There is a lot of speculation about immigration and unemployment, even more so recently. It’s a social obsession, in a sense.
It doesn’t seem as though it’s possible to go a day whereby the current employment status of the country’s population isn’t alluded to.
Time and time again it’s suggested that (and please forgive me for the short-sightedness of this as its inclusion is important) immigrants are taking all our jobs.
I should very much hope that my opinion won’t be disregarded because of my age, but I think that’s a completely invalid point. You know when teenagers start telling you what to do, something’s gone wrong.
The population is increasing, that goes without saying. More people leads to more competition for jobs, relationships and certain lifestyles. The larger the population gets, the more quickly we’ll reproduce because there are more families with more children, who will then go on to have children of their own.
That can only mean that competition for work is going to become steeper and living certainly isn’t going to get easier. Let’s say the population of England is increasing not just because of human reproduction, but also due to immigration.
There are large quantities of people and that doesn’t just mean more competition. It also means that there are more people who need basic services. Those services don’t exist without employees to run them, thus creating more jobs. Of course, the frequency of new openings in businesses may not be proportionate to the population increase, but the logic is the same as that which tells us current resources could never sustain this same lifestyle should the population continue to increase at the speed it is at present.
There are more jobs and more people, which means that whilst competition does become tougher, it’s proportionate to the ratio of jobs: people. Employers naturally choose the applicant best qualified. That has absolutely nothing to do with their place of origin, and if you happen to be interviewed alongside somebody who’s immigrated here and lose the job to them, chances are they were just a more impressive candidate than you (I don’t mean to be rude...).
So, having established that employment is little to do with ethnicity, let’s move on. Personal drive and motivation are hugely important in looking for a job. It’s become apparent to me that a staggering number of people are beyond the realms of laziness, when it comes to work.
It’s fine to whine about not being able to find a job if you’re looking, but the amount of times I’ve spoken to somebody who’s not trying and still insists on complaining is almost impressive.
If you’re that desperate to work, you wouldn’t say no to any opportunity, surely? Not so. There is a huge percentage of people who are quite happy to sit around living on benefits, dismissing any new job openings they’re made aware of because they “can’t do it” or it’s “not interesting”.
Some people are just naturally lazy, and no amount of bribery can persuade them to work anymore than they need to, but there must be a reason why so many of us are quite happy to avoid work and the wage that comes with it.
It was something that I’d not put much thought into until recently. Most dinner times I enjoy a good political debate or discussion of some sort with my dad and it was one of these mental jousting matches that prompted me to write this column.
In this particular conversation, he told me a story. My dad owns a garage which requires a small workforce to function effectively. One of his employees receives £20 a week in benefits, and will continue to do so as long as he earns less than £15,000 every year. On his current wage he’s only a few pounds short of that, and so even the smallest increase in his earnings would mean he’d lose his benefits.
My dad offered this employee a raise of £15 per week, which he inevitably refused, because if he accepted, then he’d lose his benefits and would be making less money than he is now.
That isn’t the only example I have of that; A member of my extended family refused a raise about a year ago because she was earning more with her benefits than she would’ve been after the raise. I appreciate that benefits are supposed to support people who genuinely can’t afford to maintain a lifestyle otherwise, but the system that’s in place is preventing people from working as hard as they could (and most likely would) because it takes away any sort of encouragement.
We want people to be willing and motivated to work, but if they can earn more money by doing less work, then why wouldn’t they? It may be giving in to our laziness, but can you honestly say you wouldn’t be willing to work less for a higher pay? I’m not the first to admit that I probably would if I could.
The problem here is that if there are more people that are unwilling to work, there are more benefits being paid out. Where do benefits come from? Taxes. Less people working and more benefits having to be paid (because the population is increasing, let’s not forget, which means there are probably more people who are going to follow the lazier route and do less for more) would have to mean increased taxes so that the Government has the capacity to pay so much money out.
The cut-off point for benefits obviously doesn’t work, because anybody close to that boundary is going to be faced with that decision at some point and nobody’s going to accept more work if they don’t have to. There must be a better way of managing benefits that encourages people to work whilst still supporting them. I realise that benefits are important, because without them some people just wouldn’t make enough to live a healthy lifestyle, but they’re given out too frequently and in too great a quantity, I think.
What could work more efficiently would be a proportionate system, whereby the more you earn, the less you’re paid in benefits, but so that if you’re given a raise, you make more money from work than you do from the Government.
It’s so easy to shift the blame onto people that have immigrated here, and to say that they’re taking all our jobs. In reality though, they’re not.
I think that the combination of more competition for paid work and benefits has discouraged us all from fulfilling our potential to work and our laziness is the main reason why unemployment is a problem.
It doesn’t give me much hope for the future, to be honest. There’s always talk about the benefits system between political parties, but there are two sides to the story: They could decrease them and upset the working-class voters, or provide more support (or if nothing else leave the system as it is) and push aside the middle-class population. It’s a delicate balance and no matter what the final decision is somebody, somewhere, is going to disagree with it, but really I don’t think anyone can deny that the system is faulty.
We want people to work but we’re giving them reasons not to, because that’s the intelligent thing to do.
My take on things: Stop blaming other people for your being too lazy to look for a job. It isn’t their fault that you’ve mentally glued yourself to that sofa (which by now has a groove permanently moulded into its surface that resembles you perfectly) and don’t want to do anything other than eat and watch EastEnders.
We need a new benefits system and we need to encourage people to work because laziness is not a preferable trait in an employee. It’s also not very attractive, just in case anybody finds that motivational.
Column by Ruby Hryniszak (pictured, inset). Ruby is a regular columnist to the Harborough Mail online.
Follow Ruby on Twitter, @13eautifulLife.