What is your occupation? I am on the benefit.

In the course of my job, I speak to many people each day.  One of the questions I ask each applicant is ‘what is your occupation?’.

An occupation in layman’s term means a person’s regular work or profession; job or principal activity.

I then ticked the box with each answer, either administration, professional, sales, retail, government, student, retired, labourer, others and of course not forgetting BENEFIT.

You would be surprised that at least a third of the people I spoke to most days told me their occupation is ‘benefit’.

In my birth country, no one would ever answer ‘benefit’ as an occupation.  Since migrating to this new country which is now where I called home for the last ten years, I learned the common statement, ‘He (or she) is on the dole’ or I am on the benefit.

What does the term ‘living off the dole’ means?

When I was a fresh migrant, I had absolutely no idea what it meant but I heard it all the time.

The dole is money that people without jobs get from the government per fortnight.  So if you’re living off the dole, you’re living off the money you get from the government.

Unemployment benefits are generally given only to those registering as unemployed, and often on conditions ensuring that they seek work and do not currently have a job.  Often times, most of these recipients became too comfortable receiving money while doing nothing that they lack motivation to seriously look for a job (even though they may have Work Brokers from Work & Income Department helping them on the job search) because at the end of the day, once employed, they may net only a little more from the money they received each fortnight into their bank account after tax.

There are other benefits like living allowances and of course child support (which could be claimed from the one parent who worked hard and majority of his (or her) earnings go into the child support directly deducted through Inland Revenue and then into the bank account of the non working partner.  There are so many young and single mothers here in this country.  Their occupation is ‘full time mum’ or ‘home executive’.  Although I support ‘full time mum’ as a worthy occupation, many of those are ‘full time mum’ living off the benefit which is totally unfair to the separated partner or the tax payers.

The government may be the source of provider of most benefits but where does the government get the money from?  Obviously those hard working population pay taxes and indirectly a great percentage on those taxes are ploughed back into the government bank account to fund the benefit.

Another interesting thing to note is that when a child is orphaned or lost one parent, relatives fought hard for custody of that child.  I used to feel so touched thinking how loving and caring they are to that poor child.  If not for the government’s support on Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit, these children would probably end up in homes or given away.  It’s too sad, too sensitive and too complicated a topic to blog about.

I am just touching the tip of the iceberg and this post came about from a request from an old friend of mine who has given her time, her love and effort traveling around Nigeria helping the poor.

This is an extract from an email I received from this friend

Do write something about those who take advantage of the benefits system…it’s all over different western countries like France and Uk and USA.  I feel it’s not really fair to those struggling to pay taxes but have the dignity to work hard and chose not to go on the benefit.  Those who took advantage may or may not realize what they are doing is wrong and most unfair.


What are your views on this topic?  

All comments greatly appreciated.


Click on the image to be linked to image source

Click on the image to be linked to image source

The article is written from one person’s viewpoint and observation.  It may or may not be a true reflection of the statistics of the country I used as an example.   By and large, benefit is a form of government aid worldwide, only that it is more prevalent in some countries than others.


Related Article
Wikipedia definition on Unemployment Benefits
A – Z Benefit  –  Work and Income

7 thoughts on “What is your occupation? I am on the benefit.

  1. ALthough I agree there are people around that take advantage of the “Benefit” or “social security” systems in place in western countries like yours and mine (the Netherlands). The “getting comfortable with it and thus losing motivation to seek for work” is a myth. Especially when claiming “most” people would “suffer” from it.

    Many of these so called benefit abusers aren’t abusers at all. Many people are layed off every day because of businesses having to shut down plants or close shops. Many people that DO work still need some benefit because their bosses are to lame to pay a decent wager.

    These mums you talk about? Don’t get me wrong but isn’t that the “Christian” ideal. Those mums are raising your future, they SHOULD be supported by the working class to the fullest WITHOUT complaining.

    I do agree with stiff controls on obeying the rules that apply to receiving these benefits, if you cn (find) work you should work. But DO accept that many if not most of those “on benefit” are not in that situation because ” it suits them nicely” because living on benefit is living in poverty, hardly comfortable.

