Truth is stranger than fiction, and the editors of the Daily Mail and The Express cannot be disappointed at the discovery of Heather Frost, 37, who personifies the caricature of a welfare parasite (although the same can be said of the feckless sperm donors who abandoned their offspring in her). Don't worry, she is in the Daily Mirror as well.
She "struggles" to live at taxpayers' expense, in two adjacent houses in Churchdown, Gloucestershire, with her 11 children, 2 grandchildren and unemployed partner Jake. She would love to have more children, but is sterile (due to cervical cancer), and says she is married.
She also bought a horse and keeps it for one of her daughters, at £200 a month.
She also bought a horse and keeps it for one of her daughters, at £200 a month.
Now none of this would matter if her and her kin were sustaining themselves or other people were sustaining them by choice. I couldn't care less if she wants to breed.
However, this is a family that costs other people money, and not through ill fortune, but by lifestyle choice. In fact, this choice, facilitated by the generous UK welfare state, has given the woman the gall to demand more.
She has been complaining to the council that the housing provided at the expense of others is inadequate, so the Council is now building a brand new house for the family at the price of £400,000.
A true libertarian would cancel her benefits, tell her to get the money from the kids' dads, get a job and warn her that when the house she has asked for is built, it will be sold and the rent where she currently is will go up to market rates.
It is easy to moan about this, but what is needed is answers and a broader reflection on why this happens, when it is blatantly goes against the values of most of the population.
Quite simply, the incentives are set up to encourage this.
Money and housing is offered in exchange for breeding, without employment and without a call upon the other party responsible for the breeding. The more breeding, the more money and the bigger the home. The quality of parenting (which would appear to be at least questionable) is irrelevant.
Defenders of the status quo on the left would hold their hands up and say "what else can you do", and claim these cases are so rare that it is wrong to destroy or reform a system that makes these cases news because they are rare. Yet these very same people will protest and harass companies that legally seek to minimise their tax bills, and wonder why they do so?
After all, if you invested your hard earned money in a business, would you want a penny of it going to the likes of Heather Frost?
The culture bred by the welfare state is this one of entitlement, which isn't just about expecting the Council to give you a new house for nothing, but raising children who expect to never have to work, who are resentful of those who have worked and have things they want, and who believe that it is right to raise kids the same. Her eldest (21) already has a child of 2, who lives with them all.
Consider the effect of promoting this culture has on business, employment, crime and society as a whole. Indeed the left ought to consider how it breeds undying resentment amongst the broad mass of people who resent being the host to the parasitical claims of those who choose to be unproductive.
The only answer to this culture is to stop guaranteeing people every growing income for breeding and housing to accommodate it. Would Heather Frost have kept breeding if she knew she wouldn't get more money or a bigger house to accommodate the children? She claims that if she could have more children, she would. Maybe she would have named the fathers and they would have had a portion of their income taken to help pay? If she had been denied more money and housing for breeding, would the social services system let her raise the children in such poverty or take them away so they could be fostered or adopted?
There are some relatively gentle responses that take us down the path of more individual responsibility.
- Phase out child benefit altogether: Choose a date after which no new applications for child benefit will be allowed. So having more children wont entitle you to more money. So the message is sent loud and clear that responsibility for paying for children comes from the parents. It wont hurt any existing parents with children, but will ultimately contribute to a wider tax cut (e.g. lifting the tax free allowance for everyone);
- Abolish the legal obligation of local authorities to house anyone for free (but also reforming the planning laws on private property rights grounds): This measure, originally intended to deal with homelessness has promote a culture whereby young people leave home and demand housing, and those who breed demand more bedrooms. Those who want to help the homeless can do so through charities, and let local authorities decide themselves how to manage their housing stocks, by setting rents either at market levels or subsidised levels as they see fit. However, they wouldn't be getting central government taxpayers' money for this, they'd be levying council tax on everyone else to do this. Suddenly, the incentive to leave home drops, suddenly the incentive to migrate from anywhere in the EU to get a free house in the UK, disappears. Local authorities would decide on how they manage their own housing stock.
