By in Politics

Is it really worth it?

I read an article a few months ago about the inequality of pay rates (Peter Fleming, the Guardian, 26 May 2015) We are no longer paid what we are worth - just look at dog walkers which fits in well with how I am currently feeling.

Worth versus earnings

Politicians were recently awarded a(nother) payrise of 11% or £7,000. They did not vote for this themselves, their independent watchdog did. Some have criticised it but I don't see any of them refusing it.

Meantime, a band 5 NHS Staff or earns around £21k minimum a year and their support staff considerably less.

London walkers can earn well over the national average wage (which currently stands at £22,044). I'm a middle aged graduate with 20 years of secretarial and administration experience and I have never earned above the national average wage. Maybe I should have taken up dog instead?

Even eBay is not immune

So, as part of the process of making ends meet per month, and giving the arachnids fewer places to hide, I am in the process of a major decluttering of the house. My mother-in-law and my parents are also assisting in the money-earning process by donating their unwanted items to be advertised on eBay. (Which does, of course, inevitably lead to more clutter, rather than less, but that's life.)

With the almost endless audit process taking a lull for now, I have had a chance to run through my listings recently. I find that in the last few months while I've been buried in audit paperwork, have been amending their tips for unsold items. Great, so now I get to see what my buyers really can be. Items which I have listed at £2.20 (99p and £1.19 postage) are no longer selling. Someone's listing similar items at 99p and free postage, it would seem.

I blame the shops and stores for this, with their plastic imported tat. Everyone loves a bargain, sure, and I've grabbed a few myself on eBay in the last few years. But there's a and there's paying what an item's worth.

So what defines 'worth'?

Neither politicians nor dog walkers are the £77k or £32k currently being paid to them, as far as I can see. The politicians don't do much to improve life or lower the cost of living for the likes of me and my husband, while the idea of having a dog is that the owner should take responsibility for it, and if they don't have the time or the inclination, what on earth do they have a dog for in the first place?

staff, on the other hand, are worth a lot more than the they are currently paid, which is still below the national average. They deal with all kinds of people, with all kinds of needs, every single day. Unflappably, politely and with professionalism. They do not get expenses paid generally, often have to work long days and have to deal with antisocial shift patterns, night shifts and often, regular shifts in A&E too, with all the trauma (mental and physical) that can bring.

They earn their salary, that's for sure.

And some of my listings are going to have to be knocked down in price because I am getting fed up of seeing them listed week after week.

Image Credit » by johnhain

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Kasman wrote on July 26, 2015, 1:47 PM

When we hear of what some of the benefits scroungers are paid I really does cross my mind if it's worth working for a living!

MegL wrote on July 26, 2015, 2:47 PM

Are you listing items as "buy it now" or as auctions? Maybe if you started an auction at a lower price, you might get people bidding it up?

WordChazer wrote on July 26, 2015, 4:02 PM

The top line in London is £23k. That's several thousand more than I earn in a year and a good couple of grand more than our melody23 can expect to earn as a newly qualified Staff Nurse. The top line for benefits in the rest of the country is around the annual level that I have ever earned as an experienced adminstrator and about the same as a Band 5 clinical NHS worker can expect to get.

The experts say that these are top level only. But the fact they can quote this suggests there will be people trying to earn that much in benefits. That makes me rather concerned...

melody23 wrote on July 26, 2015, 4:06 PM

And they are threatening to take our anti-social hours pay away from us which as you know is what makes the wages up to the almost-average wage that they are. I don't think 22 grand (almost) is a bad amount of money at all, but when you consider what I will be doing for that money, the hours I will spend earning it and the horrible things I will see while earning it, we certainly deserve more. We are the lowest-paid degree-only profession in the country and I bet that your average accountant for example, never has to clean up blood off the floor, or off people for that matter; never has to help someone clean up after they have soiled themselves; never gets the chance to hold someone's hand as they take their last breath (for that is a privilege, although obviously distressing), never has to comfort someone who has been given awful news, never has to stand looking at a patient knowing they have done absolutely everything possible but not being sure they are going to make it and never has to deal with people loaded with drink or drugs trying to assault them. Of course its not just us nurses, every one from the domestics, the catering people, the admin staff to the most senior consultants (who to be fair earn a fortune) are all involved in some way with all of these things and every single one of us is a vital part of what keeps the NHS alive, the fact that over half the people that work for the NHS are earning less than the average wage (which includes for jobs like the dog walkers you mention) is absolutely shocking. I still love my job though and wouldn't change it for all the money you could give me.

I am loving all the tweets just now, given that parliament is on a 7 week recess and he has the cheek to say we don't work enough!