    • Thank you for your comments. I appreciate it and I do totally agreed that living on the benefit is hardly comfortable to most.
      In my country, living on the benefit is a ‘norm’ to many but we have a good government and welfare system. The tax rate is really high here and when those who are used to living on the benefit get a job, they hardly last long on it because at the end of the day, the hours they spent working and the net income they get in their pocket hardly justify the hours spent.
      With regards to the full time mum scenario, as I wrote, I support that ‘occupation’ as worthy and indeed they are raising our future if they are full time mum in a solid relationship with a partner that works. I am talking of those single mum who chose to have many children by choice and it is not every ethical having kids to reap the benefit off either the father or mother of the child and the government.
      It is nice to read another’s view point and greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • In the U.S. I become irate when I see single moms living on welfare who are smoking, doing drugs, wearing designer clothes, using expensive cell phones, etc. What it costs a black woman to spend an entire day at the hairdresser shop to have her hair done is paying a lot of money for this service. The00y take government money but where does it come from for the expensive services?

      Many immigrants living in the U.S. are living on government benefits and driving Cadillac Suburbans. I could never afford one of those. They cost upward from $50,000. (50 thousand dollars). Lots is messed up in this crazy world of ours. We can only do our best to be honest and forthright in our lives.

  2. Hello,

    I am Brenda from the U.S. I am not sure if your reference to benefit is like government welfare in the states or like social security benefits in the states. It’s interesting to read your points of view from a Scottish point of view. Or the Netherlands, or the Brits. Hope I don’t use any words deemed inappropriate in your country.

    Your situation in Scotland with unemployed adults on benefits is a common problem throughout the world today. From Italy or Greece, Germany or France, United States or Canada, the world is still suffering from the downfall of the economy several years ago now. Some employment has improved but no where near what it was prior to the economic downfall.

    In the states, welfare recipients receive benefits for a full month and unless they have a change in income or a job, they continue to get it for a year before having to apply again. It’s a minimal amount of money but food supplements, medical benefits and reduced rental costs are given the recipients.

    And yes, those people who are employed and are paying taxes get sometimes very angry that some take advantage of the government benefits. And, yes, just like you, the amount of money they will earn is little more than what they get on welfare. Social Security is for those in the states who are retired, widowed or disabled. Good for your friend who is working in Nigeria helping the poor. I think there are many Europeans who extend a helping hand to the third world countries and their trials.

    It’s interesting to hear you talk about buying a waist coat. I don’t know what that is. And, what is ploughed? Don’t know that word. It’s fun to share language differences.

    • Hi Brenda, it’s awesome to hear from you and thank you for the comments. There are some who deserve the benefit and subsidy from government while others may sort of get a bit too comfortable doing nothing to improve their livelihood. I talked about ‘plough back’ as the government provide the benefit and at the end of the day, a great part of it came from tax payers money and goes into the government fundings and indirectly the hard working population work to support the rest. In saying that, of course certain benefits like invalid benefit or even unemployment benefit are legid as long as they are not abused.
      I appreciate your comments and your thoughts on this. Thank you for reading,

  3. Well said, your birth country my guess it was the U.S right?

    Now you know why I call the socialist type democracy we have in Europe(even if the so called “conservatives”are in power) the parasite society. In Spain is very common for the government to bail you out. We also have here what they call “the baby check”for recently young parents, they give house and money just about to everyone. Why? They get their vote. What happens, you have a greater portion of the population looking up to the government to help them out and taking advantage of the system. I did it myself when I was receiving unemployment benefits for over a year. Plus I would work without a contract and without paying to the Social Security small part time jobs like painting, or construction. Not only me, but million of Spaniards do it. It´s really an underground economy. Plus all the government help that they give to illegal immigrants. All this government handouts creates people, makes it easier for people to become parasites. The outcome normally is since we have a small amount of the people paying into the system and more people taking money from the system well it´s pure math, just doesn´t add up so Spain is broke,literally. But you have already created that entitle mentality in people, why would I get out of bed at 6 a.m when I was receiving almost 500 Euros a month to get a job that will pay me 600 or 800 euros. What´s the incentive? None. All for political reasons. Then there is the universal health care system, which is….not good let´s say. To say the least.

    I gotta get back to the U.S.

    • So well said Charlypriest. ‘ …. why would I get out of bed at 6am when I was receiving almost 500 Euros a month to get a job that will pay me 600 or 800 Euros?’ You seemed to be able to read me like a book and pen my thoughts (though I politely hinted) into words.. and you are speaking from someone who had been there.
      It’s the whole government, politics and the system that created a society of parasite, really.

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