Welfare questions

 

The  John Humphrys BBC welfare documentary on Thursday night was well made. It reminded us how Beveridge wished to slay the five dragons that included the dragon of Idleness. It told us that the public  overwhelmingly wants a safety net so no-one need be homeless or short of food. Voters  do not want a generous system to support lifestyles for people who are capable of work but do not seek jobs actively or at all, nor do they want benefit recipients to be paid  more  than many enjoy in work.

The questions raised are worthwhile asking and debating. Welfare reform is one of the main preoccupations of the present government. Labour agrees it is unfinished but necessary business.

The first question to ask is who qualifies? Should people have the right to enter the UK and claim benefit once they arrive here? Is Mr Grayling right to resist the EU idea  to allow the free movement of benefit seekers as well as workers?  If we accept genuine asylum seekers should be able to claim benefit, are there any other categories coming in from abroad who should also enjoy that right? If someone comes in from elsewhere in the EU to work, and then loses their job, should they have gained entitlement? At what point should  an illegal entrant qualify for benefits, if at all? If someone has been here illegally for a few  years, are they now the state’s responsibility?

The second question is to ask about housing benefit.  Most of us agree people out of work or disabled should be helped with their housing costs. Most also agree this should be limited in a couple of ways. What level of savings and other assets should disqualify you from getting housing benefit? People with £100,000 in the bank  can presumably pay their own rent or mortgage.  Should there be a ceiling on how expensive a home you can  claim for?  Or at least a limit on how much you can claim, ruling out living in some of the dearest districts and properties?

The third question to ask is what should the state expect by way of action to get a job? If you turn down a couple of offers should you lose benefit? Should you be expected to show progress to getting a job, and demonstrate a certain number of applications? Are there categories other than the badly disabled who should be excused the need to find work?

The fourth question concerns the sensitive area of children and families. What should be expected of absent fathers by way of financial contributions? At what stage should single parents be expected to work as well as caring for their children?

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135 Comments

  1. Alan Radford
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    What John Humphry failed to point out out is that he himself, as a (well off-ed) public broadcaster, is a recipient of over-generous sums of public money, extracted from working people with menaces, and paid to him in measure far exceeding that which he deserves. In that sense, how is he different from any of the undeserving cases he shone his enquiring BBC light at?

    • Single Acts
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      You are entirely correct to point out that all public servants (more or less) are paid from taxaion which is extracted at gun point.

      • Disaffected
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

        Not quite, some public services we need for a civil society. We do not need the BBC, we do not need to pay for the BBC from public funds and the BBC appears to be used as a propaganda unit of the government. Bias with Europhile and socialist views. I stopped watching it.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 1:31 am | Permalink

      I only caught a few minutes of John Humphry I was not impressed and switched off. Usual politically correct BBC nonsense very predicatable. I could have done a much better job myself. Just like the today progamme itself only putting folk with working class accents on the show if they are stupid and can be shown up, where was any representation for clever educated working class accents? Absolutely avoiding the elephant in the room IMMIGRATION. and so on.

      Too painful to watch.

      Reply: He did n ot avoid Immigration.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        ok sorry on that point

  2. norman
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I think all of those questions are more or less straightforward and we (Britons) could quite easily reach a consensus.

    The more relevant question is ‘Is it possible for government to implement these answers as policy?’

    After the reforms have passed through into law via a massive bill, through the civil service, the bureaucrats we’d soon be at the position of 50 page forms to fill out (available in a dozen languages), a thousand different categories and niches people can fall into, loopholes here, there and everywhere, certain geographical areas treated differently, etc. In short, what we have now.

    Then there are EU directives / harmonisations on top of all that.

    All this before we get to the practical matter of actually managing the system. How many people think that the planned £10bn (or whatever it ends up costing) IT programme to implement the new welfare scheme will work as promised and come in on time / budget, outside the mentally insane?

    We should be thankful it’s not worse that it already is!

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I want to be honest. In our Church we really do try and look after the homeless and also those who fall on hard times. In addition we are told to be poor and not really care about money. So we reckon we have a duty to face up to all this. And to be nice at the same time.
    Hard!
    Every Tuesday, volunteers are there to show the immigrants, in their own languages, how to claim benefits. This is seen as Christian service……

    From the point of view of the State, it is very difficult to sort people out if you are offering shedloads of money to anyone who asks. Who is this person sitting in front of you? You don’t know. Far easier to give them a 20 page document and hope for the best. After all, it’s not your money, is it!

    The result is that there are lots more poverty stricken, disabled and vulnerable people. Marriages are encouraged to break up, schoolgirls fall pregnant as a career option, men are reduced to sperm banks, Angolans (honestly) are treated like Portuguese, and work becomes something that is quite out of reach to most people. What is worse, an awful lot of people are employed in the industry of coping (often very, very badly) and they are unionised too. I think that had a lot to do with the Labour anger over “cuts”.

    You should hear what the Lithuanians think of the British!

    • Martyn
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      I regret to say that I am baffled by your reference to what the Lithuanians think of the British. Do they approve of us because of the ease of gaining money, accommodation etc here, or are we making it too difficult for them? May we be told more, please?

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Just what do the Lithuanians think of the British then – out of interest?

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Well, I mix quite a lot with them and they are appalled! They themselves work terribly hard for very little money and they are fit and mainly young. They are proud of themselves and they walk tall, dress well and are proud of their history.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Indeed we can not have, as we virtually do, an open border policy, a benefit system that makes work hardly any better financially than non work and a hugely inefficient, over paid and over large state sector.

    Make them turn up somewhere and do some work for 8 hours and many will just disappear. Also charge market rent for social housing for those who can afford it anything else is unfair to people who do not have social housing. Those who cannot afford it get help anyway.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Of course the main obstacles to tackling this problem for 20 odd years or so has been the BBC, and Labour party (buying votes with tax payers money as usual) and the state sector, who need all these claimants to justify their jobs.

      • wab
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        The Tory Party is also pretty good at “buying votes with tax payers money”. Remember Sid and all the other under valued privatizations? Remember who flogged off all those council houses at far less than market value? Just wait to see the bribe that Cameron and Osborne come up with at the next election.

        • scottspeig
          Posted November 1, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          It’ll be interesting, as there is little to offer now!

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      The more I listen to Cameron (on Andrew Marr this morning) the more and more absurd (though still sounding polished) he sounds. Indeed “polished absurdity” seems to be the best description of him.

      We have a Euro area in a crisis of their own making, we have no growth, we have a huge and over paid state sector, a massive deficit, stifling regulations, from the EU and the UK, banks that do not lend, huge tax rates (which Cameron wants to “keep” low in some way!), a huge benefit culture, high inflation and absurd employment laws.

      So where does he put his efforts and what concerns him most is who might be the king or queen of what ever is left of the UK in perhaps 65 years time.
      He want arrangement that the single market will be “protected” and he wants to use our aid budget not for real needs but to make other commonwealth countries more politically correct in the Cameron way.

      Needless to say Marr was hardly searching as Cameron’s views seem mirror exactly those of the Europhile Lord Patten, the absurd LibDems and the BBC.
      itself.

      Cameron can not be leader at the next election he will loose his words are worthless – even against the absurd Libdems and Miliband he will surely loose unless he gets real now.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        sorry “lose” never get that right it is always blindingly obvious just after I pressed “post”.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Having agreed in March that the 17 eurozone states could go off and do whatever they saw fit to Save the Euro, Cameron is now worried that they might do things which would harm the 10 EU member states not yet in the euro, especially the UK.

        He, or perhaps more fairly government lawyers, should have thought about that possibility a year ago, at the start of the EU discussions which led up to the radical EU treaty change agreed on March 25th.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          A year and a day ago:

          http://euobserver.com/18/31163

          “European leaders have given way to German demands for a change to the European treaties, but the procedure for the change and its size has been calculated explicitly to avoid the danger that it could provoke referendums in some EU states.”

      • Robert Christopher
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Cameron, a “polished absurdity” – I like it!

        We have:
        Socialism, without the sociability,
        Liberalism without any Liberty,
        the Democratic machinery, without any democracy,
        and Climate Science, without the Science.
        We have people disabled enough to riot.
        We have a National Health Service, with a lack of patient care and no “defined nation” to receive it. (It is an International Health Service, and we are paying for it.)
        Politicians are trying to solve the international financial mess by ignoring basic McCawber finances.

        And lastly we are trying Capitalism without giving any value to Capital!
        Not the printed sort, the “worked for” sort!
        We have NO money left in the bank but the EU wants to spend even more of out money and continental Europe frequently attacks “The City”.

        But Cameron gives the appearance that these are minor issues compare to our Royal Family’s use of male Primogeniture.

        Remind me, is it the PM who is a Tory and the DPM the LibDem?

        • Bazman
          Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

          Is it Welfare because its ‘well fair’?

      • Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        I have to agree that Cameron’s general stance in response to the media interviews he gives causes me increasing concern. He doesn’t seem to be focused on the problems which are approaching us like a train towards a stalled car on a level crossing. His responses to Andrew Marr’s questions I found very worrying. For example, he talked about a ‘broken Somalia’. I have every sympathy for Somalia but excuse me – we have some serious breakages here at home which cannot be left any longer. Marr quizzed him about the crisis of asset shrinkage which savers are facing, and all we got was the same old guff about ‘families’. We know families are suffering and again they have my sympathies but families get state help and there are other sectors of society which don’t but which are staring down a future of being asset-stripped out their homes by inflation.

