What do we owe our neighbours?


             Today as the government wrestles with the huge bills of the state, and the large inherited debts of the nation, it has to ask how much help should we offer our neighbours?

              Most of us want to live in a civilised society where no-one need go without food, warmth and shelter. We are all children of the post war welfare state.  We want the disabled and those unable to find work  to be given state benefits, children to receive a free education and all to have medical care free at the point of use.

               Much of the debate is still about how far should we expand our collective provision, even though we are finding the bills very high for what we have already. This week the government has edged towards the state offering more provision for care for the elderly for people who do have some assets – the state already guarantees care for those without savings or a property.

               It was not so very long ago that the welfare state promised free education for 5 to 16 year olds, free medical treatment for all, and old age pensions for 60 year old women and 65 year old men.

               Since this post war settlement was hammered out, longevity has shot up, giving many people ten years or more extra pension than the original plans envisaged.  The school age has been lowered, to allow a big expansion of nursery and pre school state provision. The school leaving age has effectively been raised, allowing many more to stay at school or in College until 18.

            In the other direction, there have been moves to raise the pension age, but by less than the increase in longevity. University students are now asked to pay fees from student loans. The short term effect of this has been to raise the levels of public borrowing, as the state stands behind the student loan scheme which builds up extra liabilities in the first few years before repayments start to balance it.

             Do you think we have our obligations to our neighbours about right? Are there further areas where you want taxpayer support? Are there areas of current benefits and welfare service where you would like to see more self reliance and less state spending? Are there changes to the eligibility rules that you would like?


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  1. Alte Fritz
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    The unspoken assumption about pension provision both from the state and occupational schemes was that few pensioners would live to enjoy many years of benefits. That is the other side of the coin from saying we live longer. These benefits were not designed to be enjoyed. Another assumption was that the productive parts of society would be so productive that we would not know what to do with all the available leisure: That has come true in a not very beneficial way. House builders have got away with building smaller and smaller houses which barely fit a modern nuclear family, let alone several generations, so family self help is barely an option on that ground alone.

    We have the whole question of state provision nowhere near right. I do not think we, any of us, knows where to begin, save that it would not be here.

    Maybe the state pension should be phased in to top up a reducing earning capacity? Maybe more tax breaks for those who work beyond pension age? Maybe make education beyond 16 more rigorously academic or vocational, pupil to choose the path we follow. Maybe do away with failing universities and convert back to their original narrower functions. Maybe take real measures to cut the massive drag on the economy caused by the dependency culture.

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      State pension should pay out the minimum livable wage needed to subsist .

      If it doesn’t then the gap is made up with means tested benefits which as we know only discourages responsibility .

      As such a state pension is cost neutral , the question is whether you do it properly with a state pension or whether you use kludges like means tested benefits .

      As the state pension is increased , vocational pensions such as those in the public sector should be reduced in tandem .

      The whole idea that it is employers jobs to look after workers after they have left is outdated and wrong . The state should take this role on and leave companies to create jobs and money rather than burdening them with administration of pensions .

      Inevitably this will mean more has to be deducted from people during their working life .

      As a starting point I’d say that the principle of national insurance (a hypothecated insurance premium) has to be reasserted and the temptation to roll it into income tax (general taxation) resisted .

      There needs to be a fund and it needs to be mainly invested in the UK on things which :-
      – reduce the cost of living , particularly accommodation ,
      – provide infrastructure which will help the next generation earn a living

      The Government Actuaries Department has to be involved bu the fund obviously has to be out of the reach of Govt’s of the day .

  2. colliemum
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    You ask: ” Do you think we have our obligations to our neighbours about right?”, and that question alone shows that we’ve got everything – wrong.
    Wrong because the opposite question naturally is: ‘have our neighbours got their obligations right’, and the next one is ‘why obligations at all’?

    I believe it is because welfare is seen as ‘obligation’, put on those who have to help those who don’t, that we are in this mess.
    Yes, before the welfare state the poor did not have free medical treatments, they did not have long-term support, with housing, child maintenance etc being paid for by “The Haves”, but there were local charities, local hospitals run and paid for by charity.

    Thanks to the rise of socialism, ‘charity’ has not just become a dirty word – unless it’s charity for 3rd world countries – , it has been used as instrument for relentless ‘equality’, so that nowadays working people on lower incomes are worse off than those they have been made to ‘support’, through their taxes.
    That doesn’t even address the problem that this enforced ‘state charity’ needs huge numbers of bureaucrats, employed to make the distribution of all that money ‘fair’.

    I think that our ‘obligations towards our neighbours’ would be far better met if the administration and distribution of this welfare were to be re-localised. After all, the care for our elderly is administered by local councils, and we know that these services are always being cut.
    The inequality between their treatment and the treatment of our neighbours on welfare run by the DWP is stark, as is the inequality between those who work and carry this huge burden and those who do not.

    May I suggest that what is needed is a long hard look at the whole concept of “Equality”, which should lead to a different approach to ‘obligations’.

    • Wilko
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Much good sense expressed here.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Charity has become a dirty word because the wealthy want to cut welfare and make everyone dependent on charity because they don’t have to pay for charity from their taxes. It’s not the fault of the unemployed that the wealthy wish to abuse charities for their own benefits.

      Those who work are often worse off than those who don’t work due to low salaries and the rate at which benefits are withdrawn, neither of which are the fault of the unemployed.

      If you wish to enforce obligations on people to work then you’ll need to force obligations on employers to provide enough jobs. Anything less won’t work.

      • Wonky Moral Compass
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        You think? I think charity has actually become a dirty word for two reasons. One, because so many charities are actually lobby groups reliant on state funding who pay their executives fat salaries. Two, because the government takes so much money in tax from the productive that they think the state should use some of it for productive and useful purposes.

        If charities were more worthy and governments weren’t so greedy, I rather suspect that charitable donations would be much higher.

        • bigneil
          Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          i used to give to charities – until i saw an article on the multi mansions that the bosses lived in – -also my friends wife works in a (national ) charity shop – -she gets paid – -to which the government takes tax – -after all the other stoppages – -what actual %age is used to cure “the problem” that the charity is working for?? – -i suspect very very little – –

          in another email on this article ther is a comment of the (water in africa) – -i assume that other countries beside us are giving money to this charity – -after all these years – -and what must be millions of pounds given – -is there seemingly no progress – -other than the occassional “we dug a well”.

          we also read of people going out to these countries to help with the work – -WHY? – -we are always told these people have no jobs etc – -why not supply the products FOR FREE (INSTEAD OF CASH )and someone with know how – train them and something should kick start


      • Richard1
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Charity traditionally has been a profundly unsocialist concept, as charities are meant to be independent of the state and to rely on voluntary giving. The UK is among the most generous countries in the world in terms of charitable doantions, though not as generous as the US. Unfortunately many well-known charities (as opposed to little known local charities) have been suborned by left-wing activists, and are now associated with polemical propaganda and agitation for specific, statist, political causes. A break of the links between charities and the state, and an end to the seemless flow of bureaucrats from the state to major charities would cure this, and allow charities to focus on traditional charitable work to the benefit of society.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          What exactly is this traditional work? Providing support to the poor because welfare didn’t exist? I can’t imagine that being popular.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Those who work are often worse off than those who don’t work due to low salaries and the rate at which benefits are withdrawn, neither of which are the fault of the unemployed.

        No but how are you going to get people to work if they are better of not doing? Or would you have us all living off the magic government money tree?

        Clearly you cannot force employers to employ people it have to be profitable for them or they will not have the money to pay them.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          Well if benefits were withdrawn at the same rate the personal allowance is withdrawn for the wealthy (£1 for every £2 earned) then you’d always get more money by working. Odd how the Government hasn’t figured this out yet.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        The employers cannot be forced to give jobs. They only give a person a job when they have to and that job is produced by demand. The increasingly lowering the income of the population suppresses demand. The rich do not create demand and so tax cuts are not the answer. The tax take on the rich has never been lower especially at the top and especially in the London housing market. Bluffs need to be called and of course we as the state do not bluff or respond to threats as we are a democracy and not an aristocracy of the rich pretending to be a tax haven. They have an easy ride here and they know it. Why are so many here?

      • Bazman
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        The employers cannot be forced to give jobs. They only give a person a job when they have to and that job is produced by demand. The increasingly lowering the income of the population suppresses demand. The rich do not create demand and so tax cuts are not the answer. The tax take on the rich has never been lower especially at the top and especially in the London housing market. Bluffs need to be called and of course we as the state do not bluff or respond to threats as we are a democracy and not an aristocracy of the rich pretending to be a tax haven. They have an easy ride here and they know it.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 17, 2013 at 12:33 am | Permalink

          Disgusting fantasists where are your all your replies? How can you not reply to this? It’s called goon baiting where I am from! LOL! Retards.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    What do we owe our neighbours? Merely a basic safety net for those honestly unable to provide for themselves. Anything more just encourages fecklessness and a bigger state. Why, for example, should working people delay having children because they are paying taxes for others to have eight paid for with their taxes. Or why should they work hard to have a standard of living worse than some one on benefits with all the time in the world for their hobbies? Why should people have housing provided free that many working people could not ever afford from wages after travel, child care, tax, NI and other working costs?

    We have, yesterday, the absurd legal ruling that some Geology Graduate should not have to work at Poundland in return for benefits. Why on earth not? All who can, should work for their benefits and many would no longer then claim at all. Many others would benefit from the work experience, just as Sir Terry Leahy benefited from working at Tesco as a youth.

    How can we ever have sensible government if the courts intervene in such absurd ways. The multilevel court system and the absurd laws that allow them to intervene in everything, in arbitrary, often conflicting, and expensive ways, makes sensible government decisions almost impossible. EU laws and courts make the position even worse.

    If government pass silly laws, like the need for gender impact assessments, introduce multilevel conflicting courts and similar idiocy they only have themselves to blame. The legal industry is, to a very large degree, a parasitic one making us all poorer for few real benefits other than for the lawyers that is.

    • Liz
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      The geology student in question had already arranged her own unpaid work placement in an organisation (museum I believe) that would help her to get a job and further her career. The state forced her to give this up to stack shelves in Poundland, a comoany that can well afford to pay staff. Workfare has its place but it should not be used to use state funds to subsidise free labour in well off companies and it should genuinely help claimants which it did here. In this case it acted in a clumsy and inefficient way which neither helped its “client” to get into the jobs market or used public money properly.
      As for helping our neighbours – yes – but not to the extent that claimeants get a tax free “salary” worth many times the average wage and more that the claimant could possibly “earn” in work so that they never even atempt to get a job’

      • a-tracy
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t I read that the young lady is now working part-time in retail, did her work experience lead her to consider that job I wonder just to tide her over until she secured a full time job.

        I am curious about why the work experience was forced on her if she told the authorities she was volunteering in a museum and the details of that. I thought the idea of the scheme was to help people to cv build if they had no references/work experience. I’d like IDS to investigate this, I would if I were him.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          She was forced into it because she was under 24 and the Government wanted to artificially reduce youth employment (anyone on workfare is considered in employment, volunteers are not).

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        The state did not forced her to give this up to stack shelves in Poundland. It merely suggested they might not pay her benefits if she did not. Which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          After all her benefit are being paid by the taxes of others – people working at similar places to Poundland.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

          No the state threatened to stop paying her benefits is she didn’t volunteer to work at Poundland, something that the courts have declared illegal. Thus it was not reasonable.

    • Peter Davies
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      One problem is many in the political class are lawyers by trade so often make things complex and work in all this human rights nonsense which more often than not benefits their own profession.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        The fewer lawyers the better for everyone outside a few select areas – in my experience. We cannot all get richer, on average, just suing each other? Just the lawyers do.

        • Peter Davies
          Posted February 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink


    • alan jutson
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink


      A lot of commonsense points made in your post.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      The multi children and housing question is a real problem and what you say about it being unfair is true. However inheriting a fortune is also unfair and we see you have no problem with this. If their is undeserving poor then by default there must be undeserving rich. Punishing the children will not help and the idea that they would not be born due to disincentives is a middle class ideal and they do not want to be middle class.The graduate was already doing voluntary work for a museum so working for Poundland was of no use to anyone except Poundland. If everyone worked for their benefits then how many minimum wage earners would be put onto benefits working for large companies for free or is this what you want?

