The Sun’s “benefit scrounging” Lithuanian mum Natalija Belova is an actor

Once again it seems everyone’s favourite morning bog roll, the Sun, has proved its ability to break intelligent, thought-provoking, evidence-based investigative reports that challenge our preconceived notions and strike at the heart of our prejudices.

I’m talking here about it holding up Lithuanian mother Natalija Belova and the benefits she apparently claims as an example of immigrants “comin’ over ‘ere spongin’ off us'” and living like royalty.

Natalija Belova

As Phil over at A Very Public Sociologist points out, the Sun’s claim Belova nets more than £14k in benefits just doesn’t add up:

Belova “rakes in” over £1,000/month, yielding £14,508 every year. She receives £125/week from her job which, it is said, “boost her income to £400/week”. Then to help explain things, a table is provided to demonstrate “how the weekly cash stacks up”. It breaks down as Child Tax Credit (£56), Housing Benefit (£183), Child Benefit (£20) and Council Tax Benefit (£20) – a princely £279 every week.

But The Sun is deliberately lying. Belova does not receive an income (remember, they explicitly stated *income*) of £400 plus because she never sees two of the benefits payments. Until April, Housing Benefit is paid directly to her housing provider and the Council Tax payment bypasses her and goes to the relevant local authority. What is left, just £76, on top of her £125/week from her job gives her a *real* income before tax of £201 – about half of what The Sun’s says she pockets. One wonders how a single mum with a small child can afford luxury holidays and designer clobber on such a modest income, especially when in a year she actually receives just £10,452

Hardly a king’s ransom. But what the internet is really up in flames about is a Politics UK report that the woman the Sun decided to hold up as an example of the ills of immigration is in fact an actor – a scene that could have been stolen straight from The Thick of It as life imitates art.

Of course, acting’s a difficult profession and jobs can be few and far between, but the fact the Sun neglected to mention her career does raise some pertinent questions about the validity of their story.

Of course, everyone’s second favourite morning bog roll, the Daily Mail, didn’t need to wait to check the validity of anything, they saw their chance to pounce on a vulnerable minority and took it.

All of this takes us away from any serious debate about the economic impact of immigration, its benefits and its drawbacks.

Let’s drop the bogey men and the scapegoats. Lithuanians didn’t make the banks lend recklessly, single mothers didn’t cause the financial crisis. For that we have to look much closer to home.

It’s time for us to stop blaming the poor.

23 thoughts on “The Sun’s “benefit scrounging” Lithuanian mum Natalija Belova is an actor

  1. Firstly, Natalia is not Lithuanian, she is Russian.

    Secondly, Lithuania is pretty wealthy country (come on, check the numbers!).

    Thirdly, I was earning more money at home (Lithuania) than in England.

    Finally why not to write about me! I came to this country 2 years ago (from Lithuania), never asked for any benefits but in fact EMPLOYED over a dozen creative ENGLISH artists already. Western political games and poor puppets. Media is nothing more than a virtual cube to shape “reality”

    • The Sun and the Daily Mail do write about hard working immigrants – “comin’ over ‘ere, stealin’ our jobs”.

      Unfortunately, when it comes to the right-wing press, there’s no such thing as a good story about immigration.

  2. Salman,
    I’m afraid that whatever your agenda is as in if you are backing Natalia’s behaviour or not – you are quite inaccurate in your assessment. The point is that sums of £183 and £20 (Housing and Council Tax Benefits) even if thay “bypass her”, constitute REAL money which she definitely takes advantage of. Please compare: for example If you earn £300 a week(after tax) but are forced to pay this amounts (total of £203) you are left with LESS THAN £100 disposable income. That’s someone who actually pays taxes and is much worse off than Natalia – in fact paying taxes indirectly for her benefits. Please see bigger picture next time before you come up with such misleading statements, thanks on behalf of hard working, tax paying alas not treated fairly individuals…

  3. Stories like that just shock me as I’m a single mother with one child, came to UK from a different country but not to sit down on my back side and take benefits but to work. Another thing is that, how on earth is she able to claim so much money. This is just a joke :/ But the goverment is to blame. They let in this country people that are ”finishing out” the system and after some time the goverment want them out. Down the line, we have to look at British history a bit closer and then I could argue with anybody. Why don’t you write about British citizens that are sitting on their back sides and live on benefits and it’s going from generation to generation. Thank you, that all !!!!

  4. People just cant see, at the end of the day, on that income she can NOT possibly live a luxury lifestyle.

    People who earn roughly the same by working should know that its is just not possible! I repeat, its just not possible.

    Unless she is a scammer ( different to scrounger, and scroungers cant afford it either!) there is no possible way to fund it. Even if she was getting all her money in cash, and she didnt pay a single bill, its still not possible.

    Are they saying she is not eating, living in the dark and cold, and about to be evicted? That doesnt sound like a luxury lifestyle to me!

