Immigrant welfare mom says life is ‘very nice’ on welfare and she doesn’t want to leave or go home
With 11 children and 11 grandchildren, life for Katerina Sisarova, 43, from Slovakia, used to be a struggle to make ends meet. But seven years after moving to Rotherham in Yorkshire, Mrs Sisarova says life is ‘very nice’ – and it’s all down to the $40,000 USD she receives from the taxpayer annually.
What’s more, Mrs Sisarova, who has worked for a grand total of one month in seven years, says she has no plans to find work and spends her time caring for her grandchildren instead. And she isn’t the only one. Although husband Peter, a builder by trade, has had the odd job, he hasn’t worked for two years while all but one of Mrs Sisarova’s 11 children are unemployed and living on benefits.
‘My country no have job, no food… nothing,’ adds her husband. ‘No. I’m not going back – no, not ever. I like it here in England. England give me house, give me doctor, school, benefit. England good. Thank you so much England. Thank you very much.’
Daughter Petra, 20, lives in a council house nearby with her son Peter, three, and also lives on handouts, which in her case, total :£650 a month.
‘I get child benefit, tax credit, housing benefit,’ she says happily. ‘I’ve got a better life here than in my country. I’m never going to go back to Slovakia, never.’
Unfortunately for Mrs Sisarova, her reluctance to find work hasn’t gone unnoticed by the job centre, which has threatened to cut her benefits – much to her fury.
‘It’s not fair to suspend money like this,’ she fumes. ‘Is it right to do that? No! Every time I go to sign on, they come up with something… all the time. I am so cross! So cross!’
In Rotherham, much of the development work involves helping newcomers to settle in, which as translator Mikel explains, often means helping them claim benefits.
‘Katerina comes here quite often,’ he explains. ‘We try to help her with making phonecalls or filling in forms.’ He adds: ‘She has been suspended a few times from the JSA [jobseekers allowance] payments and the reason is that she is not actively looking for a job.
So why the UK and why Rotherham? According to Mikel, benefits are a huge draw. ‘Because the UK is in the EU, we [Roma] can work or claim benefits.
‘The UK is a welcoming country, an easy country to be in. I think it’s easier to claim benefits here than in our countries, so if we have people in here, we help them to claim benefits. Then there are other Roma who may be abusing the system. And don’t get me wrong, there are some of the British people who could say “they don’t do nothing” and stuff like that.
Among them is Mrs Sisarova, who, thanks to Mikel’s efforts on her behalf, has managed to evade having her benefits cut once more.
‘She will get paid job seekers allowance of :£500 a month,’ beams daughter Petra. ‘Very nice!’ adds her delighted mother.
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