The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Maybe Now Frank Field Can Think The Unthinkable

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 11, 2010 @ 15:06

Not an easy job though...

As the years have gone by, I have to admit I’ve moved ever so slightly more… pragmatist… when it comes to the issue of benefits.

In the late 90s, when Frank Field was appointed by Tony Blair to “think the unthinkable” about benefits, I was deeply sceptical. Even then, despite being in short trousers and being unable to comprehend what the hell the issue was about.

A few years later, it still looked bad. A Labour government being elected with a landslide, and planning to shit on its working class constituency that stuck with them through thick and thin. Nice one Tony. Sacking Frank Field for whatever the hell it was he was planning was obviously the right move.

But now… when I heard Frank Field was coming back to try again, I was slightly pleased. And now, today, he’s started talking about taxing child benefit, or maybe stopping it earlier, I am even more pleased. Even though I’m not necessarily a fan of these two ideas.

The reason why is simple. Benefits and the welfare system need a root and branch review. There are some people who arguably get too easy a ride from it. But equally, there are others that are not covered sufficiently. For example, grandparents who provide free childcare but get no reward for it, when the children in question could so easily be put in a nursery and have the state pay. Similarly, there are question marks over the failure of the welfare system to reward carers of all ages.

These two examples are unfair. And that’s my basic principle. It all sounds very leftie Lib Dem. Well, that’s because it is. But in recent years the language of the left, regarding fairness, has been picked up by all across the spectrum. I am comfortable with that.

If Frank Field is going to open the books on everything, along with the very commendable work that Iain Duncan Smith has done in this area, and they are given free reign to re-examine what the welfare system is doing that it shouldn’t, and isn’t doing that it should, then I am convinced the end product will be something that will be fair on the people who need welfare, fair on those people who need welfare for the right reasons, and fair on the taxpayer that the money is being used to support those who need it.

Remarkable words for a lefty. But having seen at first hand the failure of a system which allows people to sign themselves off sick for decades, despite being physically capable of doing work; a system which offers nothing but succour to those who have fallen into trap of a poverty of aspiration, something has to change.

But let’s see what they propose first.

Maybe I’ll be eating these words in a few months…

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One Response to “Maybe Now Frank Field Can Think The Unthinkable”

  1. Innocent Abroad said

    There is any amount of misunderstanding about benefits. Particularly universal benefits. To the extent that these are paid to people who don’t need them (such as the Camerons’ Child Benefit) the money is, at least in principle, recovered through the tax system. Obviously one unified system would be better than the two we’ve got, but so far no Chancellor has been able to bully the Treasury and HMRC (who are not really on speaking terms) into making it happen.

    If I were you, I’d be fretting a lot more about the fact that British industry is trying to move to Switzerland where Corporation Tax is 10% as opposed to 28% here. And in particular I’d be fretting about the law which requires directors to maximise profits (to hell with the workers, the customers, the government and the environment) and by implications mandates this kind of thing.

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