Why work?


Both the outgoing Labour government and the incoming Coalition government pledged to make work worthwhile. Both agreed that the best kind of spending cut was a cut in welfare benefits because out of work people had found worthwhile jobs.

Some opponents  unfairly quip that Conservatives want tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor. They claim that Conservatives think the rich need incentives and the poor need pressures to earn. The truth is kinder and more prosaic. Conservatives want tax cuts for people at all income levels. We want tax rates that mean the rich pay more, and tax rates which mean the poor pay less. Indeed, the Coalition government with the agreement of both parties in it  has driven hard to exempt the first £10,000 of income from all Income Tax, and will doubtless get there soon. Imposing a zero rate for lower incomes is a sign that the government  wants people on low incomes  to pay no tax, not that they wish to penalise them.

There remains the more difficult issue of benefits, which has taxed governments of all persuasions. Labour in office has agreed with means testing benefits, and agreed that getting people into work is designed to get them off benefits. The Coalition government, determined to make it more worthwhile to work, then increased out of work benefits by more than twice the rate of increase of pay this year, which has set back the task of making it more worthwhile working.

The problem with means tested benefits is they have to be withdrawn, and the act of withdrawal recreates disincentives to work harder or at all. Most people agree that if you move from unemployment to working, you should lose some of the benefits the government is paying you when out of work with no income. Most people agreee that it is a nonsense to pay benefits to people with good incomes, or with substantial savings and other resources. The nice question is how do you get from benefit dependence to self support without creating a large disincentive?

You can either have a few people facing a high rate of withdrawal of benefit, the sharp cliff approach, or a lot of people facing a less dramatic rate of  reduction of benefit as it is taken away more gently. If the range of income that faces benefit withdrawal also attracts standard rate income tax, then the combined rate of tax and benefit withdrawal can be high and can act as a disincentive.

There is no way of avoiding one or other of these approaches to benefit withdrawal. The more people that can be exempted from Income tax the better, as then the benefit withdrawal loss is not compounded  by income tax loss. There has not been enough study of what rate of benefit withdrawal is possible without acting as a major deterrent to working for an income. Those settling the rates of withdrawal have to bear in mind the costs of getting to work as well as the loss of state income. The  simple truth is that all income levels the system works best if there is a fair and substantial incentive to work more, work smarter or work at all.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Single Acts
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    “it has driven hard to exempt the first £10,000 of income from all Income Tax, and will doubtless get there soon”

    Or to put it another way, it made a promise that it has utterly failed to deliver and might just manage to squeeze it in before you suckers are asked to enagage in the meaningless charade of the next election because if we break too many promised you might start to notice.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      That line you quote gave me a bad start to the day. Osborne is not a tax reformer or remotely progressive or radical, he just is a quick learner from Gordon.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      I don’t understand why JR expressed it quite like that, rather than saying “a year sooner than originally planned”.

      As I gather from this authoritative source:


      “The £9,000 bracket was not due to come into effect until 2014 but is now being implemented a year earlier than planned. The £10,000 allowance will also be brought forward a year and rolled out from 2014.”

      Of course it could be asked why Osborne didn’t bump it up to £10,000 in one go in his first budget, and I guess the answer is that he’s relying on inflation and fiscal drag to partly offset the loss of revenue.

  2. Alte Fritz
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    There is also the question of what you are paying for. Is it long term unemployment, which is inherently suspect, or short term in which case you want to relieve financial stress so that the person can concentrate of getting a job, or related to some form of impairment of the ability to work, benefit for which is widely abused.

    There are hard and arbitrary answers at the edges of each of these which require some political courage to deliver.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Long term unemployment inherently suspect? In what way being long term unemployed or the concept of long term unemployment? If you live in an unemployment black spot with no work then you cannot find a job. Nothing suspect in that, or maybe you could tell us why? Again I ‘suspect’ you will not reply telling us how convinced of your point you are and how it should not be questioned which anyone with any sense should be suspicious of. Ram it.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Income tax thresholds may eventually get to £10,000. Perhaps, who knows, even before the next election is lost, but the NI tax still starts at about £5,600. What about Osborne’s £1M IHT promise too? Is it “morally repugnant” to break solemn promises to the electorate I wonder?

    Of course we need an incentive to work and this needs to be quite high. There are often many costs (not even tax allowable ones) of working.
    Travel, perhaps the need for a car/fuel/road tax/MOT/maintenance and clothing.
    Childcare and a lack of time to shop efficiently or do other jobs/repairs oneself.
    These cost are often very substantial, come out of taxed income and in the case of transport and childcare are very heavily taxed and over regulated too.

    The only way is to cut the vast government waste. The number of pointless (or worse) things the state sector does – fire one in two is about right. Then cut their pay/pensions by 1/3 to get it down to private sector levels.

    Then at least get the upper tax rates down, at least maximum revenue levels. They are well above this at the moment and are pushing businesses, the wealthy and tax revenues away to no ones benefit.

    I see that councils are desperate to be allowed to mug motorist even more and are pushing for changes in the laws. So I assume anyone eating an apple, dropping someone off on a yellow line for 10 seconds or throwing a peach stone away will be photographed and mugged soon for £130 or similar. Got to pay those gold pensions somehow I suppose.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      No I read that:- Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called today for an emergency tax on Britain’s wealthiest people while the country fights an “economic war”. I assume he means some absurd wealth tax which would be hugely counter productive. In fact the existing taxes over tax wealth already. The income tax/NI rates and the 40% IHT and 28% CGT (on non real gains) and 7% stamp duty in particular.

      Well we might even win the “economic war” if we had sensible efficient government, sensible lower tax rates, easy hire and fire and a business policy that was not actively trying to kill businesses.

      Another absurd wealth tax is needed like a hole in the head. It would say “money and business not welcome here please leave” in even larger letters than the current government and tax system does already.

      The only sensible new tax would be one limited to say 80% of gold plated state sector pensions to redress the G Brown and QE pension muggings. Start perhaps with all the ones still linked to RPI – that should be very popular with MPs.

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        Even Clegg’s mere suggestion of an “emergency” wealth tax is hugely damaging and will cost jobs – whether or not it comes into law.

        I note that income tax was introduced in 1799 by William Pitt the Younger, as a temporary measure to cover the cost of the Napoleonic Wars. Have we not paid for this war yet?

        • Bob
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink


          The Dartford crossing toll was introduced as a temporary measure to pay for the construction of the bridge. The cost of building the bridge has already been paid, and the toll booths are still there creating congestion and polluting the atmosphere.

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            Indeed you build a bridge, at vast expense, then restrict its capacity with inefficient out of date and expensive to collect tolling causing congestion, delays, extra fuel wasted and extra pollution.

            Madness but rather typical of “government think”.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          As expected, Simon Hughes now joins the fray, with his perhaps rather obscene and certainly offensive views on personal wealth. He seems to think that private wealth should be stolen by his government, no doubt to waste on green tosh, the EU, propping up the Euro, gold plated pensions or given to the feckless:-

          He talks of Increasingly obscene levels of wealth inequality – obscene in what way exactly?

          He also claimed that societies with less wealth inequality do better for perfectly obvious reasons. Too much BBC think and reading the spirit level perhaps.

          I assume the obvious reason is that transferring money by force from the rich (who are likely to be rather good at managing their money, running businesses and investing wisely) to the government and the poor (who are usually notably less good) will somehow, perhaps by some magic, make us richer.

          What are these obvious reasons Simon? Surely just the reverse is the case?

          If you had two children and one was hard working and had become rich but the other was a lazy drunk would it help matters to steal half the rich one’s money, waste half in admin cost, then pass the remaining quarter to the drunk one? This seems to be the Simple Simon LibDem position.

          • uanime5
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

            Well Germany and Japan has lower levels of inequality and far fewer social problems. I guess when a country isn’t ruled by a wealthy elite that are trying to reduce wages of everyone else to boost their own bloated salaries people have an incentive to work.

            Also being rich doesn’t mean that you’re competent to run a business. Fred Goodwin was rich and he ruined RBS.

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink


            Of course there are some rich people who do not run things well but on average they are clearly better at managing money which is why most are rich. Anyway it is not hard to be better than the government.

            All sorts of complex social and historical reasons for Japan and Germany being different in so very many ways – “equality” has nothing to much do with it.

          • uanime5
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

            Actually most people who are rich inherited their wealth, rather than earned.

            Also the lack of equality is why the UK and USA have so many social problem which are much rare in most other developed countries.

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink


            Most did not inherit their wealth if you look at the figures. Inequality is not the problem at all – socialism and paying people to do nothing at all and to have no stake in society, nor reason to provide for themselves is part of the problem though.

            How can for example, my owning £20M of shares, contribute to social unrest they do not even know about it in most cases. Who will own them if I do not and why on earth would that give less social unrest?

        • Richard
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          Re Cleggs absurd “wealth tax” proposal, it seems the “wealthy” already pay a fair bit into the pot :-

          From HMRC :- 2012/13 income tax estimates – £155 bn

          Top 1% – 24.2%
          Top 10% – 55.3%
          Top 50% – 89.2%
          Bottom 50% – 10.8%
          Bottom 10% – 0.5%

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            Indeed HMRC are hugely dependent on the top 10% or so. Many of whom pay millions, just to have their bins emptied once a month (or whatever the council can be bothered to provide). They must be sorely tempted to leave for a more sensible tax regime. There are plenty of pleasant options after all, all sensible counties welcome them.

            Irish Republic perhaps if they do not want to go too far or to have to learn a new language.

          • Bob
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

            I have to go to work to earn money and pay tax. Then at the weekend I have to mow my lawn, do the weeding, clean my cars and tend to general household maintenance.

            I do all this while the money I pay in tax is used to pay a bunch of layabouts to lounge on the sofa paid for our of my earnings and watch Sky Sports while using their iPhone t0 order more pizza.

            If I’m paying them, shouldn’t they at least come round and clean my car, mow the lawn and do some weeding?

            Benefits should be time restricted, and on no account should anyone be paid more in benefits than their previous paycheck after tax!

          • uanime5
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

            Given that 50% of the population earn below £27,000 per year is it any surprise they pay so little income tax compared to the FTSE 100 bosses, who earn £3 million and a bonus every year.

