How much should we pay in benefits?

When Iain Duncan Smith was asked if he could live on £53 a week he answered instead of sidestepping it as a politician is expected to do with such a question. The better answer for an MP and Minister on a good salary faced with such a question would be to say “I do not want anyone to have to live on £53 a week, which is why we are promoting work to raise people’s living standards, and why we have a range of benefits and pensions for the disabled and elderly higher than £53 a week”.

The Coalition government has pointed out that benefits to people of working age amount to £90 billion a year. That takes one sixth of all the taxes we pay. Most people agree that it would be better if more people on these benefits could find work, and most people agree it should always make people better off to opt for work rather than for staying on benefits, where work is available.

The government has made some changes to try to make it more worthwhile to work. Taking many people out of income tax altogether is the positive way of doing this. When people return to work they now face benefit withdrawal but no income tax bill at lower income levels.

The government has also introduced two caps to benefits. The first is a cap to Housing Benefit. No-one can now claim more than £400 a week in Housing Benefit. So if someone living in a very expensive rented property needs help with the rent, they now have to find a property at a lower rent if they want all the rent paid by the state. The second is a cap on total benefit payments, at £26,000 a year for families and £18,000 a year for a single person.

The £26,000 a year cap is much higher than the £53 a week of recent debate, working out at £500 a week. Neither figure is representative of what many on benefits receive.

How much do you think we should pay to those who are not working? How far should the state go in helping and checking up on people’s wish to find a job? The level of benefits is designed to help people over a rough patch, not to become a lifestyle choice. Many people on relatively low benefit incomes will go on to find work and enjoy better lifestyles as a result.

In all the debate between the Churches and the government, Labour is reluctant to engage. We do not know which, if any, of these Coalition measures a Labour government if elected would want to reverse. Labour just keep complaining about the cut in the 50p tax rate to 45p. They remain silent when asked why they now favour a 50p tax rate when it means the rich pay less tax. They remain silent when asked why for practically their whole time in government they correctly thought 40p was a better top rate. They remain silent on whether they would restore the 50p tax rate if in office. They just try to whip up anger over the 50p tax rate to avoid discussing the tough issue of just how much we should pay people of working age who do not have a job and how we should reform our welfare system.

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173 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    They clearly do not get just £53 PW, they get rent, free council tax, free medicines, healthcare, free schools, libraries and other help. In total they can get more than the minimum wage in man cases. The point surely is that there has to be an incentive to work and many who are working, after paying rent, council tax, travel to and from work, childcare etc. do not have much more than £53 PW left for food, clothes and energy either.

    We need to get wages up and we can only do this if the state sector reduces in size, hugely and we restrict uncontrolled immigration from undercutting wages. This so we get the immigration we need and those who can fully pay their way. We also need investment in capital equipment to enable wages to rise. This will not happen if the Osborne insist on deterring it, through excessive taxes on capital, expensive energy, mad regulations and endless waste.

    Of course cheap energy might at least help the unemployed keep warm. But clearly this government would rather divert taxes to wind farms and the Co2 devil gas religion. This so the queen and other land owners can all benefit from tax payer subsidies as the elderly and poor shiver in their bedsits this spring.

    .

    • Credible
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      How about IDS live on £53 a week with all the benefits of healthcare etc you list.
      He already has free rent after marrying into wealth. How about you do it if it’s such an easy life?

      John – IDS did answer the question. His answer was that he could live on £53 per week. How can we believe him unless he proves it, otherwise it is just empty words.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        A better question would have been:

        “Could you live on £156 a week, like me, now that I’ve remembered that I’m being given £103 a week out of public funds?”

        • uanime5
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          That £103 goes on rent. IDS would still have to purchase all his food, clothing, heating, water, and electricity using £53 per week.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

            The fact remains that he’s not living on £53 a week as he tried to pretend instead on £156 a week, getting £232 a month housing benefit and £200 a month working tax credit on top of his market stall profits averaging £53 a week.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            As many pensioners and hard working people manage to do, Uni, after their Taxes and the costs of going to work are deducted

      • Jon
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Well he is married so is entitled to a net benefit of up to £26000 so I’m sure he could do just fine. That is well over average earnings as the gross would be in the high 30s. Those who work which happen to be the majority don’t see the benefits as too little!

      • sjb
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        JR wrote: Most people agree that it would be better if more people on these [working age] benefits could find work […]”

        As at August 2012, there were 5.7 million working age claimants. JSA and ESA/incapacity made up 3.9 million of the total.

        However, the remaining 1.8 million were in the following groups: Lone parents (do we need more latch key children?); carers (wouldn’t the cost of a place for the looked-after person at an institutional care home be considerably more expensive?); others including – to my surprise – some Pension Credit claimants; disabled; and those in receipt of bereavement benefits such as Widow’s Benefit.[1]

        Which of the groups that make up the 1.8 million should opt for work instead?

        [1] Table 1.1, DWP QUARTERLY STATISTICAL SUMMARY, published 20 March 2013 [url given below]
        http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/stats_summary/stats_summary_mar13.pdf

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

        Of course any one healthy can live on £53 per week, just for food, heat, clothing. I have certainly done the equivalent in my youth and student days.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          Not living in flat on your own you did not and certainly not a todays prices. You are talking multiple occupancy or bedsit land which is state multiple occupancy.
          Anyone lived in bedsit land? Not something you forget. I lived there for three years, by choice I might add. The fun never stops.

          • APL
            Posted April 6, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

            ” live on £53 pounds per week ”

            It depends – £53 per week just for food – it’s possible.

            But if you have to include; Electricity, Gas, council tax ( which where I live is £190 per month including water and sewerage ) on top of food and rent, then no it’s not possible.

            And if IDS is claiming that at some time in the past he did manage to live on £53 per week, maybe that’s true – but it would be a long while ago – he’s been in Parliament for about twenty years …..

          • APL
            Posted April 6, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            It’s unusual and a little uncomfortable to find myself in agreement with Bazman and unamie5.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

            My house. Water £35 pm and gas/electricity £85 pm. Equals more than £27 a week leaving less than four quid a day for food out of 53 quid. Could be done at a push I must say. Like at the battle for Stalingrad for example, but this comes from a man who tried to claim an expense of £39 for breakfast. Breakfast? Who spends nearly forty quid on a breakfast and what do you get? Who I ask you do you know who knows this? Complete stunts. Thats who.

    • zorro
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      ‘We need to get wages up and we can only do this if the state sector reduces in size, hugely and we restrict uncontrolled immigration from undercutting wages’…….This is it in a nutshell. We must reduce immigration so that companies can plan to invest in a stable environment instead of just looking for the next cheap source of labour. As we know, it is not cheap for the taxpayer as we have increased taxes to pay for the benefits of the unemployed. These jobs should pay the market rate so that people can live reasonably. Living in a corporatist state where the state subsidises huge rich companies so that they can employ people cheaply is not a free market. It reinforces cartels and is nearly as bad as socialised industry. It also reduces innovation and creates more inequalities in society by denying opportunity at times to new talent.

      zorro

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 4:31 am | Permalink

        Zorro – Plus we have the – highly regarded by Tories – supermarket model whereby our own farmers are bullied into low wages, high debt and often out of business altogether.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      they get rent

      Not if they have spare bedrooms they don’t.

      free council tax

      Unless they work or fall foul or the new rules that force the unemployed to pay council tax.

      free medicines

      Would you rather they be denied medical treatment until they need to be hospitalised, which will be much more expensive.

      Also people with chronic medical conditions are also eligible for free medicines.

      healthcare, free schools

      These are basics that should be provided by the state, not luxuries that need to be earned.

      libraries

      Closed due to budget cuts. Also the ones that are open are available to everyone.

      and other help.

      You mean like being forced to work in a private company for no money.

      The point surely is that there has to be an incentive to work and many who are working, after paying rent, council tax, travel to and from work, childcare etc. do not have much more than £53 PW left for food, clothes and energy either.

      Many people who work in low paid jobs also get the benefits you mentioned and as a result are worse off by the Conservatives’ benefit cuts.

      As long as salaries remain so low that working still results in people living in poverty people have little incentive to work. Cutting benefits will not change this as it punishes those working in low paid jobs as much as it punished the unemployed.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        unanime–Do you seriously think it is possible to pay people more than they are worth to their employers and if so how, unless you are referring to the public sector where employees think they can be paid what they want and mostly for being overhead? And why doesn’t your bleeding-heart approach to the unemployed (who like it or lump it do not have it so bad in the UK) extend to what’s being done in Southern Europe in the name of your wretched EU? I’m no expert on the details but there, and despite the higher and increasing unemployment, I understand (in Spain in particular) such benefits as are given simply expire after a stated and not particularly long period.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          How exactly do you determine how much someone is worth to the employer? The present model of executives giving themselves huge salaries and giving everyone else a pittance isn’t working.

          I didn’t mention benefits in other EU countries because neither the UK, nor the EU has any control over them. Only the national Governments can decide what benefits people get.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

            unanime–It must be a great source of anguish to you that the world works the way it does. What a private company judges its employees, including its execs, to be worth is entirely up to them. Believe it or not it falls to those in charge and not the likes of you to make the decisions. A number of us are still waiting for you to become an employer and to (not) ensure your success by paying your employees more than you could make a go of it with, not to mention the superb training you are going to give them, and also not to mention the fact that you would never ever let any of them go, no matter how incompetent.

            As for your comment on the EU, do I understand you to be saying that the EU artificial and unworkable construct has had nothing to do with the unemployment problem it has spawned. I do not believe you actually believe that.

          • David Price
            Posted April 5, 2013 at 5:23 am | Permalink

            Yet more envy and fantasy.

            Successful businesses do know how to value people and despite what you seem to believe they usually don’t pay everyone other than the executives a pittance. If they did they would rapidly lose their best people and become unsuccessful.

            A failure of socialism is that it refuses to recognise that different people provide different value while enforcing “equality” on everyone except the bosses (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9972691/Labour-run-town-halls-give-executives-432000-pay-offs.html)

      • Edward2
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        There are so many things wrong with this post Uni I dont know where to begin.
        But I will take issue with you on just a few points:-
        You say “they dont get rent if they have spare bedrooms….Wrong, even after recent changes rent is still paid tax free almost the whole amount of their rent
        Thet dont get council tax paid…Wrong even with recent changes council tax is paid tax free almost the whole amount
        Free medicines… what you mean is free prescriptions which hard working people (in England only) have to pay over £7 for each prescription out of net pay after tax and NI have been deducted. No relief fotr them.
        Free schools and healthcare… you say these are should not be luxuries that need to be earned…a comment which is quite staggering. These do need to be paid for they are not free, we pay for them out of our taxes.
        You seem to think the State has money of its own.
        It only has the tax revenues and the amount it borrows currently over £130 billion a year.

