.