            The sooner the pay falls at the top and rises at the bottom the sooner the bottom 50% will start paying 50% of the taxes.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

            Its funny that despite our terrible tax regime lifelogic there is so many wealthy foreigners and British here. Your apologist fantasy is wearing thin the top 1% have wealth beyond belief that looks to Britain for apolitical stability and if you think this trumps the democratic process than you should live in somewhere like Russia or the Middle East. They are here for a reason and not not all financial. London is one of the top places for these peole to live. If you called their bluff it would be interesting to see how many go and where they go. Isle of Man? Yeah right.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

            The rich wisely investing their money creating jobs and wealth all living here and doing us a favour? Do me a favour fantasists.

      • Robert K
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

        The economic war he is referring to is, in fact, the massive government deficit that Gordon Brown created and the Coalition is extending. Take more in tax and it will simply be swallowed up in the gigantic maw of public spending.

      • Disaffected
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        This statement was to counter the wave of workers from France who want to escape the purported 75% income tax introduced by Hollande. It is only a scam to help his EU masters.

        Stop blaming the rich and start blaming greedy government workers and greedy politicians who steal YOUR money to buy votes from the scums and bums getting government checks. We want less tax not more. We want to control our own money not politicians.

        Also the private versus public pension schemes ought to stop. The government has caused devastation to both pension schemes and pitted workers against each other. If private pensions were untouched and allowed to flourish, as they should have been, then it would not even be a debate. This was instigated by the government to justify wrecking public sector pensions. The government should have left both alone so people can provide for themselves in old age. We all should be arguing for better pensions for both public and private sectors which could be provided if we had anyone with a an ounce of sense in government- we don’t.

        • zorro
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          Divide et impera…..you have correctly identified their strategy, which is to pit people against each other and impoverish them in the future so that they will be dependent on the state for their survival. The economic plan is to vastly reduce the independence of the middle classes and create a small, privileged elite and a large section of others who are dependent on the crumbs from the table…..


          • Electro-Kevin
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            Zorro – if only there WERE a plan. A plan of any sort.

            Britain isn’t that joined-up about anything really.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          Given that private pensions for senior executives haven’t been effected by anything the Government has done it’s clear who is responsible for the low value of private sector pensions for regular employees.

          Pity that so many people want to destroy public sector pensions, rather than demand the private sector provides and equally good pensions.

          • a-tracy
            Posted August 31, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

            The private sector can’t afford the equivalent public sector pension, the truth is there is no public sector pension pot for most of them the money isn’t saved and will be paid by future taxpayers. It would take an employer to pay 25% of someone’s wage to even attempt to reach an equivalent pension pot, plus an employee’s 6% contribution and every year this amount is getting higher, plus there are no guaranteed pension returns in the private sector purchase plans.

            Perhaps everyone should have the same pensions saving vehicles in the future, if the employer pays 3%, 10%, 15% or 25% to top up the employees pension then everyone knows the benefit and everyone understands and appreciates their full salary package. I wonder also if pension providers would have to be much more responsible if our public sector organisations and the people making laws on state pensions and taxing private sector pension pots were all in the same boat. When NEST is fully organised there will be many more people crying for equality of provision when future taxpayers realise they just can’t afford them.

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 4, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

            The lack of private sector pensions is due to G Browns mugging of them with the dividend no recovery of tax, the over taxation of the private sector and the bloated state sector destroying the real economy.

      • oldtimer
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink


        While he is at it, why does not Clegg propose compunlsory euthanasia for everyone reaching retirement age? That would save billions on pensions and accelerate all those IHT £billions he eyes. The problem is that one off wealth taxes will not deal with the unsolved problem of current spending of c£6 for every £5 raised in taxation. He needs to get his priorities right.

        • Disaffected
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          No Clegg and chums fought for a 5.2% pay increase for welfare lifers and did not want to cap benefits at £26,000- the national wage. To answer John, why work when you are provided the same living for free? No wonder immigration is out of control- the land of free education health and welfare payments. Was this not the lefty theme of Boyle’s olympic ceremony? Disgraceful.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          Given that isn’t a retirement age anymore who would be eligible for compulsory euthanasia?

    • Disaffected
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Have you ever wondered why the council’s are allowed to charge motorists to park on the roads they have already paid for over and over again?? Why there is a huge gap between VEL revenue and what is spent on the roads. About a £20 billion gap!!!!!

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        All those state wages and pensions to fund I assume.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      You think it OK to throw crap out of you car window whether that be a peach stone or a fag end lifelogic? I’ll chuck out the rubbish from the lorry onto your car and we would see how much you cry. The idea that having a wealthy elite detached from the lower strata of society is somehow not damaging is just foolish and blind. Many revolutions have began because of this and part of the stability of Britain is because of the provisions to the population. This is not down to the generosity of the wealthy. Cheers Guv! Gough! Hack!. Who are constantly trying to undermine democracy by threatening to take their business elsewhere. Which in many cases this is exactly what they should do or at least have their bluffs called. Your idea that the wealthy wisely invest their money and spend it on things that create jobs is at the level of a ten year old. Many are just idle rich and you know it.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 31, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Bazman what is your definition of rich?
        Is an idle person to you someone of working age that is healthy enough to work but doesn’t below the current state retirement age of 65?

        • Bazman
          Posted August 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          Rich is someone who does not have to work for their money as their money works for them.

          • lifelogic
            Posted September 2, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            Is someone on say £30,000 of benefits who does not have to work for their money (as they have others to work, pay taxes and provide for them) rich then perhaps?

          • Bazman
            Posted September 3, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

            If they get 30k in benefits then they would have a number of children. The crux of the problem is the children. How do you reduce the cost without effecting them Have them taken into care? No. Forced sterilisation? No. Incentive the parents to have less by paying less benefits. No. Do tell us how to reduce the cost lifelogic as nobody knows. If you think they should just get less then just say and stop hiding like the rest of the posters on here.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink


    Perhaps there is a very simple, but most would probably think, unthinkable solution to all of this.

    Tax all Benefits as if it was earned income.

    Pensioners are already in this situation, as the State pension is taxable.

    Raise the personal tax allowance and National Insurance contributions to that of the minimum wage immediately, so work does pay, then taper any benefits.

    Do away with means tested benefits as those paying a higher rate of tax would simply pay more than those on lower tax rates so the clawback would be higher.

    Everyone in the Nation then has a financial stake in the country’s welfare state, as everyone pays for it, and its fair to all. P
    Perhaps just perhaps politicians wouyld not be able to bribe so many people with taxpayer money in future, as we would all be taxpayers, and perhaps, just perhaps a little more sensible and less prone to vote for me, me, me always at someone elses expense.

    EG Those who save and try to provide for the future are not financially penalised for doing so.

    As far as savings go you could then scrap a huge government department, and the whole system becomes far far more simple.

    Clearly the above is perhaps drastic thinking, or is it !

    Clearly some Benefit rates would need revising in the light this new system, but how difficult is it.

    Face facts, the present system is a complete nightmare to understand (unless you are a benefits expert) and does not in any way do anyone any favours long term.

    Think the unthinkable.

    Frank Field was told to do exactly that some 13 years ago, we are still thinking about it.

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      I think there is a lot of merit in what you say.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Perhaps with the above system even a monthly pay slip could be sent out with all details of cumulative payments and deductions.

      For no other reason than to make people aware of the cost of government.

    • zorro
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      The other option would be a ‘citizen’s income’ type arrangement which might be easier to implement/police…..


    • oldtimer
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      This is sensible. It should even be extended to those OAP benefits like the tax free winter fuel allowance so that better off OAPs chip in a bit extra.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      So benefit cuts designed as a tax? Any idea how to convince landlords to accept a lower rent for their properties?

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink


        Yes empty properties as people and government refuse the pay the current rates demanded.

        How many people on Housing benefit ?

        That is how many landlords are being subsiduised by the taxpayer.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          What about areas with housing shortages? In most of London if you removed the people on benefits they would be replaced with people who will pay the same rent.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          Benefits are counted as tax you may well know. Your idea that you can make people so poor that they are forced to work is not real and really just show the naivety of your world view. A 60 year old man with three children is somehow going to just create a job? Many of the unemployed are unemployable as they are pig ignorant and the bone idle are well.. bone idle! You cut their benefits to next to nothing and then what? I might point out that there is entitlement to a certain stander of living in this country as if there is the undeserving poor then by default there must be the undeserving rich?

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    I was in Peterborough yesterday when I saw a huge crowd standing in what had once been a really nice suburban area just outside the Conservative Club.
    It was 9 a.m. and they were waiting for the dole to open. (casts aspersions on their appearance etc-ed) They were resigned and looking at the floor. Once inside they were processed by a large woman behind a desk that said WELCOME. A fat little man in a white shirt was bossing them round too.
    These people were being deprived of their dignity.
    I have been in high security prisons and have seen people better.

    But – hey! – who gives a damn!

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink


      Were you looking at the Job center, as I thought (rightly or wrongly) all Benefit payments are made directly into a Bank account.

      Thus these people, if it was a job centre (a failed title if ever there was one) were probably turning up to either register for the first time, or to prove they were actually still looking.

      Whilst I have not been to one of these places for the past 30 years my Daughter has, when she was last made redundant a couple of years ago and signed on.

      Yes they are depressing places, and yes people do turn up in odd dress, my daughter said on one occassion a person turned up in their Jim Jams and slippers, this was for an appointment at 2.00 in the afternoon.

      Makes you wonder if the present system is fit for purpose.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        It just is not fit for purpose.

      • stred
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        To Alan. I went to a Job Centre when I gave up my profession 20 years ago and tried something else. I knew that I would not be given any money whatsovever by the State, but was ordered to go anyway. This invitation was supposed to persuade me to take a job, but they had not realised that I intended to work for myself – nobody else- and avoid taxation but organise my own reward, long term: ie DIY.

        When I arrived, I was surprised to eventually be interviewed by young people that I would not have wanted up my drive, let alone in a government department. Most of them were unable to talk without referring to forms and were body pierced in places that made me wince. Eventually, I found one that asked what other careers I would consider. I said ‘Quantum Mechanics’ as the subject interested me. To my surprised he perked up a bit and said it was his interest too. He signed me off thankfully, to 20 years of receiving nothing from HMG.

        20 years on, my investments are worth a million and I have had letters from leading physicists on how to advance my alternative theory of gravitation. Half of it had already been proposed by Bondi.

        Now that Gordon, Dave and George have decided to confiscate anything I have made and give it to the undeserving, I am planning to escape. Any ideas where to. Certainly not France or Belgium.

        • alan jutson
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink


          How about buying your own small island and then seeking independence.

          Then you could govern yourself, make up your own rules, and have a declared low tax zone, many Company’s may wish to register and pay you more than just a few shillings, and you never know it may catch on big time, as there is a theory that low tax creates demand (But keep it a secret, as many governments around the World are not aware yet).

