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Large families

(281 Posts)
Greatnan Fri 05-Apr-13 01:55:18

I am starting a separate thread as I think it is very wrong to link the subject to the Philpotts case.

According to the Daily Mail, which would certainly not minimise the figures, there are 100,000 families with four or more children in receipt of benefits. There are only 900 with 8 or more children. This hardly makes such families a huge drain on the exchequer.

I take the same view as I do about the death penalty - better a small number of feckless people should receive benefits than that a large number of responsible parents should be deprived. Of course, some people come onto benefits through illness, death, divorce or redundancy after their children have been born.

No, I am not advocating large families per se or condoning fecklesness and Yes, I am a UK tax payer.

I would liike to know how anybody suggests that the state can limit family size - the Chinese solution?

Granny23 Fri 05-Apr-13 02:50:40

I only know one large (9 I think, 11 counting the parents) family locally. As far as I know they have never been on benefits other than the usual child benefit etc. The father has a good job, while mother (a former teacher) has home educated the children, grown lots of organic fruit and veg, made clothes etc. They live in a bought 4 bed house. No fancy holidays, no car, walked or cycled everywhere. The oldest children are now going out into the world mainly into the arts. A lovely and loving family by all accounts, although I always found the father a trifle arrogant - bit of a 'know it all'. So far so good. Their life style choice.

BUT if say, the father lost his job or became ill (which I fevervently hope does not happen) what then? Would they instantly become social pariahas?

absent Fri 05-Apr-13 07:16:03

In the eyes of some they would Granny23 and probably be severely criticised for what the popular press would characterise as their "hippy lifestyle", I suspect.

JessM Fri 05-Apr-13 07:31:11

Some of those large families will be two merged families I assume. These are very common and they may be taking care of children who would otherwise be "looked after" - in care. Is it from census data? It might also include foster families?
I have only ever met two women who had more than 5 children. One was middle class and not on benefits. I seemed to remember she eventually stopped and went to train as a social worker. The other, more recent, did have an unemployed husband but he was trying hard to get a qualification and get off benefits. They seemed to be very good parents who loved children and the children were doing well in school. Who is to say that children from families like this, who have had state support, but also a lot of loving parenting and attention, may not ultimately make a greater contribution to society than the children round the corner whose parents are both working long hours and paying a lot of tax? In the past lots of people came from larger families and did very well.

MiceElf Fri 05-Apr-13 07:33:41

I cannot see why any interfering busybody feels they have a right to declare that those with either large families or no children are living selfishly. Families these days are much smaller than of old and materially much better off. Sadly, that seems to have given rise to the idea in some quarters that those who have large large families are in some way irresponsible. It does not seem to me to be any more irresponsible to have a large family than to have no children and then rely on the children of others to provide the goods and services they need / enjoy.

Butty Fri 05-Apr-13 07:33:45

In response to the original OP - Education.

glassortwo Fri 05-Apr-13 07:54:50

I only know of one large family in this area, the children go to school with my DGC, I think there are 8 possibly 9 children but they are over a huge age group the eldest are in their 20's and have partners and families of their own, and the youngest is five, both parent work long hours,they are a lovely family who all seem to help one and other out, and as in large families of old the older siblings seem to take a large part in the rearing of the younger children, while the parents work.

I am of the opinion that this is a very small group and not the benefit drain we are lead to believe, but the Government need to support the larger group of low income families who for one reason or another cannot get better paid employment.
I shudder to think of going down the route of the Chinese solution.

absent Fri 05-Apr-13 08:01:31

MiceElf There will always be people who cannot believe that any way of life that deviates from their own is acceptable. Unfortunately, it seems to have become this season's favourite game to demonise anyone with a larger family. Criticising the childless is so last year, my dear.

Sel Fri 05-Apr-13 08:04:58

Given that over population is one of the largest threats to the world, I agree with Butty - education.

Greatnan Fri 05-Apr-13 08:17:10

Over population is not a problem in every part of the world - it certainly is not in New Zealand. Distribution of resources is certainly a problem.

dorsetpennt Fri 05-Apr-13 09:28:11

The Daily Mail likes nothing more then to bash anything negative. If it's not dreadful tales of immigrants marching in taking all our council houses and benefits its the large family benefit dodger. They don't mention how hard most immigrants work as they have come here to improve their lives. Like thousands and thousands of British immigrants to places like Canada and Australia. There are big families - the ones are tv recently were, except for one, all hard working parents with well behaved children.
Families like the Phillpotts, thankfully, are not the norm. There are thousands on benefits for a good reason, there will always be those who abuse the system. If not benefits, on some other method, it's just how some people live their lives.
I thought George Osborne's remarks yesterday reprehensible. Like that rag the Daily Mail, he is trying to demonise those on benefits.

Greatnan Fri 05-Apr-13 09:32:43

I suppose it is one way of getting the great British public to accept cuts in benefits - 'well, they don't deserve to be helped'.
This subject is currently under discussion on Channel 5 'The Wright Stuff' - it will be interesting to see what is said.

Greatnan Fri 05-Apr-13 09:56:19

According to Gillian Shephard, people over 65 are much more of a drain on the state than the few large families! Now, what would anybody do about that?

annodomini Fri 05-Apr-13 10:13:06

Gillian Shepherd is 73 herself, so she should know. Does she have a solution?