        Then in the next breath, he said Britain was one of the ‘leading foreign aid donators in the world’. I’m sorry but words fail me. Giving aid to foreign countries is NOT our priority at the moment. We can do it later when the economy has recovered, but really, there are British citizens watching their assets burn by rampant inflation. I’ll stop now because I’m just going to get more upset.

        • scottspeig
          Posted November 1, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          The word “upset” would not have been right for me,
          “Angry” is the word – along with “disenfranchised”

    • Bazman
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      The main obstacle would be cutting off the income of millions of people. You think they would just accept this do you?
      What work would that be then? Would it pay minimum wage, because if it did not you would be undermining many private companies? They would just in many cases ‘turn up’ if their benefits where threatened. How would you judge their work.? How would you enforce the increased rent rule for working people? Often a number of people live in a house and some do not work and others don’t.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Bazman – don’t worry, as inflation goes back up to 27% where it used to be in the good old 1970s, all benefits will become derisory like the Charity Money I once had to distribute. It was 1s 10d. way back in 1800 – a decent wage for a working man in those days. Today it is just 10p!
        I have actually had it thrown back in my face!

    • uanime5
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      “Make them turn up somewhere and do some work for 8 hours and many will just disappear.”

      If they don’t get paid minimum wage this is a human rights violation (forced labour and not paying a fair wage are both prohibited).

      “Also charge market rent for social housing for those who can afford it anything else is unfair to people who do not have social housing.”

      People are in social housing because they can’t afford anything else. Also you can claim housing benefit even if you don’t live in social housing or have a low paid job.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        You say:- People are in social housing because they can’t afford anything else.

        Nonsense some are some are not and just prefer cheap housing to expensive charge the market rent and many would leave.

        • Bazman
          Posted October 31, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          How do you propose to enforce this? The disincentive to get job or improve yourself would be a major problem too.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 1:25 am | Permalink

      I certainly think we should remove all subsidies from social housing, and give financial assistance to those that need it instead

      Subsidising state housing stock, especially the bigger estates in areas WHERE THERE ARE NO JOBS is part of the problem

      Subsidise those in need and not the housing itself, let the people decide where to spend that subsidy be it private or public rented housing

      And we need to make it much easier for folk to move house, currently there are many disincentives to moving house for work once you have a half decent public sector house

      • alan jutson
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

        Ian

        Also moving when you are in your own home, with Stamp duty at its present level, add to that solicitors and estate agents fees and the word mobile population now only really refers to phone users.

  5. Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Only the Capitalist Party is proposing a phasing out of Welfare State.The rest will tinker with it.People should be put on notice that this Ponzi scheme will be ended in five years just so they can prepare for a life of freedom.Welfare parties like Labour Liberals and Conservatives will just perpetuate the madness.Mr Redwood is welcome to join the party.Penitent sinner are always welcome.

    • Single Acts
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      That’s a new one on me. Does the party stand in any elections?

    • Bazman
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      To be replaced by what? Nothing? Forced work? A job? Other money?
      Do tell us your proposals, though I expect this will be your only post for obvious reasons.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        It was his only post for obvious reasons.

  6. Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    The arguement that needs to be made and won with the left-wing media is that welfare should be “adequate, not comfortable”.

    I have used this phrase many times with little objection from any member of the general public, ussually with much support!

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      As you say “adequate, not comfortable” – also you need to be much better of working and by some good margin – to cover the costs of childcare, travel to and from work, lunch at work, clothes for work and to compensate you for costs you will incur through having little time left to do everything else needed to live DIY repairs/efficient shopping and similar.

      Otherwise why work at all?

      • Bazman
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        As you are against the minimum wage and see no problem with cutting wages to increase profits already large by greedy companies. As you say. Why bother working? The companies can just ram it. The adequate not comfortable idea is a ploy to make the conditions worse for people on benefits. Do you seriously know how it is to live on benefits? The idea that you should make benefits so low as to force people to take these pathetic jobs helping a rich elite get richer. What you should be asking is how can we get work to pay? A tax cut when you are on six quid an hour is not the answer. Not how can we cut benefits to make people work. The rates for my work are lower than in 1996. The companies have had their cost reduction and will not be getting anymore. Should I do skilled work for unskilled rates? Helping boost a companies profits with nothing for me? Smells like communism to me. To add to it, the threat of the sack on the spot! I’ll be the one doing the sacking you can be sure of that. That if I even bother to turn up. Another example of your race to the bottom.

        • scottspeig
          Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

          You mean like a universal benefit and say loose £1 per £2 you earn over minimum wage? That way, work always pays.

          1. It would be easy to implement it
          2. As long as the penalty is harsh enough (loose benefit for 1 yr), people shouldn’t cheat the system
          3. Personally I’d allow couples to transfer their benefit so that one of them could feasibly not work. Or at least do reduced work which would improve family cohesion.

  7. Bernard Otway
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    To Martyn
    If the Lithuanians are anything like my relations in South Africa and South Africans I meet here in the South African shops I go to [I am british born and bred only going to SA in 1980]
    they think we British have created a welfare Lunatic Asylum in this country and then to open it up even further to all and sundry ,they are gobsmacked.If SA ever gave UIF [unemployment insurance fund] benefits,you pay in for at least 2 years before claiming,there is an upper limit
    of earnings beyond which you cannot pay and therefore claim nothing,and the payment is limited to 45% of your average earnings for the 2 years preceding your claim for a maximum of 2 years,to ANYONE not either a SA citizen or a Permanent resident, there would be (strong disagreements-ed),they especially feel that they are NOT responsible for the Rest of Africa,as they say that most countries have had since about 1960 UHURU to get their houses in order PLUS enormous international AID since then. As I said they think WE are crazy.

  8. Antisthenes
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    It all boils down to where personal responsibility and shared responsibility apply. And when it is accepted that responsibility should be shared then the contribution depends on the size of need and available resources to cover that need. So there is no need to argue who should or should not be receiving benefits. First you priorities from the indigenous people disabled and disadvantaged (those who through no fault of their own need help) and the EU citizens as there is a legal commitment. Then if there is any resources left you priorities what is left. If we are creating enough wealth we can give benefits to whole world and as we are not creating sufficient wealth even to fulfill our home grown commitments the answer is plain.

  9. Javelin
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I think you are wrong on your opinion on absent fathers.

    First children and society need fathers more than mothers after the age if 10. Mothers given unconditional love which gives childen a sense of self and security.

    Fathers give children conditional love which prepares them for adulthood.

    Children need mothers and fathers through their childhood. But it is best for children to be rounded off into motivated, well behaved adults by their fathers after the age of 10. Mothers will just mollycoddle selfish, spoilt kids with no discipline. The riots are testament to what single mothers can achieve.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Absent fathers should pay for their offspring. I would take DNA from all 12 year old males and inform them that any children will be supported by them. Tell them that the State will track them down and extract as much as it can. Frighten them repeatedly till they leave school.

      • Sean O'Hare
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        I would take DNA from all 12 year old males and inform them that any children will be supported by them

        That sounds a very liberal idea. Why not just castrate social class C2, D and E males and birth?

        • Iain Gill
          Posted October 31, 2011 at 1:35 am | Permalink

          we sure should have incentives in the system for the folk most likely to be the best parents to take on that role, and less incentive for those folk unlikely to make good parents to take on that role.

          You could easily do stuff like making some benefit perks dependant on having completed a parenting course.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        You really do live in your own little world. What happens if they don’t have any money or leave the country after fathering children? What will happen then?

        Frightened children do not become subservient adults.

    • Posted October 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      eeek Javelin are you actually a father?

      Both parents give unconditional love willingly.

      Both can also give conditional reward and discipline if they are good parents.

      Both can have their hearts absolutely broken if their children descend into crime and addiction and they can’t reach them and both are likely to need support to gain the distance they need to cope.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 1:43 am | Permalink

        part of the problem is that the father is the only adult male empowered to pysically intervene and stop teenage boys in their more extreme behaviour.

        in the old days other adult males around would feel perfectly at liberty to wade in and break up a fight at the local bus stop and so on. now this is all wiped away as the decent bloke doing his best to stop a fight at the local bus stop is far too likely to end up getting nicked for some variation of assault/child abuse/and so on.

        also families are much more dispersed. Brothers and cousins live on the other side of the world, or at least out of town.

        and also fathers are likely to work away from home for long periods too.

        if it was me I would give all adult males with no criminal history a sort of pseudo PCSO status where they were supported if the intervened to sort out low level crime early on.

      • The Realist
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Rebecca , no basically JAVELIN is right and I am a Father of 5 well adjusted adults/teenagers ( so I am told by 3rd parties) – unconditional love is a disaster.

        • Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

          It’s worked well for us. :-)

        • scottspeig
          Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          I feel sorry for your children.

          I give and will continue to give unconditional love to my son – Doesn’t mean I won’t discipline him!!

          The conditional love is disgraceful, but the argument that children require a father figure is true.

          The argument that a father can physically intervene is not so true. I had plenty of friends at 14-16 that were physically more powerful than their father.