          No need to manufacture anything, as there are so many stupid governments in the World charging huge sums to corporations just to register a business with them, you may be surprised at how popular you become.

          One thing I would suggest.
          Do not to offer a money for nothing, Benefit type scheme, you would not want to become overcrowded now would you, and if you do not have such a scheme, you would not have to worry about the expense of border controls.

          For heat, light and power I would suggest you use oil as its easy to move around in cans, or if you have forests then use some trees, but do replant and harvest in a sensible manner (you can collect seeds from the trees before you cut any of them down).
          No need for expensive wind farms and the like, look ugly as well.

          When you then run out of money you can come back to the UK and claim benefits.
          You could make the odd visit back for a free health check as well.

          Only a suggestion.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        A lot of work in Peterborough and the surrounding areas, but what if you live in the Lake district? Move to Peterborough?

  6. Richard1
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    How about abolition of all benefits, pensions included, to be replaced by a minimum guaranteed income – eg £10,000 per adult. For each £1 you earn, however little, you lose 50p of benefit. Criminals could be threatened with the loss of guaranteed income. Then a flat tax on all income above £10,000, eg at 25%. It would always be worth working, the cost of admin – benefits offices, DWP, HMRC etc – could be reduced to a fraction of what they are now & the current culture of penalising success would be history.

    Reply: Mr Duncan Smith’s reforms are moving in this direction with his proposal for a single benefit with specified withdrawal rates.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply
      I can’t think that you have considered this suggestion properly. There are too many flaws in it to list here.

      • norman
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Kindly name one government policy of the last twenty years that has been thought through properly and kicked off at full blast so as to maximise potential gains?

        I can’t think of any but maybe a bus lane somewhere has been closed or something so I may be wrong.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          The abolition of HIP packs was good, but even then they left the absurd energy certificates in place. More energy used in doing these pointless things than is saved surely.

          Most people know if they have single glazing, roof insulation and an old boiler – if not they just need to take a look round. Not pay someone with who has been on an “expert” course at Bognor college or something for an hour or two.

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink


            We all live differently so all the theoretical calculations in the world really mean nothing.

            You simply ask the owner, are they at home during the day or out at work, then ask to see the last energy bill or details of their monthly direct debit.

            No sensible person is going to refuse if they want to sell a house

      • Richard1
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Well obviously one would need more than 6 lines to set it out, and exactly what the thresholds and rates could be would be subject to debate. But the principle seems to me very logical. Work always pays; the system is simple and cheap to administer; and high marginal tax rates don’t disincentivise work. Three results we dont have now.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      So let me see if I’ve got this correct.

      1) Criminals are threatened with a loss of their guaranteed income.
      2) They turn to crime to obtain the money they lost.

      Who exactly is this meant to benefit?

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink


        Simple solution
        You build more prisons to keep them in, the more they commit crime, the longer they are locked up.

        You also create construction jobs, and on going jobs in the prison service.
        Yes it is a cost to society in money terms, but worth it eventually as crime would then not pay and insurance premiums would go down.

        • APL
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

          alan jutson: “You build more prisons to keep them in,”

          You don’t even need to do that, you simply deport all the prison population that isn’t UK Nationals and BINGO!! you have free’d up 25% of the prison capacity.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          But keeping someone in prison is more expensive then keeping them in the Ritz (building prisons, maintaining prisons, and guards are expensive). So it will be huge drain on public finances.

          Don’t expect a big reduction in crime as long as you ignore the roots of social problems in favour of putting more and more people in prison.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          Same old same old hang em and flog em mentality that has not worked in Russia or America. Prisons are though a very big state funded industry in these countries employing thousands. Even if it did work there must be a cheaper and better way that incarcerating huge swathes of the population at massive expense to the taxpayer. Shows how you think.

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        Uanime5 – the ingredient missing from this is that they get severely punished too but it doesn’t happen. When they eventually get there prison is cushty. Neither good for deterrence nor rehabilitation.

        So we get taxpayers’ pockets picked in order to bribe the criminally inclined not to rob them.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          How would you severely punish them. The rack? They are already locked two to three a cell for most of the day. It is a way of life for many. How do you change that?

  7. Electro-Kevin
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    People on benefits have stated to me that the greatest disincentive from working (particularly temporary work) is the difficulty in getting back on benefits once the contract has ended and – worse – the risk of losing housing benefits altogether.

    The prohibitive costs of getting to work are also disincentivising as jobs are rarely within walking/cycling distance.

    I agree with you that the perceived Tory ‘bias’ towards rich over poor is both simplistic and untrue but all parties seem to have demonstrated a belief in an open borders policy and that the outsourcing of work is acceptable. That is bound to impact the poor and benefit the rich – the irony is that Labour were the worst for it and are the masters of blame shifting.

    Australia and Canada haven’t adopted our model and they are in far better shape than we are. Personal debt is holding Britain’s recovery back – credit and benefits were how we maintained our standard of living to counter the fact that we have been in economic decline for some while now.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      Yes there are lazy people in the benefits system. There are also those who have lost all confidence and self belief and who find themselves in a comfort zone (however demoralising) that they are reluctant to get out of.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Read you post like this.
        There are also those who have lost all confidence and self belief and who find themselves in a comfort zone (however demoralising) that they are reluctant to get out of. They are lazy.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink


      “Difficulty in getting back on Benefits once the contract has ended”.

      Absolutely agree, there is no flexibility in the system to allow temporary work, be it short or long term, without huge form filling and extended waiting times for benefits to start again.

      Thus people simply turn down any chance temporary work, which often can lead to a full time employed position, becaue they cannot afford to be without money for possibly weeks on end.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        They can actually end up losing far more money than they earned, Alan.

    • stred
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      Australia and Canada seem to have far more European descendents living there who are not highly paid, but realise that the Wefare State only works up to a point. Perhaps I have been in a position to meet such people while wandering around there and in the US, while my bird is usefully employed elsewhere in these countries. They are very nice friendly people, but think the UK is nuts.

  8. Pete the Bike
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it strange that Conservatives want tax cuts for everyone yet they continue to increase taxation rather than cut the incredibly bloated public sector?

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Indeed they do, more tax, borrow and waste every singe day – now Cameron even seems to want to waste it on an absurd Severn Barrage – now that his jumped up sports day is nearly finished – all but the huge debts and the white elephant stadia that is.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        You are obsessed and then some with the possibility of a Severn Barrage. The idea may or may not on balance be a good one but to call it absurd demolishes your credibility and not just on that subject.

        The way I see it, tidal flow takes place twice a day, barrier or no barrier, and I always ask why we cannot all but immediately and relatively cheaply fasten (sub)marine turbines to the seabed in estuaries and just rake in the power produced as the tides ebb and flow through them. The only point against that I have ever heard is that there might be severe corrosion of the (metal) turbines caused by the horrible nasty sea water. This may be true but this replacement cost doesn’t sound like a deal breaker to me and there is no marginal cost at all over a barrier because a turbine in a barrier also obviously has to have seawater passing through it. Once we had cracked this there could be turbines near the seabed in every estuary in the land. Our tidal ranges are enormous. Job done.

        • forthurst
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          All schemes which cannot offer a continuous energy source are entirely useless because electrical energy cannot be stored economically; that is partly why the Germans have woken up and decided on a dash for coal.

          It is a lot cheaper to understand that increasing CO2 levels is a matter for which there is absolutely no reason for concern in the forseeable future, as established by the videos I posted yesterday, than to divert major resources into expensive white elephants towards wrecking the economy.

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            “All schemes which cannot offer a continuous energy source are entirely useless”

            Well not quite “entirely” they can work in a mix with other sources that can be controlled like hydro and gas, coal, oil. But clearly on demand power is far more valuable.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            “Entirely useless” perhaps pitches it a bit strong, witness for a start that there are tidal schemes already in place in the world. Perfection spells paralysis. It is of course possible to use the twice-a-day free (ish) power to pump water in to a higher reservoir, ideally a lake or loch that is already there so no barrier or only a minimal barrier needed, and use the run off twice a day to compensate for the low points in nearby tidal flow. We do NOT have to think in terms of giant schemes feeding in to the National Grid. Simplifying safely, each large enough estuary could have its own (dinky) reservoir to serve local needs. Another possibility (and I am very sure there are others), again thinking out of the National Grid box, might involve siting energy intensive industry – aluminium smelting, that sort of thing, which presumably does not have to run constantly- near the relative estuary again independent of the National Grid. Such independence would mean fewer pylons destroying beautiful our countryside. Continuous power is better self-evidently of course but another possibility (I am making this up as I go along) is bringing estuary power on stream only as necessary to compensate for when the (truly) absurd wind turbines aren’t working (no wind or too much).

          • forthurst
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

            lifelogic, I meant from an economic point of view, since any unreliably consistent energy source needs corresponding amounts of reliably consistent backup, thus the return on investment of both sources is compromised.

          • Mike Wilson
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

            The tides happen at different times around the coast. Stick enough turbines on the sea bed and you’ll have constant energy.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          Well there are of course sea bed turbines but they are not cost effective. The cost and maintenance is too high, relative to the small power produced. Perhaps this will change but not yet.

          The reason for building a barrage is you can get all the water flow in a smaller area of turbines so more cost effective but still not a viable proposal even with the absurd subsidy given to “renewables” for no good reason.

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            I object only because they are not practical nor cost effective.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

            As to whether (very simple) marine turbines are cost effective there is at least one company out there (nothing to do with me – I cannot even remember their name – I just thought their propaganda impressive and believable when I saw it) testing and (close to?) manufacturing them. My gut reaction is that if only we could move towards local schemes (perhaps in shallow estuaries so some of the problems of working at depth are sidestepped–a fortiori with the turbines out of the water at low tide even??) it is hard to see how turbines could not work. Anyway, damn the torpedoes. This doesn’t sound like Mission Impossible to me.

        • stred
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          To Leslie. The 60ft drop should not cause silting, as the energy passing in a shorter time would cause more scouring and it would be possible to ensure that silt passed out as well as in. Possibly, muddy resorts on the estuary might become sandy with a bit of help. The bore might be affected, but this might help bird life.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

            to Stred, Thanks. It’s the freestanding marine turbines that I am primarily rooting for. However, I am certainly not losing sleep over silting in a barrier scheme if only because I do not remember any (?) talk about silting in that tidal barrier scheme in France when I found myself reading about it. I’m getting old and might have forgotten, this was some years ago now and I am not up to speed on latest. There is also the question whether we as a country have the cojones these days for something as big as the Severn Barrier–what with the poor birds who, if they are so stupid as a species that they cannot move somewhere else or otherwise cope, I for one couldn’t care less about.