        • sjb
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

          @Edward2

          The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has recently published an informative guide to the move to local systems of council tax support (“CTS”).
          http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/impact-localising-council-tax-benefit?gclid=CLmA_ffMsLYCFcbKtAodRw0Apw

          If you have time to read it, perhaps you would give us your opinion on whether you think CTS is likely to increase or reduce public spending in the round.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

            SJB
            I dont see the report shows anything very different to what has already been said on here.
            We know that the benefit changes will mean some people now having to pay a small amount per year towards their Council tax bill which previously they did not
            I realise this will be disliked and resented by those who have never paid before but the report says figures of about £130 or £140 per year.
            So about 90% is still “free”
            It might have a small downward effect on the growing level of Government and local Council spending.
            And I hope it might encourage those who are now having to pay, taking more interest in their local Council elections where turnout in inner city areas can be lower than 20%

        • uanime5
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          You say “they dont get rent if they have spare bedrooms….Wrong, even after recent changes rent is still paid tax free almost the whole amount of their rent

          Lifelogic claimed that people got more than £53 per week because they get their rent paid. I pointed out that this is no longer true because people lose 14% of their rent in they have 1 empty bedroom and 25% of their rent if they have 2 or more empty bedrooms. So it’s grossly misleading to claim that the unemployed get all their rent paid, when they only get part of it paid.

          Thet dont get council tax paid…Wrong even with recent changes council tax is paid tax free almost the whole amount

          So you admit that the unemployed how have to pay some council tax. Thanks for agreeing with my point.

          Free medicines… what you mean is free prescriptions which hard working people (in England only) have to pay over £7 for each prescription out of net pay after tax and NI have been deducted. No relief fotr them.

          £53 per week is £7.57 per day. Are you saying that the unemployed should have to choose between medicine or eating for a whole day?

          Free schools and healthcare… you say these are should not be luxuries that need to be earned…a comment which is quite staggering. These do need to be paid for they are not free, we pay for them out of our taxes.

          That doesn’t mean they should be denied to people who for whatever reason cannot work. Nor should they be denied to children because their parents cannot work.

          Yet again the right wing politics of envy rears its ugly head and all its proponents condemn the poor for being given life saving medicine and the money to buy food. I suppose that you would rather they all die on the streets.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            Uni your last para is just silly and unecessary.
            Try to keep the level of political debate above the playground.

            Lets look at your first moan about bedrooms and council tax.
            Your own figures still show the overwhelming majority of council tax costs being free to those on benefits.
            Whilst those who work and have similar levels of income pay 100%
            We both realise there have been changes (I didnt make them by the way)
            The result is those with empty rooms will now get less benefits overall.
            They could take in a lodger, as many I know have and this would greatly help those in need of a home as well as adding some income for the householder.
            Is this objectionable to you at a time of homelessness and housing shortages?
            I’m not sure what point you are trying to make about prescription charges. We seem to agree those on benefits get them free and those who work and pay tax in England don’t.
            I make no particular complaint about that, but it is one of the many freebees people on benefits get and those who are busy chanting “£53 per week, try and live on that” are failing to allow for.
            Re Health and Education
            I’m unsure what your point is. It is a fact that they are not free services as you seem to think. They are paid for by taxpayers and State borrowing.
            Of course, those on benefits are entitled to these services.

            Oh and do try to keep calm.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      This so we get the immigration we need and those who can fully pay their way.

      As long as companies can import as many immigrants as they need then they have no incentive to train people. Once people realise that they can only get low paid jobs because all the better paid jobs go to immigrants they’ll stop working because it won’t result in the having a better life.

      You cannot use immigrants to solve the problems caused by a lack of jobs.

      We also need investment in capital equipment to enable wages to rise.

      How will this raise the wages of people who working in shops, supermarkets, and fast food restaurants? If it won’t help then it has little benefit for most people.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        So you want to put a stop to mass immigration.

        Well done at last, welcome aboard, oh, and vote UKIP.

  2. Ben Kelly
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    The aspirational answer to your question on how much we should pay out in benefits is as much as we need to. We then should define need.
    Should companies be allowed to employ staff on meagre salaries which are then topped up by government? Should this already profligate use of taxpayers’ takings be offered to those who travel from other countries to work here under their own free will?
    Should taxpayers’ money be used to pay private landlords extortionate rents to house those whose income is nil or too low to pay private rent? Indeed should taxpayers’ money be used to inflate rents and house prices for those same taxpayers? The question about funding those from abroad who choose to be here applies in this instance too.
    Should taxpayers be expected to fund in perpetuity those who could physically work but choose not to or should there be a time limit?
    Should those on benefits who are able be expected to earn their state payments through some form of community service with reasonable time given for job hunting?
    Should the numbet of children per household that taxpayers subsidise be limited to two in the future?
    I wish the state to offer a comprehensive safety net in cases or genuine need or transission between jobs but do not expect to fund others’ lifestyles.

    Incidently I earn a reasonable wage, diluted through living in London, and once my council tax bill, travel and housing costs (which would be paid for most of those out of work) have been paid I manage to survive on £53 per week. Admittedly I have had to cease smoking and going to the pub, my mobile phone is ancient with no smart capability and FREEVIEW provides my viewing needs but needs must.

    • liz
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      This is a very sensible comment and reflects the views of many people outside the Westminster bubble. They raise points that should have been reflected in the non print media coverage yesterday of welfare changes but not surprisingly were not. The coverage was mainly poorly researched and reflected the left wing/Guardian/Independent views and nobody else’s even Sky and ITV. The figure of £53 was accepted without question and did not take into account the many other benefits Ben lists nor the costs that the employed have to pay. It was very lazy journalism.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        The other benefits were not included because they are not paid to the benefit claimant. As a result this person only has £53 per week to spend on food, council tax, water, heating, and electricity.

        So their research was better than your research.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          Not correct again Uni,
          The left wing media failed to mention all the other things that workers have to to pay for, out of their net pay which those on benefits get paid for them on top of the quoted £53.
          Not that £53 was the correct figure for this propaganda man who was pushed onto the BBC airwaves by excited broadcasters.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Should companies be allowed to employ staff on meagre salaries which are then topped up by government?

      Given that this system rewards companies that pay their low wages and punishes those who pay their staff high wages perhaps the Government should raise the minimum wage so people no longer need tax credits. After all this would be fairer on companies that pay a decent wage.

      Indeed should taxpayers’ money be used to inflate rents and house prices for those same taxpayers?

      Rent controls could easily fix this problem but alas the Government is prepared to pay increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money in housing benefit rather than try to fix the broken housing market.

      Should taxpayers be expected to fund in perpetuity those who could physically work but choose not to or should there be a time limit?

      How do you distinguish whether someone is choosing not to work or whether they’re unable to find work despite their best efforts? If you can’t tell the difference then any time limit will be unjust.

      Should those on benefits who are able be expected to earn their state payments through some form of community service with reasonable time given for job hunting?

      If people are expected to earn “state payment” then they should be paid minimum wage while working. Benefits are not a salary, nor do they need to be earned.

      • A different Simon
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        “Rent controls could easily fix this problem but alas the Government is prepared to pay increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money in housing benefit rather than try to fix the broken housing market.”

        This is the problem with benefit .

        Instead of going to those people who really need it is just getting funneled into house prices and into landowners and landlords pockets .

        I don’t think rent controls alone could fix the problem . A surplus of housing needs to be created and a land value tax implemented to ensure everyone benefits from the dividends of the land .

        I disagree that increased wages are the answer . They are high enough or at least would be if accommodation was brought down to a reasonable price .

        Given that the life of a house is greater than 100 years it is crazy that almost everyone spends more on accommodation than they spend on a consumable like food .

        • wab
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

          Yes, and this is also related to the “bedroom tax” issue. This government (as with all past governments) has done nothing to solve the fundamental issue, which is that housing is way too expensive in this country because not enough houses are built. No ifs, ands or buts. And the propertied class (who are well represented in the Cabinet and in Westminster generally) directly benefits from this problem and so are seemingly happy to allow this problem to continue. Solve the lack of housing being built and the housing benefits issue will be mostly solved, without having to turn the have nots against the have nothings, as the Tories have been determined to do, quite successfully, with the “bedroom tax” and other housing-related welfare changes.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          A limit on the number of properties people could own would also help to reduce the cost of housing as people would no longer be able to hoard property as an investment.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

            Such a very North Korean idea Uni.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Yes, let’s raise the minimum wage so that even more of the less capable are legally barred from working for wages which reflect the true value of their work, and even more are unable to find legal jobs, and if they can find legal jobs they’re paid even more than the value of their labour than now and are even more subsidised by their employers and therefore other employees.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          Given that there will always be jobs where you have to clean, stack shelves, collect rubbish, or cook the “less capable” will always be able to find work. They just won’t be paid a pittance for their efforts.

          You’ve also ignored that due to tax credits taxpayers are already subsidising low salaries.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Why do you think somebody should be paid more than the value of their work?

            You wouldn’t think that if it was at the other end of the scale; then you’d be saying “This person is being paid more than the value of his work, it’s all wrong and it should be stopped”.

            It’s your myth that taxpayers are “subsidising low salaries”; the reality is that taxpayers are kindly giving a helping hand to those who can’t earn enough for what is deemed to be a satisfactory standard of living.

            While those who by your preferred law must be paid more than the actual value of their work are being subsidised by their employer and therefore their workmates.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

            Please define what a pittance is.

          • David Price
            Posted April 5, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

            So why did you socialists encourage and facilitate the influx of immigrants who are willing to work for a “pittance”?

  3. Andy Baxter
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I’m so fatigued with this Labour/Tory who is on the left who is on the right argument…..

    Politics has changed and the shift is discernible now. This so called VERTICAL line betwixt Left and Right no longer exists….witness basically no major discernible difference in ‘policy’ (the kind where it matters, energy, membership of the EU, et al) between any of the three main LibLabCon coalition, for they are all just that a coalition determined to preserve the status quo.

    The Truth is this so called vertical line has shifted 90 degrees and become HORIZONTAL.