      • Edward
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        Baz, Why is inheriting a fortune unfair?
        If you or I were lucky enough to have a very wealthy family member who died and left us some or all of their estate, whats so wrong with that?
        The estate would be created with money that had tax paid during its development and then on death there would be even more tax to pay above the current limit of IHT.
        You could then cleverly use that windfall to start Bazman PLC employing hundreds and paying huge sums in tax yourself.
        Or just spend it all and pay 20% vat.
        Don’t you feel in these circumstances that the State has its fair share of tax out of you overall?

        • Edward
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          And before you accuse me Baz, I’m not in favour of forcing people on benefits to work for nothing in jobs which have no possible usefulness to them, like this particular lady’s case.
          But for some people who have been unemplyed for a long time work experience can be useful.
          So not all bad.

          • Bazman.
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Part of the work experience is experiencing some money at the end of it…

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Fair? What on earth is fair about life – fair about having a serious illness, being ugly, being stupid, being injured in a crash, winning the lottery, being robbed, or marrying a murderer ……….

        Life is not fair, governments cannot make it so – such is life – just get over it and do your best.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          My point was that if their is undeserving poor then by default there must be undeserving rich? A point lost on both of you.

          • David Price
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            But if you believe that not all poor are undeserving then neither are all rich undeserving.

          • Edward
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

            Its not axiomatic that there has to be undeserving rich just because it is claimed there are undeserving poor or vice verca.
            There may be both, there may be neither.
            I dont see why the two things are connected like some strange maths equation.
            And the word “undeserving” takes some defining in this context anyway.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        Being born in Britain is probably unfair. You inherit free education, healthcare, etc from our forefathers endeavours (correction – forepersons).

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

        Why is working for a “large company” any worse than working for anyone else?

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic had you bother to read the case you’d know that the geology graduate was volunteering at a museum in order to obtain the skills she needed to get a job there. So she effectively was already working for her benefits. What she objected to was being forced to work for a private company that didn’t give her any useful work experience or pay her minimum wage.

      I’m not surprised that you’re demanding that she worked for free, even though this meant that there was one less paying job available. It has always been the hallmark of right wing nuts to demand that other slave away so that they can make greater profits.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        I did not say she should work for free just for her benefits. I read all the details too. There needs to be a dis-incentive to claim benefits and to work otherwise everyone will be on them.

        We cannot all work in just the jobs we would like too.

        • Bazman.
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Everyone will just be packing up their job for £71 a week and by creating desperation you will create jobs? No it will undercut the working poor and create more working benefit claimants. More bible reading from our resident apparatchik and Komsomol leader.
          Google. ‘CEO desperately tries to avoid answering a simple question’ For similar fun.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          As far as Poundland was concerned she was working for free, something that you refuse to admit.

      • zorro
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        As usual, bringing this case to court was rather silly as she had a placement in a museum (effectively working for her benefits, which is fine if she had no contribution record) and making her work for Poundland in rather mundane activity. If I was cynical, I might be tempted to think that this was a bit of a ‘bleeding stump’ case brought to highlight government policy in a bad light……there really must have been a more deserving example to bring to court who would have refused all types of work and had not got off their backside….


        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          Opposing forced labour isn’t a silly reason to bring a case to court, especially when the judges agree with you.

          There’s no good light for the Government’s policy, it was nothing more than forced labour that only benefited large companies and was only stopped because of public opposition.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

            Attacking the sharp elbowed middle classes like her or her family are a taste of things to come from the government. Or people like myself who just don’t back down. Not all benefit and tax credit claimants are uneducated and easy to fool in modern society. In this case like the Mac Donalds libel case they picked the wrong one and paid the price for their heavy handedness on people with nothing but the will to win.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 1:28 am | Permalink

        The sort of people who “work” at museums have always struck me as being barely more animated than the exhibits. Maybe having to do some real hard graft for a “private” company was what she really objected to. A dose of reality would do her some good.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          You can learn a lot at Poundland if you watch the customers, see how it is run and structured, see what sells and what does not, see how the staff are motivated, how the computers work, the stocking methods, the purchasing decisions, the layouts ………….

          • Bazman
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

            How much do things cost?

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          How exactly is bullying the unemployed going to make them more willing to work? If you use work as a punishment you shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t want to work.

          • Max Dunbar
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

            No I’m not surprised that they “don’t want to work” but there are some people who are worth prodding and some who are not.
            Those who are not tend to be worse than useless by, for example, undermining other workers morale or keeping them distracted with constant chatter etc. You are right up to a point. It is not worth “bullying” some people into a job because it would be counter-productive.
            There is a certain amount of churn in unemployment numbers and some people will never get a job or they may gravitate to the local council. Otherwise, they remain at the bottom of the oily sump – permanently.

    • Dr Dan H.
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      My own take on the legal industry is that requiring lots of expensive lawyers to administer the system is a very strong sign that it is the system that needs radial reform. Laws need to be simple, few and based around fairness rather than petifoggingly prescriptive lists. Laws also need to be written in such a manner that they can be machine-parsed, even if this requires the invention of a specific Legal English language with specific, unambiguous terms and structures.

      As things stand, the corpus of laws in this country long ago passed the point at which any layperson might be presumed to know most of them; ignorance of the law may not be an excuse, but it is now largely commonplace even amongst lawyers simply because of the sheer torrent of laws enacted of late. Most of these new laws aren’t needed; as an example specifically making the causing of a nuclear explosion illegal is pointless as we already have perfectly good Victorian law proscribing the detonation of explosives without legal sanction; the type is irrelevent.

      If the current Government wishes to break the habit of recent decades and make its self useful, then a programme of repeal of useless or unnecessary law and review of other law would be a very fine exercise indeed to begin upon, and would profitably employ all of Parliament for a very long time.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        You need to stop judges acting in the interest of lawyers and make them act in the interest of the public for a change.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        The system you praise already exists and is known as the civil law system; the main countries that use this system are France and Germany. In France they’ve even managed to consolidate all their laws into one book.

        The only downside is that the laws are so vague that it’s impossible to predict what the courts will decide.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      lifelogic–You are going to upset unanime with your mention of fecklessness–surely you have learnt from him (man embraces woman) that it is always the fault of the evil family-loving rich employers if anyone is out of work. It’s obvious, the ghastly employers should pay more (avoiding bankruptcy and putting up prices) so that everybody feels it is worth working and is able to spend more thus encouraging investment and even higher employment.

      • Credible
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        I hadn’t realised that rich employers are by definition family loving.

        We could have a society in which the vast majority are paid so little they can’t afford to buy anything except essentials and busineses will fail because there will be nobody to sell anything to.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Stop increasing profits by cutting wages and expecting the state to subsidise their companies via the tax system would be a start.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink


      I see Ed Davey has clearly taken total leave of his senses, he makes even Huhne seems reasonable, they are clearly getting very desperate these tv evangelists:-

      Evidence for man-made global warming “screams out from decade upon decade of research” and people who still deny it are “dogmatic and blinkered”, the Climate Change secretary will claim today.

      No one disputes that the climate changes and even that mankind (along with countless other more relevant things) has some effect.

      What on earth is “dogmatic and blinkered” about pointing out the temperature has not risen for some 15 years, despite CO2 concentration increases. Also that the expensive solution his ilk push wind and pv do not work in economic, environmental or engineering terms. All sensible engineers and scientist know this they also know that on balance warmer is better than colder anyway.

      I see dogmatic defined as – Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles – it sounds just like the global warming religion to me.

      If he can tell me the average temperatures, rainfall and windspeeds for each month next year in the London – I will perhaps start to take him seriously about the increase in temperature over the next 100 years. Until them can some one just unplug him and the BBC with its Africa warmed by 3.5 centigrade drivel.


      How many more years of non warming will it take before the government stops pissing vast sums of tax payers money down the drain?

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Cameron and the Libdems need a new religion – how about small government and lower taxes – at least that one works for people and not against them.

      • Credible
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        “If he can tell me the average temperatures, rainfall and windspeeds for each month next year in the London – I will perhaps start to take him seriously about the increase in temperature over the next 100 years.”

        I confidently predict that Manchester United will win the Premier League even though I can’t predict the score in their next game.
        Weather and climate are different.
        Lifelogic, you don’t understand the basics.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          Climate is just average weather – so the average temperature, rainfall, sunshine in January next month is the “January climate”. It is not like throwing random dice. The weather today affects the weather tomorrow so you cannot predict tomorrow without knowing today’s and so on. Anyone who tells you differently is a priest or evangelist.

          Can you tell me the football climate over the next 100 years? How many times will Man United win the Premier League in the next 100 years? You cannot tell me the football climate or even the football weather. The is a similar system at play if Arenal win it next year they have more money for players the year after and Man U less so the odd change.

          • Credible
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

            Exactly the point. “If the odds change.” The odds have changed.

          • uanime5
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            Climate has nothing to do with weather, as two countries can have the same climate but different weather. You merely think they’re the same because you don’t have any idea what climate is.

            Climate is also determined on an annual basis, not a monthly one, because different climates have different seasons.

          • lifelogic
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

            Indeed the odds change due to a random event this year affecting next and so on. It is like predicting all the ball positions over a snooker game. One bit of dust changes the whole game as countless other things can.

      • uanime5
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        What on earth is “dogmatic and blinkered” about pointing out the temperature has not risen for some 15 years, despite CO2 concentration increases.

        All sensible engineers and scientist know this they also know that on balance warmer is better than colder anyway.

        Neither of these are true and you just made them up because they support you delusions. That’s why you don’t have scientific evidence to back uo your claims.

        If he can tell me the average temperatures, rainfall and windspeeds for each month next year in the London

        What do average rainfall and wind speeds have to do with climate?

  4. matthu
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    The biggest thing we owe our neighbiurs is truthfulness.

    When Ed Davey says “The net effect of government policy on energy bills is downwards not upwards” he is not being truthful.


    Otherwise how would he explain that energy bills are likely to increase despite any exploitation of shale gas? The answer is because of it is government (and EU) policy to ratchet up the price of energy.

    Please correct me if I am wrong – or correct Mr Davey if he is wrong.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Davey is clearly just talking the usual Huhne type of (person-ed).

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Doubtless with fake green Cameron’s support.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Well given the initial costs of extracting the shale gas (being fracking machines isn’t free) you can expect the initial shale gas to be expensive.

      Also let me know if you ever find any evidence that the government or the EU is “ratchet up the price of energy”.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        What do you think all the wind and pv subsidies and renewable requirements do to energy prices. Ratchet them up by legislation of course.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

          You forgot nuclear.

      • matthu
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        From next April, the Government will be imposing its swingeing new “carbon tax” on every ton of CO2 emitted by producing electricity from fossil fuels, rapidly rising from £16 a ton to £70 by 2030. In all the media’s obsession with how fast our energy bills are rising, this is scarcely ever mentioned. But this tax alone will add billions a year to our bills. Within 17 years, it will be well on the way to doubling them. And of course it will apply just as much to electricity from shale gas as it will to that produced by the coal-fired power stations, currently producing nearly half our electricity, which the Government wants to drive out of business as soon as possible.

        So, at just the time when the Government reluctantly holds out to us the prospect that the gas we will need to keep our lights on might become very much cheaper, it will be imposing this new tax to make it very much more expensive, thus cancelling out much of the financial benefit shale gas could bring us.


        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

          Your 17 year prediction assumes that CO2 production won’t be reduced in any way, so it is unlikely to be correct. Most likely energy companies that produce the most CO2 will go bankrupt, while those that are able to modernise will benefit from more customers.

          Shale gas was never going to be as cheap in the UK as the USA because the US can’t export shale gas while the UK can. So the US has to make their shale gas cheap to sell all of it, while the UK will be able to sell it at a high price to foreign companies.

  5. Brian Taylor
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I was born in 1946,I left school at 15,took the state pension at 65,and have about the same sum in a private pension and in Fuel poverty!
    My father is 95 and in a home,my brother and I have sold his home to pay for this and he is down to about £20,000 of capital ! He was the landlord of two pub’s,for most of my life I have sold Industrial Paint to Manufacturers!
    All this time I have not met anyone in real poverty even those on benefits unless it is of there own making!!!
    In my opinion no government or council gets a good deal on anything they BUY,because the people acting as buyers are not spending there own money!that must be the starting point to sort this country out,buying for the NHS is not joined up!if hospitals are unable to pay the PFI payments make them go bust the administrator would have to sort a deal out that they could afford.
    Public pay how can we afford to pay top public servants over £100,000 PA Nd allow them to retire early (police after 30 year on two thirds ) and pay this for say 30 years !!
    Europe if we vote to stay in the EU and pay for it we will have to get rid of half our MPs and civil servants why pay them for nothing!!
    Climate Change and the 2008 Act with all the targets has resulted in the poor subsidising the rich! We are paying to much for our electricity!
    Fracking for gas is a must if you want to protect jobs manufacturing jobs are growing in the US because of cheap GAS.
    Our AID budget everyone know we are wasting billions but nobody dare say what is happening because the BBC will be all over you like a rash what a sad state of affairs.