      • stred
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        The 60 ft tides are one of the few natural advantages left to England and Wales, and the silting problem might be solved by careful engineering. On the other hand the Welsh might be tempted to emigrate to Devon, or the other way round. They would not mix.

    • Johnnydub
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Pete, you’re making the classic mistake of listening to what politicians say rather than assessing what they do.

      It’s why Cameron is clearly not a Conservative – the Coalition have jacked up taxes, apart from some minor tinkering at the bottom, and haven’t done anything about the runaway spending…

  9. Adam5x5
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    How about people fend for themselves?

    Benefits such as the dole should be time limited, say to 6 months.
    After that you’re on your own. This way losing your job isn’t the end of the world and you have time to find a new one, but it stops people living off benefits.

    6 months is plenty of time to find a job, it may not necessarily be your dream job, but it will keep you afloat while you look for something better. some people just need to swallow their pride.

    Also cut child benefit completely. It is unfair to demand that people pay for children that are not theirs. Why should I have to pay taxes to support the progeny of people who are unable to make the adult decision to use contraception?

    Why work?
    Mainly I work to gain experience in industry and then in a few years move to Asia/Middle East/N. America/Australia.
    This country has no desire to support business or success. It penalises and berates those who are successful and demonises do not support the left wing ideology.
    Working for any other reason in this country is a mug’s game.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      How about people fend for themselves ?

      I agree to an extent but the tables are tipped against British workers in many cases.

      I was unable to consider a job offering £60k pa in London recently. Why ? Housing costs. Even with a sizeable deposit I would have needed a massive mortgage to afford a bog standard 3 bed semi lifestyle without worrying about my kids either getting stabbed or beginning to speak like Ali G.

      What other country precludes its own citizens from being able to live in their own capital ?

      The influx of European property investors has driven prices up. They are escaping the Euro crisis – yes, the one they caused by not paying THEIR taxes on the money they now use to buy OUR houses – yes, the same one that they expect us to help bail out with OUR taxes.

      Yet again we have a government handing to other nations an unfair advantage over us.

      It beggars belief.

      (Idea attributable to a blogger named Idle)

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        I expect many of these houses remain empty most of the year or are rented out to Brits at exorbitant rates – elevated way above what the property market should be at because of their involvement.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        The solution is a mansion tax and a special tax for those owning multiple properties. This will remove the bulk of foreigners from the most expensive properties causing their value to drop, then once the UK wealthy move into the lower priced expensive properties the lower levels of competition in the medium cost properties will cause them to drop in value thus making housing more affordable in London.

        I also have a relative who was told about a job in London but had to turn it down because it would cost half what she earned everyday just to get to it. High transport costs make it impossible to commute long distances.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted August 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          Why not just introduce another Council Tax band at the top end, splitting band H? Simple to do and, because it doesn’t create another tax, doesn’t lead to more bureaucrats on the public pay roll.

      • stred
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        A lot of expensive property in outer East London is being bought by buyers (from overseas-ed). How ‘asylum seekers or temporary workers’ can afford houses that locals work a lifetime for is a question that needs to be answered. One thing certain is that the people, who left the East End to keep their identity, are left with nowhere to go in London if they do not wish to integrate. Trouble looms.

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          I thought the same about the house I sold near Watford – but who was I to judge ? They had the money and I presumed they were honest.

          The answer came when debt collectors turned up on my doorstep six years later at my new address demanding money for a £10k credit card bill I knew nothing about. It pertained to identity theft committed from my old address … after I’d moved.

          I also hear from old neighbours that the previously peaceful street has become an area of aggressive disputes and late night disturbances.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      In the world of right wing fantasy it 6 months may be enough time to get a job but according to a Government study it takes the average unemployed person 7 years to get a job (the payments for Work Programme providers are based on how much benefits would have been paid in these 7 years).

      Seriously as long as there are 450,000 jobs and 2.65 million people unemployed it’s going to be very difficult to get a job.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        several hundred jobs would appear magically if intra company transfer visas and the activities of the indian outsourcing movement were curtailed

        • Iain Gill
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

          hundreds of thousands i mean…

      • Adam5x5
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink

        Do you have a link to those figures?


        Shows that the average length of the job hunt in the UK is 29.9 weeks – just over 6 months.

        I think that number is people finding jobs they want.
        I was meaning that people should take any job to keep at least a bit of money coming in while they find a job they want to do.

        Employment statistics like the ones you mentioned are misleading – there will always be churn in the jobs market, which means there will always be more unemployed than jobs as businesses will close or people be made redundant.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          Is this article about the US or the UK? I ask because it uses figures from the American Association of Retired Persons and Bureau of Labor Statistics, neither of which cover the UK.

          Let’s not forget about the 887,000 long-term unemployed (unemployed for more than one year) or the 630,000 Very Long-Term Unemployed (unemployed for more than two years). It seems for a lot of people 6 months isn’t enough time to find a job.


    • Bazman
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      There is minimum standards of living in this country whether the contributors to this site like it or not and how you think that making people desperate will incentivise is a right wing fantasy not played out for themselves though.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted August 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        The minimum standards of living in this country are now SUBSTANTIALLY higher than they were in 2001, which was hardly a year of poverty. It is not a “right wing fantasy” to expect welfare cuts to play their full part in the current dire circumstances. It seems that the only way to get it into your head that the government is flat broke (and worse) is to use dynamite.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          Who says the country is flat broke? Another fantasy.
          Where specifically do you want these welfare cuts to stop the unemployed and feckless from living the high life?

  10. The PrangWizard
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    There’s no perfect system, and there will never be enough money to go round. I have long been an advocate of an entitlements system whereby any person from almost any age or background can purchase the right to any entitlement on and off whenever they wish or can, be it unemployment or a retirement pension for example. It would be run by the State because I feel uneasy that it should be some sort of profit based private insurance scheme, they have proved untrustworthy. This would also simplify the overcomplicated methods currently employed and reduce the size of the State at the same time, transferring wealth and labour to the private sector. These entitlement benefits could conceivably be evidenced by a paper based system, savings book style – I know it may sound bizarre today when we are all obsessed by ‘the big database’ – but there is no reason why it should not be examined. The principle would I think remove some of the problems outlined.
    There would need to be a major restructuring of the income tax system alongside this with a much higher starting rate, say £20,000 with a flat rate elsewhere, and easier hire and fire and no minimum wage, so that the labour market could be freedup, and many people could become self reliant more easily and keep a lot more of their income, especially obviously at the starting end. There would be no punitive tax rates for higher incomes or on capital and no requirement to declare income until the threshold is reached. Could some future date be chosen after which the changes could be brought in and the ‘old’ system be allowed to wither? Does this help?

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      All your solution will do is allow the rich to become richer and force everyone else to undercut each other for all the other jobs. Due to the lack of consumption because the average wage will be much lower the domestic market will collapse and the black market will thrive.

      So you solution will destroy much of the economy.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      You would see foreigners working for pennies without a minimum wage. They already live five to a car/room and live on rice and pasta the average Briton is supposed to compete with this whilst the rich become even richer on the back of this again ideas based on the virtues of desperation.What this country needs is a government that puts the population as a whole over the rights of shareholders and and an elite to plunder them. Ram it.

  11. Iain Gill
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Yes good set of points.
    You could equally say “Why Save?”, or “Why be a legal, decent, honest citizen?”, or “Why battle against the anti car measures?”, or “Why bother with the political process?”, or “Why put up with state rationing in housing, schools, healthcare?”
    The incentives for all parts of society need fixing to encourage human nature to “do the right thing”

    • Bob
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      The problem is that the government are spending too much, not that they are taxing too little.

      You need to look at your spending and decide which items of expenditure are beneficial to the nation and which are positively harmful.

      Then start cutting spending from the harmful end of the spectrum.

      Encouraging welfare dependence has not had a positive outcome.
      It leads to a population of unskilled, unemployable and indolent people with a strong sense of entitlement and too much time on their hands and the Devil makes work for idle hands.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        yes but the only way to lower government spending is to encourage folk to save, and not to penalise folk who do, incentivise everyone to have minimal savings and you have made them more dependant on the state and a bigger drain on the state in the bigger picture


  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Recipients of unemployment benefit shouldn’t be allowed to think that they have an entitlement to get something for nothing. When they switch from benefit income to work income they shouldn’t be thinking that “I could get almost that much staying at home and doing nothing.” Grayling seems to be making a tiny step in this direction with his proposal announced this week. No doubt Clegg will object. Yeo asks is Cameron “a man or a mouse” ? I think we all know the answer to that and we shall drift along until 2015 when your party will suffer a humiliating defeat – not for being too right wing but for failing to deal competently with the economy.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      Recipients of unemployment benefit shouldn’t be allowed to think that they have an entitlement to get something for nothing.

      Indeed, and what the politicians need to realise is that every pound given to someone who hasn’t done anything for it, is a pound that someone else has worked for and received nothing.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Unemployment benefit or job seekers allowance to give it the correct term is an entitlement avalible to anyone who has paid enough national insurance and lasts six months. Even millionaires and at seventy one quid a week you will not be living a life of style on it. Save this crap for the pub as you do not have a clue.

  13. Lord Blagger
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Most people agreee that it is a nonsense to pay benefits to people with good incomes, or with substantial savings and other resources.


    If you charge people for something, then you should supply it.

    If you insure someone, and charge them for it, then if the insured event happens you should pay out.

    You are trying to renege on a contract. You don’t want to supply the insurance when people have the event, for example, by needing care, but you want to carry on charging them for that insurance.

    In the commercial world that is fraud. Why should you be above the law when you charge for the insurance, but don’t want to provide it?