    And now we have the ‘Haves’ above it, and ‘Have Nots’ below it. The bar is rising too and fast, and the ‘Haves’ can be defined as what I call ‘The Political Class’ MP’s, Corporate Heads, Banking Chiefs, Council. NHS, and public Chief executives and a myriad of other Chief Exc’s and major players of taxpayer funded Quangoes. All immune from the day to day reality of life for most of us living below the bar. All immune from responsibility and accountability for their actions, protected by the ‘few the happy few’ who are in the same club.

    Most if not all are self serving, aggrandisement seeking, endowed with a ‘divine right’ sense of entitlement to order and control our lives, extract anything they want in direct and indirect taxation under menaces of ‘pay up or else’ to fund the largesse and political ineptitude of repeated failure after failure to address OUR concerns, OUR wishes and have betrayed the trust placed in them when elected to office, not POWER as they would have you believe.

    But there is another way ladies and gentlemen, we can take back control of our lives peacefully and assert control of POWER where it should truly reside, with us.

    • zorro
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Most of these people have a Common Purpose…..

      zorro

      • Andy Baxter
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        I know…I wonder what Mr Redwood’s opinion of Common Purpose is? I’d like to see a post on this?

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      I was door-stepped by the local Conservative candidate. I told him I have given up on his party and intend to vote UKIP. He, clearly exasperated, said I will just let in the Liberal Democrats. I replied, “what’s the difference?” He had no answer.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      There are some exceptionally able company heads who have tranformed their businesses, enriching many in the process; however, there does seem to be a tendency for this country to become more and more like the Bolshevik empire, in which the nomenklatura are chosen on any other basis than intellectual merit and personal integrity. We even have the CEO of the NHS only having left the communist party when it finally folded up; for much of the public sector, there is no objective measure of absolute performance. This is why they have to invent spurious measures of ‘delivery’ so that they can award themselves five stars whilst they kill off their patients and send their children down the international tables of performance and rapidly bankrupt us as a nation.

    • Credible
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, very well said.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I see that the Telegraph today reports £14m bill for gagging axed public officials, surely a large underestimate. Tax borrow and waste in every direction with this administration. After all it would not do for the public to know what really went on in the state sector. So that managers could actually address the endless failings and stop repeating the endless errors, incompetence and indifference perhaps.

    Far better to pay for endless lawyers and for gagging clauses it seems.

    • zorro
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed, the whistle blowing procedures state that you must go to your manager with the concerns, and then up the chain to the Permanent Secretary, and then you can to another panel of top servants. I am sure that they have no incentive to cover up anything……LOL

      zorro

    • uanime5
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Rest assured that the Government is unlikely to spend any more money on gagging officials now that they have removed legal aid for employment tribunals. So now they’re free to abuse any staff that can’t afford to take them to court.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        No legal aid for industrial tribunals?
        News to me
        Have you got any source for that claim?

      • David Price
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:01 am | Permalink

        It doesn’t sound like you have ever had anything to do with employment. Legal Aid was not applicable to aspects of employment tribunal hearings per se as they are specifically geared to not require costly legal representation, it is still applicable to breaches of discrimination law however. That is not to say legals don’t get involved but the tribunal helps lay people through the process even if they are.

        In my direct experience where the employer was shown to have abused the law the tribunal has held them to the fullest account it is permitted.

        • David Price
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:02 am | Permalink

          typo: should have read “employment tribunals”

  5. Jon
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I think the government have broadly got this right so credit to them and in particular to Iain Duncan Smith. IDS has put up a clear case for the changes on moral rather than financial grounds.

    The ‘extra bedroom’ discussion is one that is being won when the focus is put on the families who are living in overcrowded housing rather than on those not now receiving support for their spare bedrooms. It is important that vulnerable groups are protected, especially those with who are severely disabled and really do need our support.

    The majority of people in this country want fairness with a safety net – the government have probably gone far enough now in encouraging those who choose benefits as a lifestyle to consider other options.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      IDS failed to provide any moral grounds for his benefit cuts. He didn’t include any exemptions for people with disabilities that require properties with specific facilities, didn’t provide any help so that people with spare rooms could find alternative properties, and didn’t provide any help with the cost of moving for people who do want to downsize. It was simply an attack on everyone claiming housing benefits so he could save some money no matter how many people were harmed. There was nothing fair about it.

      Also IDS’s benefit cuts won’t encourage those on benefits to consider other options. All it will do is encourage them to have more children to avoid having empty rooms.

      Reply You are wrong -try reading the detail of the scheme

      • Jon
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        The £30 million discretionary fund will allow some adjustments IF it is used sensibly by those managing it. This scheme is by no means perfect but it probably the least worst option given the complexity of the previous system. I am sure we will see some tinkering round the edges but this is a significant change in pulling back from a dependency culture.

        I would agree with your comment that more visible help could be given to those who wish to downsize. Also, now there is clearly demand for it, building more 1-bedroom social housing should be a priority for the housing associations.

        Once all the hyperbole is over it is going to take some year’s for us to see the real impact of these changes. Whilst one of the options may be for all those on benefits to have more children it seems a little extreme! Do you not think that there will be a range of behaviours rather than one specific one, some of which will lead to some people taking more control of their own lives.

        I may be wrong but then we’re all entitled to our view on the world and I think IDS’s scheme may be an electoral positive (unlike George Osborne’s economic policy).

        • sjb
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

          Jon wrote: “I think IDS’s scheme may be an electoral positive […]”

          For private landlords that charge more for a one-bedroom flat than housing associations charge for larger properties. Consequently, public expenditure on housing benefit may rise even further.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: you could omit the words “You are wrong” and take that as read.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        John if you feel that some of my claims are wrong why don’t you try to rebut them with actual evidence, rather than just declaiming it wrong.

        Below is the link to the DWP’s and the Government’s websites regarding the changes to housing benefit. Neither mentions helping people find an alternative property, helping pay people’s moving expenses, and the only help the disabled get is being allowed one extra bedroom.

        http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/housing-support/

        https://www.gov.uk/housing-benefit/what-youll-get

        So John if this scheme does contain provisions to help people find new properties and move will you kindly explain why the DWP’s and the Government’s own websites makes no reference to this.

        Reply You fail to point out that there are special provisions for disabled, that none of this applies to pensioners, and that of course local authorities are encouraged to help people find more suitable accommodation, allied to new building programmes.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          Further Reply–To add to unanime’s continuing failure to show us how easy it is to become and remain (important bit, those last two words) a wonderful and generous employer I now suspect that he or she has never lived in a Council House, as I have (following parent’s divorce). I can assure him or her that at least in my case the Council was ever so assiduous in making sure we had the minimum sized property and the idea that the Council would not tell tenants of smaller properties is simply preposterous–why on earth would they do that, when they want people to move??

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

            Postscript–Sorry–parents’ of course

        • Edward2
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          Indeed
          Dont let facts get in the way of left wing propaganda.

    • Kenneth
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure the argument is being won.

      The BBC is putting a lot of effort to use Labour’s language just as it did with the “poll tax”.

      poll tax
      obese
      relative poverty
      international community
      net migration

      All of these terms (and many others) have been promoted by the BBC.

      The ‘bedroom tax’ is the latest.

      Well constructed arguments can soon be dismantled with a few slogans and one mention on “Have I Got News for You”

  6. alan jutson
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    There is no simple answer to your question, as the needs of people vary dependent upon their circumstances.

    Given that most people, other than those who are disabled, in the most part choose their own circumstances and lifestyle, Benefits should be simple, and the same for all, other than those who are disabled or who have special needs.

    Special needs does not mean a lack of education, since the State has provided the opportunity for leaning to all for free.
    Job training for work, if people are unfit for work (attitude/skills), should be offered to all who want it for free, such training would be basic, and non attendance would bar anyone from any Benefit.
    Those who gain Benefit (the minimum wage rate), must make themselves available for charitable work or work to be completed in the community, graffiti removal, street cleaning, grass cutting, caring for the old and disabled.

    Child benefit limited to only one child per adult, but for everyone.

    Perhaps we should introduce a qualification term.
    No Full Benefits until 5 years fully paid contributions (not credits) have been made.
    Children and young workers would qualify under their parents contribution record until the age of 21.

    Perhaps Full Benefits should be limited with a timescale.

    Perhaps Full Benefit should be the equivelent to the Minimum wage at the time.

    One thing is for sure, we need to stop pussy footing about, AND MAKE SURE WORK PAYS.
    To that end I would set the Personal Tax Free allowance at the minimum wage level.

    Thus all those on the minimum wage pay no income tax at all.

    What Duncan Smith should have said is:
    No I would certainly not like to live on £53.00 per week, but £53.00 per week is not the complete story is it, many get many other forms of benefit.
    Many get rent paid, many get their Council tax paid, many get child allowance, many get free perscriptions, many get free eye tests, some get food vouchers for their children at school, and many get a whole host of other payments and possible help.
    Ask yourself is it fair that someone who works on the minimum wage should subsidise those who do not work with their taxes, is that fair.

    If the above looks harsh, then perhaps we should look back to when the Benefits system was first introduced, what was the original intention.

    And yes I do know what it is like to be unemployed because I had been made redundant 3 times before I was 35.
    Once whilst serving my apprenticeship
    After the last time I decided working for myself was the only way I would ever be in control of my working life (as much as you can be).

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Rather than worrying about income tax levels we should be concerned about national insurance. This is applied at much lower levels of income and is thus now the major tax collected from the lower paid. It also concentrates on those in work and is not applied to unearned income.

      Employers’ NI is another story but is a tax on employment that if reduced would probably result in a reduction in the number of unemployed.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Job training for work, if people are unfit for work (attitude/skills), should be offered to all who want it for free, such training would be basic, and non attendance would bar anyone from any Benefit.

      So it’s offered to everyone who wants it but if you don’t attend you can’t claim benefits. Well at least you understand the Government’s definition of voluntary.

      While some people may benefit from basic training most won’t because not everyone who’s unemployed is a school drop-out with no skills. They also won’t benefit from having to repeatedly being forced to go on the same courses. Consequently those not wanting to attend these courses should not be punished.

      Those who gain Benefit (the minimum wage rate), must make themselves available for charitable work or work to be completed in the community, graffiti removal, street cleaning, grass cutting, caring for the old and disabled.

      Are you talking about the Government paying the unemployed minimum wage if they undertake charitable work? If so that could actually be a good way to convince the unemployed to do some work. Though the job centre will need to help people find places to volunteer.

