Cut social security not national security

If you needed more evidence of Labour spin and their continuing influence on the media I invite you to consider the lop sided discussions of public spending cuts. There is just one relatively small departmental budget that is crawled over endlessly for spending cuts – that of defence. It just happens to be the only budget where this government has made some cuts, whilst all the others have soared.

In 1996-7 the UK spent £21.3 billion on defence and £85 billion on social security. This year the spending on defence will be around £35 billion whilst the spending on social security and tax credits will be £180 billion. So over the Labour years social security spending has risen by more than 110%, defence spending has gone up by 75%. Social security is now five times defence, whereas it was four times in 1996-7.

Anyone seriously wanting to control our deficit – or for that matter wanting UK people to have better lives with more jobs and higher incomes – would start with plans to get the costs of social security down. Labour in Opposition called it the cost of “economic failure”. Now in government, with the budget surging, they present such spending as evidence of caring and sharing. The truth is too much of the budget is offering people a substitute income for employment. We should do better.We have talked about this before and will do so again. We need to put the enterprise back into Great Britain, which means lower tax rates and less regulation. Then we could get more back to work and off social security.

Meanwhile over at defence the rows escalate. We are told we cannot do everything. The army wants more troops so it can fight future Afghan wars with more boots on the ground. The navy wants new carriers and support vessels. The airforce claims more heavy lift to support the army and more fighters with modern capability.The truth is we need all three. The second truth is no area of government spending can be exempt from pressure to do more for less, from the search for better ways to spend. The cuts I would like to see in the military budget are these. I would like fewer armchair Generals and shore based Admirals, and more officers leading active units. I would like to see better value for money procurement, and an efficiency drive in the large civilian administrative tail. I have set out before ways that we could use private finance to improve service housing and release cash.

I woudl also like us to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible,. If any capability has to be cut, it should be the capability to invade Middle eastern countries where we have not been invited.

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63 Comments

  1. Mark M
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Social security benefits and government debt interest. These were the 'bills of social failure' were they not?

    Thanks to the budgets being online, it's easy to go back and check. In 1998-99, spending on social security benefits was £93.5bn, debt interest £29.5bn. By 2008-09 they were £149.8bn and £30.5bn respectively. Taking into account inflation, this is a real terms increase of 15% over a decade.

    But maybe we're being unfair, after all 2008-09 was in the middle of recession, when social security bills will go up. Let's have a look at 2006-07, well before this 'global recession' nonsense started off. Well, back then it was £131.3bn and £27.6bn. Accounting for inflation, that's still a 10% real terms increase over 8 years.

    8 years of economic growth remember, and Labour failed to reduce the 'bills of social failure'. On a rough estimate, if they had even been competent enough to keep them flat between 1998-99 and 2006-07, the deficit would be £15-20bn lower now.

    • Robert K, Oxford
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      I like the maths

    • THE ESSEX BOYS
      Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      Quite right Mark.

      We Essex Boys got together for PMQs and lunch as we often do.
      It was good to see the attack being taken to the PM after the Tory's wobbly week.

      Our chat afterwards centred on the need to stay balanced but get angry again at this inept, blustering Labour government. We’ve been unanimously impressed at the directness and delivery of experienced former ministers Redwood and Rivkind in the last few days and we mused that it might well be time to redraft arguably the team's most effective striker of recent times to augment the energetic but still-developing young midfielders.

      David Davis almost single-handedly had the scalps of first Beverley Hughes and then Blunkett and Clarke with forensic ruthlessness. With defined guidelines and proper motivation his experience on weeding out waste on the public accounts committee and his communication skills would be invaluable in ‘closing the Cameron deal’.
      Labour's sheer wastefulness is still not being exploited by the leadership and every piece of research by our colleagues at ESSEX VOTERS VOICE has confirmed the chord this strikes with ordinary voters, as does Immigration and state interference (or to use Boris’ conference term – the nonsense!)

      The Conservative message needs tightening and toughening. To be sharper…slicker…more direct…less fussy…more down-to-earth… more man-in-the-street.

      Try this.

      THE CONSERVATIVES

      WE aren't scared of the C word.

      We shall…

      * CUT WASTE
      * CUT THE DEFICIT
      * CUT IMMIGRATION
      * CUT THE NONSENSE!