  5. maybe the country wouldn’t be in such a mess if the government pull the fingers out their backside and done something about this!
    i think it is absolutely disgusting that she gets more money than me and i work full time.Im 32 and i cant get a mortgage because i don’t earn enough, i have to live with my parents. The fact that she broadcasts she wont take a job on less that £25000 is appalling and that alone should stop her benefits as there is jobs out there she could take be clearly doesn’t. there is British people born and bred every day that are loosing jobs left right and centre through no fault of their own. this is just another advertisement to show how stupid our government is and welcomes any scrounger into the country. Yes i agree there is some very hard working foreign people out there but lets be honest most of them come here to get a easy ride on benefits because it is handed to them on a plate!! When will the uk government wake up and realise this and also put a end to it.

    • I understand your frustration Deborah, but it’s not the fault of single mothers from other countries and the Sun is just trying to whip up hate with its dubious stories. Yes the government should be doing more to help underpaid British workers, instead it is cutting public services and taxes for the wealthiest, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. That’s the real scandal.

      • But I don’t understand your point, Salman. Why should someone who has spent a lifetime building up an income, working their way up from nothing to become self sufficient in earning money pay taxes for someone who won’t work for themselves? I’m not talking about the “rich”. I’m talking about someone on, say, £28,000, who will pay around £6000-7,000 of tax a year. It takes two such people to pay for this woman to live in the UK while she makes no contribution to the society. Meanwhile, public services such as the NHS are squeezed while money is spent on her and people like her, be they British or non-British. Please explain how that is right?

        Of course, you can argue that every social service should be paid for by the “rich”. But they also have worked for their money in many cases. They pay for hundreds of people to be in work through their “extravagant” lifestyles, and those people they pay are in their turns contributing money to the tax system that enables the workless to live in this country without contributing to the tax system.

        You talk about inequity of pay. This exists, no doubt. But there is also inequity of work. You seem to think that the one cancels out the other. This is incorrect. That is like saying: “The fact that there are burglaries means that murders should be forgiven.”

        Your mistake is to equate two immoral acts by placing them on opposite sides of your scale. But no, they either go on the same side of the scales, or they go on different sets of scales. The one does not cancel the other.

        Please explain your moral position. At the moment it appears to be an appeal to the heart rather than a coherent argument.

  6. Firstly Natalia is not Lithuanian, she is Russian.

    I came to this country 9 years ago from Lithuania, I never asked for any benefits , but I always
    work hard and pay TAXES . I have wake up in the morning 5 am and go to work and is
    very hard because I do have a child . But this is life .
    Than I always see people around me who swears foreigners are getting bad . Why ?? I tell you . I work in place there I see people who come generation ( granny , mother and daughter 16 years old and she have child ) living on benefits and never unemployed , and an explanation is very simple : why get up 5 am and go to work if I can sleep in and get money for nothing. Why no one does not speak about them ????? Because they’re British and can milking system as they wish.For this, I do not think that they are better than the Foreigners who work very hard and a lot and save money.

  7. All the people moaning about this story and bemoaning the welfare system should bear in mind that the whole point is it was fake – the woman has been exposed as an actress. I wonder how many other benefit scroungers are actresses

  8. Thanks Salman for pointing out inconsistencies. However, I want to add some things in respect of British child care policy.

    Let’s take those £25,000. It’s is about £1,600 a month in cash. If both parents work and get about that amount they do not get any benefits except for Child Benefit which is £20 a week. In London average nursery costs £1,100 per month. That means full time working mother and getting £25,000 a year brings home only about £400 a month (£600 minus £100 transport and £100 food and clothes for work) for the first 2 years. In the first two years children are ill very often, that means the mother or father have to take unpaid leaves which reduces the £400 “benefit” to almost nothing. What if family has 2 children? So in fact that the government forces mothers not to work and then it cries that mothers do not work and take benefits.

    From 3-4 years government pays about a half for nursery. In this case mothers can bring £950 a month after paying nursery fees working for £25,000. If family has 2 children then the benefit of working does not exist. So part time jobs are common because then there is no need to pay for the nursery. When again, government cries that mothers work only part time and take benefits.

    Only after children start school it becomes more beneficial to work a full time but after 4 years of break who wants to take those mothers back to work? Even then problems do not end. Children have about 4-5 months of holidays or sickness a year. Both parents have only 2 months. It means they have to take holidays separately and still later find where they can leave children for another 2-3 months a year because if you leave children home alone they can end up with Social Services. Add to this that schools very often start and finish when you are still at work so many mothers are forced to work part time due to inflexibility of employers (even public employers).

    In Lithuania on the other hand, nurseries cost £100 in relative money terms a month for 5 years. Parents get paid sick leave for looking after ill children. In this case parents are forced to work and return the government nursery subsides by taxes. School holiday in Lithuania are significantly shorter too.

    So, don’t force people to become benefit eaters and there will be no need for paying benefits.

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