      No Full Benefits until 5 years fully paid contributions (not credits) have been made. Children and young workers would qualify under their parents contribution record until the age of 21.

      At a time of high youth unemployment and some people being in education until they’re 21 this simply isn’t viable. You can’t punish the young for not contributing when they’re the age group that has the most problems getting a job.

      One thing is for sure, we need to stop pussy footing about, AND MAKE SURE WORK PAYS. To that end I would set the Personal Tax Free allowance at the minimum wage level.

      You’ll also need to raise the threshold for NI (12% of income) to this level otherwise people on minimum wage will still have to pay taxes on their income.

      No I would certainly not like to live on £53.00 per week, but £53.00 per week is not the complete story is it, many get many other forms of benefit.
      Many get rent paid, many get their Council tax paid, many get child allowance, many get free perscriptions, many get free eye tests, some get food vouchers for their children at school, and many get a whole host of other payments and possible help.

      Those who work can also get these benefits so is it fair to pretend that they only apply to the unemployed? Is it also fair to ignore that these benefits don’t help people pay for water, electricity, food, or heating?

      Pretending that people who have to choose between being warm or eating are privileged because they have free prescriptions just makes you look out of touch.

      Ask yourself is it fair that someone who works on the minimum wage should subsidise those who do not work with their taxes, is that fair.

      Those working for minimum wage are also being subsidies by those on higher wages. So if it’s not fair to subsidise the unemployed why should those who work receive any subsidies? Especially since those who work are more able to pay for their own upkeep.

      Also if you don’t pay to look after the unemployed they’ll quickly become unemployable, which will be much more expensive for the taxpayer (especially if they turn to crime to avoid starvation).

      If the above looks harsh, then perhaps we should look back to when the Benefits system was first introduced, what was the original intention.

      Bevan realised that full employment was impossible he created the benefit system so that people could survive even when they couldn’t work. So your harsh system is completely contrary to the purpose of the benefits system.

      The fact that the benefit system was created at a time when anyone could just walk into a job doesn’t change this.

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Unanime5

        So your answer to our problems are what exactly ?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          His honest answer would be:

          “More generous benefits as of right with no strings attached.”

          The taxpayer is there to be milked, and what does it matter if the country is bankrupted?

        • Peter Davies
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          Common – answers from a labour supporter? Its easy, print more money and increase spending………..

        • Edward2
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Alan
          Shouting from the sidelines is all too easy.
          I too would be keen to know what solutions to the current problems Uni has in mind.
          One trillion overall debt and an annual deficit of £130 billion.
          Spending going up and taxes already pretty high.

          • alan jutson
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

            Edward 2

            I still wait for the ideas/solutions from Uni 5 with interest.

            As you say easy to complain, rather more difficult when you have to pop your head up and offer possible workable ideas / solutions.

            Still, it may be worth waiting for !

        • uanime5
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          I’m saying that there isn’t an easy answer to these problems. The main difficulty is that if there aren’t enough jobs available then you will never have full employment even when the Government is doing everything right.

          While the Government offering to pay for training can help some people it will not help everyone. For example if the Government was to pay for an unemployed person to learn how to lay bricks and pay for their CSCS test then once this person passed everything they would be able to find work as a builder because they would possess the necessary skills required by this industry.

          However this will not work when training people to work in an industry that doesn’t require people to have certain qualifications. For example if an unemployed person took a course in administration this training is unlikely to be valued by employers looking for admin staff because there’s no standard requirements for the skills admin staff have to possess.

          So unless this training is so highly valued by employers that it lets people walk into a job there’s little point in people going to it.

          You’ll notice that I did support your plan for the unemployed to be able to get minimum wage in exchange for helping charities. This is because it allows the unemployed to do something for additional money even when they can’t find jobs in the private sector. While it is unlikely to lead to them getting a job it’s still better than just paying them to do nothing.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

            You are rather deafeatist Uni.
            For example, if you train a class full of apprentice engineers (and I have) some will go on to have a gliterring careers and some will fail the course.
            The majority however pass and benefit.
            No reason to stop training.
            I agree with you on your point about paying NMW to charity workers and I would add this should be for Workfare as being made to work for free is not fair IMO

          • alan jutson
            Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

            Uanime5

            Ok say we do agree on one thing, people should be trained for work.

            Now given that there are few jobs advertised, with which I would agree, how about making your own way in the World.
            Eg:
            Be self employed and get your own work.

            There are many and varied methods of working for money which do not require large amounts of capital to start up.
            Window cleaners, gardeners, car cleaners, van drivers, fitness trainers, commission salesmen, the list is almost endless.

            Yes it is competitive, you will probably need to charge less than someone who is already established to get started, but all it requires is effort door knocking or distribution of a few leaflets (the more the better in a chosen area).
            Equipment can even be hired for the first few jobs until you can purchase/rent/lease hire with your own cash (if it is reinvested)

            Many a self employed person has gone on to run their own small business given time, and some of those small businesses have grown to become huge international organisations.

            Thus just because a job is not listed in a newspaper, does not mean there is no opportunity to work.

            Did Bill Gates respond to an advert?

            So given the above, the next task is to convince the government (of all types) to support people who want to be self employed and work for themselves.
            A situation sadly that all governments seem frightened to do, because they think they have less control over these people with regard to taxable income.

            Then all we need is some taper relief over time to ease those who want to take up this route with slowly diminishing Benefits, instead of an immediate cut off.

            See its not difficult if you have the will and the mindset.

            Over to you JR

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            unanime–For a start we should be pampering, praising, encouraging and giving rather than taking the insane Employer’s NI to or from employers instead of your knee-jerk and continual demonisation of them. Given that in this modern world it is so difficult to employ everybody that seems sensible.

  7. Old Albion
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    John, what do i have to do to get £26,000/yr. Or even £18,000/yr? The lower figure knocks my pension into a cocked hat.

    Reply Have a high rent, and in the case of the £26000 have dependent children

  8. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The system should work as it was designed to work so that refusal to work cuts off the right to benefits. Even hedged with some common sense leeway, failure to work should not be an option. Failure to do available work should cut off benefit for the whole family. Attempts to disguise families, for example, by use of a bogus address by the “bread winner” should be severely punished.

    The level of benefit should almost certainly be higher so that people who need it can live decently and not be pushed into debt or homelessness.

    • Bob
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      The money being used to pay people to do nothing could be used to pay them to maintain our streets, parks and other public amenities.

      No work no money.

      Why is it that I work and pay someone else to not work.
      I’m the one who needs some spare time to lounge around on the sofa admiring my tatoos and body piercings.

      At least the beneficiaries of taxpayer funded handouts should clean my car, tend my garden and other minor household jobs. It would be good for them and me (although I wouldn’t want the pierced and tattoo’d type, and I guess they know that, ‘cos that’s why they do it).

      • uanime5
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        So your solution is to fire all the people who are paid to maintain public places and replace them with the unemployed who are being forced to work for their benefits. Expect the quality of their work to plummet as those forced to work have little incentive to do a good job.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          unanime–I just love it–“Those forced to work”–That means almost all of us

        • Edward2
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          But Bob never said that did he Uni?
          Come on get it right.
          He wanted those who have been unemployed for ages to give something back by doing some much needed community work.
          Like they do in those socialist workers nirvanas you dream about

        • Bob
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          @uanime5
          “So your solution is to fire all the people who are paid to maintain public places…”

          No, that’s not what I said.
          There is lots of work that isn’t getting done due to insufficient staff, and at the same time we pay people to do nothing.

          Why do you think they should be paid to do nothing when there is plenty they could be doing which would benefit society?

    • uanime5
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Unless you can magically create 2.5 million jobs for everyone who is unemployed there will always be people who cannot work through no fault of their own.

      Also how would you even judge “failure to do available work”? It’s hardly the unemployed person’s fault that the employer hired someone else. Especially when this person had more relevant skills.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        unanime–Brilliant that–I hadn’t realised till you explained it but of course it was the employer’s fault for hiring someone else–No possibility ever that it was the applicant’s

      • Edward2
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        Uni,
        In the sixties and seventies, if I recall correctly there was a rule, that if you were hired three times and you turned down the job you lost your benefits.
        Reasonable I would suggest.
        Although we did get some candidates who seemed to deliberately play up at their interviews.

  9. NickW
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    At the present time we do not have the money to pay for the total of Government spending and are having to borrow a significant proportion of it, and add continually to the national debt, incurring ever increasing interest payments.

    This cannot go on; so the question for working voters is this;

    “Do you want to pay more tax, or should benefit expenditure be reduced?”

    The question has to be asked, and it has to be answered.

    The BBC commentariat on £500,000 p.a. (or more) may well think that a little more tax is perfectly acceptable, but the rest of us are still working out how to afford ever increasing bills, and vehemently disagree.

    My “£25000” With profits endowment insurance, which was meant to pay off the mortgage, has just matured and paid £18,500. This leaves a considerable shortfall.

    Why should those on benefits be insulated from the daily struggle faced by the rest of us?

    • Winston Smith
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Listening to BBC London (for the football coverage) at the weekend, I was subject to left-wing propoganda at every news interval. The leading stories were always about cuts in benefits or local services, backed up by an interview with a Labour politician or left-wing activist. Failure to control the bias of the BBC has been one of your biggest downfalls.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Your entire post ignores that many who work claim more than benefits than they pay in taxes. So unless taxes dramatically increase for the low paid they will continue to receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes, thus will always be worse off if benefits are cut.

      Let’s not forget that the main recipient of benefits are pensioners, so they will have to bear the brunt of any welfare cuts. Also house prices will have to sharply fall to reduce the cost of housing benefit. Unless you want either of these to occur the cost of welfare will not be reduced in any meaningful way.

      Finally given that those on benefits are among the poorest in the UK they know far more about daily struggles than you do.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Try telling old age pensioners that the basic state pension is “welfare”, and quite rightly you’ll get a flea in your ear.

        It’s not means-tested but depends on the contribution record, similarly to a pension paid on a private pension fund.

        • uanime5
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          The Government classifies pensions as welfare and pensions make up a large part of welfare spending. If the cost of pensions and housing benefit were removed from welfare then welfare spending would increase at a much slower rate.