      CONSERVATIVES. COMMON SENSE & COMPETENCE

      With the compliments of The Essex Boys from God’s Own County!

      • THE ESSEX BOYS
        Posted February 4, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        John – in the anticipation that you will waive copyright we are this morning emailing this blog to all leading Conservatives MPs plus all Essex MPs too.

        We see it as our civic duty to help put some ideas in their minds and lead in their pencils as the General Election looms!

        Reply: Be my guest

  2. Andrew Duffin
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    And now there is kite-flying going on about "better co-operation with the French".

    This sets my antennae buzzing.

    Anyone else think it's the EU army coming in by the back door "because we can't afford our own any more"?

    But somehow we CAN afford millions of useless paper-shufflers in the public sector.

    • Cliff
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Andrew; Re; A European Army.

      I fear it may already be here by stealth; A few months ago, when the British couple were seized by pirates, Sky News reported that the empty yacht was found by a vessel from the EU Naval Force, I wrote privately to John about this(He is my MP) and I also wrote to Sky News three times concerning this "New" force. Sky did not respond at all to my communications. I suspect that eventually there will be a EUSSR wide military as that comes naturally through political union. I suspect the creation of a United States of Europe was the plan all along, sadly for us though, unlike the USA, it will be along Socialist lines rather than free market Conservative lines. When I say Conservative lines, I mean traditional Conservatism, not Mr Cameron's version of it.

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Got it in one I think, all too obvious what they're up to, I'm sure there was a law against it, maybe some one secretly repealed it.

  3. Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I have an odd question:

    Does it make sense to pay Public Sector workers on less that 25k a year pay tax back to the Public Sector requiring more public workers to process it?

    Would it not be more effective to simply pay them, having reduced their salary by an equivalent amount that they'd pay in tax, without pushing them through the PAYE system? The individual worker will lose nothing at all and the state should save money at the processing end at HMRC.

    Or have I gone completely mad?

    • Robert K, Oxford
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Not mad, but better to find ways to avoid employing public sector workers in the first place

    • APL
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      "Does it make sense to pay Public Sector workers on less that 25k a year pay tax back to the Public Sector requiring more public workers to process it?"

      You have not gone mad. BUT, it is a fraud perpetrated on the productive sector of the economy, a pretence that we are all treated equally. In fact no one in the public sector, including MPs pay income tax or National Insurance at all.

      All government revenue comes from one of two sources, tax on the productive sector of the economy or borrowing.

      And borrowing is a deferred tax on the productive sector of the economy.

      • Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Leaving aside notions of equal treatment between wealth-generators and rent-seekers, is it not the case that paying tax on public sector workers simply requires more public sector workers, and thus more tax on the generators, that were we to NOT subject them to PAYE?

        There's got to be a figure on what it costs to collect an individual's taxes and thus how many tax payers are needed to create an HMRC deskmonkey. And if there isn't, there should be, as this looks, to me, like a positive feedback cycle in the public sector that could be instantly eliminated with very little pain.

      • APL
        Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Shaun Pilkington: "is it not the case that paying tax on public sector workers simply requires more public sector workers, and thus more tax on the generators, that were we to NOT subject them to PAYE?"

        I can see your point of view. But, given we ought to by now be familiar with the law of unintended consaquences, I imagine a scenario developing some time in the future where the argument is made that civil servants are so important to the running of the country, perform such critical jobs that just can't be performed in the private sector that despite them not paying tax, introduced for the good reasons of cost you outline, they really really need parity with the private sector. "I mean, do you know running a large department in whitehall is like running a big investment bank, we deal with a billion pound budget, don't you know!"

        No, I would say the alternative is slash and burn the civil service most of the statistics gathered these days is enlisted in the cause of this or that tenticle of socialism.

        A civil service of reasonably well paid employees in total say ten thousand employed to administer government would be my ideal.

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink

      Sounds logical to me.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Simply staggering financial mismanagement of a Social Benefits experiment, which has failed now for the 4th time.

    When will the voters learn.

    I would have thought that the Defence budget would have needed to have risen more, given that we have been at War for much of the period.