WordChazer wrote on July 26, 2015, 4:07 PM

Some of my items are auction, especially when ebay suggests items sell better that way and I haven't sold them for a while. But most of them are buy it now and free postage because ebay flags them with recommendations otherwise.

melody23 wrote on July 26, 2015, 4:33 PM

I have a relative who I don't speak to these days who gets full rate disability and mobility plus all sorts of other stuff, plus child benefit and her husband gets carers allowance for her (there really isn't much wrong with her to be honest and why she is getting mobility for a mental health condition that in now way affects her mobility is beyond me) they get their rent and council tax paid too.

If you added all that up I bet its much more than me and my partner will be bringing in when im qualified, me a qualified nurse working all those twelve hour shifts and him a chef working upwards of 50 hours a week.

I have never been on benefits, and when I hurt my back in a traffic accident I was at first expected to be off sick for six months. In the winter my partner only worked part time (small town reality I am afraid) so we had pretty much no income, our rent was 85 pounds a week and my statutory sick pay was 79, we still had council tax and electricity to pay for and that's before buying food. So I called whoever it is you call to enquire about benefits and was told to apply for a top up to my SSP and housing benefit, I applied for both and got neither! We ended up two months behind on the rent so I called again asking for a crisis loan and was told that I actually wasn't in a crisis because I couldn't be evicted until I was three months behind, if and when that happened the homeless team would help me!

I have never been so disappointed to live in this country as I was then. Had I lost my house and been put in homeless accommodation on the mainland I wouldn't have ever been able to return to my job on the island since there are no ferries at 1am, but giving up my job would ban me from benefits so we would have literally ended up in a hostel somewhere with no income whatsoever. Thankfully my landlord was great and I was able to return to work in three months rather than six but the point is that's what could have happened.

WordChazer wrote on July 26, 2015, 5:48 PM

That's an epic. Thank you :=)

Some of our consultants including my own Clinical Lead were working that weekend. Some of them did show the ImInWorkJeremy tag. *proud*.

WordChazer wrote on July 26, 2015, 6:48 PM

Mr C and I have tried several times for benefit top ups or tax credits because we live in a Rather Expensive part of the UK (not quite as hiked as Surrey but not far short). Not a dickybird so far. I managed Jobseekers in between roles last time but the Govt wouldn't allow me anything else such as housing benefit or tax credits. Benefits in the UK seem to kick in if you have sprogs or you can show you're disabled. Trouble is that I may have mobility issues but I don't tend to make a fuss of it, so I'm sunk.

melody23 wrote on July 26, 2015, 6:57 PM

We (him technically) do get tax credits, but its less than £150 a month and we will stop getting that once I finish uni in a few weeks, or maybe we can keep it till I start working I am actually not sure, its on my list of things to check out whilst im off for a few days this week.

It took my mother over a year to get her disability benefit because she didn't make a fuss over how ill she was, she basically never goes to the doctor unless she is really bad so they assume she cant be as bad as she says she is or she would be there all the time. It took ages of fighting and form filling to show that actually, she is pretty ill she just doesn't like to bother the doctor when she knows he cant do anything for her anyway

DWDavisRSL wrote on July 26, 2015, 8:31 PM

You have hit upon a very sensitive subject here. In a free market, how much a person earns depends on what people are willing to pay, hence a dog walker making a decent living. Politicians are not subject to the free market and make well in excess of the worth of their work. I sometimes feel disgust at what some athletes, actors, and musicians make but no one is putting a gun to anyone's head and making them go to the games, movies, concerts, or watch any of the above on television. If these folks can demand and receive their stellar salaries, more power to them. It does put me in favor of a progressive income tax; one that gets more progressive the higher income goes.

Paulie wrote on July 27, 2015, 1:21 AM

I would think that worth is defined by demand in most societies. In the States, for example, there is a demand for watching good sports players, and consequently a lot of them are getting paid millions of dollars each year.

WordChazer wrote on July 27, 2015, 12:58 PM

According to one article I read on the subject, part of the reason that footballers are paid so much is that one chance injury can ruin their career, the assumption being they will not be able to move on to anything else.

Seeing as many of them go in for coaching, referee work, managing, agency/talent spotting or punditry I can't see that one washing too well.

WordChazer wrote on July 27, 2015, 1:02 PM

That's why I wish that paying the licence fee for TV here was optional, because I seriously do not wish to contribute one red cent to these overpaid and talentless morons currently populating our screens. I don't watch them, so why am I contributing to their obscene salary? They don't do much to pay mine!

Kasman wrote on July 27, 2015, 2:18 PM

Injured footballers could also claim benefits - and live better than many of us!