  10. Liz
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The problem with benefit payments is they are just too high as they are set to equate to the gross income of a person in work and not the take home pay after tax. Housing Benefit has been out of control with huge rents being paid – far higher than those in work can afford who have to live in much smaller space, sharing accommodation, than those on housing benefit – helping to keep the average rent very high. Overheard recently a teenage boy saying to his friend “the council pays my rent and benefits mean I do not even have to look for a job” – a life time on benefits encouraged by an incompetent state. An age limit should be set for housing benefit. Disability payments have been paid with almost no check being made with the medical authorities either before or after the claim. Money is wasted in trying to catch those defrauding the system which proper checks would have weeded out. With housing benefit and all the other things claimants can get free many of them are on an amount equating to the gross salary of a worker on £30- £40K pa. Total benefit claims – including housing benefit should – not be more than the average net take home pay less say 10%. Ian Duncan Smith’s universal credit may help to reduce some of these huge overpayments but only if is set to equate to net take home pay and not the gross pay of workers. Our ability to set a limit on the time before an immigrant can claim benefits is being increasingly eroded by the EU and a political judiciary. Until we do we will continue to be a magnet for the whole world to come here and claim state aid whilst before having contributed anything. This is where our money is going and most money could be saved.

    • Bob
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      HMRC are employing 2250 new inspectors in a crackdown on tax evaders.
      Why can’t half of them be allocated to benefit fraud?

      • alan jutson
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        Bob

        The simplest and most cost effective solution of all would be to enlist proffessional self employed/employed people to investigate for benefit fraud, but only pay them on a results only basis, (all expenses down to them) with a commisson of say for example 20% on the fraudulent amount.

        EG: A Benefit fraudster who had made over claimes over the years for £20,000 too much. would result in a £4,000 commision payment being made to the investigator, payment only being made on conviction of guilt by a court.

        Thus it does not cost the taxpayer a penny, until a guilty judgement is made

        • A different Simon
          Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          Alan ,

          This might prevent further fraud but there is no way of recovering what has already been lost from someone who is pennyless .

          If I remember correctly you are a CAB volunteer . You must see a lot of people who are not committing benefits fraud but face having a tested benefit such as Incapacity Benefit removed yet could not survive without it .
          Can anything be done to help them ?

          Seems to me that the problem we’ve got as a country is that everything is so needlessly expensive that the sums do not work out for even a single person on average wages .

          The Govt let a destructive housing bubble develope and has thrown huge amounts of money to keep it inflated .

          Nothing has been done to protect the consumer from our financial services industry . Look what an absolute disaster private pensions plans have been yet none of the main political parties are the slightest bit interested in this .

          I feel very uncomfortable with the way people on benefits are blamed (by some) for the ills of this country when the lions portion of the blame should be reserved for the political class and shadow banking interests who colluded in setting up a system which now dooms the majority and future generations to debt slavery .

          I think people have already worked out that it is a con-trick and that no matter how hard they work they will not individually or as a country be able to escape debt because it is systemic and endemic .

          • alan jutson
            Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

            Simon

            Yes Ido work for a charitable organisation on an unpaid voluntary basis, but not CAB.

            Yes we do get very deserving causes come to us for help, often when they get stuck between the Benefit departments/systems when such departments just want to pass them on to someone else/anyone else, and the,you need to fill out another form syndrome, hence my other post about one stop, one department dealing with all possible benefit claims, no matter what they are for.

            I would agree with you fully about the cost of just existing in todays world, given the fixed and high cost of council tax, rent, heat , light, power, water, food, transport and the like, which you can do absolutely nothing about.

            The High rise in rents may have been contibuted to by housing benefit with millions claiming such, and now that it is paid to the tenant, and not to the landlord direct, it is open to even more fiddles.

            The high cost of energy has been added to by Mr Huhne with his green taxes, windmills and feed in tariffs nonsense. I actually asked my supplier how much of my bill was a tax for the government and was advised 5% plus of course VAT at another 5 % on top.

            Council tax is unfair in the way it is calculated, (on house value)as it assumes people who live in larger houses have larger incomes which is clearly not always the case, the poll tax was a far, far, fairer system for the individual and families.

            I do not see why anyone who works for the minimum wage should pay any tax at all, after all benefits are tax free no matter how much you get.

            I thus agree with many of the points you raise, the solution in many ways, is in the governments hands.

          • Bob
            Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            You’re right. You cannot blame some poor guy that’s traipsed half way around the world because he’s heard that the British government are handing out freebies. It’s down to the government to remove the incentive.

          • Iain Gill
            Posted October 31, 2011 at 1:48 am | Permalink

            fraud? all in the eye of the beholder.

            the majority of middle classes commit fraud all the time, the numbers of people falsely claiming to gargage their car or keep it on the drive when they dont for their car insurance quote is astounding.

            likewise lots of people claim benefits who really have savings, they just hide their savings and many dont even bother with that they just dont declare it.

            you need to understand human nature and get the incentives right it is pointless expecting everyone to become saints.

      • uanime5
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Benefit fraud cost the country around £900 million in 2008-09.

        Tax evasion cost the country around £15.2 billion in 2008-09.

        Putting half the new inspectors on benefit fraud wouldn’t be an effective use of resources.

        http://citywire.co.uk/money/tax-evasion-costs-treasury-15-times-more-than-benefit-fraud/a378274

        http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/BenefitFraud/DG_10014876

      • Barry Sheridan
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Bob, yet more civil servants on the public payroll. Why aren’t the government simplifying the tax system so it is easier to manage and collect whatever tax is applicable. Britain has the one of the most complicated tax systems in the world, yet all that ever gets done is the opposite of what should be done.

  11. sm
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Why is the cost of living so high and net wages so low?
    Why are house prices high,rents high in relation to income?
    The job market is not as open as you may think? I am also dubious about the vacancy statistics.
    Why not a maximum/minimum actual tax % against income?
    How much income does capital in a bank generate before inflation? Should not saving be encouraged? rather than discouraged by the system?

    Why subsidise the banking industry via Fractional reserve banking versus 100% reserve banking?

    We need some big changes starting at the macro level and micro level. Hence the impasse? If no jobs are available, no demand, it may not make a lot of difference.
    If people cannot earn money they cannot spend it? in a contractionary FRB world this is dominant, particularly as the banks remain subsidised?

    I can see us moving to a barter economy or back to tally sticks or similar.

    • A different Simon
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Wages are not low but would look a lot lower if people were forced to save the required 28% or so to provide for old age . The problem , IMHO , is prices are too high .

      Engineer a housing shortage and a credit boom so the banks and property speculators can make a fortune and the result is a foregone conclusion .

      I think you are right that the problems are systemic and no amount of fiddling or trying to do things better within the same framework will set us free .

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that the welfare system assists property speculation by artificially propping up rental values in areas of low employment.

        • Bazman
          Posted October 31, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          Could be some truth in this. In some areas where there is little or no work the rental rates are often not much less than where there is a lot of work.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    John did not see the programme (although have recorded it) but the simple fact clearly is, we have too many people on benefit, for too many reasons, getting too much, for too long.

    The present system will if not changed drastically, will bankrupt us.
    A succession of politicians over the decades have manipulated the system for various reasons, (perhaps some to gain votes) to the monster system we have at present.

    Aware that Ian Duncan Smith isattempting to come up with something new but does it go far enough ?.

    Clearly the first hurdles are who should qualify. for how long, and for how much.

    Perhaps we should have a restriction to only those who have contributed for a set period, unless they have an overriding medical reason.

    Time of contribution record, say 5 years for full benefit entitlement scaled back by 25% for each year that is less than that.
    Then how much, perhaps 50% of their earnings averaged over the past 2 years, with an absolute maximm benefit set at perhaps £50,000.
    Then how long, perhaps one year on full benefit, then reducing by a fixed percentage every 6 months.
    Should there be a savings exclusion, no, because people could well have been prudent in order to provide for themselves, and we do not want to disqualify/discourage those people who have made an attempt to provide for themselves, so perhaps a savings limit £100,000 (not to include the house value on a primary residence).

    I like the idea of I D S of a single benefit which should cover all eventualities, which should make the system simple enough to be administerd by a single department (AN ABSOLUTE MUST), so there is no need for anyone to get lost between departments, and the massive amount of paperwork that that entails.

    In short we need a system that is fair to not only claimants but taxpayers as well, which should not exclude the prudent, but should encourage self sufficientcy.

    The choice of a comfortable life on benefits without work, if you are capable of work should simply not be possible.

    • A different Simon
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Your high level proposals sound reasonable to me .

      Perhaps there is a case for savings in an ISA not being considered when deciding eligibility for a benefit .

      I.M.O. the restrictiveness of private pensions outweighs the tax relief/deferral benefits for someone even ten or twenty thousand pounds into the 40% income tax bracket .

      I’ve thought for quite a while that the only real benefit of it is that it would not get taken into consideration when deciding your eligibility for benefit .

      Perhaps savings in ISA’s should also not be taken into consideration as many people , myself included use them to provide for their old age .

      • Bob
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Agree, with the proviso that benefits don’t pay you more than you could expect to earn by working.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Though your system is more generous for those who have previously been employed and have lost their job it is woefully inadequate for those have never worked.

      What happens to the 1 million young people (18-24) who are unemployed? Do they get nothing because they haven’t worked, even though school was mandatory? You need to set a minimum level that anyone can claim no matter how long they’ve worked.

      • alan jutson
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        uanime5

        I would have thought most young people who had never worked would still be living at home, the only on cost to parents is thus food and perhaps some extra soap and washing powder, after all rent/mortage, heat, light, water council tax, house insurance, furniture, electrical goods, is already being paid for by the parents or their own use.

        Parents should thus be encouraging their offspring to at least be positive and try to earn a living, even if it only starts as part time employment. low wages are better tha no wages when living at home, not ideal I grant you but trying to live on your own when you have never worked is just a wrong decision, so why should I help pay for it !