  10. Sway
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Would it not be best to start with who gets what rather then how much everyone should get.
    For example a couple on benifits for multiple years deciding to have more children should be removed from all benifits (men or women unemployed with mulitple children with multiple partners all conceived whilst unemployed not entitled). If you cannot afford to stand own your own 2 without a job then dont have more kids. Children under 16 breaking the law having sex and having kids should not be entittled to any benifits. If you are from outside the UK then not entittled.
    Harsh maybe but need to stop this something for nothing.

    Job Seakers should be working under local council cleaning the local area for there money not sat at home feet up. ( why is this so hard why should people that at times need help while others that have never lifted a finger other then to sign on get everything they want and need.
    Here im giving you a great one here come on i beg you steal my fricking idea.
    New jobs for supervisors in every local council and the local area clean and tidy and getting unemployed out of the house atleast earning a lil bit of there benifits,
    The choice is then theres work a lil looking after your local area and earn your benifis or get nothing.
    Reduce anti social behavour as its daddy that has to clean it up.

    More harsh Regs those out of work long term on benifits should not be allowed to gamble, buy cigarettes and alcohol. and if seen to be breaking any rules lose all entitlements.

    P.S To any wolly that wants to complain about how i reply im getting my opinion across i have a job so dont have time to go through what i type to make sure it is up to each personal standard.
    P.P.S To anyone wanting to give free English lessons contact me had to work my way from the bottom and missed a few on the way 🙂

    • uanime5
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      For example a couple on benifits for multiple years deciding to have more children should be removed from all benifits (men or women unemployed with mulitple children with multiple partners all conceived whilst unemployed not entitled). If you cannot afford to stand own your own 2 without a job then dont have more kids.

      Forcing people into poverty never ends well as it just makes crime more appealing.
      It’s also more expensive for the Government to look after children than pay their parents child benefit.

      Job Seakers should be working under local council cleaning the local area for there money not sat at home feet up.

      So you want the unemployed to be forced to work rather than look for jobs. Care to explain how this is going to make them more employable?

      Also forcing the unemployed to clean will just result in less work being available for people who make their living by cleaning. So unless you want professional cleaners to also be unemployed your plan won’t work.

      Reduce anti social behavour as its daddy that has to clean it up.

      Unless daddy wants somewhere to clean that’s near his house, rather than the other side of town.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        As usual no real positive ideas from you Uni, just a constant stream of negativity towards anyone who suggests anything.
        Very dull.
        I realise the opposition’s job is is to simply oppose, but it would be nice to hear what solutions you have to improve things without increasing spending/borrowing/printing money.

      • Sway
        Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        “Forcing people into poverty never ends well as it just makes crime more appealing.
        It’s also more expensive for the Government to look after children than pay their parents child benefit.”

        How is telling people that if they cant stand on there own they should not continue to produce more children that they will not get money for. “forcing people into poverty”

        I would rather see my money going in to Gov funded bording schools to give these unwanted children (due to they are had purely for money)a better start.
        Rather then keep daddy drinking and wasting my money.
        Not forcing giving a choice.

        “So you want the unemployed to be forced to work rather than look for jobs. Care to explain how this is going to make them more employable?”

        They can still look for jobs (do you think most of whom we are talking about spend any more time then the minimum required looking for a job). Why would 3 days a week working under the council be so hard for someone getting something for nothing.
        They can be tought skills whist working, i thought this was quite simple.

        “Unless daddy wants somewhere to clean that’s near his house, rather than the other side of town.”

        Most anti social behavour happens close to the home so daddy wont have far to go.

        I have been unemployed and never claimed i took crap jobs just to earn what little i had, i have brought myself up wasn’t born with wealth didnt settle for the little we had ive earned everything i have which still isnt much but its mine.

        I face Redundecy in coming months and i would rather work under my Council, earning those benifits rather then sitting on my hoop. Even tho i have probley earned them more then some that already get them have.

        ” A choice does not have to be win win”

  11. Paul
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood. I don’t know if you know but the Church of England is being somewhat dishonest about this. I know because my Mother-in-Law is a Priest due to retire and I looked up the benefits/schemes available to help.

    The CoE is hacking away at benefits for its own pensioners (because it can’t afford them, basically) at the same time it is bemoaning the changes made by IDS.

    The two main pensioner benefits the CoE offers is being removed at a very rapid rate, and have been for the last three or four years. The pension is being reduced (I think), then maximum pension is being reduced (from 2/3 of NMS to 1/2 NMS) and the pension age has risen from 65 to 68.

    Likewise there is housing support (as Priests often spend much of their lives in tied accommodation). The qualifying period is currently being extended from 5 to 15 years, a year at a time.

    These changes are being made because this benefit is no longer affordable.

    Reply Very interesting.

  12. David
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    “The government has also introduced two caps to benefits. The first is a cap to Housing Benefit. No-one can now claim more than £400 a week in Housing Benefit. So if someone living in a very expensive rented property needs help with the rent, they now have to find a property at a lower rent if they want all the rent paid by the state. ”
    Is a very good idea. Possibly the best thing any Government has done since 1948.
    However it doesn’t go far enough people in council houses should pay the same as people in private houses. There is still an incentive for teenage girls to become pro single mums particularly as if later they decide to work they will still be living in cheap housing.

  13. James Reade
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I think you know full well what Labour are doing, John – they’re playing politics, something you’re very good at too.

    The cut in the top band of tax is politically damaging whichever way you look at it – it’s a simple soundbite policy which simply looks bad to everyone who is nowhere near having to pay that top tax band. The alternative answer, however much credibility it has (and you massively oversell it since the evidence in most impartial adjudicators’ minds is still unclear even if it’s blindingly obvious in yours), is long winded and doesn’t sound so convincing.

    It’s exactly the opposite of the whole deficit deniers thing that happened around the election in 2010. In that case, the alternative was much more economically coherent and sensible, yet couldn’t be expressed so easily in a soundbite and low and behold, we got austerity and the subsequent economic stagnation. How about that?

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    The question cannot be answered without first defining what is the purose of the benefits system. The current system has encouraged fecklessness, large families and dependency on the state. The system is intertwined – finding the magic key can open up multiple areas of benefit. I don’t know if the universal benefit will be better than the current system which cannot be afforded but the broadcast media shows no intention of making any change an easy one but tries to stir up antagonism at each suggestion. The government needs to work harder to make its case.

  15. Acorn
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    It’s not so much how much you pay but how you pay it. Putting upper limits on how much you pay per year is necessary if you consider the system unfair or should be revenue constrained. That will play well with the right wing but won’t save you a lot of money. Labour has come up with its Job Guarantee Scheme, a left wing economic feature, post Keynes / Marx, updated by Bill Mitchell and (some) of the MMT crowd.

    There lies the big difference. Conservatives prefer to keep a pool of unemployed labour to control inflation and keep a lid on wage rises, whereas Labour has decided to revert to keeping a pool of an employed labour, operated by the state sector as “employer of last resort”. Similar to the BoE being the lender of last resort. The idea being that as demand picks up and the private sector smells customers coming, they start employing more from the pool of labour.

    Now which pool is likely to serve the private sector better? The unemployed lot that have lost skills and the ability to get up in the morning; or, the pool that has been working at benefit level wages; keeping its skills sharp and learning some new ones; ready to switch back into the private sector over a weekend?

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      This sounds so logical! But it doesn’t address people as people.
      Out there are quite a lot of needy people. Some are keen to work at almost any job. They turn up, properly dressed, they smile a lot, they are helpful and full of good will. Others are just there for what they can take. If they are forced, they turn up late and very reluctantly for a couple of days. Then they vanish. In the middle are quite a lot of ordinary people of various kinds – young sad graduates, unmarried mothers, illiterate young men, often the fathers of several unwanted children, old geezers made redundant in their 50s……
      Some of these people (I used to be one of them) are on state benefits. Others aren’t. The trick is – survival.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Would that be the MMT crowd who believe that there would be no problem with the Bank of England endlessly creating more and more money and never being repaid on the gilts that it buys in order to transfer the money to the Treasury so that the government will have no constraints on its spending and can waste as much as it likes?

  16. Terry
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Labour stay silent because they have nothing to offer. The sheer arrogance they display when criticising Governments efforts to cut the debts, is beyond belief. They refuse to accept blame for the dire predicament of our finances but are so quick to attack any Government plans to right their wrongs. Always, without providing any counter proposals.

    However, they were clever enough to enroll the benefit seekers and those in non-jobs as permanent Labour voters, although at huge cost to the tax payers of this country. Which is why it will be difficult to avoid their re-election in 2015.

    Ideally, we should have a disenfranchisement placed on those voters receiving substantial benefits and those who are civilians and in the direct employ of Government. That would go some way to removing the Socialist’s disgusting and disgraceful ploy of buying votes with tax payers money, to ensure their election.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      When Labour left office the economy was recovering and growing at 2%. Now we’re heading for a triple dip recession. So the current problems aren’t the fault of Labour.

      Since the Conservatives aren’t cutting the debt but are rapidly increasing it, it’s hardly fair to blame Labour for criticising a plan that isn’t working.

      Finally removing the right to vote from people who claim benefits is morally repugnant and will lead to the Government being sued for human rights abuses because the right to vote can’t be limited by economic contributions.

  17. Leslie Singleton
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    John–Please don’t invent a concept called “Benefit Withdrawal”. I refer to your, “When people return to work they now face benefit withdrawal”. Well, Gee Golly Gosh, they should have faced this all along, just as they would have done for all time till recently, and we do not need a special term for what should be obvious. One of your commenters today says he uses Freeview, as do I. I wonder what proportion of those on benefits have Sky. No guesses for what I think.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Postscript–I think I meant no prizes

  18. Sway
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Mr J R
    I made a fantastic post that seams to have gone was awaiting approval but now is gone all together, if this is because you liked my idea thats fine but can you please let me know.
    Regards Sway

    Feel free not to post this as it is just a request for lost post info

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      I liked it!

      • Phil
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

        Thank you
        Simple as it may be solves a coaple of issues with little expense think the issue with it, is it’s to much like common sense.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          I liked your post too
          Well said Phil !

  19. waramess
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Why should it have taken this government so long to move this far?

    The answer almost certainly lies in its coalition with the Liberals and its own liberal PM, no to say the influence of his socialist wife.

    This really is too little too late and should have been tackled more robustly two years ago.

    How much should we pay in benefits? A pretty loaded question. A bit like saying which straws should we remove in the haystack in order to find the pin.

    Everybody has a tale to tell about the excesses in the system and we might just start with removing those.