    It pretty obvious why you need to do this. It’s back to the government debts. You too the money and spent it. Those debts were hidden off the books to enable that spending. Now you have to pay the debts, and who better to target than someone who needs a care home. Sums up Westminster.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      I think folk who are genuinely sick need better support. One of my old friends has got too ill to work and has gradually lost all his savings and is now benefits dependant. I think the payout he gets after a lifetime of paying large amounts of tax into the system is far too low and should be higher than folk who have never worked a day in their life.
      Re “Most people agree that it is a nonsense to pay benefits to people with good incomes, or with substantial savings and other resources” I don’t agree, and know lots of people who don’t agree with this, so I doubt “most” is correct. Most people I know think people who have worked hard and saved hard should not be disadvantaged compared to other folk who have squandered all of their potential savings over the years or who have never bothered to work when it was available.
      I think some of the big sink estates need special measures, with the best will in the world being pretty much forced to live on one of these estates by the state forces folk to be benefit dependant. If instead of subsidised housing they were given money to spend on housing as they saw fit there would be a lot more folk moving away to areas with potential jobs markets.
      Folk who have never worked when healthy should be in a special category and denied access to a whole range of perks of society.
      The incentives need to be there to encourage folk to do the right thing at the moment the incentives are there to lie (about your religion to get your child a better school places, about your savings to get benefits, etc.) to squander money and so on.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        Given how the state keep trying to reduce the welfare bill expect people to be forced into sink estates because they’re the only places they’ll be able to afford. Don’t forget that the Conservatives’ plan to cap housing benefits would have seen thousands of people forced out of parts of London with jobs into areas without jobs.

        If you want people to work you have to provide them with jobs. Punishing them for something that isn’t their fault won’t work.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          Leading to the French slum problem around Paris.

  14. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    JR, you may be interested in this from Clegg, quoted in the Guardian today:


    “The caricature of what George Osborne is doing on the fiscal side is absurd. If you read some of the commentary, particularly from the left, you would think he was turning the clock back to the 1930s. If you look at the facts rather than the allegations: what we are doing in the fiscal plan is slowing down the increase in public spending. But public spending as a proportion of GDP will be 42% which is higher than at any time between 1995 and when the banks went bust in 2008.”

    Of which public spending about a fifth, equivalent to roughly 8% of GDP, is still being financed by borrowing, which is being entirely achieved by the Treasury indirectly borrowing from the Bank of England via the gilts market, in effect, give or take some billions one way or the other.

    It would be simpler and clearer if the Treasury borrowed newly created money direct from the Bank, eg by an overdraft on its account with the Bank or by selling it gilts direct, but apart from being too transparent that would also contravene Article 123 TFEU in the EU treaties:

    “Overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility with the European Central Bank or with the central banks of the Member States (hereinafter referred to as “national central banks”) in favour of Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the European Central Bank or national central banks of debt instruments.”

    But the government probably considers the breach of EU law with direct funding to be less important than the useful lack of transparency with its preferred indirect method of funding, which has been very effective in sending people chasing off after hares about where the QE money has gone and why (now) £346 billion of it hasn’t had a miraculous stimulatory effect on the economy.

    • Disaffected
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Spot on. He continues Brown’s policy of borrowing and spending knowing Labour will be handed this chalice when they come back in. How about a little national interest!!

  15. David John Wilson
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    We need to move away from taxing work and income towards finding other sources of government income. Lets for get about a mansion tax and look at introducing two or more higher bands of council tax. Once the properties have been regraded, and only the current highest band houses would need to be looked at, collecting the tax would involve no extra effort, staff or red tape.

    Yes it would go into council coffers but it would not take much effort to reduce government grants to councils by appropriate amounts.

    • Mark
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      The sums raised would be paltry. The consequences on revenues from other taxes might even be lower revenue overall. The real reason to impose a mansion tax is to try to halt the influx of foreign money into high end property. That would cause prices to fall.

      • David John Wilson
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        What is the difference between what I was proposing and a mansion tax? Using council tax makes collection much more efficient and has all the same advantages. The sums involved do not need to be paltry.

        • alan jutson
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink


          Why do you assume large houses, equal large incomes ?

          Why should a widower who lives in a large family house, having bought up the family in it over generations.
          Pay huge amounts of Council tax.

          If they downsize they pay stamp duty, and have to sell half the furniture, now you want more if they do not move.

          If you want to increase income, then tax everyone a little, after all they all use local services.

          This was tried once and failed, even though it was a much fairer system.

          It was called the Poll tax.

          It failed because those that paid nothing under the old rates system, decided they did not want to pay anything at all.

          Most housholds I know were in favouir of the poll tax system !

          The government now gets £140,000 of stamp duty from a £2,000,000 house when it is purchased.

          • David John Wilson
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

            If you are talking about a larger than average band H property then it is a very expensive house that can only be afforded by someone who has a large income. A widower living on their own would anyway get a 25% rebate.
            I am of the view that people who live by themselves in very expensive houses should be encouraged to down size.

            Anyway in my experience most of the large expensive houses are not occupied by elderly widows or widowers. Most of them in my experience are the second or third homes people who rarely occupy them. This is true both of central London and those in the attractive areas of the countryside.

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink


            I have no problem with second homes being taxed, and in effect they are already, full Council Tax is charged, but if the people are not in them, then they do not use the facilities/services they are paying for.

            The main problem with second homes is the affect on the local economy and shops who lose trade, through no one living full time in them.
            They also create a false market value which again does not help the locals.

            But again they do pay stamp duty when purchased.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

            Pool tax a tax for not having a swimming pool. At least that widower or little old Doris that keeps getting wheeled out has a choice and how many of them is there? Are we supposed to have pity when a £2,000,0000 house buyer is charge 140k in tax? Should we have whip round? Five adults living in a cramped house where not in favour of the poll tax. They are skint thats why they live in the cramped house at least the rates had some sort of social justice to it even if the Doris did not think so.

  16. Atlas
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I thought that Osborne wanted a benefit withdrawal rate that was higher than even IDS wanted. If so then Osborne wishes to perpetuate the disincentive culture – contrary to the claimed aim of these ‘reforms’.

    I read Clegg wants to tax us into prosperity – what a joker.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink


      Ref Mr Clegg.

      Ah yes that is because I understand it from press reports that his EU pension is tax free in the UK, indeed all EU pensions are tax free.
      I think they pay a simple 8% community charge at most .

      Thus he and many others will not pay any tax he is suggesting everyone else pays.

      Not bad if you can get it.!

  17. Matthew
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Benefits and tax credits account for about 30% of all spending. The level of benefits and the rate of increase over the last ten years are not sustainable. Thanks to Mr Brown.

    Yet I’m not sure that the genuinely needy are being looked after enough.

    Increasing benefits by 5 %(?) well beyond our ability to pay, to account for inflation was a big mistake by IDS. I suppose the government thinks that when we’re paying £50 billion in interest on the debt then what harm does a bit more spending do?

    The irony is that people in low paid jobs were stuck with the same inflationary pressures, but not many of them would get such an increase – many suffered a decrease.
    The nation is still living well beyond its means yet the government won’t come clean and spell out that the current level of expenditure can’t go on. They are hoping for economic growth, but then why expect it when they’re not putting the building blocks in place? Like slash taxes and spending.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      The Government could have increased minimum wage by the rate of inflation but chose not to.

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

        Good it would have cost jobs – there should not even be a minimum wage. It is a matter for employee and employer to agree between them. People do voluntary work anyway.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Removing the minimum wage would only benefit employers, who would benefit from the cheap labour, and immigrants, who can afford to work for these low wages. The losers would be the people in the UK who want to work but can’t live on the low wages.

          So unless you want massive increase in unemployment and immigration you shouldn’t promote such flawed policies.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          You would find the working poor cutting each others throats egged on by employers. No good for anyone. Where is your evidence of lost jobs? Most research showed a rise in jobs after the minimum wage was introduced. You think the market will provide a living wage without subsidy from the taxpayer in the form of more benefits. As I have pointed out there is minimum living standards in Britain and peole are entitled to them. Yes even the bone idle those unable to find work with children. If you disagree with this, then just say and stop hiding. Maybe they could do voluntary work for employers say making wages optional. Turn up for work and we will chuck you a few quid every now and then?

  18. Rebecca Hanson
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Of course there is another way. You could allow people to protect their benefits but pay a very high rate of tax after allowable work related expenses.

    • Rebecca Hanson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      This would make it easy for people to take insecure and flexible work when they are on benefits, which would be great for the economy and great for them. Unlike the other options.

  19. Vanessa
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Surely “benefits” are a temporary, last resort? They should never be a way of life and it is totally wrong for the government to be seen to prop up people who cannot be bothered to work. If they were taken away it would energise their search for a job – moving around the country if need be. We are all mollycoddled and incapable of being responsible for our own lives any longer – we look to the EU to tell us what to do and the EU makes sure we are wholly reliant on its stupid laws because those who “govern” us haven’t a clue how to run a country.

    • Bob
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink


      It’s all about creating a culture where the government take the place of parents and family.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Well you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

      Firstly there’s 2.56 million people unemployed and 455,000 jobs so over 2 million people are going to be unemployed no matter how hard they try.

      Secondly moving around the country is impossible for anyone who can’t afford to purchase property in the new area.

      Thirdly stop blaming the EU for problems caused by the Coalition.

      • Steven_L
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

        I don’t own property and I’ve been finding it quite easy to move around the country to work in places I could never afford to buy a house on a counci salary. You simply rent. Would be a bit of a drag if I had kids and needed more than one room though.

      • Adam5x5
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:35 am | Permalink

        Secondly moving around the country is impossible for anyone who can’t afford to purchase property in the new area.

        Unless you’re moving to the SE, then property prices aren’t unaffordable – expensive and overpriced, yes.

        Also, there is no requirement to buy a house to move job. People, can and do rent for a while to build a deposit before purchasing.

        • Bazman
          Posted September 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          All on minimum wage or just above? Is it realistic for a father to live in a bedsit and send home the few quid left over to his family.
          Rent and build up a deposit for a house? The obvious answer to the housing problem. Why has this not been thought of? Could you do this on a grand a month near London with a family? Brand new aren’t you?

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      “Surely “benefits” are a temporary, last resort?”

      Very true. Unfortunately jobs-for-life are largely a thing of the past, so it’s the work that is a ‘temporary’ feature in life for many people nowadays.

      Home ownership is not really suited to the flexible and transient workforce you seek but home ownerism is what our economy is based upon.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Flexible and transient workforce? Wandering minstrels more like.

  20. a-tracy
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    No one really knows the level and cost of welfare in their constituency area including housing benefits and the plethora of top ups if you only work part-time. I wonder when London tax payers increasingly write about funding the benefits culture in the North just what the full costs of housing benefits, unemployment benefits, social security payments etc. is in the City with the extra housing benefit costs.

    I’m curious about the breakdown of ages of recipients, their qualifications i.e. are we supporting lots of highly qualified people who are too qualified for the work on offer because they couldn’t afford their home if they took a pay cut. Just how many fatherless homes is the welfare state supporting, has this gone up or down in the last decade.