    The first thing to check on when you talk about anyone poor is what is the mobile phone bill per month,I don’t suppose that is politically correct and may even be a breach of human rights!!

    • Iain Gill
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      you need a mobile phone to stand any chance of getting a job these days

      • Nicol Sinclair
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        No, you don’t. All you need is a pair of feet to walk to the ‘bru’. Let’s not get soft, eh?

      • Ben Kelly
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        It is possible to get a PAYG mobile including £5 top up for £10. The running costs if only used to recieve calls are nil

      • Bazman
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        The latest iphone? A £10 phone is all that’s needed. Who is anyone talking/texting to in pub on a Saturday night? Their mothers? Their stockbrokers? What happened in 1066? I’ll check my phone. Ram it.

    • Peter Davies
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      “The first thing to check on when you talk about anyone poor is what is the mobile phone bill per month,I don’t suppose that is politically correct and may even be a breach of human rights!!”

      I would go further than that:

      – Ask them how much they smoke (I noticed it is something like £8 a packet I don’t smoke)
      – Ask them how many takeaways they have per week
      – Ask them how many times they visit the pub
      – Ask them what TV and satellite (Sky) system they have at home

      I saw a BBC documentary about food banks a few months ago – it showed a couple picking up free food then getting into their one year old (11 registered) car to drive off……

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        Well if you give things away for nothing you will usually have a large queue.

      • Credible
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        How poor would you like a poor person to be?

        What are poor people allowed to have and not to have in your opinion.

        How about we ban pubs, cigarettes, any unwholesome food, phones, cars, TVs, new clothes, washing machines and fridges from poor people.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          Well they certainly have time to wash their clothes without a machine.

          • Credible
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            Ah, so all poor people are idle are they ?

          • Bazman
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

            Why would they have to wash their clothes by hand? As some sort of punishment? I would like to see you do it as washing clothes by hand is hard physical work. Try washing a full load in the bath using the cooker for hot water, overalls included. Sweating, something you would know nothing about. A pair of socks in the shower does not count. They have entitlements living in this country bone idle or not, whether you agree with this or not it is a fact. Smoking a fag drinking lager watching SKY TV is not a life of style believe me. Ram it.

          • lifelogic
            Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

            No just have more time to themselves if unemployed.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Fracking produces cheap gas in the USA because they can’t export it, so they have to lower the price to encourage people to buy more. As the UK can export this gas fracking will not make it cheaper.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Of course they can export it you just put is on a boat as a liquid.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          Just how many boats will you need to transport a months supply of gas to Europe or Asia? How much will this increase the price by? If the additional shipping costs push up the price too much then no one will buy this gas.

      • zorro
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        If the UK doesn’t export this gas to encourage people to buy more, won’t it be cheap then like in USA?


        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          So you expect gas companies to sell the gas cheaply in the UK, rather than sell it at a higher price abroad. Expect to be disappointed.

  6. Nina Andreeva
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    In 1962 my grandfather died. He had pulled his weight during WW2 doing convoy duty in the Atlantic and Arctic. His wife then went down to the National Assistance to see if they could help. Their answer was “no” get a job, which she then did until she picked up her state pension at 60.
    You can imagine what she would be entitled to today or even better if Mrs Andreeva had just got off the flight from Sofia with her three daughters. The benefits culture is a temporary and recent phenomena and should be swept away with as soon as possible.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Oh, how I agree with you gospozha Andreeva…

    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      To be replaced with what? Poverty and everyone poor should just accept this? It will create work, but not they type you have in mind.

      • David Price
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        So stop buying imported goods ….

        • Bazman
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Good point. In the near future I will be needing a four door family saloon car. Could you recommend me one this is built be a British owned company and not just assembled here in kit form by a foreign company?

          • David Price
            Posted February 16, 2013 at 6:32 am | Permalink

            So either buy a used car so the bulk of the money stays here, maybe it moves to the dealer’s BVI account but at least you tried. Or, if you must buy new, buy one that has been assembled here ie not a Ford or BMW, any French car.

            I wasn’t being sarcastic, if we want more jobs in the UK, particularly the lower paid ones, then we need to buy a lot less imports. That will mean paying a bit more because of the wage inflation that has gone on and so waiting a while before being able to afford the gadget. But, it means you will more likely keep your job because your neighbour has, rather than you both lose jobs to Xian, Pravin or Pietr.

  7. Jon
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    One of the early things Labour did was to remove tax relief for those funding private healthcare.

    The idea of encouraging self reliance through tax relief works, its done for private education and pension provision so that fewer people are reliant on the state. I think this tax relief for healthcare should be brought back so more people aren’t reliant on the state.

    • Peter Davies
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      They would never reverse that. Labour hate the idea of self reliance and would be all over this in a shot.

      They did the same with private pensions which is absurd. Anyone sensible enough to make their own provisions in anything automatically means less reliance on the state in future and should be encouraged.

      The less the state has to do the more it has spare.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Indeed education vouchers too.

      • Jon
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Yes Peter, it came as a shock in 97 I think when Brown faced with an ageing population and an election manifesto on pensions that he slapped a tax on the dividends earned in pension funds. Criminal in my view as he then rolled out a red carpet for debt.

    • MickC
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Tax relief for private education? News to me!

      • Jon
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        Hi, they have charity status.

      • Wilko
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        Some Govt support did exist for parents toward payment of private school fees. It was entitled ‘Assisted Places Scheme’ and enabled low-income parents to meet the cost of their chosen school.

        Such parents were already contributing to the cost of state schools, but by paying separately, prevented the Govt from incurring most of the cost. It would also have contributed to freeing places within the state education system. Labour recognised the efficiency of the saving, but opposed the scheme, and stopped it on ideological grounds.

        During those times, people could also gain Govt support to assist payment of mortgage interest, pensions and healthcare. Each was intended to encourage self-reliance, and better cost-efficiency from the Govt’s budget.

        Naive politicians who now lament the dearth of available money, object in principle to supporting privately-paid alternatives, but cost us all more via the loss.

        • Jon
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

          Yes and was the 50% target of getting people to university that helped drive tuition fees? Cutting noses to spite their faces comes to mind.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Its called charitable status. Is that news to you?

        • Jon
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

          Sorry I had a State education Baz.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

        This only happens for MEPs.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      How is tax relief any different than relying on the state? The net result is the same as the state has to pay for your care.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        One is just 20%-40% of the cost the other is 100% which is better for the state to pay?

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

          Your example is flawed. This isn’t a choice between the state paying all the cost or some of the cost of healthcare but the state getting taxes from someone with private healthcare or getting reduced taxes from this person.

          So the Government’s choice is getting 100% of the taxes or getting 40% of the taxes because the person is getting tax relief. The former is clearly better for the Government than the latter.

          • Bazman
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

            And when the insurance runs out or mistakes in the treatment are made that cannot be covered indefinitely by the plan its back to the state! Is the state to say to bad you made your choice lifelogic? No you are wrong it cannot as it is the state and the population would be outraged at fools being told to die because they are skint and rightly so. You would soon be back to the NHS if the money ran out in the tax haven and you could not afford healthcare even after paying no taxes for decades here. You are on the scrounge again gambling with your health and our money. Ram it.

          • Wilko
            Posted February 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            A man may gain from tax relief on private healthcare at Govt expense. However, if his private treatment costs £10,000 for an operation, the Govt might save. If he could not afford the private health premium without Govt support, his £10k treatment may be at the expense of the NHS.

      • Jon
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Tax relief is essentially not paying that part of your earnings to the State. Its a question of who’s money your earnings are, the State’s or yours. If you use your money to pay for your own care without being taxed on it then that’s bypassing the State.

      • zorro
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        It’s not the net result ….work it out….what’s the tax relief?…..What’s the saving over the long term of removing a potential saving cost on the state?


        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          If there’s no tax relief then the saving is greatest because those who go private still have to pay their taxes.

          • Jon
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

            The 20 or 40% relief is there as an encouragement, and incentive. That’s how pensions work, its an incentive for people to make their own provision.

            Another example is luncheon vouchers . People exchanging part of their salary for these vouchers but they don’t pay NI on that value so an effective tax relief incentive. The reason being that a well fed workforce is healthier for the company, the individual and the resulting profits which also bring revenue to the State. Its incentivised to encourage a better behaviour or a better long term financial gain for all.

  8. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Allow me to present the facts.

    I was on the dole myself and needed the money. I have been ill myself and needed the treatment. Three of my children went through the state education system.

    Yesterday my wife went to the dentist. The secretary behind the desk was relieved at 4 p.m. Otherwise, no bureaucracy. My wife got excellent treatment. When I go to the vet, there are just two bureaucrats in reception handling the bills and organisation. I again get excellent treatment and pay in cash.

    You do not need the vast uncaring monopoly of the bureaucratic State to hand out these things. Quite often (Dubai, our local Grammar School, holiday insurance ) they can be handled much better without the State there at all with all its unions, pretence caring, hypocrisy and a cloying mass of unnecessary hangers on.

    I heard yesterday that the National Debt is now up to £1,400 billion pounds……. This means, every year, some £50 billion is being paid out in interest doesn’t it? Which amounts to a lot more than the education budget.

  9. Andyvan
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Since it’s creation the welfare state has created a permanent underclass of unemployed and disabled. The NHS has caused health costs to soar to a level that threatens to bankrupt the country yet offers a poor service that kills many of it’s patients. State education produces a stream of under educated (semi literate some time) drones that have inadequate skills for earning a living or, if they go to university, inappropriate qualifications and massive debt. In every area the state intervenes costs rocket, standards decline and we get the opposite outcome to that desired. That includes the economy as a whole George and Mervin.
    A good definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. By that definition we are barking mad.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      The has always been a permanent underclass of the unemployed and disabled. The only difference is that the welfare state means they’re not slowly starving to death.

      Your delusions about healthcare costs are laughable. In the USA they have the private system you praise but as a percentage of GDP it costs them twice as much as the NHS. So your system isn’t cheaper.

      Also without state education we would go back to when only the wealthy were educated. So guess what the state is actually improving this.

      In conclusions the state is helping raise standards and lowering costs.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        Raising taxes and increasing the income of the average person might make the rich even richer due to the demand created. Thought of that one Laffer curve fantasists? Cos it ain’t working as the trickle down effect. I notice how few of you deny the trickle down effect does not work.

        • Edward
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

          Trickle down works alright.
          Look at the standard of living of the average citizen today and compare it with the standard of living of the average citizen from 50 years ago.
          The Laffer curve isnt a fantasy. It is however very logical.
          Zero tax take at 0% and zero tax take at 100% means there is an optimum rate somewhere in between that should be set to make the richest pay the most.
          You want the wicked rich to pay more Baz, surely?

          • Bazman
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            Has not worked in the last thirty years. The wealth gap grows ever bigger. Wages are the same as they where in 2003. The rich get an ever bigger part of the pie. Reasons are many, but still holds true. With the middle taking the largest hit. No good will come of it as no good will ever come from making the lowest in society more desperate. The Laffer curve says that there is an optimum point. It does not say this is at the lowest rate as many believe. Taxes for the wealthy have never been lower worldwide and the take is down massively with the wealth hoarded not used and invested as the fantasist claim. They will sit on an island of gold telling everyone they can’t invest due to poor infrastructure and education after they have plundered everywhere.

  10. Electro-Kevin
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Often the state is too generous. It was entirely predictable that (some young women he knows that I do not wish to identify-ed) would never work and would get themselves pregnant (and then independently housed) whilst still teenagers and by fathers who were quick to disappear from the scene. The same too for many people we know of (around-ed) the country “She’s 14 and you let her stay out all Saturday night with her boyfriend ? Aren’t you worried she’s going to get preg… oh, dear.” The parents are usually long-term unemployed too but not always.

