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Living On Welfare in the U.K.

Welfare has become a major political issue in the United Kingdom. During the 13 years when Labour was in power, it seems not to have occurred to most Britons that Labour’s open-door immigration policy, combined with the U.K.’s liberal welfare benefits, were likely to lead to abuse. Now, people are starting to notice.

The Sun, a tabloid published in London, is the U.K.’s largest-selling newspaper. It focuses mainly on soccer and celebrities, but its news coverage, to the extent it exists, can be entertaining. This story sounds like something out of The Onion, but it evidently is legitimate. The Sun interviewed Natalija Belova, a 33-year-old Lithuanian who has come to love the British welfare system:

A MIGRANT mum thanked the UK yesterday for letting her claim £14,500 a year in benefits.

Natalija Belova, 33, told The Sun how she spurns full-time work — yet can afford foreign holidays and buys designer clothes.

The Lithuanian said: “British benefits give me and my daughter a good life.”

She has milked soft-touch Britain for £50,000 in benefits and yesterday said: “I simply take what is given to me.”

Overjoyed Natalija told how she lives a life of luxury thanks to our “strange” system, declaring: “It’s important to have nice things and good holidays.”

It is noteworthy that Ms. Belova qualifies for much of the state’s largesse because she had a child out of wedlock after arriving in England:

The graduate, who became a single mum after she arrived here, rakes in more than £1,000 a month in handouts — £14,508 a year — to fund her love of designer clothes, jaunts to the Spanish sun and nightclubbing.

She bragged: “I have a lovely, fully-furnished flat and money to live properly on. There’s no chance we’re leaving. British benefits give me and my daughter a good life.”

But she does have one criticism. Natalija moaned: “I think they should help pay for private nannies, rather than just free nursery.”

At one point Ms. Belova had a job, but she came to see that as foolish:

Natalija told how she did work when she first came here — as a casino croupier — but said she found herself made redundant four years ago.

After falling pregnant with daughter Alexandra — now approaching three — it came as a shock how much she would be entitled to from the State for doing nothing.

Speaking at her two-bedroom pad that came fully furnished in Watford, Herts, courtesy of the taxpayer, grateful Natalija said:

“In Lithuania the benefits system does not pay enough. I have a friend over there who is a single mother. She only gets £20 a month in child benefit, plus some discounted help with gas and electricity — and some housing help. It’s not enough to keep a normal level of life, like here.

“If I was on benefits there, I couldn’t afford nice clothes or the holidays abroad.”

She went on: “I am sure people will say I should return to Lithuania. But that won’t be happening. Being in Britain offers me far better benefits.”

Ms. Belova could find work if she wanted to, but it isn’t worth her while. She is too well-educated, she thinks, to accept a low-paying job:

She is careful to work fewer than 16 hours a week so that the benefits keep rolling in. But her wages boost her income to more than £400 a week.

On top of that she gets free childcare, fruit and milk vouchers — and even a clothes allowance for “job interviews”.

Natalija said: “It is a strange system in this country. Basically, the fewer hours I work, the more I can earn on benefits. But that’s the way it is and it is not my fault.”

She fell pregnant by an “on-off boyfriend” after her redundancy. Natalija said casually: “We decided not to stay together.”

She insisted she would be prepared to get a full-time job — but only if the salary tops £25,000. Natalija said: “I am a highly educated woman and I speak six languages. I would never apply for a supermarket checkout job or a cleaner.

“I am over-qualified. These jobs are beneath me. They are for people who don’t have the education I do.”

Ms. Belova on vacation in Spain

Occasionally, Natalija Belova needs to rest from her labors:

Natalija, who has three credit cards and loves to go on sprees at designer clothes stores, crowed: “After our holiday to Malaga, we went to Lithuania over Christmas and spent £1,000.”

She continued: “I love to buy clothes on my credit cards and often have a blow-out at stores like Roberto Cavalli and the Armani Exchange. I will pay off my credit cards eventually. I use my pay to cover the minimum repayment.

“I also enjoy going to nightclubs and parties with my friends. It’s important to go out and get dressed up. It’s good for my self-esteem.”

Increasingly, we live in a world that is beyond parody. The situation in England is about to get much worse, as the European Union will require the U.K. to welcome tens of millions of new immigrants from Eastern Europe who will be eligible for British benefits. The Conservatives are trying to put a cap on welfare benefits, but Labour will vote against any limits.

Does Britain’s welfare mess have any relevance to the United States? As Steve Hayward might say: discuss.

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