    Then we should tackle it by looking at the most problematic areas first, with the correct scientific data for that area, the jobs on area and the rate of pay for those jobs compared to how much housing costs (rent) for workers as a % of the average pay for that area.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink


      Interesting report. However, the report refers to both workless people and workless households when presenting figures. The report suggests that there are:

      3.68m UK households with at least one member aged 16 to 64 where no one was working.
      40% or 2/5th of the 5 million people who were workless were aged between 50 and 64.
      Some of the workless people aged 16 to 64 give study or retirement as their reason for not working.” If fully retired and student households are removed, the number of workless households in the UK is 2.92m.

  21. Mactheknife
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink


    I take serious issue with this kind of statement:

    “Most people agreee that it is a nonsense to pay benefits to people with good incomes, or with substantial savings and other resources”.

    We see time again the twisted logic of the benefits system. If you save for a rainy day; if you save for your retirement; if you save for a decent pension; if you save to give your children a good start….I could go on but you get the picture…the government gives you NOTHING.

    However if you are workshy, feckless, feral and couldn’t give a damn about about anyone or anything so long as you get your handouts you then get everything FREE !

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      A good summary of how politicians think and act with our money!

      • Atlas
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Brian, a good summary of some political voteseekers.

        Bread and Circuses in action – and we all know how that ended…

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink


      That is why I suggested no means testing for Benefit entitlement, but that it should all be taxable earlier on this blog.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        It is counted as income for taxation purposes. You are proposing a cut via the back door.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Nothing more exemplifies this than carehome provision. Whereby a pensioner has to sell her house to pay fees which are subsidising the person (who has never worked) in the bed next to her.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:37 am | Permalink

      This is why I disagree with benefits in general, except for those who are medically incapable of any type of work (and I don’t mean a little depressed).

      People should fend for themselves. It’s the definition of being an adult.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        There is minimum standards for all in this country. Argue against this or crawl back under your stone. Most do fend for themselves.

  22. Robert Taggart
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Work = a four letter word !
    This scrounger be quite content to sit a home, ‘play’ on the computer (you would miss us if one was out at work !), watch television, listen to the radio… and not ask for much in life – just benefits !
    Quality of life be the key to this conundrum. Where be the incentive to rise at dawn, join the ‘crush’ hour, work our socks off, join the ‘crush’ hour, collapse into the sofa – for just a little more ‘doe’ ? – DOH !

  23. Max Dunbar
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    If you are on benefits and have a skill or are prepared to work hard, you can do very well for yourself; a guaranteed private income from the taxpayer, no tax to pay and cash jobs from customers who want to save money – its a “no brainer”.
    The only answer is to cut benefits to nil or carry on “fiddling” while Rome burns.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      What will they do with no income and what will their children eat? They will just find a job, but not the type of work you think and good luck to them your car should be first.

  24. Mark W
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Just maybe their ought to be a disincentive to be on benefits. Here’s an idea that would increase the cost but would certainly make people like me feel better about it.

    Have “non working” benefits paid out in places that resemble an A&E department with a minium wait time of 4 hours. With a requirment to show up at least 3 times a week every week. I’m sure this enforced 12 hours of boredom a week would make work a little more appealing to the bone idle.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      They would want a free smart phone or some other devices they could play on whilst they wait. And do you know what? many politicians, like Clegg, would say they should have one!

      • Mark W
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        I fear you are right Brian. I wouldn’t be surprised if there wouldn’t be a free car and fuel allowance too.

        It never ceases to amaze me that we have benefits paid to non workers and litter and weeds everywhere. Surely someone can join these dots…

        • alan jutson
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          Mark W

          It exists already !

          The car is not free, but certainly subsidised, and you can choose your own model.

          According to press reports some people have purchased Range Rovers, and high performance sports cars, as well as some of the more usual basic models.
          Its called the motorbility scheme, I think.

          Obviously you need to qualify to get a car, but you do not need a licence yourself, you can use anyone as long as they have their own licence to drive your car for you.

  25. norman
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Can’t post a long comment, COD3 game I’m in middle of is exciting. What with internet only £25 a month now, six quid for a cheap case of lager, JTAG/RGH xbox, it’s a struggle to get buy. It’s easy for all you people calling for cuts in benefits but with my bad back what am I supposed to do? My Dreambox connection isn’t cheap at a tenner a month either.

    Those who understood that above sentence know that for the benefits we get today you can have a life where you get the full Sky package and play all the latest xbox 360 games and still have enough for a few cans a day.

    I tell you though, my self respect really is at rock bottom, so please don’t criticise me it’s not easy day after day (well mid-day until 3am) sitting doing nothing but playing games and watching TV. The valium the doctor gives me for my depression helps a little but I really just want a job so I can start to haul myself out of the slough of despair I find myself in. Those valium along with the eighth out of every oz I get do help a little with my depression, and the pain killers for my back aren’t very strong but as my back is getting worse and worse I’m hoping the doctor will do te right thing cause some days the pain is unbearable.

    People, we’ve lost the benefit battle. Labour won. To those still playing by the rules I do have two words to say to you – thank you. Keep paying those lovely taxes folks. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it when I see you crawling past in the rush hour every day as I crack open my blinds and peer out.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink


      Friend of ours who retired a few years ago says there is a lovely sound that he hears every cold winters morning whilst he is tucked up in a warm bed.

      Its the sound of ice scrapers at work on car windscreens, as people get ready to go off to work !

      Do you enjoy that sound as well ?

  26. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Is a universal benefits system successful?

    Would Sir Terry Wogan, Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger et. al. please tell us how grateful they are for their £200 per annum fuel allowance and their state pensions?

    • Mark W
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Not that I’m a fan of the Winter Fuel Allowance, I’d say that Sir Terry, Elton and Mick have contributed a great deal more in tax than they get back. Why shouldn’t they get it? Having a load of people on the other end of those complicated forms would most likely cost more than just handing it to everyone.

      Possibly a minimum benefit set at a level to provide, bread and fresh water (as well as some battered ex military housing stock if required) should be paid to everyone universaly, so you are “up” after even one hour of a minimum wage job.

      • David John Wilson
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        State pensions are of course taxed, effectively at their highest rate. The first step should be tax winter fuel allowance as well. This cuts out the need to introduce any extra red tape.

  27. Mark M
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    The negative income tax is a way of withdrawing benefits that doesn’t create disincentives. How you implement that from the current mess we have is a serious issue, but it is the only method of providing a tax and benefit system that I have ever heard that doesn’t give massive marginal rates on minimum wage workers.

    • Richard
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you Mark, I think negative income tax was an good idea of Frank Field who propsed it many years before Mr Blair became PM, but strangely it never took off.
      I suspected it needed co-operation between the two Departments of State involved and that never happened.
      Perhaps Iain Duncan Smith may have better luck.

  28. RDM
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Why on earth are you bothering to discuss such nonsense, when you have said not a word about the crisis the Coalition has caused by introducing AWR!

    How many Contractors are now Unemployed?

    Sort out the Banking Systems and they could create loads of SME’s! Stop Banks taking Homes as collateral, you can’t develop technology while trying to pay off loans!


    RDM – ex-contractor, long term unemployed.

  29. BobE
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Mr Clegg is only raising the wealth tax so he can shout about something at the LibDem party conference. Imagine if he sat round the cabinet table and told them, mostly millionairs, that he wanted more of their money. !!
    It will never happen, its just party season smoke.

  30. Graham Swift
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    We should adopt the system in Hong Kong. Extremely low tax rates. Also no unemployment as the don’t give unemployment benefits. Simple. If you don’t work you don’t eat . That’s in the Bible and was also Communist policy , much praised by proper Liebour. Most unemployment benefit in the UK goes on beer and fags – only got to see the work shy in any town or city. And why give benefits to asylum scroungers and other EU visitors ? Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Certainly true here.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Unless the 2.56 million unemployed magically disappear expect a riot when they don’t get their benefits.

      • Adam5x5
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

        If the benefits keep increasing to fund the feckless, expect a riot when the 29.48 million workers have to pay even more tax to fund them sitting around doing nothing…


        • Bazman
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          I’ve got to drive a lorry to Bristol tomorrow so will not be avalible for rioting though could sent an abusive text in my lunch break.

          • Richard
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

            Hi Bazman,
            Im on the M5 same day as you, so can you please try to stay in lane one and not take ages to overtake another HGV in lane two.
            Its very tiresome for my driver to have to slow down, whilst I’m reclining in the back of my limo, sipping my dry white.
            Give me a wave if you see me.

          • Bazman
            Posted August 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            You need to get that Roller serviced as the lorry is legally restricted to 56 mph and any driver can overtake in the third lane during the elephant race. The hard shoulder being avalible for the super rich via another deck is an idea I’m sure is being considered. If you worked harder and were less feckless you would be able to afford a helicopter and stop using the servants corridors.

  31. Richard
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Focusing on benefit levels versus the wages offered for jobs on offer, gives only a partial view because a major additional benefit is housing benefit.
    Add child benefit and free school meals and a family man/woman in rented housing, needs to find a very well paid job to even equal their benefit levels.

    Ive heard them called scroungers and welfare lifers but would anyone really take a job which leaves them worse off or even only marginally better off ?
    There is simply no incentive for many to get a job and they are only doing what economists would expect them to do.
    So we are back to the reason the majority of new jobs created recently, have been taken by single young people coming here from other countries.

    I hope IDS’s long awaited reforms may also take some of Frank Field’s ideas and finally create some real incentive for those trapped on benefits to escape and make work profitable.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink


      You’re the first one to touch upon the issue of foreigners taking British jobs, and as we know, that’s because of the stupid law that our political masters subscribe to, which allows free movement of labour within the EU.

      The left always comes out with the same old crap, ‘where are the jobs the jobless are supposed to take?’ when it was they who gave us this mess in the first place. I’d have made the work-shy work alright, or risk losing everything! But the lunacy that allowed foreigners to come and work here in their droves, effectively tied the DWP’s hands behind it’s back. Repeal that, and we might get somewhere.

      I have just come out of Cambridge’s Addenbrookes hospital after my third operation in six weeks. Whilst the staff are all really good, it’s like the league of nations, and I am left to wonder why there isn’t sufficient numbers of home-grown talent to fill the hospital’s needs?

      There is simply no incentive for many British people to get off their chuff, get qualified, and be a worthwhile part of society, and it seems governments of every persuasion are quite content to let people languish, as the nettle that would return EU nationals is far too painful to grasp. This is why I constantly complain about them (all of them) having no bottle. They wring their hands and procrastinate, but don’t take the vital steps to sort it all out.

