OK, so I watched The One Show last night. I’ll fess up, I wouldn’t normally but as I haven’t got a housemate to blame it on any more I can’t really get out of it, I watched it – let’s move on. On the show, a single mother on benefits explained how she’d spent over £600 this last Christmas on presents for her toddler. She bought crap such as a ride on electric bike and a ride on electric quad bike (he couldn’t decide between them so she bought both) and a train set.
The mother said she’d bought her son everything he’d wanted, which actually meant everything he’d pointed at on the TV and in the Argos catalogue (her words, not mine).
The report showed the toddler in his room, which was full of the stuff he had Christmas (as the proud mum explained, only the bed was not for Christmas) and he honestly didn’t know what to do with it all.
The woman even stated how she wanted to spend more but her mother stopped her.
Naturally she couldn’t afford all of this crap, and she already had debts to pay off from catalogues, so a debt consolidation expert came round to see her. He explained how she could pay a nominal amount each month and write off her debt after a year, which would also affect her credit rating. However she was a proud woman and wanted to pay it off herself, rather than feel that she’d somehow avoided paying it… with her benefit money of course.
You can probably tell that this has somewhat annoyed me. I’m not the best with money (not by a long shot) but I am getting better. However, at no point have I squandered money such as this while on benefits, and at the same time having a series of debts that I couldn’t pay.
Shouldn’t basic economics be taught at school so situations such as this don’t arise? Then of course, as people such as this mother are able to spend ludicrous sums of money while on benefits, and then simply write off their debt, perhaps it’s not economics that should be taught, it’s ethics.