TV shock of people who 'choose' dole over work

I DECIDED to have a bit of a duvet day on Tuesday because I had most of the day off and the weather, surprise surprise, was awful.

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Unemployment should never be a lifestyle choice
Unemployment should never be a lifestyle choice

I was all snuggled up on the sofa watching TV when I happened to catch an interview on This Morning that was so shocking it nearly made me put down my bacon sandwich. Nearly, but not quite ...

Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, right, were interviewing a couple aged 18 and 21 who had chosen to stay home and receive more than £17,000 a year in benefits rather than go out to work.

They said they felt they were entitled to it because both their parents had worked and paid tax all of their lives. They also pointed out that their ages meant if they did work they would earn less than the minimum wage, so what would be the point?

They were adamant they were much better off claiming benefits and said they felt no shame in doing so, even though both were fit and able to work.

The interview left me feeling very sad – and not because I believe people should not receive benefits.

There are plenty of genuine cases where people would love to go out and earn a living but, perhaps because of an illness or disability or even family circumstances, can't.

No, this was completely different. This was a healthy young couple choosing not to work or contribute anything to society, but quite happy to take as much as they could from it.

In these times of austerity there are people losing their jobs right, left and centre.

An extremely skilled joiner I know is working as a barman in the city centre because he lost his job with the small firm he worked for and has two children and a wife to support.

He is 34 with no health problems and so would not have dreamed of claiming benefits.

The problem I had watching this interview was not particularly the young couple. If they feel no shame making these claims on national television for all to see, then so be it.

But it was the attitude that the rest of us should go out and work to provide for them, and that it seemed so easy for this couple to receive this money in the first place that pointed to major flaws in the system.

I would have assumed everything would be done to ensure people who can work, should work.

For example, with all the recent debate over the proposed George Square revamp costing a reported £15million, surely it would make sense to start a community project involving volunteers and the unemployed as a condition of receiving their benefits.

They could work together in 'sprucing up' our wonderful city in the lead-up to the 2014 Commonwealth games.

I know this may all sound rather rich coming from someone like me who has been extremely lucky in my work over the past few years.

But, nonetheless, I feel that TV interview has highlighted a huge problem for our society.

Maybe that is something for our politicians and council leaders to put firmly at the top of their agendas this year – and leave the statue-moving debate for another time.

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