      Not everyone on benefits is work-shy, but equally, not everyone on benefits is worthy of getting it. If we can make the distinction, then why can’t the government? If they can, then they don’t seem to be making a fist of it, so who are they afraid of upsetting, the left? They sure as hell won’t upset the tax-payer who has to fund it all, they will largely welcome it with open arms!

      Thus, I can’t see us making any real headway until we withdraw from the EU, reverse the policy of free movement of labour, but none of the three major political parties wish to go down that road, despite it being proven to be the only way to our salvation. That cursed place has given us costly unworkable laws, and the only way is OUT!

      Tad Davison


      • Anonymous
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        “I have just come out of Cambridge’s Addenbrookes hospital after my third operation in six weeks. Whilst the staff are all really good, it’s like the league of nations, and I am left to wonder why there isn’t sufficient numbers of home-grown talent to fill the hospital’s needs?”

        Many of our home-grown doctors and nurses emigrate to Canada and Australia.

        In effect we pay for training and then exchange our staff for those who have been trained elsewhere – and (with respect) probably not as well.

    • RDM
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      IDS, and his “World of Work” is proving to be backward looking rubbish! Meaning People will take the best opportunity available to them. This is clearly shown within the Employment statistics. i.e Approximately half new jobs are Part-time, and the other half are Self Employed!

      So, should we not be supporting the unemployed into starting up an SME? What is stopping them is, clearly, access to proper start-up (Project) finance! Bank’s can not be allowed to use a Home as collateral, especially if we want Technology development!

      And the Politicians within Regions have to (Forced) allow central government support to these start-ups. The result of deals being done behind closed doors! The Devolved Welsh Labour Administration is trying to develop a Marxist (top down) structure which they hope to align to other Socialist EU countries!



  32. Barbara Stevens
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Firstly, jobs should be taken if they are there however they aren’t and that’s where the problem is, no jobs available. However not all workers are to blame, my daughter in law was told 4 weeks ago, your all redundant and on 90 days notice. Since then no letter to confirm this, nothing. He’s now said got another factory and your contracts will be rolled over. He owes them 3 weeks money, nothing, not even the statuary pay of £23.50 per day, nothing. Some want redundancy and have got new jobs within a week of being told of the 90 day notice. Still they haven’t been notified. The employer has done nothing within employment law and there’s been no help from Job Centre Plus, they didn’t want to know. Acas as been just as inaccessable. So its not always workers who are wrong, these people over 100 of them want to work, need to work to pay mortgages and feed kids, and to read on here some comments makes my blood boil. Out in the real world its quite different. Yet, those already on benefits and free housing, and no council tax to pay, are sitting pretty and comfy; those who pay their dues are ignored and taken for suckers. Where is the justice in all this. Its time workers who have paid taxes were given the same care as those who don’t work, and the same respect for it’s badly lacking. Also employers should be made adhere to the law or fined.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Re “employers should be made adhere to the law or fined” sadly he who can afford the most expensive lawyers almost always wins in this country, hence bad employers often prosper in this country where the only balance is individual employees taking them on in employment tribunal or court.

      Worse than that we are engaged in a race to the bottom in terms of employment standards with many of the worst foreign outsourcers bringing their outrageous practises to this country and be allowed to get away with extreme practises.

      Again employers who “do the right thing” deserve support.

      • sm
        Posted September 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        Surely we should look at some supply side reforms to free up the low paid labour market. Reduce tax on labour at the lower end.

        Perhaps hiring uk based labour should give rise to a tax allowance for the corporate or an imputed tax on overseas labour offshored.

        Perhaps its time NI is eliminated and replaced with a land value tax.
        Perhaps its time a citizens income was introduced and then a flat tax of 35% or so with a robust anti-avoidance rule.

        Perhaps we should actually reduce immigration, and leave the EU.

        We could create money and build houses for rent, some extra runways, some bridges/barrages etc and also in the meantime allow interest rates to rise and market prices to adjust ie asset prices fall.

        Houses are a bubble,bonds are a bubble,shares are a bubble,EU a bubble, governement a bubble, immigration a bubble……just no employment bubble ..funny that!

    • uanime5
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      Its time workers who have paid taxes were given the same care as those who don’t work, and the same respect for it’s badly lacking.

      So you want them to be condemned as being scroungers and forced to work for free?

  33. forthurst
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Since WWII our politicans have been very successful at filling out country with people we didn’t want and didn’t need. (argues for controlled immigration-ed)
    The question is whether there is any actual political will to reverse this ruinous course which the country cannot afford in any case? If the government is serious then it must start to create both serious incentives to work and serious disincentives not to, especially in regard to coming here for a taxpayer-funded lifestyle unavailable in a third world country. Supplicants will take whatever you give them, then plead for more.

    Many people find themselves out of work because their employer is incompetent or because he has offshored their jobs; such people need help and encouragement to make a fresh start. However those who clearly have adopted a predatory lifestyle through choice need to be given far less encouragement: after a period of unemployment people should be given vouchers exchangeable only for the necessities of life. It should be made clear to them that they are in a cul-de-sac from which there is only one way out.

    Offering non-productive people from abroad a choice of houses in boroughs that hardworking English people cannot afford, but paid for by them, is simply a way of demonstrating contempt for ordinary English people by the enemies of England.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink



  34. David Langley
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I heard Cleggs ideas described as “clap lines” by a speech writer today. No chance of becoming policy but good for a cheer and feel good about thrashing the idle wasters who are Clegging up the benefits system, Sorry! clogging.
    I now watch my grandchildren leaving university with poor job chances, the old milk round of employers keen to recruit our bright clever children is gone apparently.
    Politicians seem to think that their are lots of employers with lengthy apprenticeship schemes all ready to offer our non uni children employment with a skills base and further education to achieve National Diplomas recognised as working class degrees with a practical base. My Vickers Armstrong engineering apprenticeship went down the pan in 1959 when our shipbuilding workforce committed suicide with demarcation and high wage expectations. This was rapidly followed by all the remaining major industries of heavy engineering, and then light engineering and allied trades. While we destroyed our industrial base through union squabbling and government idiocy, the white collar revolution became our source of income. We are now at the bottom in my opinion, and the world still needs ships and the products of heavy engineering. So what can we do to get our business back? Research the market and get back in. The government has no time to lose, axe the drones and invest in technology that will get Britain back to work, there are children who would work as apprentices on low wages if they had a future. It is rocket science and we used to be good at it.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Undoubtedly true David, but create jobs here, by whatever means, and who fills them, an uneducated, unmotivated, comfort-loving benefits lifer, or a foreign EU national with a work ethic and a desire to get on?

      Some have suggested a modified form of labour movement within the EU, where for every one of theirs we employ, we send one of our indigenous shirkers back in their place. Now there’s a thought!


      • Bazman
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        You have had the hard working East European myth explained to you and others like you a number of times Tad. Are you to stupid to understand or do you not want to hear the real reasons why they are able to do the work?

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink


      Whilst I agree with many of your comments, sadly we cannot just turn on a tap to regenerate our manufacturing industries.

      We have too few people left who are experienced tradsmen to work in such, and who could train new apprentices.

      We have too few technical polys available, and far too few lecturers who have had real practical ability in the industry.

      Manufacturing requires by its very nature a huge investment in buildings, machinery, plant, etc, and thus Banks will not lend.

      The return on such massive investment, unless it is real cutting edge technology is low, another reason why people and Banks do not lend.

      It is very often cheaper to purchase such goods/components from abroad, not so much control perhaps over quality, but it is improving.

      We covered high energy costs in this Country a couple of days ago.

      Sadly the Benefits /work trap rears its ugly head again.

      Why sould a family who get £26,000 a year tax free between them, bother to get up and go to work for less ?

      We killed off our goose that still lays the German egg, and have replaced it with a whole range of Benefits that have encouraged people not to seek work.

      It will continue to get worse, unless drastic action is taken, as parents are seen as role models for their kids.
      Thus if their parents get paid for doing nothing, then why should they do anything different, and change the habit of a lifetime.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, but it’s a good idea to throw the dog a bone occasionally. In exchange for splitting the top Council Tax band, we could go for broke on income tax:
      – £10,000 income tax threshold
      – £50,000 for the 40% threshold
      – top rate 40%
      Provided that the LibDems could make a big show of the £10,000 threshold and the additional Council Tax band, they would go along with it.

  35. merlin
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    We are already over taxed, over regulated and over governed and what is the highly original idea from Clog-let’s tax the wealthy even more. I am seriously astonished at the stupidity of this idea, has Clog got mental problems? The answer to improvong the economy is lower taxes, less regulation and less government, always remember governments cannot run anything successfully and should create the conditions for businesses’s to trade freely. The growth in the UK economy will not come as a result of Government action but by individual effort, Clog obviously does not understand this and has come up with this absolutely inane statement, is he really fit to be a deputy leader, I don’t think so. The conservatives should reconsider being in a coalition and seriously think about a minority goverment, which is what should of happened 2 years ago, maybe we could of had some truly conservative policies and not this left wing liberal nonsense.

  36. merlin
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Back to Clog’s obscene wealth tax idea, the wealthy already pay many taxex already throughout their lives and when they die the government takes 40% in IHT. So in effect they are undergoing double taxation, they are paying tax on money that has already had tax paid on it. Why should any government steal money from successful business’s and families when they die? Individual families and business’s should decide who to leave their money to without having to pay the government. I think that IHT is a deadful tax and should be instantly abolished.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink


      Mr Osbourne frightened Mr Brown once and proposed a £1,000,000 IHT threshold.

      It won instant support from the Public, the Tories ratings went up, Brown went into a sulk, but then when Osbourne can do something about it, he forgets it all.

      Another day, another promise gone.!

      Just add it to the list !

    • Iain Gill
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      dont worry im middling income and i pay tripple and quadruple taxes

      its not just the rich who are over taxed

  37. Thomas E
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Why not simply get rid of all out-of-work benefits other than incapacity benefits and replace them with a guaranteed job for all citizens at national minimum wage. Rather than have people sitting around doing nothing everyone who is capable of work and wants to work will be offered work for a number of hours equivalent to the cost of their current benefits.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:50 am | Permalink

      a guaranteed job for all citizens at national minimum wage

      I believe the soviet union tried this approach.
      I don’t think it turned out too well…

      However, the idea of working for their benefits is sound, but the government lacks a spine and crumples under the pressure from the left wing media.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        The problem with working for benefits is that it results in all minimum wage jobs being replaced with slave labour, at the taxpayers expense.