- Legally oblige all fathers (and mothers if they do not have custody) to pay at least a proportion of any income to support children (in the absence of any other equivalent arrangement): In the US it is called alimony, but it should simply mean that if a father refuses to live with or otherwise support his offspring, he should sufficient income deducted from his own, by court order, to pay for the offspring. If he is on welfare, the same happens. Find it hard to pay for your kids? Well working fathers find it hard too. Maybe you'll be more careful where you "stick it" next time. This couldn't be implemently universally, but could be easily done for all new claimants, and then phased in for others afterwards.
- Prohibit receipt of income support for single mothers who do not identify the father: The flipside of the obligation to pay is the obligation to identify fathers (mothers are automatically known). If the mother refuses to identify the man partially responsible, then income support wont be given. Those identified can dispute this, and the veracity of claims will be tested. Hard? Well maybe you'll be more careful.
- Link payments to single parents to the payments received from the other parent: Nobody is without income, so feckless fathers who are on income support would see a portion of that income going to their children, like real fathers would do. They would sacrifice their own comforts for their own children. What the custodial parent gets would be equivalent, on top of income support. Unhappy with how little you get? Well that's what you get from breeding with losers.
Given this scenario, Heather Frost wouldn't get a new home, she'd have to name the fathers of her children and get the money they provide for their children (what's the bet most of them wouldn't have much anyway). Over time she may find the money she gets for the children drops dramatically, as it gets linked to the trickle of cash the various fathers are told to give, although in her case with so many, it may work out. However, it will send a lesson, especially to the children, that other people tire of being forced to pay for you.
However, these changes wouldn't be about her per se, but about changing the culture. Removing child benefit sends the message that having children is the full responsibility of the parents. There isn't special money for breeding. The counter to that is by lowering taxes it means that people do benefit from working and succeeding. Linking benefits to single parents to the other parents suddenly means responsibility for breeding even in the event of a relationship ending, and in the case of "lifestyle" single parenting.
Both parties realise they have to control their own fertility or pay for it.
Finally, removing the obligation of local authorities to house everyone who turns up in their boroughs would deal to this specific case, and mean people do not feel "rewarded" for doing nothing. Those who own their own homes or rent privately should not be forced to subsidise those who demand housing for nothing. There remains a vast social housing system, incorporating taxpayer provided subsidised housing and taxpayers subsidising private rentals. This too needs to be progressively dismantled, with local authority housing either sold or transferred to charities, and subsidies for private rentals capped, along with the ending of the artificial constraints on housing supply due to planning rules. That's another story though.
What to do about her in the meantime?
The Council should tell her the home being built for her is to be sold, and tell her to put up and shut up.
and every taxpayer, business or otherwise ever harassed by activists or the media for tax avoidance should cite the example of Heather Frost and say "why should I have to pay for her?"
Welfarists will say it is kind to keep her in housing and keep her family intact, but will harass those who seek to minimise their tax bills to pay for this. I don't think it is kind, I think this woman has cruelly inflicted a lifetime of self-destructive, ambition absent mindlessness in the minds of 11 children, who have had it normalised to live in a dump, to demand money for nothing from others, and whose ambitions are likely to extend to replicating their vampiric mother's lifestyle. To simply claim "these things happen" or "what are you going to do, kick her out onto the street", is denying responsibility for a system that promotes such behaviour. Given her neighbours allege the family are "neighbours from hell", it does suggest that they aren't exactly respectful of others.
The welfare state is so far removed from its original promise, as a way of protecting people from temporary poverty, that it needs to be gutted, and for taxes to be lowered so working people in need can keep more of their own money.
Meanwhile, those who are sympathetic to the plight of Heather Frost and those like her are welcome to open their homes to her, donate money to her and to show the compassion they claim is inherent to their ideology.