        One of our daughters lived at home with us until she was 27, all the time whilst fully employed, it allowed her to save for a deposit for her own home. We asked her of course to contribute to her part of the family living costs (approx the cost of her food) but little else, is that not what most parents do ?

        • Iain Gill
          Posted October 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          doesnt always work

          my job/career whatever you wanna call it doesnt really exist in my parents town, if i had not hung around the town i studied in i would never have found a job

          your strategy kinda works in most parts of the south east, in many parts of the north you basically have to get out of town to have any chance of a job whatsoever, if you dont move you are going to end up long term unemployed

          • alan jutson
            Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

            Iain

            Accept your point for perhaps certain areas.

  13. Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    The question of when a single parent should be expected to return to work is a very difficult one.

    My friend over the road is a single mother of 3 boys and now the youngest is old enough to have a regular nursery place the pressure is on her to find work (which doesn’t exist here as all the other mums at school looking for part time work know). Watching here struggle day in day out to be a good parent to these boys (which she is) and understanding myself how thankless, relentless and demoralising her life is it is heartbreaking to watch the demands being place on her to conform to a framework which is so deeply inappropriate to her situation.

    3 young boys (aged 4 to 8) with a single mum out at work long hours. Is that really what our society wants? Do those who have not raised children not understand the time, support, love and attention they need and how much is demanded of a single parent trying to provide it alone on benefits.

    But then a single mum of one four year old who has family support near her is a very different case. For a start it is much more realistic that wages earned can cover decent childcare for one where it is needed.

    I simply don’t think that there is a simple answer to this. I think you need skilled case officers with complex guidelines.

    And of course we also need to look at wider issues such as the employment systems which value flexible working and so on.

    But more than that I think we need to be looking at the way our societies connect with themselves. Primary schools are community hubs populated with many thriving families and also many which are not really coping or only barely coping. Another mum I spoke to recently has 3 young children two of whom are severely autistic. Neither she nor her husband work and they are both relentlessly exhausted and demoralised. Both are skilled and would like to work. I can’t reach out to them because I am usually home alone with my own children as are most of the other mothers and those who could reach out are unaware of the need.

    It would make sense for society to be actively creating links through our primary schools between our young families and our ‘empty nesters’ and others who have so much to offer and could transform the outlook of a struggling family near them simply through friendship and a bit of practical love and support for both the parents and children in those families.

    Our benefits systems is not bad. The lack of human contact between neighbours in many of our communities is horrendously wasteful.

    • Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Aged four to eight !

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Rebecca

      You mention the struggle of your neighbour wih 3 childeren, but you do not mention the father /ex husband, is he making any sort of contribution in either time or money, or has he unfortunately passed away.

      Does she not have a family, Mum and Dad who could help, or even the fathers Mum and Dad, they are after all, their grandchildren.

      Whilst state aid of some sort should be available, surely the first responsiblity is for the family to help out in such circumstances.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        There has been decades of activity in the media and in the welfare system which have been pushing to make fathers irrelevant. This is what the feminists of the ’60s wanted and they’ve largely succeeded.

        There is no shame in a father abandoning his children anymore and women are often better off financially without him anyway. So British society is dead.

        I think Mr Redwood’s article here highlights just how impossible it is to define what the welfare system is meant to provide and to whom – especially trying to do this from the Conservative party platform too.

        I think Britain will stabilise and traditional working families will be respected once more after we’ve become a Muslim state but before that happens there will be a lot of crime and disorder – there’s the civil war to get through too.

        Frankly I’d convert to Islam tomorrow to avoid all the trouble over something which is innevitable anyway.

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted October 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          Personally I think the welfare thing will cause us go *pop* – probably at the time when I lose my job in two years.

          People such as myself will not be very happy when we are told there is no work and nothing left in the pot having put lots into it and seen it being milked unrelentingly.

          Who’d have thought that feminism would have turned things full circle ?

          Bankrupted us all (destruction of the family through welfarism) at the same time as making our country more paternalistic than it has been in centuries – to the point that ladies will be able to choose to wear any colour clothes they like so long as they’re black !

          • Electro-Kevin
            Posted October 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            There is another reason why welfare has morphed and the baby-father culture is so widespread but Political Correctness prevents us from talking about it.

            Oh well.

            Shale gas seems very promising. We can’t afford to let the environmentalists get in the way on this one.

          • Rebecca Hanson
            Posted October 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

            Electro-Kevin – if you’re going to post the kind of guff most poeple would only write after drinking far too much could you do it somewhere other than in a reply to one of my comments please?

          • Electro-Kevin
            Posted October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            Rebecca:

            OK. I won’t respond to your comments in future.

            I wasn’t drinking though. That’s how I see it. Islam is in the ascendancy because its main virtue is not religion but strong family bonding.

            To correct any misconceptions that you may think I’m anti Islamist. I am most definitely not.

    • ian wragg
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Why is she a single mum? Why isn’t the father(s) supporting the children? If it’s the result of a tradgedy then I have no problem. If it’s self inflicted then I don’t see why I should pay. My father said “if your clever enough to have kids, you should be clever enough to look after them” To many feral kids with no father contributing around. Stop the free housing and limit child benefit and see the numbers drop.

      • Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

        Hi Ian,

        Have you stayed in a marriage where your partner was violent in front of your children and/or had decided that monogamous relationships didn’t suit them?

        I know (extremely well) people how have and the consequences for them and their children have been horrific. I also know (extremely well) people how have chosen to leave such marriages (usually at the point of there personal breakdown) and have gone on (after a while) to create stable and happy marriages and homes for themselves and their children.

        Are you suggesting the state should act in a punitive way to force such people to stay in relationships which are physically and/or psychologically abusive?

        (this comment has nothing to do whether dads should pay or not – of course they should pay and should be chased to pay but of course not all can/will).

        • alan jutson
          Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          Rebecca

          I do not think for one moment anyone who has a violent partner, should stay and be abused, but perhaps it is possible for the violent person to be treated or be examined for the reasons as to why they have turned violent.

          In my opinion far too many people jump into relationships and marriage and have childeren too early, before they REALLY know their partner.

          You have to ask the question, before I marry this person and have children with them, do I really know them, do they really know me, do we have a common goal in life and for the future.

          Yes of course the best planned arrangements can go wrong, yes of course peple can change, but too many poeple marry a person hoping they can change them, to what they really want, only to be disapointed at a later stage.

          Life is now very stressful without partnership problems, hence the reason to be doubly careful in making a choice in the first place, to try and minimise the risks of a future possible relationship breakdown.

          • Steven Whitfield
            Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:02 am | Permalink

            I agree too many couples take marriage and parenthood far too lightly. There is also a problem with commitment and unrealistic expectations of matrimonial bliss fostered in part by our tv soap opera culture.

            Most relationships end because couples just give up when the going gets tough. Measures shouldn’t be punitive but they should give couples more of a nudge in the right direction.

            Men seem to be actively discriminated against in divorce courts both financially and in respect to the care of children.
            This inbalance perhaps explains why most divorce cases are initiated by women -if this could be addressed it would be better for couples and children in my view.

    • Bob
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      @Rebecca
      The decline of neighbourly cooperation is inversely proportional to the expansion of the welfare system.

      There are big differences between a single parent families that arises through bereavement, of marriage breakdown, and a woman who sees single parenthood as a meal ticket. In the second case, a lack of a welfare safety net might cause women to be more discerning when choosing their husbands.

      • Rebecca Hanson
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        Fair point Bob, although I would suggest that once a woman has got herself into your second category she may also benefit from the type of intervention I am suggesting.

        I annoys the heck out of me that this government could be doing things likes spending a couple of years trialling and developing schemes wereby primary school served as a hub for building community links between families which need support and people who want to offer it and then a couple of years launching such schemes nationwide.

        But ‘the big society’ was only ever a spin soundbite wasn’t it? Makes me sick.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 1:53 am | Permalink

      its certainly true that folk that have moved away from their family support network in search of jobs are significantly disadvatnaged compared to those that sit close to home with their families around them. we need to encourage more workforce mobility, but we need to be careful that folk who have shown flexibilty and moved often to keep themselves (or their partner) employed are not disadvantaged if they find themselves claiming benefit.

  14. A.Sedgwick
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Just as too high taxes result in a smaller tax take, if no income tax or N.I. was levied on incomes below £15K p.a. then my guess is the welfare cost saving would eventually be greater than the tax loss. Even well intentioned ministers and their shadows seem to find it impossible to grasp that bureaucracy and complex tax/benefit/allowances rules stifle growth and personal ambition.

  15. Richard
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The fundamental alteration in thinking on welfare has to be from what is felt desirable to what is affordable.Welfare spending is huge, is growing and we are using money we have borrowed.
    Once an affordable level is decided all else can follow.

    We need to remember the philosophy of the originators of the Welfare state and return to the idea of it being a National Insurance scheme for all citizens, except those who have disability and need a lifetime of looking after.
    You need to make contributions and then at time of need the State is there to help you.

    We should be allowed to purchase our own insurance cover instead of paying National Insurance, if we feel this provides us with better, cheaper benefits.
    This would leave the State to concentrate of helping those who really need help.

    However none of the changes we need to make can be made until we are free of European control.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Can you receive NI on the assumption that you will get a job in the future and pay back what you owe? If not then it won’t work.