  5. Posted February 3, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I have already noted the two men living in the richest part of Wisbech with their large families, almost entirely supported out of taxpayers' money. I have also noted the Polish Mums who cannot work because they will lose their benefits if they do. Last night, one was saying how much she loved her work and how much she missed it.
    There are no end of agencies devoted to getting young people into work – I see them every day. One has two bureaucrats supervising a young person of 25 who never seems to arrive here to do the work they think she is doing. She has a degree too.
    Last evening, our hall was full of people from Eastern Europe doing their paperwork.
    Meanwhile, in the local paper, the Headmistress of the local Comprehensive (pass rate at GCSE: 25%) laments the fact that only two people have applied to teach at her school, which is why there are so many supply teachers. You cannot get the staff because, apparently, it is a very difficult area…….
    Oh – and the local library has had an enormous amount spent on it and is now reopened. Who paid for that, I wonder?
    If people here are being affected by the incontinence of the government, then I wonder what it is like in other places.
    PS We are a strongly Conservative area.

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      It's called Communism, where everyone works for the state, the jobs dion't have to be productive but its all there is, private industry wont exist because that would make you independent. Can't have that, Communism is State control over every aspect of your life, including food water, fuel energy travel.

  6. backofanenvelope
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    "I woudl also like us to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible,. If any cpaability has to be cut, it should be the capability to invade Middle eastern countries where we have not been invited."

    Gets my vote. But as it is not Tory policy………….

  7. Stronghold Barricade
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Cut social security not national security

    Or combine the two?

  8. Javelin
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately the British Forces need to start recruiting some better public relations advisors. You can only fight spin with spin.

  9. Pat
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    It has always been a cop-out to offer those unable to find work a payoff to go away and keep quiet. They should be offered work, even if it is digging holes for others to fill in (though I can think of lots of hedges need cutting and ditches need digging, so there is useful work out there). They would then retain at least some of their human capital, and cease to be stigmatised as scroungers.
    Similarly it is cruel to pay hush money to the disabled- they should be taken into care. This would of course provide work for a few of those who are having difficulty finding work.
    As to the service budget- what is the chance of us building the battle group needed to escort the proposed carriers, not to mention the aircraft needed. And if we do pay for all that- what do we envision using them for? If we are fighting in alliance with the US then we will be adding little. I can think of no potential adversary beyond the range of UK bases against whom two carriers would be useful.

    • Cliff
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Pat;

      I am a disabled person that worked for over thirty years, I certainly do not want to go into care, I find your attitude rather insulting but, I do support your right to say it.

      It is cruel to try to get people unable to work to work. Often it is not just the inability to work that causes the problem, after all, even I could lick a stamp, it is also the problem of being able to get physically to a place of work.

      I too used to have a similar attitude to you regarding "scroungers on benefits" I too used to perceive they were all well off and living off my efforts however, I have seen life from the other side of the giro. No one would choose to give up a salary and their independence to live on disabled hand outs. I went from a very good salary, running a car, two cruises a year and a good social life to living from hand to mouth. I went through unpteen form filling exercises, jumped through hoops at medicals, gave the DWP access to all my personal data, medical records and my many bank accounts just to receive my £89 a week. I dread the postman coming in case someone at the DWP has another query or another interview or examination they want me to go through….Each time they contact you, they appear to put a hold on your money which you then have to contact them about, they then blame the computer and re-instate it….I dealt with thirteen different offices for my one claim.

      We have a strange attitude to people that require help from the state. We have a welfare system but, God help you if you need to claim on it. Our welfare system is in effect a glorified insurance scheme; If you need to claim on your car or house insurance, people are generally sympathetic to you however, if you need to claim on your national insurance, you are labeled a scrounger, chav etc.
      It is often said that a nation can be judged by how it looks after it elderly and disabled.

      Where we could save a fortune on social security is by having a moral crusade to discourage young single girls to have kids with no means of supporting them. Look into what a newly pregnant girl gets just for having a kid; A £500 grant to buy the "baby equipement" that modern mothers need, this is given each time the single girl has a child, even if they had their previous child only ten months before…. The child trust fund payment, doubled if a single parent…Child benefit even before the child is born…..Fruit and Veg vouchers…..A home, income, housing and council tax benefit etc etc….No wonder some people choose this as a lifestyle….My sisters would not have dared come home up the duff however, parents seem to be proud of their unmarried single mother daugters these days. The welfare system was brought in to be a safety net, not a way of life.