    The 14-year-old is now 20 and has never worked. The house and car she was given aged 18 would require a responsible adult to be earning at least £25k in that area (a wage which is hard to come by and would need long and unsocial hours.)

    Of extending schooling to 18 years of age. In the main this is to massage the unemployment stats rather than to improve education. Fifty percent of the population going to university is for the same reason except with the added bonus of creating a generation of young people in hock to the government before they’ve earnt a bean.

    It is proposed that we should all work beyond 65. So that means the younger generation will never work and the older will never stop.

    Anyway. Who are ‘our neighbours’ ? Anyone who arrives on these shores and who asks for help it would seem.

    It simply can’t go on like this. Not only will it bankrupt us it is corrupting the way people behave.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for publishing and sorry to cause you so much editing. I don’t expect those mentioned could ever be identified from here but you are right to be cautious.

      I am keen to point out that dependency culture is not tabloid hyperbole – that tabloids have to reflect people’s experiences and viewpoints otherwise they will not be read.

      I often think that the establishment mistakenly think that the public are lead by the press. In fact it’s more likely to be the other way around.

      I am dismayed and irked at the press’s often spiteful fixation with celebrity gossip but this is largely to appeal to female readership – this is confirmed by the number of celebrity magazines in the women’s section of major news outlets. (I counted 21 publications dedicated to celebrity tittle-tattle recently)

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Importantly (for any audience that might be here) I did not name those involved.

        I mentioned the female/celebrity angle in my last comment because I mentioned the press. I mentioned the press because my reason for using personal experience rather than other people’s is to avoid any charges of ‘don’t believe what you read’.

        In fact the press closely aligns with personal experience. I’m afraid I trust it more than the politicians.

  11. Ben Kelly
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I think you are preaching to the converted Mr Redwood.

    The welfare state should be providing the minimum standard of existence except pensions where those who have paid in should have their long term contract and expectations honoured.

    The NHS should not be offering cosmetic or lifestyle treatments and those who persistently ignore recommendations from their healthcare advisors should made to contribute.

    Education contributions should be equal per pupil across the nation, why does Tower Hamlets require eleven thousand pounds per pupil when many other districts get four thousand?

    But the single biggest change that should be made is there should be no entitlement to working age benefits (including access to NHS and education ) without contribution paid in except for those GENUINELY unable to work. Those without jobs can sweep roads or beautify their district as their contribution.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      The welfare state should be providing the minimum standard of existence. It does. What do you propose to achieve by increasing the desperation of the poorest members of society by making it even more basic? They are not only to be poor, but should not even have SKY tv? Is £71 pw excessive for an unemployed person? It is not possible to exist on less than £500 a month in this country unless you have multiple occupancy of a room so how can this be less?

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      At present there are 2.49 million people unemployed and only 400,000 jobs available. How exactly are people going to get a job when there aren’t any jobs available?

      Bullying the unemployed won’t make them more employable.

      • zorro
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        How many jobs have gone to immigrants in the last ten years?


      • lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

        Loads of jobs are created and are moved to countries where the conditions are right – low taxes, few regulations, small government, simple employment laws, banks that can lend, a positive vision and cheap (not green religion) energy.

        The opposite of Cameron’s UK pretty much.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          You forgot low salaries, poor working conditions, no employee protections, courts that can be bought, etc.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

          And infrastructure lifelogic. The Cayman islands are not known as industrialised states anymore than Monaco is known for youth.

      • Ben Kelly
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        But our streets would look lovely and gentle encouragement is no bad thing

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          Having the unemployed clean the streets would make all the street cleaners unemployed, which would create more unemployment. You really need to think your comments through.

        • Bazman
          Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          I’ll put it to his Lordship, but some of the villages youths are a rough sort and the encouragement of cider may be in order.

  12. lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I see the hilarious Womans Hour program has produced a womans power list.


    Rather a dismal list with Theresa May MP at number 2, Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper, and all the usual loons. I see that about 70%+ of the top 20 are in the wider state sector yet only about 20% work for the state sector and that is far too high.

    All rather typical of “BBC think”.

    • Nicol Sinclair
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      BBC not think…

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      A few good solid people I suppose:-

      Dame Ann Dowling, Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley and Dame Mary Perkins spring to mind, but why on earth something as vulgar as “power” list.

      Any why have people like Oona King – Baroness King of Bow doing the selecting?

    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      It’s a wide list, but they can’t help being woman and being interested in star signs and romance. Who should be on the list lifelogic? You can’t just come out with this and not give any names. I would just put in all the nice ones that I like. Obviously bonus points for being hot would be awarded and the ones most likely to ignore me would be in the top five. A fair system based on merit.

  13. Andy H
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Hi John

    You forgot to mention that the current agreement is also for us to pay for a significant amount of people, the do not want to find work to stay at home. Also that the state provides a financial incentive for single mothers to have children.

  14. Martin
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    A lot of these sky high benefits and loans are needed to help pay sky high housing costs.

    Until such time as governments of all colours dump the planning restrictions and tell the Nimbys to stop wrecking the free market, sky housing costs will continue with continuing implications for benefits and student loan costs.

    The housing benefit bill is spiralling out of control and yet free market supply remains strangled. Reading and Wokingham have boomed in the last 30 years but every housing development is a major battle lasting months and sometimes years in the council, appeals and courts. As a consequence the road and rail systems go into overload at rush hour with commuters making long slow expensive trips to where the work is. This of course also impacts the job market and benefits as only those with better paid jobs can afford petrol at over £1.30 a litre or expensive rail season tickets.

    To answer your question – our obligation to our neighbours should be to permit new developments.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Housing costs are high because of people who buy-to-let, second homes, and people who buy houses as an investment, not because of planning restrictions and nimbys.

      The main problem with housing is that too much of the UK’s economy is concentrated in one city (London) so everyone wants to live in or near London, even though the infrastructure isn’t sufficient for an ever increasing population. Until other cities become more important the housing problems in the south east will continue.

      Also more housing will make the problems on the roads and railways worse not better because more people will be trying to use roads and rail to get to work.

      • zorro
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        I tend to agree with you on this point, though planning restrictions can have a disproportionate increase in some places. Do you live in the South East, or do you access to more reasonably priced accommodation in the North?


        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          I live in the south east and know just how bad the commute can be when heading towards London in the morning and away from London in the evening.

  15. Old Albion
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I’ll tell you what politicians owe us, honesty.
    Within in your interesting post, there are issues that apply only to England. Yet even you ! have followed the unspoken Westminster policy of “don’t mention the English”

    • A different Simon
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Old Albion ,

      The electorate has repeatedly and knowingly voted for politicians who will tell them what they want to hear , on a basis of “what will they do for me” .

      In this sense the politicians only mirror society with it’s head stuck in the sand .

      I hope we get some politicians with the courage to say how it is , even if that means they don’t get reelected .

  16. Boudicca
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    The Welfare State was created when the UK was an homogonised society and the people who benefitted from its provisions and safety net were the same people who paid into the system.

    That is no longer the case. We are now paying out £billions to immigrants who have paid little or nothing into the system and never will. We are paying welfare to children who have never even set foot in the country (if they even exist).

    Thanks to the EU, will may be required to fund pensions for any EU citizen who decides that retirement in the UK would make them better off than retirement in their own countries.

    You can have a Welfare State ….. OR you can have mass, uncontrolled and uncontrollable immigration. You can’t have both.

    1. We can’t afford it
    2. Consent will be withdrawn in the form of votes (already happening)
    3. There will be social unrest

    Not one of LibLabCON want to address these problems because it means leaving the EU and they are determined to keep us in.

    Instead we have the embarrassing spectacle of the UK Government attempting to deter Romanians and Bulgarians from moving here in their hundreds of thousands by placing negative advertising and attempting to tighten up the “pull factors.”

    To these people, the UK is the land of “free everything” and a standard of living which they can only dream of in their homelands ….. all paid for by UK taxpayers. The only way we will stop them coming is to close the borders.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      No need to shut the border in fact you can just leave it wide open. All you have to do is make it known that the “free money spigot” has been turned off and you are not getting anything. This is what is happening in Germany now …


    • zorro
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      You can probably reverse your running order soon…..


    • uanime5
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      In the past those who benefited from the welfare state were rarely the same people who benefited from it unless they were unable to work due to illness or their company closed.

      You seem to have ignored that other European countries don’t have this problem because they have better laws regarding who can claim benefits, rather than trying to close their borders.

  17. a-tracy
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Why has public borrowing had to increase to stand behind the student loan scheme, before the students had to pay back the debt the state funded 100% of the cost up front anyway in payments to the Universities.

    A high % of people also have problems accessing NHS dentistry, with large increases in treatment fees for those that do manage to register with one.

    Yesterday on your blog I read a contributor, Jerry, defending the London Boroughs paying high B&B fees for immigrants. What are the rules, do we have to provide property wherever visitors choose to reside with their families? Do we have to provide free elderly care for any EU national that chooses to move to the UK without means? If our elderly without means chose to emigrate to Southern Spain are the Spanish obliged to provide property for them?

  18. Paul Danon
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    What we owe each other is irrelevant. What matters is what we can afford. We should first agree the maximum level of taxation that won’t damage the economy. Then we buy the welfare-system we can afford. Decisions could be reached through referenda. One alternative would be that we all make our own arrangements.

    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      What if you can’t afford any welfare? Tough and the ones who can do not have to pay anything? Explain how that would work in modern Britain?

  19. Horatio McSherry
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    John, if that’s all the govermet did then I’m sure we’d be able to pay for it easily, have some tax cuts, and maybe even have a little less tax avaoidance, as those aims would be quite tangiable and noble things to want to support (Good PR for companies!). However – and it’s a big however – governmet is doing a thousand other things that aren’t necessary or desriable to the people paying the bills. Not only that; government is doing many things (see energy and Leveson recently) that actively harms the people who are paying the bills.

  20. Nick
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    So what you are saying is, can we rob you because we’ve run up a debt.

    Interestingly, I had an FOI back yesterday. Well a partial answer.

    The state pension, and the civil service pensions are ‘contingent liabilities’.

    So what’s a contingent liability? Well, its one where there is less than a 50% chance of it being paid.

    So come on John? Why should people pay in when the current plan is not to pay out?

  21. s macdonald
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I’m an OAP, living on minute State pension, partner’s bigger State pension (he didn’t opt out of Serps), tiny annuity and savings. No private pension, no occupational pensions.

    We need to radically simplify both the benefit system and the tax system. We would happily go without the fuel benefit, Xmas bonus, free travel passes, laughably small contribution to complex spectacle lenses etc, if we could have a bigger tax allowance in exchange. As it is, we are losing money on those very few investments that are earning a little interest, both because of inflation and taxation, yet we are being taxed to pay for benefits that do not begin to neutralise our losses.

    • Andy
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      s macdonald – I thought if you opted out of SERPS you must have a private pension, was not that they way the scheme worked?

      • David Price
        Posted February 16, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        SERPS opt out also happened if you were contributing to a company pension, the SERPS element went to the company pension rather than your state pension kitty. That doesn’t mean that the company pension was/is adequate or that you would lose it all anyway if the company failed or was naughty.

  22. Disaffected
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I think JR might have forgotten that Clegg and Clarke were reported to have scuppered the British Bill of Rights and led to the chair resigning. The last I read was that it was going to recommend all the ECHR and more. It appears he and his colleagues wasted their time yesterday. Cameron is simply not listening.

    Work hard, look after your family, pay your taxes, try to provide for old age and be robbed by the Tory led Coalition for every penny they can squeeze from you to waste on overseas aid consultants, EU, UK quangos. The ROmanians and Bulgarians must be rubbing their hands free houses, schools and health without paying a penny. They can already obtain free university education in the UK. There is no point in striving for a better house or area to live when their new planning regulations allow (free for all-ed) What is the point in trying to do “the right thing?” I do not owe my neighbour anything. However, it is right to make sure the vulnerable (genuinely sick, disabled and infirm) are looked after in a civilised society. That does not mean a free ride or welfare as a life choice.

    Nor should it mean those in power squander the privilege given to them to improve the life chances of those who voted them in office on pledges they made nor placing their self-indulgent greed first- Lib Dems in particular. To renege on the pledges should be the exception not the rule using specious reasons for doing so. Cleaning up the squalid HoC should b emade a priority.

  23. lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I see the BBC is still heavily pushing the AGW exaggeration indoctrination religion.