    Council houses, by way of example allow a home for life no matter what the household income is. Get rid of this anomoly with immediate effect by charging a commercial rent for all those earning above a “living wage”

    Somebody really needs to stop removing straws and instead provide a complete overhaul of the entire system by rebuilding the haystack.

    No more ” We have principles and if you don’t like them we have others” Party, remember the most successful administration of MT found great appeal with the electorate by being radical

  20. oldtimer
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    It seems the workers at the Morrison`s distribution centre, where the Chancellor spoke yesterday, earn on average about £20,000 a year. They think a benefits cap of £26,000 a year is too high. I can understand the reason why.

  21. English Pensioner
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    We are told that £26000 is the average salary, and benefits should be limited to this. But the man earning £26000 will be paying income tax and national insurance, incur costs in getting to work and dressing appropriately.
    The £26000 benefits taker with two children is still far better off than the £26000 average working family man.

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Apparently the chap who challenged IDS to live on £53 a week is himself getting about three times that, with £232 a month housing benefit and £200 a month working tax credit on top of his market stall profits averaging £53 a week.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9968031/IDS-challenged-to-live-on-53-a-week-by-man-who-gets-156.html

    Which just shows how much hypocritical nonsense there is about this.

    Obviously whether or not a person can live on £53 a week does rather depend on what he has to pay for out of that £53 a week; if enough of his living expenses are being met by others in one way or another then he can, but if he’s having to pay for everything himself at normal going rates then that would be difficult.

  23. Martin
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    The horrible thing about this is that every property owner benefits from the housing benefit system as this benefit acts as a one way push on housing prices.

    The whole thing gets back to the cost of housing which you did cover on here before the last election (?) and which clearly is still fundamental.

    The £53 a week thing is almost a distraction from the much bigger cost of housing benefit.

  24. Terry
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    “I do not want anyone to have to live on £53 a week, which is why we are promoting work to raise people’s living standards, and why we have a range of benefits and pensions for the disabled and elderly higher than £53 a week” – Is your proposed response.

    Does that not sound like dodging the question?

    The question is “Can you live on £53 per week”? The answer can only be “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe”.

    While politicians carry on with their tactics of never answering a question with the plain ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, the public will always believe they are dodging that question and conclude that they are deliberately avoiding being untruthful. What is wrong with a straight forward “Yes” or No”, which can be expounded.

    To convince me more, IDS should have replied, “Yes, given the existing extra benefits that we have now made available”. Straight up and no dodges.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      To convince me more, IDS should have replied, “Yes, given the existing extra benefits that we have now made available”. Straight up and no dodges.

      If IDS had given this answer the follow up question would have been “What extra benefits?” and he would have been in trouble because he wasn’t proving any extra benefits.

  25. Julian
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    We should not be starting from here! But as we are we need to move to a situation where someone can get an ‘entry level’ job e.g. bar person, bus driver, rubbish collector and be able to live on the wages. There are 2 (main) reasons why this is hard to do:
    1. Housing costs. These are skewed by the lack of pension protection. Pension money has gone on property instead of pension plans since Maxwell.
    2. Utility costs: as you rightly point out we are paying well over the odds ( due to the University of East Anglia and the Green party etc).
    One way of helping to solve this (in addition to the existing measures) is to encourage pension investment out of property into safe and similarly well yielding alternatives.

  26. Bert Young
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    There is something basically wrong with our ” benefits society ” that allows individuals to arrive from abroad and immediately qualify for hand-outs . My attention was drawn recently to certain Bermudian single mothers who were no longer being supported by the fathers of their children in Bermuda ; they came here because they were able to claim housing and benefit support . They were able to return to Bermuda for holidays and , while here , made no attempt to secure a job . By the way , a single mother in Bermuda does not receive any State support . Apparently they did have one complaint to make – ” the weather was atrocious in the UK ” .

  27. Peter Davies
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I cant put a figure on it myself but whilst I appreciate £53 does not go far it is still only part of the story for most. Like those of us who work receive a salary, we count our net salary then everything gets deducted off – so housing benefit, council tax benefit and whatever else needs to be factored in to complete the picture, they may not have this to spend, but its been given to them by the govt.

    Its funny how labour who never would have tackled this issue are quiet and have nothing to say on this issue – they allowed a problem which was already there to get much worse made more so by uncontrolled immigration being allowed to undercut everyone else.

    The biggest killer in all this though what people don’t seem to be talking about are energy and fuel prices which knock onto food prices and inflation – govt should be doing all they can (including ignoring EU directives) to get these under control before all else. We hear about the US benefiting from cheap gas etc – and we are still messing around with all this climate change nonsense.

    A local fish and chip shop owner told me the other day that energy costs to run his restaurant now swallow up 1/3 of his gross profit, that is before he pays his staff. How is that helping anyone?

  28. Bill
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I do not see why the churches are arguing as they are. Some Christians would argue from the Parable of the Talents that human beings should develop their innate capacities rather than vegetating on unemployment hand-outs and others would argue with St Paul that ‘if a person will not work, he should not eat’ (see 1 Thessalonians 3.10). Of course, Christians should ‘remember the poor’ but this is very different from supporting large payments to those who choose to avoid working. There has been at least one recent case of a man with a large number of children by different women who has been a beneficiary of the current system.

  29. Dan H.
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    To this debate i would like to float this idea: time-limited benefits tied to National Insurance payments. So, in order to claim unemployment benefits, a person would have to have worked and paid NI into the system. I’m not suggesting a 1:1 ratio of input to output, a ratio of benefits much more like 1:50 or 1:100 input:output would serve better.

    The advantage with such a system as this is that it removes the concept of benefits being a way of life, and it also means that anyone who has never worked in Britain would be completely ineligible for benefits here, thus knocking benefits tourism on the head in one fell swoop.

    Finally, limit child benefit to either one child per adult or two children per woman, with provision for multiple births. Two children per woman is probably easier to administer; treat adopted children if claimed for as equivalent to biological children. Such a move would play very well to the over-taxed general public, and would be rather difficult for an incoming Labour government to overturn subsequently.

  30. Sue Doughty
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    £53 left over after all the bills are paid? Most pensioners would aspire to be that well off

  31. Barbara
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    The poorest have to have a system to rely upon, one never knows who’s next to lose a job. Laws on wages have to be in place to stop rogue employers paying almost no wages at all. They are not all the good people at all. So laws have to be in place for everyone.
    Benefits are there, or should be to protect, not as a lifestyle which is free. Having £18,000 for a single person is very generous, pensioners don’t have such levels of income at all. Many having been paid low wages for decades. Yet they still remain at the bottom of the pile, have been for decades. Having this amount of money for a single person is generous, and the lifestyle that goes with it, it seems most of us were born much to soon. Or were we? Now we are deceived, cheated upon, and robbed, in past days respect and honesty were rife, what we have now is of politicians making. They have shown us greed and dishonesty, and the rest have followed suit. As for the benefit system, its been created over the years by those who seek to rule, now its costing the earth there’s less for tax cuts so its got to go. Of course this runs risks, now people will react if they are pushed into a corner. Its jobs we need and job training, and education, that’s where they’ve made the biggest mistake of all.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The irresponsibility of the Labour party beggars belief.

    It would not help the workers those interests they claim to uphold for the government to be bankrupted, nor would it help those workers for the Bank of England to be bankrupted by being dragooned into trying to save the government from bankruptcy through QE.

    From quite an early age my children were far more responsible about money than those leading the Labour party, when are they going to grow up?

    But having said that, the present Tory party is not far behind in irresponsibility.

    Why is left to a Liberal Democrat minister to explain that thanks to the irresponsibility of the Labour party the government is in a terrible financial fix?

    Is it beneath the Tory Chancellor to explain that he cannot carry on borrowing a sixth of all the money being spent by the government, and that he can only do that now because the Bank of England has created new money and used it to rig the gilts market?

  33. uanime5
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    The better answer for an MP and Minister on a good salary faced with such a question would be to say “I do not want anyone to have to live on £53 a week, which is why we are promoting work to raise people’s living standards, and why we have a range of benefits and pensions for the disabled and elderly higher than £53 a week”.

    But IDS didn’t say that. He arrogantly claims that he could live on £53 a week, then tried to wriggle out of it when people demanded that he put his money where is mouth is.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/its-a-stunt-iain-duncan-smith-dismisses-demands-to-live-on-53-a-week-8556985.html

    Even if IDS had given your answer it would still have several problems.

    Firstly if IDS doesn’t want 2.5 million unemployed people to live on £53 per week why is he cutting their benefits? Simply turning a blind eye to all the people who will have to live on £53 because of this benefit cut won’t make the problems caused by this cut go away.

    Secondly how is cutting the housing benefit of those in work going to promote working? All this cut will do is promote having more children to ensure you never have an empty room.

    Thirdly how is having a 73% tax rate for those in low paid jobs going to encourage people to work? The high rate of benefit withdrawal and having to pay NI even if you don’t earn enough to pay the personal tax allowance have resulted in those working in low paid jobs receiving very little extra money.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ianmcowie/100023863/low-paid-workers-will-suffer-50pc-higher-marginal-tax-rates-than-millionaires/

    Fourthly how is this benefit cut going to encourage people to move to smaller houses when the Government won’t give them any help finding smaller properties or provide moving expenses? The fact that this cut is all stick and no carrot effectively makes it a punishment for having too many rooms that’s devoid of any sort of fairness.

    Fifthly as long as ATOS is declaring the severely disabled of being capable of working so they can be paid a lower level of benefits mentioning benefits for the disabled isn’t a good idea. Also this benefit cut does apply to the disabled and those who care for disabled children.

    Sixthly cutting the benefits of the poor while at the same time cutting the tax rate of the wealthy was always going to be a PR disaster.

    Most people agree that it would be better if more people on these benefits could find work, and most people agree it should always make people better off to opt for work rather than for staying on benefits, where work is available.

    But if there isn’t suitable work available these people will have to remain on benefits. Cutting these people’s benefits will not magically make them more employable.

    Taking many people out of income tax altogether is the positive way of doing this.

    Pity they weren’t also taken out of NI (12% of your income), which you have to pay if you earn over £7,748 a year.

    So if someone living in a very expensive rented property needs help with the rent, they now have to find a property at a lower rent if they want all the rent paid by the state.

    This proved controversial because it meant that many people working in low paid jobs in high cost areas were forced from their homes and onto benefits because their increased travel costs mean working was no longer affordable.

    How much do you think we should pay to those who are not working?