  16. Bernard Otway
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I just watched the inaugural Indian grand prix,lots of statistics given about the country for those that don’t know about it. How about this, are there benefits ? I don’t think so,is there mass starvation or a high death rate ? I don’t think so,HOW do they do it and cope ? I don’t
    know ,BUT when not if ,the country increases it’s GNP per head by only £1000 that will add £1.2 TRILLION per year,so if they are coping WITHOUT benefits now how much better will they cope then,and finally while the idiots in the EU pursue this mad project of the EUSSR and IMHO create a reduction in overall GDP and India adds £1.2 trillion WHO IS RIGHT ? truly the Lions and donkeys phrase is valid but I wouldn,t put it so politely, and if they achieve an increase of £10,000 par annum per head the figure is MIND BOGGLING

  17. LJH
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    There should not be an incentive for breeding, especially for those people least likely to ensure the education and socialization of their offspring. Acting responsibly should be rewarded. There should be an upper limit to the size of housing paid for by the state.

  18. Martin
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Where I think the UK has gone wrong is removing the link between benefits and contributions. Originally the idea was that the payments we all made would provide for help at difficult times. The whole means testing business has turned the scheme upsides down. Some would regard it as a ponzi scheme. You pay in but get very little out. It is over 10% of income.

    As for your comments on the person with £100000 savings. The welfare system has become a defacto tax on savings. Why should the thrifty be hammered while big spenders are rewarded? We need more savers not purchasers of Chinese made goods.

  19. oldtimer
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    It is clear that the current welfare entitlements are unaffordable, are abused and attract illegal immigrants. The steps being taken to introduce limits and more effective controls are welcome – but are they enough? Has anyone worked out what the benefits bill would be if the country returned to the benefit system envisaged by Beveridge (with appropriate adjustments for inflation) and how it compares with the actual welfare bill paid by taxpayers today?

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Population increases of 500k per year are underestimated. They have not factored in the new movement of young people from impoverished EU states.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted October 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        They could have full entitlement if the EU proposals come into force.

  20. Posted October 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    In the old days when the destitute were the responsibility of their parish, one rule that was invariably applied, was that no person on parish relief should receive any more than the lowest paid person in the parish who was working. This seems to me a good point at which to start; we know what the lowest paid person will now get based on him getting the minimum wage, we know what tax and NI he will have deducted, we can make allowance for his cost in getting to work, and thus we can arrive at a figure for the maximum benefit that anyone should receive. There will be the usual cry of “what about the children, they’ll suffer” but at some stage we have to be hard. Those on benefits should only get any extras, if the hypothetical man on minimum wage gets them as well.
    Looking at the old days, relief was the responsibility of the parish, and non-parishioners were returned to their original parish of settlement. People whom the overseers considered might become poor were not allowed to settle in a parish and get settlement rights. We could perhaps apply these rules to all entrants to the country – perhaps they should be required to work and pay taxes for, say, 10 years before they are allowed to permanently settle here.
    We also need to deal with Health Tourism. It is, I understand, more widespread that many believe and not confined to the “third world” countries. I understand from “my informant”, who works in a hospital near Heathrow, that they have had an increasing number of uninsured Americans who have “collapsed” at the airport and taken to hospital where it is discovered that they need major surgery.
    We are being taken for a ride all round, aided and abetted by the judges, who have effectively said no-one must starve or be homeless. If this must be so, it should be basic food and accommodation should be dormitories in a hostel.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      EP

      Your post highlights exactly how far we have moved on from the original thoughts on the concept of help, and why we have now bred the monster of the benefits culture/system, where those that do not work, or have no intention of working, are supported by those who work, but who in many cases get less than the claimants they are paying to keep.

      You could not make it up if you started again, as It would simply be thrown out as being an absolutely stupid idea.

  21. Michael Read
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    In the People’s State of Islington, 70% of the 34,000 housed in the social sector are in receipt of benefits.

    However, the state’s principal employer, the state, which has a 6,500 payroll, manages to employ in just 2.5% of those living in that housing.

    The People’s State is no much interested in employing anyone very much living in the state either; just 5% of all staff living in the State are employed by the state.

    The People’s State’s housing arm has been in receipt of taxpayers’ treasure of about
    £500m for “Decent Homes” work on that 34,000 strong housing arm over the past 10 years.

    But most of the contracting expertise for this potentially rejuvenating re-skilling bonanza in the shape of plumbers, carpenters, sparks and whatever, came and went through Dover.

    The People’s State did not see it as its responsibility to insist on locally sourced and trained labour taken from those living on benefits in the state. Nor in a time of reductions in spending does it care very much. Ten apprenticeships have recently been given to – you’ve guessed it – individuals who are not in social housing or living in the borough.

    Not that this state bothers our local MP, Emily Thornberry, now shadow attorney general. Shes turned her nose up at the local educational system and sent all of her three kids to a Conservative-controlled Barnet school. She knows they’ll never get a job if they’ve been to a People’s State one.

  22. Damien
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    John Humphreys explored the issues sensitively while not shirking away from the hard questions. It was interesting watching him with his years of experience interview the claimants with their years of experience. A less talented man may not have fared so well!

    Who Qualifies

    UK citizens with at least two years NI contributions and EU citizens who likewise have worked for two years in the UK. Benefits should be paid with vouchers that are only exchangeable for necessities. Food stamps were used during the war. Why should taxpayers fund cash benefits now being used for sky subscription cigarettes alcohol or worse!

    Regarding savings; those with over £5k should meet their expenses before asking for public money.

    Housing Benefit

    This should be capped as an amount per year pro rata irrespective of the intrinsic value or mortgage obligations. Obviously someone in an expensive property will run out of housing benefit sooner than others. Time to budget get a job or downsize PDQ !

    Job hunting evidence

    Turning down any legal offer of work should disbar a claimant. ‘Reasonable’ evidence of job hunting should be provided by all claimants and credit should be given for those who are engaged with voluntary work or skills training. Exception could be justified for unpaid child minders.

    Single mothers

    Hostels with nurseries should be the only offer for single mothers who are with means to support themselves and their children. On site training and support should be provided with childcare while mothers do work. Simply handing out social housing and abandoning a child and mother to get by has been tried and failed with generations of young lives wasted. For many young women having a child has become the only way to get out of their parents home and get their own place.

    • Damien
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Typo “without’ means !

    • uanime5
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      What happens to the 1 million unemployed young people (18-24) who haven’t worked for 2 years because of school?

      Will people also get clothing stamps, kitchen appliance stamps, and utility bill stamps?

      Everyone on job seekers allowance has to provide evidence that they’ve been looking for work and the unemployed won’t apply for jobs they don’t want to do. So your comments already apply.

      Who is going to pay to build all the hostels with nurseries for single mothers?

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Declare that – nine months henceforth – there will be no free housing for single teenage mums – hostels only.

      Tattoos on faces. These are intimidating and look (quite deliberately)barbaric. They restrict the wearer to limited job opportunities. Cut benefit entitlements accordingly to bring these people into line.

      I note that we have never had a tattooed-faced person volunteer with our community group or seen them involved in charity events. We’ve seen plenty in the local papers involved in crime though.

  23. Andrew
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Housing Benefit (HB)is currently already subject to restrictions around any capital assets held by potential claimants, and to restrictions around earned income for those claiming partial HB. “Caps ” relating to HB are implicit in the Coalition Govt’s proposals for the new Universal Credit , –which includes a “Cap” on total benefits paid to one household. This will mean that living in more expensive housing areas will in effect not be practicable for most households on HB.

    The new concept of Affordable (priced at up to 80% of local market rent though !) tenure, also introduced by the Coalition , –will mean that some future new build of social housing by Housing Associations or Councils will be largely fed by the HB income ” stream”. So the Coalition Govt is using HB to finance asset investment.

    This HB stream is also the basis for some private landlord portfolios. A deficiency in this area is though the fact that the public subsidy (HB) is paid without any expectation of accountablity for the public money spent. It is paid to “good ” and “bad ” landlords alike.

  24. Bazman
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Hang em’ and flog em’ Tories now is your chance to come out from under your stones and tell us why benefits should be cut and how this will improve the lives and finances of the British nation. Somehow I suspect they will be silent. Wonder why?
    Very tough questions. The deserving and undeserving poor. For many people on benefits it is a lifestyle but how much choice they have in this, is open to debate. Like most of us they are victims of circumstances often beyond our control. The idea that middle class ideals can be just put upon many of the benefit claimants is not real and how many middle class people find themselves in a tight spot.The fundamental problem is that the cutting of benefits would cause widespread health and poverty related problems because of feckless adults. It is not serious to think that the guardians of these children would just find a job and spend less on drink and fags because their benefits have been cut. The benefits are seen as the family income and it is foolish to believe that these benefits are spent on what they are supposed to be spent on. Is child benefit always spent on the child? It can be seen as a subsidy for middle class children be saved for their university education. Food for a toddler or fags for a single mother. How do you enforce how the money is spent? The ideas of many right wingers are to make desperate people more poor. This fantasy that you can live a life of style on benefits. It is true though that if you have no skills and more than five children it would not be in your families interests to work. How is it possible to stop this state of affairs without harm to the children? Can’t say I have many ideas on this.

  25. uanime5
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    1) Under EU law every European citizen has to be treated like a national in every EU country. So if some people came from France to the UK they would be entitled to the same level of benefits as a UK citizen, as would any UK citizen who claimed benefits in France.

    2) The level of savings or assets required before your housing benefit is reduced will have to depend upon the area you live in. Obviously this threshold would have to be much higher in London than Northumberland.

    Also if you want people to work in low income jobs, such as cleaner, in high income areas, such as Chelsea, they’ll need a high level of housing benefit or they won’t be able to afford to work in this location. This is currently a problem for some schools in expensive neighbourhoods because the teachers cannot afford to live near the school, resulting in low applications and a high staff turnover.