    Vince Cable when asked something like – why there has been no warming for 15 years and how many more it will take before he quits his religion – just gave an inane grin and muttered something irrelevant about Mrs Thatcher. We have seen the quality of some “believers” with Chris Huhne recently.

    One assumes that had Mr Huhne managed to get off on a technicality, as he tried expensively to, he would now be back in government smiling and still pushing the quack religion, while all the time knowing full well that he was as guilty as sin.

    Such high calibre of integrity with some of these Libdems. They even make some Tories look good in comparison.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      I take it by “AGW exaggeration indoctrination religion” you mean position based on scientific evidence. You’ve also forgotten that according to NASA on average every decade has been warmer than the previous decade, so there is evidence for global warming.

      You should stop listening to cranks like Attenborough who know nothing and start reading periodicals written by real scientists who have actually studied global warming. They provide useful information rather than easily debunkable rubbish.

      • Richard1
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        I am surprised you describe David Attenborough as a ‘crank’. Did your bullet miss its target, I thought he was one of the more prominent global warming alarmists?! There has been an interesting exchange of letters on this issue in the Financial Times recently. Lord Turnball, an economist, wrote to question the stength of the AGW theory and was of course much criticised. But none of his critics refuted what he said: that whereas the IPCC forecast global warming of 0.3C per decade, the out-turn is more like 0.1C. Therefore its right to re-visit the policies resulting from the 0.3C forecast. He was criticised also for writing on the subject at all, being an economist not a climate scientist – but did environmentialists etc raise the same objection when Lord Stern, an economist, published his alarmist report? There is far too much selective debtate and far too much name-calling ( eg ‘crank’) on this important issue.

        • lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          If you read the absurd Stern report it is difficult not resist name calling.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          I copied the wrong name. The (person-ed) is James Delingpole.

      • Edward
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        How the left turn on nasty those who dare to speak against the party line.
        Sir David Attenborough one of the most senior respected and eminent science and nature broadcasters on the BBC, now denounced by Uni as a “crank”
        Off to the gulag with you you heretic David.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          I meant Delingpole.

          • Edward
            Posted February 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

            l will tell you why I really disike the term “crank” that you apply to any who happen to have a contrary opinion to you or to the current consensus veiw on a political topic.
            In several dictatorships of both left and right wing, in the past, it was common to denounce people as cranks followed by having them certified as mentally unstable, followed by incarcerating them in “mental institiutions” as being mad.
            No trial, no doctors, second opinion, no appeal process and you were locked up effectively for having opinions that were not “correct” for as long as they wanted.
            Until they deemed you not to be a crank.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Attenborough is on your BBC side of the argument, though less outspoken of late I note!

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          I meant Delingpole, not Attenborough.

      • zorro
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        ‘stop listening to cranks like Attenborough’…….LOL…..Handbags at dawn I guess


    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      How about your own ‘indoctrination religion’ of the market?

  24. Leslie Singleton
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Yesterday unanime said I wanted to revert to a feudal system. I don’t know about that exactly, but the way we do things today is nothing to write home about with, in particular, of course, its clearly out of control Welfare State–personally I do not think the modern paradigm is self sustaining and in not too many years I reckon that it will tear itself apart. Nobody has an answer to what to do these days about unemployment. Apart from the fact that there are not enough jobs anyway, many that do exist are simply beyond too many of the unemployed, this despite all the extra education a lot of which is no real help to many people. At least in a feudal system even the village idiot would be doing some sort of job even if very menial and of course there were real families in past times. Nobody paid the village idiot so he could spend and keep demand up and all that stuff. It’s a mercy that the EU hasn’t set up a quango, or perhaps they have.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      The unemployed do not receive extra education. If they did then they’d be able to get the jobs that you claim are “simply beyond” them. Also confusing unemployed with stupid just shows how little you know about unemployment.

      Under a feudal system people did something “useful” because they had to grow their own food. Fortunately we’ve moved on since then.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 1:47 am | Permalink

        Can we assume that you are an expert on unemployment with years of experience?

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        unanime–I did not say that the unemployed receive extra education, nor even close–what I was referring to of course was the huge increase in education that everybody has received in say the last century, which does not seem to have done much for the unemployed. You apparently would like to give them their own extra education but the trouble is that that type of literally schooling just wouldn’t help. BTW I have more experience–personal experience, albeit later in life–of unemployment–and remember I write under my own name.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          Should have read “more than enough”

      • David Price
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Actually the unemployed do have access to extra education – you typically get referred by JobCentre+ to an agency that provides remedial courses in reading, riting & rithmetic, some vocational training and even guidance in CV writing. Also, the adult courses at local colleges typically include a subset owith discounted charges for those who are unemployed and on benefits, some for free.

        All at the expense of the net taxpayers.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          While there are are some courses they are generally not valued by employers. I believe the most valued ones are those that teach basic skills simply because all employees want their employees to have minimum levels of literacy and numeracy but generally don’t value other skills.

          • David Price
            Posted February 16, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

            “… remedial courses in reading, riting & rithmetic, some vocational training and even guidance in CV writing.”

            are basic skills, don’t you read?

    • Bazman
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      In effect she believes in an aristocracy of the rich but of course would not be a serf working for food money with no education. That would be the work of others. There you have it from the horses mouth, hundreds of years of human progress just given away. Makes you wonder why anyone even bothered. Have her scrubbed and sent to my room.

  25. Mark
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I’m really not a believer in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre with Lenina Crowne imbuing the next generation with the BBC PC thoughts of the day for deltas. The state is a poor parent, failing too often in its duty of care (e.g. late adoption, grooming scandals, (name left out ed) etc.). Instead of taxing and spending on nursery education it should tax families less – transferable tax allowances would help – and let families develop as nature intended. That would free the best professionals to handle the cases where intervention is needed – usually because the parents have themselves suffered from poor parenting in their youth, and have no role model to emulate. As with dogs, it is the owners/parents who need training at least as much as the dog/child.

    School years have been artificially extended by the process of reducing the productivity of the education system. This has been a cynical ploy by successive governments, who have used dumbing down and extending education to avoid dealing with potential youth unemployment and its social consequences, while pretending that standards achieved were increasing when in fact they were falling through grade inflation. This process was extended into tertiary education. At least Gove is aiming to improve standards in schools even though Willetts hasn’t begun to tackle “universities”, but the logical corollary is that for the less academic, the school leaving age should fall – not rise – giving them the opportunity to maximise their lifetime earnings.

    Similar considerations apply to tertiary education. There is a philosophical disconnect between the state financing school education without burdening pupils with explicit student debt, and the imposition of debt on tertiary students. If education is viewed as an investment rather than a means to keep academics employed, then the state would perhaps be rather wiser in providing “free” access to higher education to those who are likely to generate a return from it (i.e. state scholarships), while perhaps offering others the chance to buy at their own risk. Government estimates are that 50% of student loans will be written off. That shows a disastrous misapplication of resources that would be better spent on remedial education for those cheated by the dumbed down school system.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      50% of student loans will be written off because the graduates will never earn enough to pay them back. Remedial education will not fix this.

  26. English Pensioner
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    When it comes to paying benefits/job-seeker’s allowance, etc, to people who are fit to work, I believe that the state has the right to ask for something in return. I cannot agree with the court which rules that a graduate who was on job-seeker’s allowance should not be asked to do some work for her money, however menial. All those who are of working age and capable should be asked to contribute society if they receive benefits. Otherwise we can end up with graduates who obtain their degree in some obscure subject for which there is no demand, claiming that they can’t find work in their field, and living permanently on benefits.
    I once asked my father who was a talented artist why he studied accountancy rather than art after coming out of the army in 1919 – His answer “Because I wanted to eat”. It’s time many in this generation were made to feel the same.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      The graduate was working, specifically volunteering in a museum. She was forced onto the Government scheme because it provided a private company with a free employee and meant that she wasn’t classified as unemployed for a month.

      Also if she wasn’t forced to work for free for a month then this job would have been done by a paid employee. So this scheme actually reduces job creation and makes it harder for the unemployed to get a job.

      Finally making the unemployed more desperate isn’t going to make them more employable. If anything they’re more likely to become criminals.

  27. Iain Gill
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Well the state needs to organise things so that the incentives are in the right place.

    For instance its got to be worthwhile saving for your retirement versus those who don’t bother, if those savings are just going to be used to pay for things you would get for free if you didn’t bother to save there is no incentive.

    School starting age is still far too late, especially for those with a birthday just before the cut off date – I don’t see why folk could not enter school in the 1st term after their birthday rather than waiting a full year.

    Further areas where you want tax payer support? Mainly better treatment of folk who have contributed most of their adult life (or have been married to someone doing that while bringing up children). For instance I think the treatment of decent hardworking folk bringing up children when one of them is widowed or disabled is very bad, and there is much scope for doing better here, and I would make it a financial priority.

    Children in care and coming out of care in young adulthood could do with a lot more help.

    Children forced to go to a sink school could do with a lot more help!

    For adults I would return to a situation where payouts from the state are proportional to the amount you have paid into the system, this would put an incentive in the system to do the right thing.

    More self-reliance? I would prefer the NHS to be an insurance company, which gave me payouts to take anywhere I want. I would prefer the state schooling system to give me the money to take to any school I want. I would be happy for anyone without a long-term condition to be charged for GP appointments (and of course in return we want to be able to choose any GP we want).

    I would scrap the NHS dental service, as it is not available to most of us in practise. With perhaps some emergency funding for folk to get private dental treatment after say a car accident.

    Eligibility? Anyone without British citizenship, or indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or married to a British citizen should only be entitled to state perks (medical treatment, school places for their children, and so on) to the extent that Brits in their home country would get. Although this would need a radical shake-up of the system as in most parts of the country there are no private GPs available (and those that are around have minimal competitive downwards pressure on costs) and folk with say diabetes wouldn’t be able to come and study here if we didn’t watch carefully how we set things up.

    I would be stripping indefinite leave to remain and citizenship from people who have only been given them for working here a while.

    Brits who have been abroad for a number of years returning should be entitled to all the perks of the state from day one back in the country, the current rules are silly in denying perks from some of our most loyal citizens!

    I would charge employers and employees national insurance the same to everyone in the country, I need no reason why Indian nationals get the first year NI free.

    I would give foreign nationals working in the country no more tax perks than Brits working far away from home within the UK get, no more booking most of their income to “expenses”. Indeed I would tax them more to compensate for the Brits they displace from the workforce.

    I would stop funding bogus disabilities such as dyslexia, and stop giving folk with a dyslexia diagnosis extra time in exams and so on (all funded by the state).

    I would significantly increase the price of work visas, and stop giving work visas to nationals of countries which make it all but impossible for Brits to get work visas.

    Prison accommodation to be no better than the average room in a student hall of residence!

    No state funded public school places for military officers. I don’t see why hard working folk in the private sector working away from home all the time should fund this.

    No special GP arrangements for MPs, they can learn what the rest of us put up with when we work in London. No queue jumping by MPs in the NHS, as we have seen so often.

    Stop funding the royal family. Scrap the BBC. Stop funding “Brian Gym” in state education its pseudo science fraudulent nonsense.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      School starting age is still far too late, especially for those with a birthday just before the cut off date – I don’t see why folk could not enter school in the 1st term after their birthday rather than waiting a full year.

      The school starting age is 5, higher than most other European countries, so it’s not far too late. Also if the pupils joined during the first term after their birthday then how would you ensure that they caught up with the other pupils and how would they move up to the next year? For example if they joined in the last term of the school year how would they learn what the other children have learned in the previous two terms, and would they move up to the second year at the end of term or would they have to repeat the entire year including what they’ve already learned?

      I would scrap the NHS dental service, as it is not available to most of us in practise.

      So you want to punish those who have access to NHS dentists because some people don’t have access to one. How about trying to get more NHS dentists, rather than scrapping it.

      I would stop funding bogus disabilities such as dyslexia, and stop giving folk with a dyslexia diagnosis extra time in exams and so on (all funded by the state).

      This is a real medical condition that makes it difficult for people to read and write. This is why they need extra time in exams.

      Prison accommodation to be no better than the average room in a student hall of residence!

      Given that most student accommodations don’t have their own toilet unless you want prisoners to throw their faeces and urine at the guards they’ll need to be better quality.