      I have been a Conservative supporter all my life but I don't recognise Mr Cameron's version of Conservatism. I think his proposals for forcing disabled people to work is cruel. I wonder how he will get around the national minimum wage requirement when he gets people to take part in community service….At one level, his proposals criminalise disabled people and those out of work; He proposes workfare or community service….Community service is a punishment that judges hand down to convicted felons, is it Mr Camerons desire to "punish" disabled and unemployed people for being such?

      We do need social security reform but, we need to look at the real problem area namely the rise in the number of un-married single mothers as, their off-spring will perceive a life on handouts as the norm. All too often we see daughters of young single mothers going on to be young single mothers….This is the cycle we need to stop. We need parents to be made responsible for their off-spring again.

      • Mark
        Posted February 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        That you deal with 13 different offices for a claim of £89 per week illustrates the absurdity of the system. The administrative cost must be horrendous. You can clearly do rather more than just lick a stamp, given the lucidity of your comments here. Were I an employer, I would give very serious consideration to finding a way to enable you to work from home, taking advantage of the marvels of broadband. Of course, then you'd face yet more stupid interaction with the welfare and tax bureaucracy, and so would I.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Re "young single mother" – agreed.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 4, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Cliff

        You have highlighted the real problem with all of these Social Benefit Systems.

        There is no joined up thinking, because of different Departments with differing rules, run by different people who do not, and are not allowed to communicate with each other.

        Very often the Benefits given to claiments cost more to administer than the payment itself.

        Single mothers comment agreed, one would of thought no one ever invented contraception.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      If we adopt Mr Redwood's suggestion of not invading countries then we won't need the carriers, or the very expensive aircraft to fly off them. Aircraft which haven't even flown yet.

      Anyway, the Royal Navy is now too small to man the carriers.

      Lets have a new policy – no American wars and no French wars. Works for the Swiss.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        backofanenvelope.

        May need the Carriers again in the Falklands, as we are soon to drill for oil.

        Aware we now have a runway on land, but that would be easy to attack as it is a fixed location target with few aircraft to defend it.

        Where would aircraft land if runways are destroyed between sorties.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      I imagine Lord Palmerston, were he in charge of the effort to free the British couple kidnapped by pirates could find a use for a carrier or two… (not to mention the yardarm and some rope)

      David Miilband wants to give our guys water pistols (or was it water cannon?)

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      A carrier is an ideal vessel from which to counter pirate activity off Somalia, and it would not need a "Battle Group" to protect it.

      • APL
        Posted February 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Alan Wheatley: "A carrier is an ideal vessel from which to counter pirate activity off Somalia, .."

        Yes.

        Alan Wheatley: "and it would not need a “Battle Group” to protect it."

        Why?

        • Alan Wheatley
          Posted February 3, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          My presumption is that the carrier would be deployed to engage the pirates off Somalia. From what I have heard in the media the best they are armed with is heavy machine guns and rocket propelled grenades mounted in light craft, supported by hijacked merchant ships. I would say that a carrier has more than enough resources to deal with such a threat many times over.

          The carrier would sensible have support from a few other vessels, such as a RFA and a frigate or two, but that is a long way short of a battle group.

          I know there are Russian naval vessels in the area, but in this instance they are on our side!

        • APL
          Posted February 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

          Alan Wheatley: “The carrier would sensible have support from a few other vessels, such as a RFA and a frigate or two, but that is a long way short of a battle group.”

          If you could guarantee that there would be no threat from any other source other than the one we sent the carrier and its three frigates and a RFA supply out to counter, then I agree. But, and I think this is the point, I don’t think you can make such a guarantee.

          The Somali coast is a lot closer to Iran for example, than the United Kingdom. Iran has shown itself quite happy to tweek the nose of the little satan. I don’t doubt it would be prepared to consider the PR bounty of an attack on a UK carrier.

          You on the other hand might be prepared to trust the safety of the crew and a few billion pounds of equipment not to mention ship to the good graces of a foreign and surely a hostile power.

          I would be reluctant to do so without making sure such a prize was very difficult to take.

      • A.Sedgwick
        Posted February 3, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        No just a hunter killer sub.

        • Alan Wheatley
          Posted February 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          I am not sure if your reply is meant to be taken seriously, but if so, with what weapon system carried by the hunter killer sub do you propose that the pirates are engaged?

