Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the tag “welfare”

Three ways to cut welfare

  1. Tighten eligibility criteria so fewer people can claim
  2. Reduce the actual amounts payable to specific claimants
  3. Create an economy where fewer people need to claim welfare

Which ways are the Tories pursuing? Read more…


A Programme for the Majority?

Just imagine the following programme for government:

  • Reform
    • A shake up of Westminster
    • Abolition of the House of Lords
    • A fair voting system
  • Public Services
    • No tuition fees
    • Educational Maintenance Allowance including part-time college students
    • The NHS in public hands, halting the tide of NHS privatisation
    • Abolition of prescription charges
    • Explicit protection for the NHS on the face of the TTIP agreement
  • Fairness
    • Pensions that protect our older people.
    • A decent welfare system that helps people into work
    • Eradication of working practices that have no place in a decent, modern economy
    • a Living Wage nation
    • Strengthening of the law against domestic abuse – speed up the court process, give more support to victims, and expand schemes to help offenders change their behaviour
    • Gender Equality: Removal of Systemic and institutional barriers – the pay gap, occupational segregation, a lack of affordable childcare and, sometimes, just outdated attitudes
  • Other
    • No new generation of Trident nuclear weapons
    • Deficit reduction but not slash and burn austerity
    • Stay in Europe

If we could break the internal coalitions in the old elitist parties, could we envisage a parliamentary coalition to support this programme? Read more…

A Rebalanced Economy?

This Government came to power talking about “rebalancing the economy”. I thought this meant a move from volatile financial services back (yes back – it’s not always bad) to more tangible wealth creating sectors such as manufacturing (particular of goods for export – which bring money into the country). The government is beginning to claim a measure of success, so how are they doing? Read more…

Language Battles

We have seen how the Conservatives have won a language battle over “Welfare” – with, for instance, use of statistics that has been condemned by the ONS and selective demonising of welfare recipients attempting to tar all welfare recipients with the label “welfare scrounger”. It has been suggested that they have set up the working poor (who do not think of themselves as “welfare recipients”) against the non-working poor.

This sort of use of propaganda is of course clever politics and we have seen it used elsewhere with similar success. At the beginning of this parliament they would not have got away with it. But by winning the language battle they have opened the opportunity for welfare cuts that will affect many to a small degree and a few to a very heavy degree. The debate now seems to be how can we solve the deficit problem by further welfare cuts (not by for instance ensuring that all pay their taxes). The deficit is “due” to excessive welfare, apparently – nothing to do with inadequate control of credit, poor regulation and massive government spending to prevent complete collapse of the world economy after the banking crisis. Osborne has said that he will not need to increase taxes in the next government – I can’t see him borrowing more, I can’t see massive growth, so presumably there are going to be further cuts. And which budget is not ring-fenced?

Given the success of this political ploy, we should ask: where is the current language battle and where will the Tories go when they have won the battle? Read more…

Economics of madness

The current government is leading us in a nasty direction.

They have won the language battle to stigmatise welfare recipients.  Tonight’s BBC News (News channel 23:00 15 July 2013) reported that 70% support the benefit cap.  The government feels that it can demonise the Labour party as “The Welfare Party”.  We use to be a society that was proud that it cared about the welfare of its fellow citizens. No more it seems.

The benefit cap comes in on the same day that the Resolution Foundation reports (Home Truths: How affordable is housing for Britain’s ordinary working families?) that housing costs rule out vast swathes of the country for all but the comfortably off (BBC Website 15 July 2013, Mark Easton: Rent ‘unaffordable’ in third of UK).

It would seem that we don’t care? Read more…

Impoverish the poor or soak the rich?

Suppose you want to raise £1M per week? How might you do it? I suspect the two sides of the coalition will have different views. Read more…

No faith, not much hope, but more charity?

The Coalition Government says that “Big Society” and the Voluntary Sector will pick-up some of the functions abandoned by the State (particularly Local Government). I am not so sure – particularly in my region (the North East of England). Read more…

Universal benefits

Just been watching the BBC Daily Politics (Liberal) Conference Special where they had a “mood balls” survey about whether Child Benefit should be universal.  By a heavy majority (on a small sample) those who voted (including some Lib Dem MPs) voted against universality.

This surprised me – particularly since it would strike me as much easier to administer a benefit if it is universal, but then to claw it back from those who don’t need / deserve it by adjusting higher rate thresholds.

Big State vs Big Society

Is this going to be one of the “defining themes”?

Labour say the (big) State will look after you “cradle to grave” – but our increasing expectations do not match the reality (no matter how much that reality is better than say 30 years ago).

The Tories seem to be saying let “Big Society” do it.  This seems a bit amorphous, but seems to rely on active citizens “doing it themselves”.   I wonder who are these “active citizens” – everyone I know seems to be too knackered and I suspect that the active citizens may be drawn from very narrow demographics (which is probably not a good thing).

There seems to be some level of agreement that the status of most of the existing “public goods” (health, education etc. “free at point of use”) is unchallenged (or that it is politically unacceptable to challenge that status).

Two questions arise:

  1. How to pay for them?
  2. How to ensure that they are effective? Read more…

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