  28. Iain Gill
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I would also make your tax allowance pro rata the amount of the year you are in the country, to stop the current situation where Indian nationals in the country for part of a tax year are getting the full tax allowance for that part year.

  29. The PrangWizard
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Every debate of this nature is bound to be a confusing one, if not impossible. To whom are you addressing your comments?

    The views you have, or take from here, can only be applied in England and you cannot influence what happens in Scotland, you are disbarred. But Scotish MPs can influence what happens in England, as they did with University fees; you mention them without referring to the fact that Scottish students do not pay them, largely because of subsidies from the English taxpayer.

    Each nation, but not England, has its own parliament or Assembly which can vote on most of these matters exclusively and affecting only their people. The English cannot because they are denied their own parliament. Scottish MPs can and did vote on the English University fee system in the British, not English parliament. They can vote on anything affecting the English.

    To be accurate and honest, it will need to be recognised soon that there can be no political debates or discussions by MPs, on matters affecting only the English without declaring so, and admitting the truth about the distortions of devolution. It is currently being hidden. Many changes are needed to repair the injustices affecting the English.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      And of course, in the recent HoC vote on gay marriage, the Scottish MPs voted in force, even though the bill only applied to England.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 1:10 am | Permalink

        However, I noted that fully one third of the Labour MPs who voted against the Bill were Scots. This is disproportionately high also. The reason is probably a religious one and possibly due to the strong catholic prescence in the central belt of Scotland.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Why have you put up with un-reconstructed Stalinists from Scotland dictating to you for so long? Its an absurdly asymetric position to have to endure. Why do English MPs not raise this issue more forcefully and frequently? Are they afraid of being seen to oppress or offend the down-trodden Scots?

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      English MPs make up over 80% of the UK parliament, so how exactly are they being oppressed by the other MPs?

      • Old Albion
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

        Are you aware of the voting that took place to inflict £9000/yr student fees upon English and only English students?

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          Tuition fee increases were supported mainly by Conservative MPs, whose constituencies are main located in England, and Lib Dems, who constituencies are more spread out throughout the UK but many of which are in England.

          So the majority of the MPs supporting higher tuition fees would have been from English constituencies.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        unanime–What you say is such rot that it takes one’s breath away–and there was me (I?) thinking you were an expert on the balance of power.

  30. Bob
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    The state wealth redistribution and public services machine has grown too big and expensive, and saps the life out of the economy.

    I heard that thirty percent of some local council budgets are accounted for by their unfunded “defined benefits” pension liability.

    I see that Waltham Forest and Enfield councils are now imposing £80 on the spot fines for littering, and they’re pouncing on people not just for willful acts, but also minor innocent and inadvertent incidents, where something is accidentally dropped and the enforcers are onto them with their hand held credit card terminals before they have a chance to pick it up. They have mobile cameras driving around trying to catch motorists with half a tyre on a box junction etc., and all this to try to fill the pensions black hole which resulted from their poor financial management, and disastrous investment decisions, including but not limited to foolishly placing large amounts of taxpayers money on deposit with high risk Icelandic banks.

    Any private company would soon go bust if were run with the same incompetence that seems to be the norm in the public sector, but the government just dip their hands ever deeper into our pockets in order to prop up their failing machinery of state. They won’t stop until the country is bust, unless we have a clearout at the election and replace the old dinosaurs with a government that puts the nations interests before their own.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      “I heard that thirty percent of some local council budgets are accounted for by their unfunded “defined benefits” pension liability.”

      Indeed that is why they need all those parking, bus lane and box junction fine people. Then we have to pay the pensions of those workers too.

  31. Derek Emery
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately politics trumps economics and having a healthy balance sheet every time. Western democracy is based on an entitlement culture where spending is based or what are seen as rights rather than what can be afforded.
    Massive overspending leads to massive debt which leads to low economic growth. Assuming leaders are prepared to fund ever-rising debt for decades the long term effect will leave the west increasingly falling behind the developing economies and eventually poorer than them.
    MCKinsey reckon Indonesia may surpass Germany and the UK by 2030 to be the world’s seventh-largest economy, generating $1.8 trillion in annual sales for investors in consumer and energy industries. http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/economy/indonesia-gdp-may-overtake-germany-uk-by-2030-mckinsey-says/545094
    What price then for the entitlement engorged UK and EU economies?

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      As Germany is currently the fourth largest economy it will have to fall quite a few places if Indonesia is going to beat Germany while being the seventh-largest economy.

      Also I doubt the 237 million people of Indonesia will what to live in the current poor conditions when their country is one of the richest in the world, so expect their GDP to drop when they also have to introduce welfare and healthcare.

      • David Price
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        You’ve forgotten that GDP includes government spending so they only need to do what Labour did and increase public sector spending funded by borrowing to boots growth and their GDP.

        Don’t you brief each other on what the story line is?

  32. David
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I live in a small house in a cheap part of London zone 5.
    I want all council houses in parts of London I can’t afford to live in to be rented at market rate with a cap on housing benefit for all private and council tenants.
    I don’t like paying for others to have what I can’t afford.
    For those who will no longer be able afford to live in expensive parts of London, I say hello new neighbours.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      What about all the people who work in low paying jobs in high cost areas, such as cleaners? Do you want them all to be fired to satisfy your ego.

      • lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        No just pay the market rent or move.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          The problem is they can’t pay market rent because of their low salary and if they move they won’t be able to do their job. So they’ll go from being unemployed and on benefits to being unemployed and on benefits.

      • Bruce of Burghfield
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

        So people working in low paying jobs in high cost areas must therefore be subsidised by someone, otherwise they would soon move out to somewhere cheaper. It is the taxpayer who is subsidising them; and, if they are working, presumably the taxpayer is subsidising their employers as well, because labour is kept unrealistically cheap. We, the taxpayers, are therefore subsidiing the hugely wealthy living in the expensive parts of London. Upstairs, downstairs upside down!

      • Monty
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

        No, instead of paying for them to live in expensive areas, we should give them free travel passes for their commute. That would be far cheaper then paying enormous rents.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

          That’s assuming that they’ll be able to get to work on time travelling from cheaper areas to the more expensive ones.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 2:21 am | Permalink

        What about them? If they work hard as cleaners then they are unlikely to be the sort of people who will constitute the main proportion of parasites who abuse the welfare state in the first place. No doubt you are an unimpeachable authority on the subject with plenty of time on your hands to make endless comments on these matters though.

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          The problem is that those who oppose people on benefits don’t distinguish between those who work and those who don’t. All they want to do is punish those on benefits for being poor.

    • Credible
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

      Well if you want more money David you should work harder and take more risks. The opportunities are there if you grasp them.

  33. Winston Smith
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    JR. I am sorry to be blunt, but some of your musings are increasingly irrelevant. You have no influence, none of your ideas are adopted and nobody in power is listening. Its intellectual frivolity. The Socialist State continues to expand, intruding futher into our lives. Legislation and regulation is churned out at an ever rapid rate. Consequently, more and more people are choosing to opt out of the system. This is evident in the large increase in self-employment and also in local co-operatives.

    I am beginning to realise that sensible, free-thinking Conservative MPs, who are shunned by the Cameroons, are actually preventing change because they are a sop to the disinfranchised, offering a glimmer of hope.

    I spent 10yrs as an activist for the Conservatives, working with two MPs. One, from an aristocratic background, though an academic achiever, is completely bereft of principles and political ideoogy. She’s a complete ‘yes’ person. The sort that would sit happily in any of LibLabCon. The other, from a middle-class background, possesses ideas and political beliefs, yet, will cast them aside for ambition. He aspires political recognition and will do anything to get it. Both, place their careers above principles and their voters. The Party is now full of them.

    The real question to readers of this blog: what are going to do?

    Sit there moaning, but still voting for LibLabCon One Government?

    Reply That’s a bit rich after I and others have persuaded the government to a) veto the Fiscal Treaty for the UK b) statae we no longer seek “ever closer union” c) offer a referendum after renegotiation, d) made the case against 40%CGT etc

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      What about in 2015 when Dave, George, Boris and Madonna’s former mother-in-law are, to use a term from 1984, “vapourized”? Do you not think people like JR, Davis, Carswell and co will come to the forefront thats why I will still keep coming here in the meantime

  34. Iain Gill
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Re “further areas where you want taxpayer support” I want to remove my entitlement to state help from its association with my postcode. I want to be able to move house and keep my place in the queue for my operation. I want to be able to live in an inner city without my child being doomed to an inner city school…

    To do it properly the funds need to be connected to the citizen and not the local authority or nhs trust.

    • matthu
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Interesting concept, Iain.

      A logical follow-through of course is that funds associated with an individual could then grow larger over time reflecting (to some extent) a longer period of contributions.

      Immigrants who have only just arrived would niot necessarily be accorded the same benefits as people who have been making a contribution over many years.

      FGor example, could child benefit be limited to people who have actually worked for a small number of years and are therefore deemed to recognise the value of money and can weigh that up against the cost of bringing up a child.

      Just speculating here of course – not thought it through!

      • Monty
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        Yes, splendid idea matthu. I would say that we should all have a lifetime account.
        But that still means we need to have some sanctions to apply to those who are determined to keep their personal account in the red, the claim all-pay nowt sector. It means that when some young person who has never made any contribution, who is already dependant on the state, brings a child into the world just to unlock lifetime benefits, you have to be ready to take the baby away for adoption. And keep doing that until the message sinks in.
        What are we actually prepared to do to our neighbours, to stop them dragging us under with ever increasing demands?

        • uanime5
          Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

          The problem is that some women have children to fill an emotional void in their life, often caused by having their children taken into care because they’re an unfit parent. So no matter how many babies you take from them they will never get the message.

          Also there’s the cost of hiring people to raise these children, which is usually more expensive than having someone on benefits do it (benefits pay less than minimum wage).

          • Monty
            Posted February 16, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

            Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
            The problem is that some women have children to fill an emotional void in their life, often caused by having their children taken into care because they’re an unfit parent. ”

            You need to do something about the emotional sludge in your head. Which variety of logic makes you think that people who are unfit parents, and that includes all who bring babies into the world with no means of supporting them, should be allowed to keep those babies?
            And there are so many people who would dearly love to adopt a baby, that the bairns would never need to be put into the social services gulags. They would be going into stable and loving homes, to be raised by responsible adoptive parents.

            More importantly, the baby would no longer be the hostage of choice for young women with no intention of supporting themselves. Nine months of the rigours of pregnancy, and childbirth, and back to square one. They’d soon get sick of that.

  35. Wilko
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Small, separate, settled communities, such as villages tend to engender more neighbourly care. Life in such places is often slower, and neighbours are more recognisable than in densely-packed urban locations with transient fast-moving occupants, and thousands of others passing through.

    Contented citizens accept ownership of new neighbours in small numbers. Flower arrangers at an English village church said that a local house was for sale and a special party was routinely arranged for anyone new moving to the village, with all invited. Had a block of 50 flats been planned, those same greeters may have converted to ardent protesters.

    Parents are the cause of our existence, and families are the natural sanctuary of nurture. Helping others is instinctive and often satisfying in its goodness. High demands for help extending beyond the borders of one’s own sphere of interest cause conflict. “Do unto others as they would do unto you” may then bear the dog-eat-dog suffix: “only do it FIRST”, added by Elvis’ cellmate in Jailhouse Rock.

  36. Martin Ryder
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    The ship is sinking! It is still level in the water and the lights are on but water is pouring in below decks. But nobody cares; because they (crew and passengers) believe that the ship is unsinkable. It might be dead in the water (it is called recession and lack of growth) but at least it is not rocking. More and more passengers are still climbing aboard and the many crew members are rushing around pretending to sail the ship. The Captain is still peering hopefully from the bridge at the icy waters that surround him and giving orders but they have no effect, as the ship is sinking.

    The crew are not getting people into lifeboats, as there are not enough, are of the wrong type and there is nowhere for them to go. The richer passengers however are beginning to slip quietly away but even they are hanging on in the hope of making more money for themselves before heading for the Far East or South America. The Captain and crew do not know what to do and so deny that there is a problem. They keep coming up with plans to give everyone – it doesn’t matter where they come from or how much they have contributed to the cost of the voyage – as much money as they can, because they want the passengers to continue to elect them to positions of power in the sinking ship.