    3) John under the current rules a claimant has to apply for between 2-4 jobs each week (this is checked fortnightly by the Job Centre). You’re also required to check newspapers and websites. There isn’t much more you can do to try to get a job.

    Anyone who doesn’t want to get a job won’t turn down jobs because they’ll either apply for jobs they’re unlikely to get or not turn up to the interview. Generally people only turn down a job offer because the role was very different from what they thought it would be; mainly due to an unclear job description or being offered a different job than the one they applied for.

    Also I’d say that those who are unwell but not classified as disabled, such as people suffering from cancer, should also be excused from finding work.

    4) If benefits were more generous for married couples than single parents then there wouldn’t be so many single parents.

    Single parents should be expected to work when their children are old enough to look after themselves during the school holidays. As the summer holidays are about 8 weeks long it’s impracticable for a single parent to take this much time off.

    • ian wragg
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Absolute rubbish about searching for jobs. (A person he knows well-ed) has been on the dole for 15 years and has NEVER been sent for an interview and is never asked about any searching for jobs. I complained to his job centre manager and received a reply that he couldn’t discuss his “clients” circumstances with anyone. When I wrote to the relevant government minister and copied him in (the individual-ed) was whisked onto invalidity benefit pronto. The lad in question has an A in a level maths, is perfectly healthy and is bone idle.
      He thinks I’m a mug still working at 66.

  26. Sue Doughty
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    It is about 16 hours, it all hinges on that number. If someone gets 16 hours a week paid employment they are off the jobless list, and an employer using someone for less per week than would qualify for employers’ National Insurance contributions is happier than one who employs full time workers and is liable to pay more NI. So it is that many young people today cannot get full time employment not because of the benefits of being unemployed, lucrative though they are, but because employers are fiscally penalised for taking on full time 5 days a week staff. Being in work means having something to get out of bed and get washed and dressed for, it means you belong somewhere and are valued. Being out of work means being humiliated and downgraded once a fortnight by the Job Centre Plus, until one feels too useless to even apply for jobs if you can find any that do not ask for experience and qualifications.
    The pay from working 16 hours a week is not enough to pay rent, council tax and keep, let alone travel to and from the place of work and eat lunch. That generation have no savings because they know that would bar them from claiming benefits should the need arise. They have no investment in their own future other than in making sure the employer stays in business.
    The benefits system is not really the problem – it is the cost, as fiscal penalty, of employing and training people.

    • uanime5
      Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      You only need to work 1 hour per week before you’re declared in employment. 16 hours per week results in the most income with the least benefit loss.

  27. Richard
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    You may have failed to notice that there are 2.5 million people out of work.

    When the economy was huming along it was roughly half that.

    Did we ever have technical full employment during the late 1990’s -2000’s ?

    If so 1.25 million were the perpetual unemployed

    Thus appx 1.25 million are out of work due to the recession/austerity cuts

    There are a million stories out there of this 1.25 million , some very good people
    who by reason of age or lack of training find getting work a problem.

    I would remind you that married people whose partner earns a low middle income loose benefits entirely at 6 months.

    Had all political parties worked on the 1.25 million in the good times , then maybe the cost savings from those working on the black market (fraud), effective training for the young and illiterate,then ,maybe, we could now have a proper fighting fund to put these good people to work on national regeneration schemes,, housing , motorways , airports , big ,needed, infrastructure projects.

    Another base reason why people find looking for work difficult is the sheer cost of transportation , trains are for the rich , buses are slow and reflect leisure movement more than mass populous /work needs.

    The DWP can dock income support for those unwilling to travel up to 90 minutes, each way , for jobs.
    The sheer stupidity of this needs someones noggin testing , calculate the cost of such a journey in fuel (if running a car ) or train bus journeys.
    And then for what hourly pay ? £6 an hour ?

    A substantial number of the 2.5 million will have paid tax and the other tax NI , and the vat on state purchases and are entitled to support.
    Maybe some at higher rates of marginal tax , who it may be argued have contributed greatly in the good times and deserve a disproportionate leg up now.

    Just because successive governments have failed to stop fraud is not time for let them all starve ideas to prosper

    Reply: Job cuts in the public sector are nothing like the 1.25 m you suggest. Public sector employment is still well above the levels of 10 years ago. The economy has generated a large number of new jobs over the last ten years, but the workforce has grown more swiftly, with strong inward migration a factor.

    • Richard
      Posted November 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      You have posted as “Richard” but you are not me!

      There is a Richard1 already so you need to be Richard2 to avoid confusion or try some other name if you wish

      Thanks

  28. Quietzaple
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Ask First what other EU countries will offer when the current scunners, of whom their principal benefactors over the past decade were abroad and not paying their full whack of tax here, have cut welfare into the sinews and bones.

    Britons – old and young and women especially – are profit and loss to the debt obsessives who see tax solely as a burden.

    Our country is being destroyed by the greediest and richest: and those who wish to identify with them.

  29. Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I work behind a checkout. Yesterday, I packed an incredibly large shop (over £200 worth) alone, my customer did not open a single carrier bag. I was happy to do it. I know my job is a very menial one, not what I went to college and later University for, but needs must and I have a mortgage to pay. Even so, I take a great deal of joy from my little job. My husband works long hours too, to pay our bills. Where do our taxes go?

    My customer, while I packed her very large shop, chatted to another lady about how she’d only been given the lower rate DLA (disability living allowance). Her friend then went into tremendous detail about how she’d been the same but “getting it bumped up to top rate was easy.” She said she’d done it for her husband, and again for herself. Then she went through how she’d done it. By the time I’d completed packing her shop I was in so much pain through my shoulders and spine, trying not to cry. My next customer noticed this and I was very embarrassed. I have attended the local rhuematoid (arthritis) clinic for over 12 years now. I battle constant exhaustion which sleep does not alter even a little, my mobility is impaired and I live with pain every day. To be forced to listen (along with others in my queue, they were very loud) to a step by step on how to rob the taxpayer was incredibly maddening and upsetting in equal terms, since I can assure you that these ladies seemed far more able bodied than I am myself.

    Last night I could not sleep because of the pain caused by packing this ladies’ shopping. I doubt she gave me a seconds thought, since I didn’t even receive a “thanks” and she snatched her change from my hand (hurting my fingers) in spite of the support straps I have to wear on them being very apparrent.

    Yes, the benefits system needs mending, but I fear that the only people who will lose out will be honest people who do need help. People like my customer and her friend will never lose out because they know how to play the system too well. I write this after taking more pain meds and thanking God I don’t have a shift at work tomorrow. The incentives to idleness need to be removed. No one who lives off public assistance, should have luxuries. How many of us have neighbours who have new cars, plasma tvs and all of the latest technical gadgets and not a one in the household works? Neither can we be the supplier of benefits and healthcare to all new comers. Lets not kid ourselves, the prospect of free housing and money is an attraction in itself. It is simply not fair on UK taxpayers to struggle to pay this ever growing bill.

    Reply: This is a very moving story of daily life in the UK. It reinforces the need for welfare reform, so the system is fairer and seen to be fairer.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Roselady64

      Your account comes as absolutely no surprise to many people.

      I can only hope that you get the medication and treatment you require for your health problems, and that the politicians eventually wake up to what is really happening to the welfare system, which started off with good intentions, but has now grown into something which is out of control and is an unfair tax burden on those who are trying to provide for themselves.

  30. wab
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    State pensions are a form of welfare, and there are issues here that are worth discussing in addition to the issues that Mr. Redwood mentions. For example, there was some rumour that the government (quite sensibly) was thinking about moving to a residence-based system for the State pension, away from the current system base on NI contributions, which, for example, is biased against women (on average). (The system used to be biased against men in other ways, e.g the difference in retirement age.)

  31. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Rebecca, I am a father of four children of both sexes. Three of them are married and one (the rebel!) is in a stable relationship. I am the proud silverback of five grandchildren all of them totally different beings.

    The myth that mum and dad are basically the same is something which I believed at the time.

    Now, on mature consideration, I have come to doubt it. Without being crude, the child is of the same flesh as the mother. When the child falls over, it is as if the mum bleeds. When the child gets dumped by her boyfriend or comes home with a black eye, it is as if the mum has been hit herself.

    Dads, in my own experience, can pretend to empathise for brownie points but, come on!, the baby is not born of their flesh. Myself – I am being honest – I rather welcomed it when my sons got into a fight. I was proud of my children when they risked standing up to bullies, like my daughter did when she poked a huge netball player in between her chests in the changing room in a racially aggravated situation.

    The more I see of life, the more sure I am that mums and dads are different. And before you ask, yes I do have a friend who is a “man” in a woman’s body. I also have a friend who is a “woman” in a man’s body. I am aware that there is an overlap. But the fact is that neither of these fascinating and very gifted people are parents.

    I do hope that isn’t offensive – this topic is far too important to treat as a personal preference. I think we ought to reexamine our presumptions.

  32. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Bazman, here is the reason I want to come out from under my stone and tell everyone why benefits should be cut and how this will improve the lives and finances of the British nation.

    Because living on benefits hurts people.

    It hurts when you cannot afford the newspaper in the morning and have to go to the (public-ed) library. It hurts when you, a male after all, cannot afford a bus fare and have to be handed it by a pert young girl of 20. It hurts when you have to tell fibs to get your dole.