Greatnan Fri 05-Apr-13 10:25:36

Of course not - nobody has a solution! I suppose raising the age of retirement and pension was a shot at it.

Movedalot Fri 05-Apr-13 10:29:18

Well it seems the DM is not as sensationalist as I had thought from reading GN. Last night the BBC said the figures were 140,000 with 5 or more children so either the BBC is worse than the DM or the DM is not so bad.

The only way we could get a proper perspective on this, imo, is to find out what percentage of those on welfare have families bigger than 4/5 and what percentage of those not on welfare had such families. Then we could have a sensible debate based on facts.

Perhaps someone should point out to GS that nearly all the over 65s have paid into the system and are simply getting their own money back!

My own opinion is that I would prefer our money to go to the large families which have fallen on hard times than to someone like Mr Phillpot who has been said to have had more children so he could get a bigger house and more benefits.

As there is a finite amount of money I think it should go to those who can't help their situation rather than those who have made a lifestyle choice to have a large family they know they cannot afford and expect their hard working friends and neighbours to support. The number of people this applies to is irrelevant, they are using resources which could be better spent on those who do not choose such a lifestyle.

sunseeker Fri 05-Apr-13 10:29:27

MiceElf I know you were not getting at those of us who don't have children but would point out that as we don't have family to look after us we will be providing employment to others to do so.

Most of us can come up with instances of large families who are hard working and support their families, just as some of us can provide instances of families who don't.

In my own family I have a BiL who has 4 children, one of whom is disabled. The 3 able bodied children are now grown with families of their own and all are employed. My BiL is almost 70 and is still working as he wants to set up a trust fund for his disabled child and doesn't feel he has yet got enough money to do so.

I also have another BiL who also has 4 children, is a heavy drinker hasn't worked for at least 10 years and has no intention of ever doing so. Fortunately, his children don't seem to have inherited his attitude and are either already working or in education.

Taking a bit of a chance here but can I just say something in George Osbornes favour - he didn't actually link the Philpotts to the benefits changes. He was asked what he thought should happen to families like the Philpotts. (Grabs tin hat and ducks)

auntbett Fri 05-Apr-13 10:33:49

I don't think anyone would advocate state control over population regulation, either from the point of view of birth control or for us older ones, euthanisia?! However, a degree of personal responsibility is a creditable thing. Anecdotal accounts of happy, fulfilled, stable larger families can be countered by the experience of seeing a large family unable to sustain themselves physically, financially, emotionally, with exhausted parents and children with restricted life chances. It is my personal view that having children is of course a personal choice and carries great responsibilities as well as joys, but I also think that no-one has a right to have child just because they want one. I agree with Sel and Greatnan, overpopulation and the distribution of resources is a serious debate and it might be beneficial if those contemplating having many children could get away from thinking it's just about their own family and look at the wider picture.

Movedalot Fri 05-Apr-13 10:33:55

sunseeker wink

Greatnan Fri 05-Apr-13 10:41:01

I am afraid most people who talk about large families seem to rely on anecdotal evidence from the tiny number of such families they know about.
Of course we all agree that people should be responsible but as I have pointed out (several times!) sometimes people who already have what some would consider the wrong amount of children fall on hard times through no fault of their own. It must be horrible for them to be pilloried and associated with the feckless.
Nobody has said what should be done with existing large families - it is evident that the children cannot be left to starve.
My whole point is that whatever statistics you use, such families are rare in comparison to the general population and should not be used as a way of trying to cut benefits.

absent Fri 05-Apr-13 10:47:01

Greatnan I'm not so sure you're right. Reading letters in various newspapers and even some of the posts on Gransnet, I think that there are people who would leave the children of existing large families on welfare to starve. They would shake their heads and say how sad it is but the parents have been so irresponsible.

sunseeker Fri 05-Apr-13 10:48:49

Actually Greatnan I do agree with you - the welfare state was set up to help those families you mention, no matter how many children they have.

What needs to be done is to educate people to be responsible for their own lives, then if they do fall on hard times the welfare state is there to help them.

Something has to be done about the abuse of the welfare system but how this can be done without hurting those who the system was set up to help I just don't know.

annodomini Fri 05-Apr-13 11:04:20

If these families were 'left to starve' who would be the first to whinge if the children later became 'feral youths' roaming the streets mugging respectable citizens?

Grannyknot Fri 05-Apr-13 11:27:43

One thing is certain, there are loopholes that permit abuse of the welfare system including the health system - to the detriment of all - including the deserving - as a senior doctor and professor pointed out this week (I first picked up about it on Twitter but Google found a report on it in The Spectator):

In this case the loophole appears to be issuing overseas visitors with an NHS number. It's unbelievable that people are filling hospitals near Heathrow Airport for free treatment and being wheeled back to their planes still in a wheelchair (from the article). I shake my head.

gillybob Fri 05-Apr-13 11:45:59

There is a notoriouslarge family who live on the same estate as my son and DIL. The local authority knocked two houses into one huge house in order to accommodate their ever growing numbers. They have all been to prison at one time or another and the eldest son is currently serving a long sentence for a vile crime. All of the children have now left home and live in their own flats/houses (local authority rented) and yet the mum still lives alone in this huge 6/7 bedroomed house (paid for by the local authority obviously).

Having said that, I still believe that huge families are quite rare and Greatnans early statistics prove the point.