  10. Ian Pennell
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Dear John Redwood

    Unfortunately, I see little chance of David Cameron advocating such a policy at present. He is trying to be all things to all men! The electorate would respect our Leader much more if he had the courage to say things that some might find unpopular- some benefits need drastic reform and in some cases, cutting!

    As I said on Monday, David Cameron really needs to up his game- A LOT! He must thrash Gordon Brown today at PMQs or you will have words with him!

    Ian Pennell

  11. Ian E
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Could I ask an off-topic question (answer on a postcard, in an e-mail or even in a bottle would do!)?

    It appears that the wheels have been rather coming off the MMGW issue with revelation piling on revelation – both about the IPCC and about much of the supposed science. Is anyone at the top of the Conservative Party following this and trying to assess the truth about any of this?

    The British voter is clearly, statistically, feeling very sceptical, but I see no sign as yet that any politician (other than UKIPs of course) is paying any attention to the widespread doubts now emerging. I don't expect the NuLabour people to be swayed by NuScience – but shouldn't the Tories at least look at this?

    Reply: I you read back numbers on this site you will see we have given it considerable attention. Lord Lawson, a Conservative peer, has written a book setting out an alternative view.

    • APL
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      JR: "I you read back numbers on this site you will see we have given it considerable attention."

      Indeed the topic has been discussed at length.

      JR: " Lord Lawson, a Conservative peer, has written a book setting out an alternative view."

      Sadly, on this issue, neither your blog nor Lord Lawson's book seems to have impinged in the slightest on Mr Camerons consciousness.

    • Ian E
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      I guess I should rephrase the question to ask whether anyone in Cameron's sphere is considering this issue seriously? Lawson, sadly, I suspect, does not have DC's ear and will thus probably have little effect on official Tory policy.

    • Mark
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Now we have OFGEM having finally caught up with the numbers, while telling us the solution is £200bn of spending and a centralised authority just to go along with the failure of government planning already on this issue. The ideas coming from Osborne, Hands and Cameron are frankly green, not just Green. Voters are being turned off by it, sensing robbery by taxation and surcharge to hand over to foreigners who own the assets, and more loss of jobs due to uncompetitive energy cost.

      Time to change tack and admit that the AGW stuff isn't entirely compelling, and that the most cost and security of supply effective (and probably even ultimately most Green) choices are to prolong the lives of our existing coal stations, and abandon the windmills project. We'll still have to build some CCGT to tide over until the nuclear replacements are available, but less than otherwise.

      • Mark
        Posted February 3, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        Apologies to Greg Hands – I meant the other Greg – Clark.

  12. A.Sedgwick
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I am sure many have picked up the simple linkage of diverting some unproductive welfare into productive defence manufacturing. The run down of the RN is unbelievably short sighted and like the Afghanistan debacle ignores the lessons of history. Our defence priorities should be an elite army to defend our borders, protect overseas territories e.g. Falklands and rescue our citizens abroad e.g. from Somali pirates, similarly suitable aircraft and air defences and without question the maintenance of the nuclear deterrent.

    A clear declaration by the Conservatives that we are withdrawing from Afghanistan by the year end would be a bold, popular and correct policy. Rather than continue to be sucked into the Mandelson web of intrigue over cuts, there are other massive policies to be pursued e.g. EU referendum(some hope), immigration freeze for a parliament, repeal of human rights laws, tough on crime……… education, education…………..

  13. TCD
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,
    Compliments on your appearance on Sky's Jeff Randall show last night. You were short, succinct and clear. That is what we need: simple explanations that ordinary people can understand. Not statements that 'bond yields are increasing' or things like that. Technical terms mean nothing to most people. We need simple comparisons to ordinary household budgets. If you spend too much on luxury like foreign holidays or cars, and you are getting seriously overdrawn, you need to cut down on them. That is precisely what the country has been doing, and most people understand that.

  14. Steve Cox
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    It's pretty obvious that the largest savings can be made from the biggest budget. Since welfare is now by far the largest part of government expenditure, it is the obvious place to begin. What is worrying, though, is the way that vested interests have infiltrated themselves into the system, making it impossible to reform while they are extant. (There followed allegations about staff in benefit offices without back up evidence-ed)

  15. adam
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me the economy is bankrupt by design. Its keynesian bubble economy that is ripe to pop. They cant keep throwing money at it every time there is a downturn.
    i am not sure we can afford more spending.
    how about we start getting out for debt to the bankers

    PFI is a goldmine of theft and corruption, as is the olympics no doubt. It would be great to a have a high level investigation of the fraud going on in these areas that is kept secret from those involved, so they cant whitewash it.
    The national audit office must be avoided in other words.
    The people deserve to know they truth about how they are being defrauded.