    I have been there for ten years in Yorkshire. I have visited Batley and Dewsbury.
    I really want to see people in work. But, thanks to welfare, motivating people to work when they really do not have to is almost out of the question.

    I watch (some guests on tv-ed). The state of the “working class” guests is simply shocking. The men, for the most part are ferret faced, often on drugs and often terribly full of self loathing. They are little more than sperm banks. The women are, when young,quite often unashamedly single mums (there used to be names for this). Older they are very often bitter old ladies with few teeth. The older men, when they can be caught on camera are generally bitter, uneducated and quite often a seething pit of violent emotions.

    Are you honestly going to say that you want those guests on (tv-ed) to be the normal British person? Where I live in Wisbech, Cambs, I deeply regret that that is almost the case now. Thanks to welfare.

    • Bazman
      Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Where do chavs and this sub class come from Mike? I don’t know? I lived in Elland near Dewsbury for a short time, nice place, small town with industry, pubs, shops, a bank, post office etc, but a deprived area near large cities which themselves have large numbers of really bad areas and of course wealth. Very complicated thing going in areas like this. Welfare dependency no doubt one 0f them.

  33. forthurst
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    The entirely unsatisfactory and entirely unaffordable benefits system we have now is entirely the responsibility of politicians; to a significant extent it has been deliberately engineered by them to create an unwholesome and unhealthy society simply in order to undermine us. It was interesting to note that when the HoC voted on the EUSSR referendum, those who voted against the English peoples’ reasonable desire to have a say in their own futures were overwhelming more ‘vibrant’ than the boring bunch who voted ‘aye’. So perhaps more pressing than a discussion on how to change the behaviour of people, there needs to be a discussion of how to either change the behaviour of politicians or to change the composition of the House of Commons to more reflect the aspirations of the English people.

    The key to Welfare reform is to entirely change the culture and the behaviour of people. Clearly, IDS has some good intentions and ideas even if he occasionally wanders into the wrong lobby.

    There are three categories of people we need to address: those who through an accident of birth apparently are entitled to live here, those whose right of access is mandated by the Central Committee of the EUSSR in Brussels and those from outside the EUSSR who need to blag their way in.

    Firstly, let us say that to be genuinely sick or disabled is not a lifestyle choice nor is being too old to work so there is no requirement to address these groups. With regard to those who are born here, there are several issues to address. The Labour Party reduced the age of majority to eighteen; it should be put back to twenty one because eighteen year olds are mature adults and should not be expected to be able to live independent lives. Furthermore, young women should not be entitled to rehousing because of pregnancy. Many pregnancies result from nights of drunken excess. The Labour Party claimed that introducing extended opening hours would achieve a ‘Continental’ drinking culture. (The Labour Party had an excuse and a secret agenda for all their laws). Firstly, Northern Europeans are genetically more predisposed to drunkenness and secondly, on the Continent, table service with payment of the tab on leaving is the norm; let us accomodate the former and apply the latter. Apart from pregnancy, there is a real danger that young people are physicaly damaging themselves and their ability to sustain work. Young people should always be encouraged to return to their parental home if they become unable to support themselves rather than become a permanent drain on the taxpayer. The drive should be toward not paying for peoples’ accomodation or mortgages because independent households are very expensive for the taxpayer. The estates full of single parents are a national disgrace and politicians should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for facilitating them. Fathers should pay one hundred percent for the families of children who are too young for school. The motive of the system should be to actively discourage the creation of taxpayer dependent households and to encourage dependent ones to become independent. Furthermore, taxpayers should not be expected to accomodate anybody at a level above that which a working household can afford anywhere so downward pressure should be applied to rent support which would feed directly into lower house prices. It is absolutely imperative that direct taxes on poor working households should be very low in part to compensate for the high regressive taxes (Huhnes and others, please note) they face.

    With regard to the EUSSR dumping benefit tourists on us, this is another example of Brussels pretending that we are already a single superstate; it should however encourage us to get back to the idea of the benefit system as a NI system into which contributions have to be paid before proportionate entitlements are earned. Brussels is going to continue to tighten the screw for as long as we remain in.

    Our objective with regard to asylum seekers is to reduce the quantity to zero. Firstly, it is pointless trying to distinguish between ‘genuine’ and others. The asylum treaty requires asylum seekers to seek refuge in the first country they reach and we need to clarify that this does not include boarding a plane and flying here across continents. (Recommends tought treatment of asylum seekers-ed) I believe that once ‘asylum seekers’ understand that coming to England is a very undesirable life style choice, the word would get out and pressure on our hard pressed immigration officers and even more hard pressed lawyers would subside.

    It is very unlikely that we will ever get out of debt unless urgent and effective action is taken. Of course, by the same taken, we should be extremely concerned about welfare for banksters which has cost us billions and for which we have been rewarded by watching these shameless parasites paying themselves huge bonuses from our taxpayers’ subventions.

  34. uanime5
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Just watched John Humphrys’ welfare documentary. Thought it covered some of the issues there were some elephants in the room.

    Firstly Humphrys didn’t mention that unlike during his childhood there are more currently more unemployed people than jobs available. I doubt there were 2.5 million people unemployed and only 0.5 million jobs available in the 1950’s.

    Secondly he didn’t mention that wages for the lowest paid have fallen in real terms over the last 50 years, which is why so many people complained that if they worked they would only be slightly better off than on benefits. Also he didn’t mention that a higher minimum wage would motivate more people to work.

    Thirdly though he did cover how the Work Programme is used by the Government to artificiality reduce unemployment he didn’t mention just how useless it is. During the boom years when there was high job creation the 13 week long New Deal achieved a 6% success rate. The 2 year long Work Programme is run by the same providers and is unlikely to do better than this, especially since it’s just a longer version of the New Deal.

    But worst of all he didn’t mention the Conservatives’ Universal Credit plan. At present if a person on minimum wage earns the maximum amount if they work 16 hours per week or are in full time employment. The reason for this is that if they work between 16 hours per week and 37.5 they’re financially worse off as they lose all their benefits but the extra income isn’t sufficient to cover the loss. Under Universal Credit they would lose 66p for every £1 they earned, so no matter how much or how little they worked they would always be better off. This simple change would instantly solve the problem of people being better off on benefits than working.

  35. Private Frazer
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    The BBC and its fellow travellers have made this country a horrible and unpleasant place for the honest working man and his familiy.

    Why should a young man, living with his wife and children in the South, have to contribute so much of his £23K gross income to accord a far higher lifestyle to so many (who may have character traits the commentator dislikes or may be recently arrived in UK-ed). Look at the outcry over reducing Housing Benefit to £400.00 per week. Which is MORE than the young family man in question takes home in a month, out of which he pays a mortgage and unconscionable amounts of tax including the BBC poll tax!

    Coincidently, I know a Lithuanian who is unbelieving of how much is handed on a plate to such people in this country!

    As a responsible citizen I fear for my grandchildren’s future in this awful, unjust, rotten, squalid and SEPTIC isle! How can it have gone so wrong?

  36. Mactheknife
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, you miss a massive benefit scam in your list – Motability. Whilst sat in Kwik-Fit last week and man arrived in a brand new 2011 BMW Coupe (about £35K). He asks the engineer to replace a tyre and the engineer says he will and the cost is £209. At which point the customer says yes just book it to Motability !!!

    Now I thought Motability was to provide basic transport needs, but apparently according to the Kwik-Fit guy over recent years the Motability cars have risen into the luxury category with high end BMW’s, 4×4 etc.

    So all us hardworking taxpayers are funding benefit claimants providing them with £35K cars ! Just what is going on ?

    Mr Redwood, what is the government doing about this ?

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Mactheknife

      Suggest you look at the figures to see how many claim motorbility allowance.

      Think it was something like 1,500,000 people.

      It would seem there is no limit on what sort of car you can purchase if you put the difference to the cost.

      You will be shocked at who can claim as well.

      A list was published in the Mail on Sunday last week (Yes I know the mail etc) and it would seem that almost anyone who is termed disabled can qualify for a car, on the grounds that even if they cannot drive themselves, a care person/family member, can drive them around.

  37. Jon Burgess
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Some radical thinking is required. If welfare is freely available for all, without any significant contribution or qualification from the recipient, then it will be open to abuse.

    What needs to be done is to greatly reduce the Welfare bill in the UK. It has risen too high and unless something is done there will not be enough people in work to support those out of work.

    Who qualifies? Anyone who has paid national insurance (or other countries eqiuvalent) for a specific qualifying period. I would set it at 5 years. Quite simply, if you don’t qualify, you shouldn’t automtically benefit.

    Housing benefit. I like your example of someone with £100K in the bank. Why should they claim housing benefit if they can afford to buy their own home? There needs to be a means of compelling those individuals who can take care of themselves to do exactly that. On the other hand, what is plainly lacking in the UK is decent affordable housing for those on modest incomes, and by this I mean local authority housing. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a Conservative led coalition advocating a new council house building drive?

    What should the State expect by way of action to get a job? Maybe some action to get a job! Refusal to accept a position should result in loss of benefits, no question. Then again, it needs to be economically viable to accept any job offer. Thinking logically, a 35 hour week minimum wage job needs to pay significantly more than the maximum benefit entitlement, otherwise there is no point. So that would mean a drastic reduction in what people could claim then…But the added problem is where would all these minimum wage jobs (or better) appear from? Maybe migrant labour would reduce if the Uk were not so generous with Welfare. Maybe more private enterprises would be encouraged if a drop in the cost of Welfare transalted into lower buisness costs? If we are serious in wanting full employment we need to develop more labour intensive industry.