    People who are unemployed should receive minimum wage and those who are in work should receive a living wage. You can’t expect people to spend in the real economy if they barely have enough money to survive on.

    How far should the state go in helping and checking up on people’s wish to find a job?

    The currently level of just checking that people are still looking for work is fine. Regarding helping people to get a job given that all Governments have ever done if forced people to work for free or attend a pointless course for months/years I’d recommend they do nothing. It’s become clear that all the Government schemes to help people into work are nothing more than ways to hide the level of unemployment or ways to give private companies cheap labour. They have never been about giving the unemployed the skills they need to get a job.

    They remain silent when asked why they now favour a 50p tax rate when it means the rich pay less tax.

    Unless the 45p tax rate results in several years of increased upper taxation, rather than one month of high taxes because of all the deferred income, you don’t have any evidence whether the 45p or 50p tax rate will result in more income tax. Thus your claim that the 50p tax rate results in the rich paying less tax is flawed. Comparing the current self-assessed tax rates to last years tax rates while ignoring that incomes are lower because the economy is contracting is also flawed.

    They remain silent when asked why for practically their whole time in government they correctly thought 40p was a better top rate.

    Do you suppose it could have something to do with the 2008 financial crisis, which mean that the Government suddenly needed more money, and that raising the upper tax rate to 90% after the economic problems caused by WW2 resulted in 20 years of high growth.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      What a rant Uni
      Its been now well established that this man does not live on £53 per week so stop the propaganda.
      Where do you get 73% tax trate from for low paid people? This Government have done more than Labour ever did in 13 years to take lower paid out of tax.
      ATOS is not making any “severely” disabled people work and you know it.
      If you have proof lets see it.
      For almost all Labour’s 13 years in Govt the top rate was 40% and only in the last few weeks Brown cynically put up the rate just so people like you can shout out about tax cuts for millionaires.

      • Bazman
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Disabled peole can claim disability living allowance and still work without this being affected. Esther McVey got a right verbal beating on C4 News last night. Good job it was not the BBC huh?
        http://www.channel4.com/news/government-treating-disabled-people-generously

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Edward–Agree absolutely especially on the 40% > 50% > 45%. As I have written elsewhere here today the drop back only to 45% – as if not sure what they were doing and why – was another of this Government’s hideous mistakes. Too late to do anything about it now, at least not till the next boom assuming there ever is one.

      • uanime5
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        My post wasn’t a rant. I was debunking John’s claims that this benefit cut was somehow good for people when it clearly wasn’t.

        Its been now well established that this man does not live on £53 per week so stop the propaganda.

        IDS was asked if he could live on £53 per week and he said he could. The fact that the man who asked him this question doesn’t earn £53 per week doesn’t change the fact that IDS made a promise he couldn’t keep, nor does it change the fact that over 400,000 people signed a petition demanding that IDS hour his promise.

        Your attempts at muckraking are fooling no one.

        Where do you get 73% tax trate from for low paid people?

        Below this statement there was a link to an article in the Telegraph backing up my claim.

        http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ianmcowie/100023863/low-paid-workers-will-suffer-50pc-higher-marginal-tax-rates-than-millionaires/

        This Government have done more than Labour ever did in 13 years to take lower paid out of tax.

        That was a Lib Dem idea and it doesn’t help the 2.5 million who are unemployed. It also doesn’t help those who are earning below the personal allowance or anyone not working in low paid jobs due to the lowering the threshold of the 40% tax rate.

        ATOS is not making any “severely” disabled people work and you know it.
        If you have proof lets see it.

        ATOS is declaring that the severely disabled can work and there are many court records of these verdicts being overturned.

        Here’s an article about a brain-damaged amputee who couldn’t walk and struggles to talk being declared fit to work.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/braindamaged-amputee-fit-for-work-says-atos-8547539.html

        Care to provide evidence to back up your claims about ATOS.

        For almost all Labour’s 13 years in Govt the top rate was 40% and only in the last few weeks Brown cynically put up the rate just so people like you can shout out about tax cuts for millionaires.

        Given that the financial crisis only occurred in the last few years of Labour tenure there was no need to have a higher upper tax rate.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

          Uni,
          I find the way you twist the words others say quite clever, but essentially unconvincing. Like a lawyer desperately trying to defend an impossible client.

          Having claimed on various posts that this poor man was living on £53 because of the Coalition’s wicked cuts, you now, in the light of evidence that this isn’t true, have hilariously changed your argument to, “the fact that this man doesnt earn £53 doesn’t change the fact that IDS said he could live on….
          Oh yes it does, because the question posed as a result of this, was therefore a completely bogus one.
          I dont ever hear you going on and on about the many pensioners and lower paid workers who already live on a similar budget or less.
          Odd that.

          ATOS: You have given one or two examples of someone wrongly assessed who will have right of appeal, contrasted with over 850,000 who stopped claiming voluntarily in the knowledge that their claim was going shortly to be checked.
          Your bad case propaganda on this fools no one.

          The Coalition’s priority of taking the lower paid out of tax is vital and helps encourage those trapped on benefits to be able to get work without finding themselves worse off.
          Better net pay for those on lower incomes and yet you are still busy opposing this.

          Finally your argument on Browns deliberate last minute increase in the top rate to 50% fools no one.
          Even Labour politicians have said they did it to place an obstacle in the way of the Coalition.

  34. David Langley
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    The old saying, “Some live to work, most work to live”, has a significant meaning. Having a job which is fulfilling and offers reasonable hopes of advancement and seniority leading perhaps to increased income and increased job satisfaction is many peoples ambition. Having no ambitions and no interest in any form of employment is unfortunately many other peoples vocation.
    How far should the state go to fund the “purposeful idle”. There could be two levels of funding the higher level means you take work offered in any role, and show up and do ones best to achieve the job objectives. it could be sweeping the streets but has merit. The lower level is subsistence, providing barely enough to scrape along with no money or allowances to fund a “family”lifestyle but enough to live.
    My taxes should go to those who try, defined by commonsense and honesty. The government should stop giving to wrong causes and stop spending on themselves.

  35. Kenneth
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I would prefer to do away with unemployment benefit.

    The fact that somebody is no longer in employment does not necessarily mean they are in need of financial support, just like the fact that someone over the retirement is not necessarily needy.

    Surely, qualification for financial support from the state should be come when a person is in need and not due to arbitrary circumstances.

    Even then, I would suggest that we must take into account the capacity of the wider family to provide financial support before the state steps in.

    This would allow for a simpler and more targeted system which takes account of real need.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Millionaires are entitled to unemployment benefit. It is based on national insurance contributions not charity.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        Baz,
        You wont get unemployment pay if you have savings and/or saleable assets more than a modest amount which I would imagine your millionaire will have.

        • Bazman
          Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          You will get job seekers allowance if you have made the correct national insurance contributions no matter how much you have in cash or assets. After six months benefits will be means tested. You are wrong.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

            Do you know of many millionaires claiming contribution based JSA for six months Baz?
            I havn’t heard of any.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 7, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            Just because you have not heard of something does not make it untrue. Millionaires probably do not want to go to the job center and sign on for their entitlements. Thats right entitlements. Though they are perfectly within their rights to do so and should.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

            How very generous of you to says so Baz
            Next time I meet an umemployed millioniare I will inform him he or she can sign on for six monthe JSA
            Im sure they will be thrilled

          • David Price
            Posted April 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            That proves not to be the case. You don’t even get contributory JSA if you recieve a pension – it is not uncommon to receive an occupational pension while working.

            So both flavours of JSA are means tested, it is not an entitlement no matter how many decades you have paid NI.

            And before I get acused of being a hypocrit, if an employer goes into administration and you are made redundant you are required by law to register at Job Centre Plus.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

            JSA is not based on assets or cash. You are all wrong.

          • David Price
            Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            Go read the rules Bazman, income based JSA is dependent on how much income and savings you have. Contribution based JSA is reduced by any pension income above £50 a week.

            JSA is means tested, it is not a blanket entitlement.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

            Job seekers allowance is not means tested you are wrong and will remain wrong. How is it means tested in the first six months? They do not ask for bank account details or assets owned? Answer this or do not write that it is means tested again.

  36. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    If it wasn’t so serious, it would be moderately amusing to recall a phrase that was often on the lips of Labour MPs in the aftermath of the 1997 general election.

    When they were urging some increase in public spending previously denied by the wicked Tory government, they would often say “the money’s there”.

    Thirteen years later, and a departing Labour Treasury minister leaves behind a note saying “there’s no money left”.

    But however appalling the financial irresponsibility of the Labour party, what about the equally appalling political incompetence of a Tory party which not only failed to inflict a well-deserved crushing, annihilating, electoral defeat on the Labour party, but failed to even get an overall majority?

  37. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    As far as housing benefit is concerned, I dont think people who rent property should see the money. The property should be maintained to a safe standard and paid directly by the state to the owners. This basic need should be followed up by fuel allowances assessed by companies who would really estimate a yearly fuel bill. Similarly council tax and, water rates should be paid directly. A living allowance for food , clothes etc could then be given on top of this.
    It would be freedom from worry , freedom from bills,and no chance of going into debt for anything other than clothes food and furniture. and more time to look for a job.

  38. iain gill
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    on the one hand we do waste far too much on benefits

    caused mainly by the sink schools being so bad in my view, and therefore not entirely the claimants fault, and out of control immigration uncapped ict work visas and so on

    on the other hand there are far too many single men homeless and often sleeping rough i am getting tired of the excuses for this

    me personally i would be better off if i could opt out of paying for this so called safety net

  39. Bazman
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    £53 a week is quite enough.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      He wasn’t ever on £53 per week, its a left wing fantasy, havn’t you heard?

      • Bazman
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        How is he going to spend his rent money? The 53 a week remains.
        From the Telegraph. Do the maths.
        Mr Bennett claimed on the Today programme on Monday that he made £53 a week on his stall, sometimes working as many as 70 hours a week. It later emerged however, that he is also in receipt of £200 a month Working Tax Credit and £232 a month housing benefit. Out of that he pays £400 a month rent, plus £190 a month utility bills, including £120 a month gas and electricity, £36 a month water and telephone, insurance and council tax.
        £35 even according to this.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

          So Baz, not £53 per week as you say.
          Contrasted with pensioners and lower paid workers who live on net budgets of similar or less amounts.
          This man was wheeled onto the radio by excited BBC staff who failed to do proper checks and were aiming to make this a jolly good left wing propaganda headline.
          Sadly facts got in the way and he has now been wheeled away into the distance.