  16. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    From the World at One today (Radio 4) I learnt that the government has published a green paper on defence spending. It is acknowledged that a defence review is needed, but that is some months away. So what lunatics in government think that you can make sensible decisions on spending prior to knowing what tasks the resource you are going to fund has to do?

  17. OurSally
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Employing the unemployed: if people are willing and able to work, and willing to make an effort to find a job and able to get to it, you will find they are already working. I know people who work in wheelchairs, and people who get 6 weeks off for a pulled tendon. The ones who are genuinely unfit get a bad name from the scroungers.

    A builder I know gets the unemployed sent to him sometimes. All this time he only got one who was useful enough to be offered a job (it was a woman). He says he wouldn't want to live in a house built by any one of them so he can't wish it on his customers.

    My neighbours have to apply for permits for Poles and Czechs to pick the apples on their plantations. Sometimes they get less than they need, with the promise of an equal number of unemployed. On the first day 3 of 4 turn up, on the second day 2 turn up, on the third day 1 turns up and disappears at midday. The apples they have picked have been thrown into the boxes, so are bruised.

    So I don't think they would be of much use in the defence industry, which is inhabited by well educated, highly skilled and diligent people (I am one!). You may suggest they join the armed forces, but the recruiters do demand good health and some amount of education.

    Now, Britain could really use some tidying up. Welfare recipients could be picking up litter, gardening the parks, scrubbing graffiti, scraping chewing gum, etc.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Nobody would suggest the deadbeats being involved directly in the defence industry, but if the benefits they were given dried up and some of those funds used to give us the national security we need.

  18. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    As to defence spending, has anyone assessed the cost of not undertaking a military action? I know that estimating the cost of something that has not happen is problematic, but any cost benefit analysis of future plans, be it military or anything else, has to make some sort of stab at it.

    For instance, lets look at the pirates off Somalia. All piracy could be ended if sufficient resource was applied to the problem. Obviously there is a cost. But what is the cost of piracy. I have heard that (some of) the ransom money ends up in the hands of terrorists. If terrorists use this money to attack us what is the cost. File on Four yesterday reported that attempts to counter IEDs included trying to cut off the funding, but that this was proving very difficult to achieve. Well, one source that could be cut off is that from piracy.

    So, what is the trade off between defence capability and the cost of terrorism?

  19. Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Common sense says that if one needs to make cuts in a budget, one needs to look at the biggest items first.
    On a personal level, there is little point in cutting out the daily paper and then deciding to have an expensive foreign holiday in five star accommodation. Cutting out the holiday would not only allow the daily newspaper, but more importantly would allow a lump sum to be paid of the mortgage thus reducing the interest and ongoing expenditure.

    The government has got to bite the bullet in a similar manner. Social Security and the NHS seem to be the biggest budget items and it is totally wrong to suggest these budgets should be protected. These budgets should be closely examined and fully justified by those involved. Prestige projects (such as computerisation) should be dropped unless their cost can be recovered by savings with say five years. At present most of these projects seem to require more staff, not less, and provide no saving.
    Oh and get rid of ALL the quangos and use their budgets for extra defence expenditure.

  20. Tedgo
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Do you realise the MOD pay the IT Consultants, Atlas, £3000 per year to keep one computer on a Civil servants deck, the computer is worth about £700.

    Even sadder, the MOD never get to own the computers so at the end of the 10 year contract and faced with all the computers being taken away, they have to sign up for another 10 years.

    • Mark
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      I'm sure I could organise the military operation to buy replacement machines and transfer all the data from the old ones over, and then tell Atlas to come get their old machines – and warn them they'll be fined if they go to landfill. No contract renewal.

    • Posted February 3, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes but the MOD, left to its own devices, intends to use IE6 until at least 2014. If it cost £1,000 more per pc per year to shift their attitude to IE7 or *gasp* IE8, Firefox or Chrome, then everyone in the UK would be immeasurably safer!