        It also makes it harder to get a job because these people don’t have time to apply for jobs or attend interviews.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Sound? Undercutting legitimate business. Unable to look for a job as they are already working.etc? Ain’t though it through have you? This would be the guaranteed job for all citizens at national minimum wage you do not believe in but somehow do. How do you hold your own job down when you are so simple? Middle class social security? Ram it

      • sm
        Posted September 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        The NMW wage is hardly a fortune and for most benefits is even less.

        Allowing people who are long term unemployed the opportunity to work for say a charity on the NMW for a temporary period would not cause a huge problem. It might even be welcomed as long as it was voluntary.

        Have you ever been unemployed with no other access to money? I hope you never do as the reality is stark.

  38. Jon
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    The idea of some sort of community work after 6 months is a great idea providing a lead in to work (experience and work fit) for those keen to find work and a disincentive for those for those who see benefits as a way of life.

    Will that cost though, it might be work for your benefits but sometimes these schemes do have a cost to them.

    On the issue of the unfair label that Labour always use to depict the conservatives is one of PR and being too soft in brining Labour to account. Its why wrongly the Conservatives can still be called the nasty party. The issue often is not the policies its the PR, its taking brainless insults from the left and treating them with relative politeness that is the problem. It just means the hard work of many MPs is undone too easily because that side of the organisation is lacking something.

  39. Bazman
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Why work? Good to see Mr Redwood MP coming around to my way of thinking.

  40. uanime5
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    John increasing the personal allowance was a Lib Dem policy, not a Conservative one. Though the Conservatives did lower the 40% tax rate and cut child benefits so that most people couldn’t benefit from this reduction.

    The Government increased benefits by inflation so that those already in poverty don’t go further into poverty. Making life worse for the poor won’t magically create jobs for them to work in.

    Finally the universal credit was supposed to be reduced by 66p for every pound earned to ensure that those who worked were always better off. Why not use this as the rate at which benefits are withdrawn? This would be far better than the current system where you lose one pound of benefits for every pound you earn.

    Also why is the company Atos allowed to rate so many people as being fit to work, resulting in the being paid a lower level of benefits, when they’re clearly disabled? Last year 70% of appeals against Atos’ bad decisions were approved at a cost to the taxpayer £60 million and it’s only predicted to be less next year because the Government isn’t going to give the disabled legal aid in order to appeal these rotten decisions.

    Given that 40 doctors and nurse from Atos have been reported for professional misconduct why hasn’t the DWP realised that Atos is bad for the UK? Is abusing the disabled fine as long at it reduces the welfare bill?


    Reply: Raising the personal allowance was a policy of both parties, and one welcomed by a Conservative Chancellor.

  41. Mark
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    There is an excellent discussion of this problem here:


    • RDM
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      To paraphrase Mises; The real cure for poverty is production! [src: The same discussion].

      But it’s Governments, and the Elites pulling their strings, that create a big state, dependency, overwhelming taxes, Regulation (e.g AWR), and most importantly of all, a Banking Systems that does not serve the People!



  42. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    If we were to withdraw the benefits from the Financial Sector, the Banking System would collpase.

    I believe that benefit withdrawal from the Financial Sector would help alleviate the drag effect of the Bakning System on the rest of the Economy but we would have to change the way money is created. Banks that create Debt at the point of a Loan may help someone in the Short term, but the instability that this casues in the longer term requires: Deposit Insurance, Bank Bailouts, Inflation, Malinvestment, Moral Hazzard (anyone with Teenagers who keep spending too much will understand what this means), Reduction in Savings, Reduction in Interest earned on Savings, Reduction in Annuity Rates due to Quantitative Easing, loss of Seigniorage and Housing Bubbles.

    To withdraw benefits from Bankers at this stage (subsidies exceed moneys received from Income Tax and Corporation Tax from Financial Institutions ) would result in a contraction in the money supply (created as debt during a Loan) so severe as to make the Great Depression look like a Tea Party. Money creation needs to be created by the Government (through the Bank of England) as was intended by the 1844 Bank Charter Act, as stipulated by that Great Conservative Robert Peel. Any Conservative who disagrees with that – in my opinion; is not a Free Market Capitlaist or Conservative.

    Something else that the present Conservative Party would disagree with the Robert Peel Conservative Government (and especially Robert Peel) is that they beleive that Britain doesn’t need a Police Force. I have a feeling that they’ve been spending to much time with their Banker Friends and have been convinced by them that Police don’t actually have to exist to be effective, they can simply be conjured out of thin air – just like our money.

    Update the 1844 Bank Charter Act or watch the UK slip into an Abyss of even more Debt.

    • RDM
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Straight to the heart of the real problem of this country!

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Given that the State is as good as bankrupt, the main thrust has to be benefit reductions and increasing the income tax threshold to £10,000 PDQ. We could do a lot worse than freezing all public sector pay, state pensions, unemployment and other benefits until they once again became affordable. The benefit cap is also a good idea but has been set at too high a level to be effective outside London and the South East.

    What I am going to do, when I get the time, is to convert 2001 public expenditure categorised totals to current prices and compare them with 2011/12 categorised totals. This will tell us by how much the present day totals exceed the 2001 totals and give some indication of the scope for cuts in various sectors.

    The religious among you may care to think of 2001 to 2007 as the 7 years of plenty (fuelled by debt) and 2008 to 2014 as the 7 lean years (fuelled by debt reduction).

    Reducing the number of recipients of particular benefits, such as disability allowance, is proving very difficult. I understand that the number of recipients has increased from 2 million in 1992 to 3.2 million now. Has the nation become less healthy or have requirements been relaxed? Newsnight did a feature on it. Maria Miller claimed that she was working with no fewer that 60 disability groups and looked pretty harrased. All the individual disabled people in the studio defended their benefits staunchly and it was only the independent person who kept on pointing out the large global increase. Is it really true that 5% of the population are disabled?

    • Mark
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      There is no debt reduction. Indeed, this year’s additional borrowing requirement (or QE requirement) could equal that for 2008 on present trends.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        Which is precisely why we need to start cutting government public expenditure hard. If you freeze benefits and have 2% inflation, then in 3 years time, the cost of those benefits will only be 94% of what they were. If you have zero economic growth, if you acknowledge that there is limited scope for increasing taxation and you want to progress some infrastructure projects, what else can you do?

        You will have seen that I want to do the same with public sector pay, so that in 3 years time it will only be 94% of its current value. That will ensure broad parity with private sector pay, which must be our yardstick.

        When the paralympic games are over, we should take stock of the economic worth of the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics. Money spent on temporary structures was capital destroyed. Money spent on permanent structures that will yield a low rate of return was (econmically) misallocated. It is legitimate to include ticket sales, hotel fees and temporay emplyoyment in the nation’s earnings but that’s a one off. Probably, the overall economic effect has been negative. I don’t mind people saying that the nation’s sense of wellbeing is more important but don’t call it economics.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I believe the increase is because of several wars which injured soldiers, more conditions being recognised as disabilities (such as depression), better surgery which results in people living with a disability rather than dying, and improvements in medicine which mean the disabled are living longer.

  44. Martyn
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    There is a family of 5 (location removed ed) who are all grossly overweight – father, mother and children. Two so overweight that they can barely waddle the few steps from their large people-carrier vehicle to the door of the post office where they are regularly seen to be drawing, collectively, just under £1k per week. None of them has ever been known to work. They are known to have all modern comforts in their tax-payer subsidised house (50″ TV and the like).

    Observers of their shopping habits (location left out-ed) indicate that they live on microwave ready meals and pizza takeaways. With that lifestyle, with no money worries and the surety of NHS support cradle to grave and with a family income of close to £50k per annum they would be mad to want to change their lifestyle. So is it any wonder that our nation has so many people and families in similar situations that the very last thing they are going to think about is making their lives worse by trying to find a job?

    To my mind, the most obvious thing is to rule that no one on benefits should be provided with more than the average salary. OK, one might have to add in rent support, council tax benefit and the like, but provision of cash in the hand (or bank) benefit should be capped at the average salary level. Maybe better still (and I already can hear the screams of the PC brigade and HR maniacs of ‘demeaning behavior if we did so), limit the cash provided to pocket money level and give them food stamps which can only be spent on proper foodstuff, not takeaways.

    On the other hand, I am more likely to see a squadron of pigs lined up on the nearby runway, fuelled, pre-flighted and ready for take-off….

  45. Bazman
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    How about the withdrawal of corporate welfare and a clampdown on corporate theft which like the middle class social security system neither exists. The secrecy confirming this as communism for the rich and their helpers who have been the ones facing the biggest hit to their incomes because of this belief in the generosity and threats of the wealthy. Ram it.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      I’m the person who said that not a single penny of taxpayers’ money should have been paid to RBS and Lloyds/HBOS and that there should be no such thing as “too big to fail”. I’ve also said that I won’t be content until taxpayers recover their money, plus interest, from those two failed institutions. This contracts markedly with the behaviour of Gordon Brown and his merry men. So where do Gordon and I sit in your pantheon of villains.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        They became to big to fail banks as they and still are the fabric of society, the system would have gone into meltdown. Lost savings, no cash in the machine and so on. Brown and the last Labour government believed the banksters fantasy and the Tories as the political wing of the City were OK with this Laissez-faire system and for a while it worked well, but could not be sustained. If the bankers had personally been responsible for the losses the story would have been different. A cult of personality similar to the Soviet Union reigned and even when the folly was pointed out no one wanted to know and why loose your job for nothing? Can’t say I predicted it as I did not, but even I could see it was not real. Sky high house prices, low wages, cheap easy credit, cheap utilities etc. As a child of the 70’s it was easy. Strangely some older ones could not see this?

    • Steven Whitfield
      Posted September 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Ok Karl Marx, so what does the phrase ‘ram it’ mean ? and should it be allowed on a polite forum. Perhaps if i signed of my comments with ‘punch in the face’ to those i disagree with it would add weight to my argument ..

  46. Steven Whitfield
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I know that politicians do not like to moralise but Mr Redwood has largely ignored the main reason why there is a problem with work. It’s not all about the economics.

    Within living memory, and for generations before, being in debt, getting divorced, being out of work or having a child outside of marriage where considered shamefull or unwise. Often the modern ruling classes arrogantly dismiss these ideas as ‘judgemental’ or ‘old fashioned’.
    But these were in place for good reason – to protect children from the horrors of fatherlessness, to protect parents from the erosive affects of worklessness and living beyones ones means.

    Although the consequences of such a climate could be harsh, these were often far less unkind on parents and children than the current free for all brought about by the 60’s cultural revolution. But is there anyone in power who is willing to stand up and admit they got it wrong and start to undo the damage ?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page