          • Bazman
            Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

            This is not a specific answer and just because some low paid workers live on less does not make £53 a week any more. No more BBC bias thanks. What if it had been C4 or SKY?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            He said he only earned £53 a week from his market stall.
            Im a bit a sceptical about that knowing a number of market traders.
            However if you add up all his income streams and than add tax and NI back on his gross income is as high as many low paid workers and those on pensions.
            The problem for him as with many low earners is the sky high cost of energy bill, council tax, rents and food
            PS
            It wasnt bias I was alluding to when I mentioned the BBC
            It was just a fact that it was the BBC who got this wrong.

  40. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Clearly £53 pw isn’t all that’s on offer. I know those who have never worked who run households that could not be achieved on a salary less than £35k pa. This is common.

    How much should we pay in benefits ?

    So long as there are local jobs available then nothing at all. It was only meant to be a safety net – not a lifestyle choice and certainly not a substitute for fathers sticking around to pay for their own children.

    In compensation for this I say British jobs for British workers (and homes too) Does that sound too jingoistic ? It’s just common sense surely. Otherwise welfarism is the only way to prop up a system which deliberately undercuts its own people if we are not to see them endure Dickensian hardships.

    Importing cheap labour is NOT CHEAP.

    Choosing foreign products such as train carriages and police cars is not cheap either and is disasterous for controlling welfare cost and undermines the moral position of those who would preach ‘on your bike’.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 4:35 am | Permalink

      Welfarism has become the method by which the leftist/feminist dream of the fatherless society can work.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Kevin

      “Importing cheap labour is not cheap”

      Absolutely correct.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      So long as there are local jobs available then nothing at all.

      What if the unemployed person lacks the skills to do the available jobs or they can’t get a job because there are so many unemployed people in the local area? You really need to think your comments through.

      It was only meant to be a safety net

      A safety net that lasted until you could get a job. Even Bevan realised that 100% employment was impossible, so welfare was intended to allow people to survive while looking for another job.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Indeed Uni, Bevan always designed it to be just an insurance for workers.
        No paying in no paying out, with a concession for long term sick and disabled of course.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        Uanime5 – You know full well what I mean. Don’t be so condescending.

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted April 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          PS, I wish I could find the time to match your output.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

            This because you dont work for the state Kevin!

  41. Jon
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    To be fair to Labour they are not silent when it comes to benefit fraud, they regard it as minor and so should be left well alone. I assume resulting in less money for the honest.

    They tout a figure of 1% where as just on disability benefit alone we saw 875000 people decline to renew their claim and a further 837000 odd didn’t fancy the medical.

    Their 1% doesn’t add up but nether could their chancellor add numbers but they do seem to favour leaving the scroungers well alone as they are keen to tell us the numbers are small so why bother.

    The benefit maximums of £26000 and £18000 are NET figures ie effective take home pay to the rest of us. They are detached from real life of the law abiding majority who are working, average gross salary is probably just under £26000.
    The media is also a bit out of touch here.

  42. Old Tony
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    There needs to be a living wage set by government that requires no top up by the state.
    There needs to be JOB’s. When we have jobs then the unwilling to work can be dealt with.
    There needs to be affordable multi bedroomed council housing stock. Council estates. Nothing made me work harder as a teenager than to leave my parents council estate but on that estate there was no unemployment all the men worked. If I could have got the council to pay my rent on a private estate and state top ups I would have thought I’d made it and taken the easy route. Except my parents would never have allowed that.

    Child benefit should be for a maximum of two kids paid to the stay at home Mum’s only, single or married. Lets appreciate them and congratulate them for the job they do especially on council estates. Without my stay at home Mum, oh god forbid what trouble I’d have got into, her help with school, homework and the fact she was always there made me what I am today. She wanted better for me and devoted her efforts to her children. stay at home Mum’s so unvalued today, ever thought they might just be a key to the answer.
    The state under labour has put it self in the position where it has been left to subsidise the low income earners and the unemployed.
    Labour are guilty of subsidising salaries.
    I ran my own business and prided myself on paying my employees a living fare wage.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Old Tony

      Yes, stay at home Mum’s.

      They must have also been the days when the personal tax allowance was able to be transfered to the one spouse who was still at work.

      A tax benefit which should be reintroduced if we actually value parents looking after their own, instead of farming them out.

      Fully appreciate that even if the above was reintroduced with some couples, both may still have to work, but at least it would allow more to choose, and perhaps free up some more jobs at the same time.

      Would go some way to compensate for the recent disaster policy of cash for working Mums, whilst ignoring those who stay at home at present.

  43. Old Tony
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    my son has just corrected me “pay child benefit to the stay at home parent”

  44. Daniel Hewson
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    I like UKIPs idea, which is similar to Milton Freidman’s negative income tax, this is from UKIPs last manifesto
    ‘The key to UKIP’s welfare policy is to replace all working age benefits with a flat rate Basic Cash Benefit (BCB) paid to most or all British citizens with no, low or fluctuating incomes (with the quid pro quo being that claimants are not entitled to a tax-free personal allowance of £11,500). Such a system would not discourage any young person from taking up a low paid job such as an apprenticeship, as the choice would be between claiming the BCB or claiming the BCB and keeping 69% of any earned income on top (assuming a flat tax rate of 31%).’
    At the moment with universal credit you get to keep around 30% of what you earn with 70% taken from your benefit, whereas Ukip would let you keep around 70% of the money you earn, thus giving people a greater incentive to work.
    Universal credit should be brought in but with a taper that allows you to keep at least 65% of what you earn with a 35% loss of benefit, people like Redwood always talk about how high tax rates disincentivise work, but you don’t understand that the unemployed view JSA as their income, and as they work they often face a severe reduction of benefits which would be comparable to a tax rate of 70-90% on the money they earn, change this and you’d see unemployment fall dramatically.

    Reply: I have always said I want lower tax rates for all, and fully understand the problems created by a combination of benefit withdrawal and income tax – that is what the Coalition is trying to address through universal credit.There is no need to insult me.
    At what income level does UKIP want their Basic Income to be withdrawn, and what rate of withdrawal? What is the total extra cost on taxpayers? There is no easy or magic way of sorting this matter out. If you wish to lower the rate of benefit withdrawal then you have to pay more out in benefits. You will have more people caught in some kind of benefit trap. If you pay the Basic Income to all regardless of income you have a very large bill that has to be raised from taxes somehow.

    • Daniel Hewson
      Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t mean to insult you John & I appreciate the that the universal credit will be much better than the status quo labour left you with. Personally I’d roll employees national insurance & income tax into a flat 30% rate on income over £12,500.
      I’d roll housing benefit, JSA & tax credits together & have a £6000 per year minimum income, for a single person over 17 living on his own, this would be paid at £2000 every 4 months, paying it like this would help people needing upfront money for house/flat deposits & also help people wanting to start their own business, they’d get to keep all the money they earned from work until they earn over £6500 which would bring them into the income tax threshold, the 30% tax would then kick in & this money would be withdrawn from their £6000 minimum income. This is my rough idea, obviously all the details haven’t yet been finalised but you get the basic picture.

  45. William Henwood
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    I liked your answer to the £53 per week question.

    Addresses the nub “social security there to help people to get through a rough period [not a lifestyle]”.

  46. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    The £26,000 pa cap on benefits equals the average gross salary. I would have thought that the cap should equal the average net salary, after tax. In London and the South East the cap will proably succeed in making people prefer to work rather than clain benefits. Elsewhere, where salaries are lower, it may not. Is is practical to vary the cap regionally?

  47. Charles D
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    John, could you pelase explain this chart – it seems to imply that in 2011/12 we spent £116 billion on welfare. That can’t be right?

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/year_spending_2012UKbn_12bc1n_40#ukgs302

    Reply: The £90 billion figure I used came from a recent Treasury press release. I guess the higher figure includes more of Council spending on social services which is not usually scored as welfare spending in the Uk accounts, as it may not all be money transfers but includes services.

    • Charles D
      Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Thanks John. Sorry, I must have put this on the wrong post. The £116 billion figure in the link refers to the whole welfare budget as far as I can see, not benefits to those of working age. The real figure must be closer to £200 billion.

  48. D K McGregor
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    You ask about Labours position in this and the uncommitted statements they make . In doing this they do no more or less than the Conservatives in opposition did for thirteen years recently , have you no empathy with the normal engaged voter who wishes to see politicians with principles and policies to match which do not change to suit the latest polling or worse in this case , least said nothing to be mended. If you are serious , then DEMAND an answer from them.

  49. AW1983
    Posted July 9, 2013 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    We don’t need incentives to work, we need disincentives for not working and that should apply to every able bodied person, not just those under 65 years of age. Even with the changes made by the government to cap benefits there remains a wide disparity in lifestyles between those who work and those who don’t. Even for those among us who are earning close to the average wage, we don’t get to enjoy the stability and predictability of our financial situation that those on benefits do.

    For those of us that work there is an overvalued housing market, a ‘wild west’ letting market and another rise in taxation always over the horizon to pay for all the government spending that our parents chose to defer to us (why people in their 60s can’t be forced to work much, much longer or face cuts in their pensions, I just don’t understand. I thought we were ‘all in it together’ to pay off the horrific debt these old folk built up). People increasingly find themselves on a contract rather than in a permanent job too, further exacerbating their instability.

    The Coalition Government has been hopeless at addressing this instability. The problem is selective free marketism. We need a choice as to whether we want a free market or not. It is not good enough that we espouse economic liberalism when it comes to stable employment or rising prices but then intervene in the market like Marx never went out of fashion when we want to meddle with the housing market. It is that sort of meddling (and not economic liberalism as the left like to claim) that destroys social mobility and creates a wealth gap.

    If you want work to pay we need to increase the retirement age to 75 so those who built and benefited from the deficit up get the opportunity to pay it off; it can reduce to 70 over the next 40 years rather than increasing to 70 over the same period. This will mean young people don’t face a massive, disincentivising tax burden over the next 30 years. All benefits should be means tested and paid in vouchers rather than cash; duty on petrol should be slashed; the minimum wage should be abolished and all intevention in the housing market to blow the bubble should be withdrawn. Like the early 1980s it will be painful at first, but just like then it will be the pain of recovery.

    The alternative, preferred by the old, doesn’t bear thinking about. We have the same right to an aspirational life as they did and we deserve better than slogging it out to pay huge taxes for which we will never see any benefit.

  • 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.

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