Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Ground of Your Choosing: The Benefits Cap.

In battle, a successful commander will draw the enemy onto ground of his choosing. At this, Tony Blair was a master. By drawing the Tories to fight on ground, like Europe or the NHS, where they were weak, they were made to seem out of touch. The result was three election victories. Indeed New Labour's vilest policy, the plan to lock innocent people in gaol for 42 days before telling them what they were supposed to have done, was merely an attempt to discomfit the Tories. Propose a policy so vile that the Tories would have to oppose it, and then say they're "weak on terrorism". Of course that was a policy so vile even the lobby-fodder of the Labour party couldn't wear it and the Labour government went down to it's first defeat.

Yesterday, Labour, Liberal and cross-bench peers inflicted another defeat on the Government, by supporting an amendment exempting child benefit from the proposed £26,000 benefits cap. Let's not forget that a tax-free income of £26,000 is equivalent to you or me earning £34,000. You can support a family on a salary of £34,000 so I suspect the Government is delighted.

Who are we talking about? Mainly this benefits cap will hit people living in hugely expensive areas, mainly in London, who have large families. The elephant in the room is Housing benefit, paid directly to Landlords and inflating rents for the rest of us. Obviously people will have to move out of Hampstead, Chelsea and St. John's Wood to somewhere grotty in zone 4.

So you've had to move? This is the world's smallest violin & it's playing just for you.

The other group of people are those with large families. I think lefties will be surprised at how people who'd love to have three or four children and who don't because they simply couldn't afford to have them, feel about people who've never worked, pumping out kids on the tax-payers' expense. Most people feel we need to end the subsidy for people who've never worked to breed people who'll never work. In any case, you can bring up plenty of kids on a salary of £34,000. You just might have to move to a cheaper part of the country. A family of eight children could potentially forgo income of £5933.20 a year, equivalent to £8725 pre-tax & NI. So in essence, the Labour & Lib-Dem Lords want to pay £42,000 a year to people who've decided to make you pay for something many working people have decided they couldn't afford. Good luck selling that.

Working people on this kind of income, £34,000 a year, are called "middle class" often in a sneering way, and are not helped in any way by the benefits system. Indeed because I EARNED less than this in several previous tax-years, 6 of them, during which I held down 2 jobs while building a business, my Fiancee was denied any benefits at all when she lost her job. So what if people are forced to move to grottier areas of town? Working people have to do this all the time, when their income falls. So what if their kids have to move schools? My friends in the Army have the same problem. There are plenty of Private soldiers in the army dodging bullets in Afghanistan who have families subsisting on less. There are people starting businesses earning nothing who are nonetheless excluded from the benefits system. Do you think these people feel any sympathy for someone paid more than many people earn to do nothing?

The idea that an income equivalent to a salary of £34,000 "will thrust families into poverty" is absolutely abhorrent to the people who are forced, by the threat of expropriation and violence, to pay for it, people who are sneered at as "middle class". I would not be surprised if the Government quietly persuaded enough of its supporters in the Lords to stay away from yesterday's vote, to ensure a right royal battle on ground on which it is absolutely certain of the public's support.

Good luck, lefties, trying to persuade anyone that an income equivalent £34,000 a year salary is going to thrust anyone into "poverty". I suspect the Government is absolutely delighted to have this in the news for a few more weeks. "Labour wants to pay its voters more than you earn".



10 comments:

john b said...

Agree, the Tories have used this economically irrelevant policy (the cap itself, as opposed to the other changes being made at the same time, will save about the cost of MPs' salaries annually) brilliantly.

Voting against the cap is bad politics in a cause that's morally right, which is unfortunately a grave the left is great at digging for itself (and the CoE even more so). The only people getting benefits equivalent to gbp26k are large, poor families living in London. Taking away their benefits will shift the kids into poverty.

I don't want any child to live in poverty because its parents have decided to have too many kids. In the Middle Ages, we were all poor and we had no choice. Now we aren't, and we have the wealth to ensure no child grows up in poverty, and one of the few actual achievements of the Blair government was bringing that close to reality.

But that isn't really the point. The tiny proportion, accounting for a tiny proportion of benefit spending, of people who go over the cap are statistically negligible. The other changes the government are making to the system are far worse, and have been completely swallowed up in a silly argument over whether kids should live in poverty so we can cut taxes for single folks with perfectly decent disposable incomes.

(and yes, we could move poor Londoners compulsorily to Wakefield or wherever. We know that for poor kids, growing up near grandparents and extended family leads to massively improved educational, professional and non-criminal outcomes, but fuck it, it's not like anyone minds a bit of crime right?)

Jackart said...

So people have to move? Meh. Working people have to move because of financial constraints. Why shouldn't benefits recipients?

But it's just tax-payers' money, so who cares, eh?

john b said...

"Working people have to move because of financial constraints"

This is why we have massive in-work benefits and tax credits for families: so that poor working people don't have to move their kids to Scunthorpe because of financial constraints.

If you're a single person or a childless couple, and you move, then it doesn't fucking matter. I say that as someone who, whilst alternating between those two states, has lived in ten flats in five cities in the last 15 years.

If you're a family with kids - especially a low-income working family - then it does. Because suddenly, instead of childcare being your mum or your sister or your auntie, it's a random who charges you most of your pay.

Anonymous said...

Oh FFS John B, working people move regularly for new jobs etc.. Look at the Beeb Staff decamping to Salford (though not you notice the management)

Again you lefties want people on benefits to be immune from the day to day challenges that the working have to deal with.. why?

And Wakefield etc. is a red herring - why not Hounslow our some other tube connected Zone 4/5/6 area...?

And as for incentives so as to not inconvenience families, why don't we have incentives so that social inadequates don't have 6 or 8 kids knowing it's a bonanza from the social?

Ken said...

Hope there is no one from Wakefield or Scunthorpe reading these comments they will be traumatised for life, they might even have to go onto benefits!

NEARBYTREE said...

Before my husband left work - when my kidneys failed whilst I was still looking after our disabled son - he would have been delighted had he ever earned £26,000 let alone £34,000. However, the DLA changes have put us as a family in real fear. Coping with the emotional and physical aspects of approaching death is bad enough without worrying about benefits being taken away. No-one knows what life is going to throw at them.

matt c said...

I'd of thought that the left would be happy that less of government revenue will be going directly into the pockets of unscrupulous, extortionist,capitalist landlords.

tensecs said...

Interested in leftish opinion on this?

try...
http://lartsocial.org/benefitcap

Anonymous said...

Housing benefit is not paid direct to landlords.

Anonymous said...

Why not just announce that, as of 9months' time, there will no longer be any specific "Child benefit", acknowledging the peverse incentives it puts in place. At the same time state that the father of a child must provide half of his benefits to support that child. If he already has a family, then half of the half. In the real world, having lots of children is expensive and few men have very many and a man without any income would appeal to few women as a potential father. Solve the baby mother, serial father problem overnight..

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