  21. Jane
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Whilst I am in agreement with ensuring that the defence of our country is funded properly, this does not permit appalling errors by MOD procurement and overspend. For forty years, I have been reading of these overspends and wrong decision making on procurement. As far as I am aware, no person within the MOD has ever been held accountable. Politicians benefit from having a well trained and armed service – it gives them clout in the world. I still feel we should be cooperating with Europe to ensure that the ever increasing cost of defence is shared.

    As to the Social Security Budget – this is totally out of control. I watched a programme on TV last year on a company who worked with the long term unemployed in getting them into paid work. The system that we have permitted to develop is such that single mothers with more that two children, could not earn anywhere near the amount they received in benefits. This is wrong. We have permitted an attitude to develop that it is morally acceptable to rely on the state rather than provide for oneself and ones family. Policy in recent years has encouraged these attitudes. We have listened to some grandparents who look after their
    grandchildren believing that because they are somehow saving money that the "State" would otherwise pay, they should be reimbursed for undertaking a family role. We now shift responsibility for our older people (I am one) to the State when they need help. Policy has also focussed too much on one section of the population – those with children. Benefits have risen far greater than inflation. If I hear the phrase "hard working families" ever again, I shall scream.

    We also have a lot of costly benefits, many of which are unneeded. The child trust fund is one. Also, I do not need the winter fuel payment nor bus pass. These should only be payable to those on pension credit. Further, I was astonished to receive a £10 payment this year – I do not know what this is for – Christmas Bonus perhaps?

    Cliff above – I am sympathetic to your situation. I do believe how we look after those who are unable to look after themselves reflects the type of society we live in. It is sad when we talk about the abuse of the invalidity and disability system, we often forget to to distinguish those who are genuinely unable to either work or look after themselves. However, to be fair, not all of those on disability benefits are unable to work. Sorry, I have been around too long to know all the weaknesses in the system. I know people who have back problems who have only minor mobility problems which entitles them to a car etc. Not all back problems stop one from work or pursuing ones leisure interests. When I worked I had a special chair made to ensure a colleague could continue in employment having suffered a back injury. This did not stop the person applying and being granted the Disability Working Allowance which I understand now is paid as tax relief. Funny – still working and earning a huge salary and being able to claim additional funds. Further, those with addiction problems often receive disability. This would be OK if it was granted for one year to enable the person to receive treatment for their addiction.

    Single parents. Despite the government's attempt to involve all agencies to reduce the numbers, we have failed miserably in this respect. We now have a vicious circle of single parents relying on the State. I am not sure if I am right but in other European Countries parents remain financially responsible for their offspring? If we introduced this, then parents would exercise their responsibilities regarding birth control if their children are sexually active. If they do not then they should house and pay for their mistake. Sadly, some studies suggest that some young people get pregnant to become independent with the state providing for their accommodation and living costs. We should not do this. If necessary, we should have hostel type accommodation with education and training. We take away aspiration by always providing. Perhaps we should look to the US where everyone knows they have to earn their living and support is only offered for a short period.

    What we have is an ad-hoc system developed over years and we are left with an unwieldy benefits system which is open to abuse. We have encouraged people to believe that it is acceptable to live on benefits which after all is my money. We have so many interest groups representing these people that we have to change reasonable policy – ie we were forced into increasing the age of children before their parents had to accept training or employment.

    I am in despair and have yet to hear from any party of what they intend doing. Do not be fooled. The subject of welfare benefits is a hot topic particularly wiith recent child abuse issues. We have been transported into parts of our society which are not known to us. We have been unintentionally unkind by taking away personal responsibility. We have created this situation and we are now paying the price and the budget continues to grow. We should follow Ireland and reduce and freeze benefits.

    • Cliff.
      Posted February 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Jane;

      I agree with most of your thoughts…..I am sure there are those that are abusing the disability benefits system. I suspect that there are some that are borderline and it may well be them that may suffer the most…..Imagine this; A person has a condition that varies day to day and the condition makes it uncomfortable to work, say a few days a month that person is too ill to do anything or the work ties him or her out so much that, at the end of the working day, the person just has to go to bed and doesn't get up again until the next day to go to work….Is this fair to that person?

      It is similar to say someone running a marathon with a pebble in their shoe; They could run that race but, it would be very uncomfortable for them and cruel to make them. Don't get me wrong, I am as Conservative as Mr Redwood and certainly more of a Conservative than Mr Cameron will ever be, but there are people that it would be too cruel to force to take work.

