Your Welfare Rights and Entitlements.

Welfare Rights exist in civil society
Welfare Rights exist in civil society

Your Welfare Rights

Your welfare rights are the right “to be made aware of your maximum entitlement to state welfare benefits”. You also have the right to receive these benefits and be fairly treated by the welfare system. Accordingly, these welfare rights are human rights. 

What are Your Welfare Rights

In 1794, one year after the French Declaration of the Rights of Man was published, the Prussian Civil Code was enacted. The code imposed on the state a duty “to provide the sustenance and support of those of its citizens who cannot procure subsistence themselves”.

This established the legal proposition that citizens have a right against their government to subsistence. After the Second World War, welfare rights were included in international human rights treaties, most notably the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Consequently, in domestic law your welfare rights were secured in the United Kingdom in 1969 and other developed countries, including Ireland, Australia and the United States. 

Housing – Your Welfare Right is a Human Right

Your welfare rights include the right to housing. Human rights are for all people, wherever they are. Housing is essential for human survival with dignity. Hence, the right to housing is clearly supported by international law. Indeed they are included in the very foundation of the international human rights system, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, established an internationally recognised set of standards for all persons without qualification.  

Article 25 of the Declaration says, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including housing”. Unfortunately, turning rights into realities is difficult. So ensure you access available supports. In your country this may mean:

  • Access to public housing (often called social housing) provided direct to you by government; and/or
  • A rent support payment or allowance paid direct to you so you can obtain housing in the private rental market.

It is up to you to find out what support is available.

  • Find out what government department/s are responsible for helping you with housing.
  • Correctly complete the required application forms.
  • Ensure your application remains current and is updated as required. Make sure your application is processed.

Make sure you know your welfare rights such as housing. Remember housing is a human right! 

Your Welfare Rights include - Housing!
Your Welfare Rights include – Housing!

Your Welfare Rights, International law and Income Support.

An income support payment is a regular payment that helps you with living costs. In most countries the type of income support payment you may get depends on your circumstances. 

The right to social security requires a social security system. A country must, within its maximum available resources, ensure access to a social security scheme that provides a minimum essential level of benefits to all individuals and families. It must enable them to acquire at least essential health care, basic shelter and housing, water and sanitation, foodstuffs, and the most basic forms of education.

International Law

Your right to income support is confirmed in international human rights treaties. The right to social security is contained in article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The UN Committee stated that implementing the right to social security requires that a system be established under domestic law, and that public authorities must take responsibility for the effective administration of the system. This requires that a country must, within its maximum available resources, ensure access to a social security scheme that provides a minimum essential level of benefits to all individuals and families that will enable them to acquire at least the essentials of life.

Income Support

Welfare payments, sometime known as a social security system, should cover the following specific situations:

  • health care
  • old age
  • unemployment
  • employment injury and illness
  • family and child support, including the need to care for adult dependants
  • maternity
  • disability

Wherever you live, you should:

  • Find out what government departments are responsible for welfare or social security payments and what specific payments they provide.
  • Make sure you apply for those payments you are entitled to and that your application is properly lodged with the correct department. 
Social Security Act signed into law by Franklin D Roosevelt
Welfare entitlements signed into law by Franklin D Roosevelt in Social Security Act

Other Entitlements

Other areas of assistance, whether it relates to education, mental health, or indeed recreation, can be crucial in helping people get by. These services often help ordinary people bounce back from traumatic events in life. In addition, they assist vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities and the elderly. 

With all the areas mentioned above, the process is the same. 

Perseverance is often the key. Bureaucracy can be hard to deal with and often delays occur. Make sure your application is up-to-date. And persevere until you have your full legal entitlement.

Businesses may offer discounts for welfare recipients, so keep an eye out for this and other savings tips.

Future Reforms

There have been increasing calls for either a Universal Basic Income (UBI) or a Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) payment.

A Universal Basic Income is a direct payment that allowed people to afford the essentials of life. It is paid to every member of the community. Hence the name Universal Basic Income.

A Guaranteed Basic Income is more of an equity measure. It is a fixed amount paid to those most needy in a community. The Guaranteed Basic Income has been trialled among disadvantaged groups. As a result, it has been found to be most helpful in increasing recipients quality of life. Indeed, it even improved recipients chances of obtaining employment, along with better health outcomes.

Socialists and liberals around the world are united in campaigning for a direct income payment for those most in need. All things considered, no citizen should be forced below the poverty line. 

Conclusion

Welfare support and payments are not charity they are your legal entitlement. So it is important to know your welfare rights. They may come in the form of direct services such as housing, medical or other services. They may also take the form of income support payments.

In today’s world, the wealthiest 1% enjoy unimaginable wealth. As a result, they look after themselves at the expense of us and the planet. Therefore, the rest of us need to access and receive whatever welfare rights and supports we are entitled to. Regardless of the form they take, make sure you claim your welfare rights. After all, they are your moral and legal entitlement.

Struggle & Resistance in the Far North

By Rob Pyne

Disabled, Former MP, Councillor and author: A Socialist who wants people to survive and have a better life. Resist and join the struggle!

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