    But the money does not exist. It is pretend money. It is electronic money that pretends to exist in a computer. Even if you have worked all of your life, paid all your taxes, and not lived from benefits your money is just a line of numbers in a computer. It is no different than the money being paid to the newest arrival on the ship. When the ship sinks a little further the electric generators (now called wind farms) will pack up and every computer will forget how much money you believed that you had; and you will have nothing. No salary, no pension and no benefits; finally there will be equality for all! Of course the captain and the senior crew will be gone by then.

    Not everyone will go meekly to their doom like the English will. There will be groups of passengers that will band together and fight for what food there is left once the food supply chain breaks down. They will stake their claim to what lifeboats are left working and fight anyone who tries to get them. The English will not fight of course; we will wave good-bye to the departing passengers and tell each other that we never deserved to have a big working ship to live in. We never really formed the largest and most widespread Empire that the world has ever seen (no doubt most bloggers will agree); we did very little in the field of science and technology (all done by foreigners, of course); the Americans won the two world wars (it couldn’t have been us as there were very few immigrants in the UK at the time to do it for us) and the entire educational establishment knows that British children are low achievers who can’t be expected to compete with foreign children and that we must fill our schools with Africans and Asians.

    But, not to worry, the ship is still on an even keel and the lights are still working. The band is still playing and the captain is still on the bridge. And John is asking us how we should divvy up our non-existent money.

    I think that I will go to the pub, unless of course it is now a kebab joint selling Eastern European beef.

  37. Mark
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Disappeared comment in this thread too…

  38. David Langley
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Our benefits system reflects the enthusiasm we have had since the last world war to support all in our country who had either suffered directly or suffered by deprivation and the effort to win over a ruthless and determined enemy in Germany and Japan.
    The National Health and benefits system has been developed and built up by generations of dedicated survivors of that period.
    Today we offer a safety net of money or services to the unemployed, weak, feckless and ignorant that is the envy of most of the first world countries. Regardless of race creed or class, benefits can be described as a universal blessing to all UK citzens.

    The recipients by and large spend immediately their cash receipts and usually in their locality. Thereby increasing the circular flow of cash and increasing the viability of local businesses, even if they are public houses and fish and chip shops in the main.

    Our EU partners have very indifferent systems, Spain has a rubbish system and even with their “Subsidio” extra payments, are considered to be below the water line. Paid for about two years and then boom you are on the streets unless you have a large family to shelter under.

    I do not want to see the results of poverty on my streets, the resulting mess of beggars and criminality will be beyond the cost of welfare. I want enough to get a standard of survival and living and hopefully a base where they can aspire and generate enthusiasm to be the best they can be, in work hopefully that pays well and will restore their self respect. Those of us that are lucky enough to work and have fitness, should ensure we are doing real work that benefits us all without discrimination.

  39. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    There are benefits I would do away with or modify but primarily alongside restructuring the taxation system. But first I think that you have to change the words used – I’m not trying to be terribly PC, but I do think ‘entitlements’ and ‘benefits’ carry a meaning of bottomless largesse and expectation with no social constraints.

    Perhaps if benefits were renamed as Social Safety Net or even Welfare Wage the payments would take on the meaning of ‘taxpayers help you in your need in exchange for your efforts to find jobs/get healthy/contribute to the larger society’. It would be a start.

  40. Nicol Sinclair
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    What do we owe our neighbours? Not a lot, actually. They owe us for past support…

  41. Kenneth
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I think that increasing what the state does to care for us produces an uncaring society.

    The more the state does, the less we do for ourselves and the less we do for each other, including families.

    When I hear of people being let down by care services, I ask myself, where was the family? Where are the friends or neighbours?

    If an elderly person is short of money, where are the children and grandchildren?

    I believe that the State’s primary duty is to look after the disabled and destitute and have this welfare as locally provisioned as possible.

    The state should beware that by trying to be our carers, it is not just making us poorer, it is undermining society.

    What we owe to our neighbours is to elbow the State out of the way and care for our them ourselves instead of leaving it to strangers.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      “I think that increasing what the state does to care for us produces an uncaring society”.

      Indeed I am always happy to assist the disabled and elderly whenever and wherever I can – until they start going on about their rights, equality and discrimination laws that is.

  42. con
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    For all the fanfare about government ‘cuts’, we seem to have cut very little and our debt is increasing just as it did under labour. Okay, we are not getting any growth and for one reason or another tax receipts are the a cause of the shortfall.

    But the prognosis is for more of the same over the next 3 – 5 years. Is the resultant borrowing requirement sustainable? I would have thought not.

    So however much people want to help their neighbour, the money is just not there.

    Surely we need to abandon expensive ideology driven costs like overseas aid and anything which drives up energy costs. The 2008 Act which made the masochistic eu energy policies law should be repealed. Can we do that?

    Why should we impoverish ourselves whilst China, India, USA and most of South America etc make appropriate noises but basically carry on as before.

    What we need is a very selfish appraisal of what is good for the UK. We should abandon all ‘posturing’ policies while we do this appraisal.

    You see where I am heading?

    If UK PLC was a business, the incoming chief executive would not last very long if he introduced policies that harm his business or if he paid salaries and benefits the business could not afford.

    Where does this all end? Well we only have to look at countries like Argentina to see what happens when a country gets into the kind of mess the UK is in.

    Anyone for a $1 pound and 20% inflation?

    The lunatics seem to be running the asylum.

  43. Ted Greenhalgh
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Benefit fraud and the black economy both rampant but I do not see them mentioned. Does anyone know the cost of these?

    • Credible
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      Tax avoidance is rampant and much more expensive. The black economy will grow as poverty grows.

  44. Wilko
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    The notion of what the state provides as being free at the point of use misleads. Just as with private medical or car insurance, use (claims consuming resource) is charged at a premium in any following year. The NHS, schools, benefits and other services are at everybody’s cost. Even a 5-year old spending £2 pocket money pays tax.

    How much help we offer our neighbours is decided by Govt. Other than working free as a full-time carer for a neighbour, most of what we have to offer is in money. Humanely, via international aid, Govt makes a substantive contribution to distant neighbours. Our own locals may feel deprived of comfort; distant others may be deprived of life.

    Tax and Govt charity (benefits) are the main determinants disciplining who pays more than they receive. People should be free from needless Govt interference, constantly chasing its tail in applying re-adjustments in attempts to remedy recurring errors in adjusting.

    A single flat tax, equal to all according to consumption, would be fairly shared. Deserving people should pay almost nothing. During mediaeval times, a hearth tax was charged. Something similarly central to life’s usage could be found suitable. Fuel is one candidate. Metered water might be another, but could prompt unintended effects.

    If the cost of resources people enjoy was distributed fairly at the time of use, economic self-control would be more likely. Government wrestlers may look strong, yet only to those who do not realise when the contest is rigged.

  45. Normandee
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Budget control, you were a company director, what can I tell you that you don’t know already. Balance last years books, set this years budget, look at next years, what would we like to do in the years after that.
    Faced with rapidly increasing outgoings with no prospect of equivalent income increases, what must we give up ? We both know that the most expensive item in any budget equation is people, the cost of the workforce, compared to that everything else is peanuts (on average).So, do we budget to increase our workforce by an amount that we cannot predict, for a period of time we cannot predict. Do we give people jobs just because they have knocked at the door, and when we haven’t got work we pay them to go away.
    Because that’s our future as things stand. Worse, it may not be our decision to take on all these extra people, it may not be our decision to pay them, and send money to their respective families at another address in another country.
    These are the choices, I only have 1 vote, more people like me need to know why, and need to know they are not alone in feeling strongly. They need role models, leadership, and examples.
    Over to you.

  46. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    We will neve grow our economy whilst the state takes as much as it does. If we want to grow we need to slash government. Whole departmenst should go or be merged.
    We then need to put back real money back into peoples pockets and let us look after ourselves. Some will some wont.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink


  47. alan jutson
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps we should have a more simple solution to welfare.

    Only those who have paid into the system should be able to get anything out.
    Perhaps this is an over simplification, but the essence is probably right to make it contributions based only.

    The more actual annual contributions made, the higher the percentage of finacial help.

    The simple solution here is to make 50 years contributions for full entitlement, 5 years minimum for anything, which means after five years you qualify for 2% of the help available for every year you have paid in.
    Thus as your age and need increase, then so does your entitlement, assuming you have paid in.

    With regard to children, they could qualify under their parents contributions until they were 21 years of age.

    A safety net should clearly apply to all who have a genuine health problem.
    Annual check ups should be held for all such people, not only to determine that their condition still exists, but to make sure they are getting the correct treatment and up to date medication that can give them the best possible outcome for as good a life as can be forthcoming.

    With regard to the NHS, yes very happy for it to be free at the point of use, but it should exclude, treatment for drugs and alcohol related type accident treatment (results of drunken fights, passing out, etc) cosmetic surgery, tattoo removal, gastric bands and the like.

    Clearly if you are a sober victim of a drunk attack then treatment would be completed as normal with no charge.


    Because all of the above are self inflicted.

    I would not exclude smoking treatment (not a smoker myself) because the government taxes it, and thus must approve of it.

    Again it should be manditory for patient care, even when attending an NHS Doctor to have to provide a National Insurance number to prove you have paid into the system, thus health tourists stopped at source, before any treatment or cost implications.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Another alternative to a percentage payment, could be full payment, but for a limited amount of time, again based on a contributuion record.

      We have to face facts, too many people at the moment, get too much, for doing too little, with no time limit.

      We have to install the work ethic again, and make work pay.

      The taxation system also goes a long way here to help resolve the situation.
      No one on the minimum wage should have to pay tax income tax.
      The personal tax allowance should always be equal or greater than the minimum wage.

      Whilst I am aware the government is bringing in a cap for Benefits of £26,000 in my opinion this is still too high to encourage work for some people, as some people would never ever be able to gain or hold down a job which paid £35,000 gross.

    • uanime5
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      This plan will only work in there are enough jobs available for people to work in. Once the number of people looking for work exceeds the number of available jobs the whole system will collapse because people will realise that it’s impossible to meet the requirements.

      If you don’t treat people for problems caused by drugs and alcohol then all that will happen is that people will lie about the cause of their injuries or why their friends are having trouble breathing. In the latter case doctors will have to spend a large amount of time trying to figure out why someone is ill simply because no one will tell them the real reason (this more expensive than just treating someone for overdosing).

      Gastric band are a cheap way to stop people remaining obese and prevent them from suffering all the expensive health problems that come with obesity. So they save the NHS money in the long run.

  48. Iain Gill
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Re “where you would like to see”… “less state spending?”

    er stop subsidising houses, give the money instead to needy people to use as they wish to meet their housing needs. large amounts of state housing stock in areas no longer matching the jobs market is a waste of money.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      People wouldn’t need to earn as much to cover housing costs.

  49. uanime5
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    The short term effect of this has been to raise the levels of public borrowing, as the state stands behind the student loan scheme which builds up extra liabilities in the first few years before repayments start to balance it.

    Given that most students aren’t ever expected to pay off their loans due to unemployment or low salaries in the early part of their 30 years of debt repayment I doubt repayments will ever make the books balance. This is what happens when the Government raises tuition fees to such high levels.

    In other news Gove is having trouble bullying schools into becoming academies, so he’s started bribing them instead.

    Also local authorities may have to identify failing academies, even though they have no control over these schools. Looks like Gove’s going to try to pin the blame for failing academies on the local authorities so he won’t be blamed when they fail.

  50. John B
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Our primary obligation is to ourselves. In practical terms, if we do not survive and prosper we cannot help a neighbour.

    However this notion of the collective being obligated is the reason why we have a problem, because it encourages an increasing number to believe they can live according to the means of others to pay for it, and not by their own means. Obligation then becomes a one way street.

    Why should I pay for somebody else’s healthcare so they can spend the money it would cost to make their own arrangements on leisure pursuits?

    I have obligations to my neighbour because that is what politicians and ideological groups, and of course Godbotherers, say.

    Society hangs together best when we are interdependent via the division of labour. We rely on each other not out of obligation, but necessity.

    Once the interdependency is eroded so that whilst some depend on others, the others do not depend on them, there is an imbalance where one part of society cannot live without the other, but the other would be better off without them.

    But finally how I help or do not help my neighbour is my decision and a matter for my consicence, particularly if it involves my money. It is not up to high minded politicans to make themselves feel good being generous with other people’s money.

    Furthermore I am more likely to see who really needs help and how best my help, or money, could be given than those who live in he rarified atmosphere of Government or Marxist reasoning no matter how watered down and ‘progressive’ it is.