      I agree that those that can do so, should work however, the benefits system punishes those that would like to work…..There needs to be a period when a person can try to work or work a few hours without loosing all their entitlement straight away.
      For example, a house bound person could set up a small bookkeeping business from home after a period of study but, that type of business takes time to build up a client base…..So a disabled person sets up such a business but from the time he or she takes on their first client, the benefit rug is pulled out from under them….Few new businesses will be making a living wage from day one and remember, in order to get most benefits you have to have spent all your savings so you have no cash to tide you over until your new business is making some real profit.

      Many of us are in a catch 22 situation and it is that disincentive to have a go that needs to be adddressed……I feel a one size fits all policy driven by media soundbites does not help those that need help and thus, does not help our nation that, following thirteen years of Brown et al, needs all the help it can get……

  22. JimF
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Voted Conservative for 34 years, even voted for Ted. Now I find it difficult not to vote for (UKIP -ed with site references)

    I'd be interested to hear your criticisms of these policies, as they seem to resonate with your own.

    For example, why should 20 something students have to apply for loans when, if they chose the benefit route, they would end up with £12K plus a year for doing nothing? UKIP policy gets people in this position on workfare, working for the community to earn their benefit.

    Reply: I want to vote for a party that can change Britain. To do that we need a majority, so I will not be voting UKIP. If we share some views that is even more reason why you might like to help us achieve something.

  23. Kevin Peat
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Hear hear !

  24. Ex Liverpool rioter
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    BIG day Thursday John
    Will the Bank of England extend "QE"?

    Talk round the camp fire is no, but who will buy the guilts?

    Either they lined up other "CB's" to do a paper shuffle or things might start to happen. Its the last chance John, if it doesn't happen now then the SHEEP will remember it happened on "DC's" Watch.

    Mike

  25. Martin
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Why only Social Security?

    Are public sector wages aligned to the private sector?

  26. Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Great stuff. Thank you for standing up for our armed forces. I would add that the savings being mooted as the gains from cancelling so-called 'big-ticket' items are miniscule in comparison to the deficit and the budget. The carriers are due to cost around £4 billion over the course of 8 or 10 years. Even the fighters that have been ordered to fly off it, the most expensive project, are due to cost £10 billion, some of which has already been paid. These are tiny amounts in the light of the £178 billion deficit and our £1.26 trillion GDP. The loss we would suffer in terms of security and diplomatic strength would be gigantic and to a large degree irreversible. To undergo that due to the profligacy of a single government would be an outrageous mistake.

  27. Adrian Peirson
    Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    I still think we should coin our own money instead of borrowing it.

  28. Posted February 4, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Brown doesn't want to cut welfare spending for two main reasons:

    1) it appears to favour his client base (although it does them more harm than good, the majority of them appear to be oblivious to this fact).

    2) Ramping up government spending creates more debt. Debt, in our fiat-currency system, allows the state to expand – which requires more and more government debt. Thus, debt is a self-fuelling, ever-expanding socialist engine.

    Don't take my word for it. See if you can identify the famous man who wrote these words.
    http://bit.ly/cHQXwG

  29. Tim
    Posted February 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Politicians talk a great deal of nonsense about getting disabled people into work, subscribing to this simplistic idea that if you are capable of some work, you should be working. Such an argument is fine as far as it goes but overlooks the brutal reality that it is difficult enough trying to find a job as it is without having your options severely limited. It also overlooks the fact that few employers want to take disabled people on. An RNID survey found that employers are more likely to hire somebody with a criminal record than somebody who is deaf. Either get disabled people into suitable work or pay them benefit, but don't pretend their predicament is their fault.

  30. Bazman
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Where would these cuts in social security benefits fall? I don't see any ideas on this page. Wonder why.

  31. Posted April 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    There is an awful lot to take into account and I think sometimes personal opinions get in the way.

    Kim

One Trackback

  1. […] posted on John Redwood’s blog, in response to this, on that very point: I have an odd […]

    Reply: Tax law has to apply equally to public and private sector workers. Public sector workers may have other sources of income which need to be added to their public salaries to calculate their true tax liability.
    However, I do agree that there is a very expensive money go round going on between incomes ,tax and benefits. It should be possible to devise a fair system which cuts down the numnber of people who have both to pay money in and get money out from transactions with the state.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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