    Is there any groups other than the chronic sick or disabled who should not expected to seek work? No!

    Absent fathers should have to support their children. Writing that sentence, it seems mad to have to say it, it is so straightforwardly and blindingly obvious. It should be the parents job to bring up their children, helped by their wider family. Why is there any need for automatic state aid?

  38. forthurst
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    “because eighteen year olds are NOT mature adults”

  39. stred
    Posted October 30, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Tried to comment but the new code did not work. Not even with my geek assisting.

  40. Posted October 31, 2011 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    I think we are jumping the gun by offering state benefits before the family has had the chance to offer this help (I am talking of the wider family: cousins, uncles, grandparents etc). This applies to immigrants as well as resident claimants.

    I believe that benefits should be administered at the most local level possible, starting with the family and then parish. The state (the parish) should only get involved once all avenues within the wider family have been demonstrably exhausted.

    This is a normal route to take in many cultures around the world. I think we do our society a disservice if we bypass the family.

  41. Iain Gill
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Re “People with £100,000 in the bank can presumably pay their own rent or mortgage. “ I actually think we should disregard savings, the current system discourages savings. I don’t see why someone in private rented housing with 200 K in the bank should be treated differently to someone in a house they own with 200 K equity in it and no savings. For many people the cash they hold can be properly regarded as part of their “pension fund” although not formally held in a matching financial product, and again I see no reason to treat someone with 200 K pension fund but no savings differently to someone with 200 K savings but no pension fund. If you are going to take into account personal wealth then include house equity, pensions and so on, as well as cash in the bank, don’t disadvantage those happening to hold their wealth in cash.
    Re “If you turn down a couple of offers should you lose benefit? Should you be expected to show progress to getting a job, and demonstrate a certain number of applications?” For people who have spent most of their adult life in employment the rigmarole imposed by the state significantly reduces your ability to find a job. Getting a job is in itself a full time job requiring a lot of travelling, a lot of time a job fairs, and so on – Being expected to jump through hoops attending meetings with useless public sector staff is not helpful! On the other hand for those who have never established a work habit they need role models and so on, people who have escaped this lifestyle from their community are a powerful source of mentoring who could be used a lot more.
    Re “If you turn down a couple of offers should you lose benefit? Should you be expected to show progress to getting a job, and demonstrate a certain number of applications?” depends. I sure don’t think people should be expected to take highly skilled jobs for minimum wage, I sure don’t think Brits should be expected to be in wage competition with (large nnumbes of migrant-ed) workers from outside of Europe on ICT visas and the like. I also think for many people full time study would be a better use of their time than what currently happens in a spell of unemployment, so I would sweep away all the restrictions on studying full time, or find some way of making it possible for someone finding themselves unemployed to attend college and improve their skills and escape that way while still being able to feed themselves.
    Absent fathers? I would not disadvantage those who try their best versus those who avoid being on the birth certificate in the first place. The significant incentives in the current system which discourage the parents correctly identifying the father if they are claiming benefits need fixing.

  42. stred
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    John Humphries programme illustrated the greatest problem resulting from 65 years of the Wefare State. The mothers seemed to be of lower intelligence and badly educated. They were producing children in larger numbers proprtionately than working or professional women. The fathers too were probably similar and may have produced many children and left their care to the State. The male children of these mothers are already at the bottom of the education grades.

    Reply: The answer must be better education for all. There is no monopoly of intelligence in higher income families.

    • stred
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      True. In fact wealthy parents can and do produce dim or disabled children. Mental illness is sometimes inherited to a greater degree from very intelligent parents. However, intelligence is now thought to be inherited to a greater degree and nurture only is helpful to a limit. (read Stephen Pinker)

      The subject is taboo in academic and political circles. But ask any dog breeder.

      • forthurst
        Posted October 31, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        “However, intelligence is now thought to be inherited to a greater degree and nurture only is helpful to a limit.”

        Nonsense, it was always known to be almost entirely inherited. It’s just that one of the many lies perpretrated by Cultural Marxists was that it was entirely environmental, with lower levels of academic ability or behaviour being entirely the consequence of ‘deprivation’. This lie was used to bring in Comprehensive schools and abolish setting and thereby undermine the potential achievements of good students. The academic world is full of lies and deceits and I continue to be amazed that purportedly intelligent people fall them. Indeed it difficult to determine a purpose for a large part of the Humanities beyond inculcating falsehoods.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted October 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      John,

      Your reply there is gold dust. If only the Conservative leadership were screaming this as one of their top priorities. I dispair at the state of the schools on the sink estates and nothing ever seems to change in them through any flavour of politicians in charge.

      Cheers

  43. stred
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    This time the system did not say the code was rejected, but the instant check did not appear and so I could not check it. It also did not appear at the bottom of the list. Can we have the old system back please?

  44. stred
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Please note that I referred to ‘working’ parents, not only wealthy. In my family and others wealth and academic results are inversely proportional. (Just joking family)

  45. RDM
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    JR,
    You have No 3 completely wrong! The problem is much deeper then that, it’s cultural!

    Some of these people are not employable! Created by the dependency culture (Politicians).

    As an example; I would like to see you find a job to apply for within S Wales area, and no (Tuff!), I am not relocating. I have done all the traveling that I am willing to consider, besides, if I can’t build a life in my home, then I would prefer to stay unemployed! There has been a huge number of opportunities come my way, but all have been self-employment opportunities, and the Banks will not lend! I could have created a large number of jobs myself!

    The means of for an Individual or Family to build their own wealth has been totally undermined by the lack of opportunity, over regulation, and a perverse banking sector not associating Risk with an idea, using a Home as collateral, and a society that heavily penalises failure, not allowing people to learn from their mistakes. A good solution is an Enterprise cultural based on a British Banking revolution, which is critical now we have entered the Information(Technology) age where we, as a society, will need to ensure that not all our egg are in one basket.

    I agree with 1, 2, and 4.

    Regards,

    RDM.
    Long term unemployed!

  46. Steven Whitfield
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I think most fair minded people would accept that mothers who have been widowed or who must bring up children on their own because they have left an abusive husband deserve as much support as possible. But too many do not.

    Most working people would not see bringing up children as a ‘struggle’ (as it is so often described) once all the children are of school age. Many would feel it unfair that the single mother recieves free dental care, school meals, family tax credits, housing benefit, child allowance etc. whilst not being required to do anything during school hours.

    My view is we badly need a new set of new (but old) guidelines on family welfare. These are for the sake of individual children, adults and society as a whole.

    1. Nobody has a ‘right’ to have as many children as they want.

    2. Relatively recent changes made by the liberal elite have had a massively negative effect on how society has been shaped. We are now vastly wealthy but crime and disorder have increased by orders of magnitude since the 1960’s.
    A teacher from the 1960’s would not be able to cope with(or believe) the level of aggressive and violent behaviour in an inner city school in 2011.

    3. Primarily it is your own and wider families responsibility to pay for the upbringing of your children – it is not the taxpayer. But the state will always step in to provide a safety net when needed. |Child allowance should be stopped after the second child to encourage responsibility.

    4. The state recognises that children, if at all possible need two parents. The welfare system and law should encourage families to stay together by all means possible such as :-
    a) making divorce more difficult so that individuals with children do not take this step so lightly .
    b)changing the welfare system so that broken families are not financially better of than married couples

    5. Having multiple children to fund a lifestyle based on milking an array of benefits is not an option.

    6. The state should recognise that divorce causes children and society great harm. It is often instigated for selfish reasons. Staying together for ‘the sake of the children’ is not an old fashioned outdated idea. It is often the right thing to do.

    7. Subsidising single parent families on a grand scale is not a universal act of kindness. It robs thousands of children of fathers, role models and the link between work and self reliance. This money could be better spent in other areas such as the providing better care for the elderly and long term sick.

  47. Steven Whitfield
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    I think most fair minded people would accept that mothers who have been widowed or who must bring up children on their own because they have left an abusive husband deserve our support. But too many do not.

    The answer to the welfare problem isn’t ever more spending and complex guidlines and initiatives – that theory has been tested to destructon . We need a simple set of clear rules. These are for the sake of individual children, adults and society as a whole.

    1. Nobody has a ‘right’ to have as many children as they want.

    2. Relatively recent changes made by the liberal elite have had a massive negative effect on how society has been shaped. We are now much wealthier but crime and disorder have increased by orders of magnitude since the 1960’s.
    A teacher from the 1960’s would not be able to cope with the level of aggressive and violent behaviour in an inner city school in 2011.

    2. Primarily it is your own and the wider families responsibility to pay for the upbringing of your children – it is not the taxpayer. But the state will always step in to provide a safety net when needed.

    3. The state recognises that children, if at all possible need two parents. The welfare system and law should encourage family’s to stay together by all means possible such as :-
    a) making divorce more difficult so that individuals with children do not take this step so lightly .
    b)changing the welfare system so that broken families are not better of than married couples

    4. Having multiple children to fund a lifestyle based on milking an array of benefits is not an option.

    4. The state should recognise that divorce causes children and society great harm. It is often instigated for selfish reasons. Staying together for ‘the sake of the children’ is not an old fashioned outdated idea. It is often the right thing to do.

    5. Subsidising single parent families on a grand scale is not a universal act of kindness. It robs thousands of kids of fathers, role models and the link between work and self reliance.

    • Bazman
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      So we just cut their benefits and the children can go to hell or at least grow up in an even more weed like way?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. 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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