    So no we have not got ‘our’ obligations to our neighbours right, because they are not our obligations but those imposed on us by a ruling oligarchy.

  51. Bazman
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    We aren’t going to make any progress by beggar thy neighbor policies unless we can compete with China and India on wage and standards of living and this idea of cutting the levels of income for everyone except the rich is not going to help either. The reliance of the free market and corporations has done little to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots and the idea that the have-nots are just going to lie back and take it is another good reason for more neighborliness. This horses and sparrow or trickle down effect does not work and the idea of regressing the state to fund it is not going to be without consequences. Some on this site seriously believe that Britains poor have no entitlement to anything and should be living a subsistence level lifestyle with no healthcare, education or access to other infrastructure. In modern urban Britain? When you tell me how this is possible then talk about it. A fridge and other modern equipment such as a TV is not a luxury. The state will either be a be a neighbor or it will pay via an increased police and prison system. Pitting the poor against the working poor with a middle class fantasists cheering and imagining they are not part of the neighborhood is going to make your area much worse. Collecting the tax from corporations and individuals using the infrastructure and not paying the correct tolls and not by reducing the living standards of the population to fund them. Ram it.

  52. Max Dunbar
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Technically, most of this does not apply to me as I live in Scotland and the Scottish Executive have tried to blunt my sense of obligation or “owing” my neighbours in England. The Scots are good at “you owe me”. Its been in our culture for many years and is known as the Scottish Whinge or Whine. The SNP are recognised as experts in this field combining naked aggression with a sense of grievance. I have to endure this at close quarters as I live here.

    The last time that I felt any sense of neighbourliness nationally, was during the Falklands war. That event seemed to draw people toghether. Sadly, many people do not now feel that they are obliged to support their neighbours as they once would have done without question. There are good reasons for this.

  53. yulwaymartyn
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    A few parents are currently raising money for an extended outside covered seating area for the canteen at my son’s comprehensive school. A large school with 1650 children with a dining area that currently seats 66. The children currently eat standing up or sitting on the floors in the corridors (which are the main fire escapes). Some visit the burger vans which prowl around at lunch times.

    We have put together a campaign to raise money from the parents. I have spent many hours (about 100) meeting builders. arranging contractors and site inspections and measured survey work. The school is keen to get this going. An email has gone to each and every parent and it is on the school web site entitled “Canteen Campaign”.

    We need £13,000 for the first phase. So far we have had 10 donations and the total sum raised is £300.00

    That is 10 donations from a potential 3200 parents. Or about 0.3%

    These are my neighbours. I have mixed feelings about them.

    This is a very popular school in the south of England. Last year 1100 children applied for 330 places. As a chartered surveyor myself I would estimate that each house in the catchment area is probably on average worth at least between £50,000 to £100,000 more than a similar property outside the catchment area.

    Somehow this does not seem to be a very even community .

    JR – I shall let you know how we get on

    • Iain Gill
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      to be brutally frank we are already paying more than enough tax to cover proper school buildings.

    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Our neighbours are now the whole of the EU Empire John and THEY will tell us what we owe them . While LibLabCon carry on blowing bubbles in the ridiculous out of touch with reality Palace of Yesminister .

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      you can also find out what the EU dispense in grants to the UK. Funnily enough we never hear about that side.

  55. alan jutson
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    What do we owe our neighbours ?

    Good citizenship, friendship, advice and co-operation.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Charity if it is required, normally starts at home.
    Government (welfare spending from taxation) help should only be spent at home.

    The great British public are very generous when it comes to financial aid for disasters, so let them decide where and how much of our money is spent that way.

    Many countries have been giving billions in aid to Africa and other parts of the World for more than 50 years, has it got any better, has it done any good, has it been cost effective, has it actually hindered self reliance ?

  56. David Langley
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Regarding provision of £75K for care. If insurance companies are going to tender for this is the government going to pick the lowest cost best provider for the scheme? Will it be another expensive rip off lets face it insurance companies have to make a profit. I do not like it myself but will probably be gone by then. Cameron is always blowing hard about lowest cost energy sellers having to offer the lowest tariffs. No competition then as they will all have to offer the same and another oligopoly is formed this time by the state. Will they compete on quality care homes I wonder. Tea in bed and a whisky before supper.

  57. Barbara
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I note, and assume, most of those against state help for people are mostly men; I would love to know if they have ever been in the position of losing a job and been unable to live as they should. Its not a nice lifestyle at all. Many know no difference, and are probably uneducated and never really worked, benefits have become their lifestyle. I’m all for looking after our own citizens, we owe them that much, and compassion and humanity is essential in a democracy.
    However, I’d like to see compulsive training or education for those receiveing benefits to make them more acceptable to employers; that’s if they have no qualifications. Continuing to pay benefits while they get training and education is cost effective if the long term outlook is they gain employment.
    Most of all, I am angry that immigrants have access to our NHS, schools, and social services, housing benefits while not paying into the system for so many years, I’d put it at 7 years before they can claim. You could add to that Job Seekers Allowance. When people pay NI, they are entitled to help when they fall on bad times, without NI payments should be limited to our own citizens, but when they’ve worked they should get help. Couples who fall on hard times, and who may not have any children, are especially hit hard. It all boils down to to who’s a British citizen and who is not. That’s the crux of the matter; far to many coming in with large families and expecting to take not give. Restricting financial help, in fact I’d offer zero help, would stop this abuse. The same goes for the NHS, people who come here specifically for surgery, to have babies, should be made pay for their treatment up front, not a promise note, of payment later. Why is it, all governments don’t take action to stop this?
    Child benefit is another area of contention; make people claim it from their own governments not here if they don’t come from here.
    Has for elderly care, I’m not sure if the new arrangements will mean what this government claims. Bed and board is not included, and that will erode money from the £123,000 one can have, in the end there will still be nothing left after a life times work. Yet, 11 billion in foriegn aid is still being spent. Somethings wrong somewhere, I’m not impressed at all.

  58. Iain Gill
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    stop giving heavily state subsidised housing to rich folk who can well afford to live elsewhere…

    in fact subsidise needy folk not wastelands of houses in areas folk dont really want to live

  59. Mark
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I note that as part of the EU budget cuts negotiated last week, some €7bn will now not be spent on new broadband/fibre networks by the EU. That’s probably a good thing, because EU funding almost certainly is a very inefficient way to make the investment compared with some of the initiatives we have seen e.g. in Alston or the B4RN project in Lancashire. However, some of these projects have been hampered by EU red tape, as the EU seeks to poke its nose in to ensure that only projects that have its approval have a relatively easy time. In addition to cancelling the EU funding, Cameron should have sought return of the competence to legislate so that we can create the conditions to underpin the development of our own network and create competitive advantage.

  60. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, I bet that George Osborne will be really cross about the Bank of England prediction that inflation will run above his target for another two years, and he’ll be sending Mervyn King a strongly worded letter reminding him of his statutory duty and telling him to do whatever is necessary to get inflation back down.

    Or, Osborne could invoke Section 19 of the Bank of England Act 1998 and ask Parliament to authorise the suspension of the normal independence of the Bank regarding monetary policy, so that he could sort it out himself as he saw fit without having to turn a blind eye to breaches of the law.

  61. sm
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    How about we owe each other a properly functioning representative
    a) democracy & sovereignty (rather like that swiss model)
    b) equality before the law
    c) laws that are applied fairly to all
    d) resolution to English devolution the last colony and the EU tragedy.
    e) guaranteed work or social/charity work at the equivalent of min wage, which can then be offset against benefits to encourage a functional society.
    f) functioning capitalism (without the corruption,cronyism evident in politics/ and mega-banking,megacorp and megabureaucracy)
    g) an end to offshore secrecy, round tripping etc etc
    h) Money creation by government only.(100% reserve banking).
    i) A pension system open to all on equal terms no public/private divide
    j) an end to means tests if we are able to award benefits to recent migrants on a massive almost fraudulent ponzi scale, whilst impoverishing others until they are equally poor.
    h) a defence force and proper border control.

    a bit of peace and goodwill wouldnt go amiss.

  62. Terry
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    It’s time the political leaders of this country faced up to the facts. We can no longer afford to feed the world, nor educate the world, nor medically treat the world, nor house the world, nor provide free handouts of cash, to the world. We are broke. And who will help us when we need the money? Germany? France? USA?

    Such naive attempts by successive leaders to personally gain international status, have been a major cause in the sequential financial destruction, year by year, of this country.
    All of the overseas handouts and freebies we supply at will, to just about any foreigner who comes here, has to be paid for, by the British taxpayers.
    It is NOT Government money it is OUR money that these posers on the International stage, are giving away. It is definitely, NOT their money. Even worse, it appears if they have not got it then they go and borrow it to give away. That, plain and simple, is stealing from OUR Grandchildren.

    When will we, the British Tax payers, get someone in power to represent OUR wishes and OUR aspirations?
    Our political system has become so corrupted by the mainstream LibLabCon alliance that they are going to condemn the future true British citizen to a life befitting a poor third world country. And who wants that? If the citizens to not rise up first then the global financial markets of the world will do it for them and clearly demonstrate their lack of confidence in our Government and our Central Bank. I hope that happens sooner rather than later before the incumbents do anymore damage to our country, ourselves and more frightening, our offspring.

  63. Bazman
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    An interesting film comes out soon on just this subject and all you fantasists and religious believers in the free market would do well to watch it. Especially you lifelogic. though I doubt anything could dent your bigotry and thick apologist stance which borders on brainwashed communism. For the rich that is.

    • Edward
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Well if its in the Guardian it must be right I mean they always keep an open mind on politics!

      • Bazman
        Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Was actually in the Observer first. Shooting the messenger Edward?

        • Edward
          Posted February 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

          Yes Baz,
          Can you please stand still for a moment…many thanks

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted February 15, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

      We are all getting a bit bored with your consensus views Bazman. Please come off the fence and say something thought provoking.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Of the fence? I am well of the fence. You want me to come out with some right wing nonsense that cannot be defended? Have you noticed how little most of the commentators have to say when confronted with their mean minded wealth worshiping views. This is because. I hazard a guess. They know they are wrong, but like a religious belief, cannot admit it.

  64. Duncan Black
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    John – we need to strike a balance. Yes, help those who cannot help themselves – but in such a way that does not encourage abuse of the system. This will involve effective monitoring and, I believe that the larger the body monitoring the situation, and the further it is away from the individuals claiming benefits, the worse the regulation. So, the state is ineffective – but a minister in a church (or similar small body) who knows his congregation will be more effective.

  65. Acorn
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Free at the point of use leads to abuse.

    The biggest cultural change in my old Ward was the introduction of the Pay-As-You-Go mobile phone tariff. All of a sudden, the benefit class (greater than 50% of household income is cash benefits), were able to get a mobile phone without a credit check which they previously always failed. It was a win-win situation.

    In the beginning there were families. The families formed households. The households formed enterprises; some formed by lots of households taking shares in corporations. The households realised that it would be more efficient if the common needs of the households and all the enterprises they owned, in whole and in part; could be organised collectively and distributed equally by an entity that they would call the public sector. Stuff like health and education and defence and arbitrators (laws) against domestic and foreign usurpers. This would allow Households and their Corporations to get on with making stuff that made a life cushty. This entity would need a management team, acceptable to all the households, that they would call a government.

    It came to pass that the government and its public sector, forgot why it had been set up in the first place: it started to assume that it owned the Households and their Corporations and the Households had no defence against such tyranny.

    To cut a long diatribe short, I suggest we move to a Co-Pay-As-You-Go economy. The State supplies the basic survival kit, nothing flash, but nobody starves, nobody freezes to death. To keep everybody in touch with reality, everybody pays a percentage of the actual cost of any public sector good or service. If you want a five star bells and a whistle service, and you can afford it, you pay cash or insure yourself to pay on top of the basic state survival allowance to which everybody is entitled. Like wise there would be a basic state education allowance, if you want junior to go to Eton, you pay on top of the basic state allowance to which all kids would be entitled.

  66. John
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Most of the things that you have mentioned only apply to the English. In the Celtic countries the state still looks after its disadvantaged old and young very well indeed. Why do you MPs still pretend it is this bad for the whole of the UK. Until we have an English parliament we will always lack representation and have to pay for the privilege.

  67. Iain Gill
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
  • 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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