a very dangerous chancellor

5 04 2013

Tensions are high about the welfare state. George Osbourne has suggested the benefits system should not subsidise the dubious lifestyles of people like the Philpotts. This is dangerous thinking.

Dangerous because when a Chancellor uses an extreme and distressing situation involving the death of 6 children, to score political points about Welfare Benefit cuts, you realise there is nothing but a hollow and arrogant morality at the highest place in our Government.  

Dangerous because it is not the governments job to decide what lifestyles are acceptable. Would we withdraw police or hospital services from bankers because of their lifestyles? After all, it’s their decisions that the taxpayer is still paying for. Then why remove taxpayers money from families at the other end of the financial spectrum? 

Dangerous because large families include children. You cannot starve children because you don’t think the adults should have had them. There are clearly serious problems with families existing purely on benefits, but this must be dealt with as a social problem and not a financial one. 

Dangerous because to lump all welfare-recipients together with families like the Philpotts is wrong. Once again George Osbourne forgets that the majority of people in receipt of Welfare are IN WORK. And lots the welfare bill goes to pensioners. Middle class families receive Child Benefit. Middle class pensioners receive Winter Fuel Allowance.

Dangerous because it puts the blame for being poor in the hands of the poor. If his wealthy friends in Big Business paid their lowest-level staff a living wage, they wouldn’t have to rely on Income Support. I bet the cleaners at Centrica aren’t handsomely paid, despite there being enough money sloshing around for 5 men to take home £15 million in bonuses. Not salary. Bonuses. You want to take people off Welfare – pay them properly.

If the politicians have replaced the church as the moral voice of the nation, with what as their basis? Unregulated capitalism is the government’s system, it’s thirsty god is the economy, bringing down the deficit at little cost to the rich is the sacrifice.  That doesn’t feel like a safe basis from which to make moral judgements about the poor. After all, he doesn’t make the same sweeping generalisations about the lifestyles of the rich. 

The language being used by the right-wing press and now by the Chancellor is dangerous, and is vindictive against some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Our society is better than this, and our politicians can do better than this. 

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9 responses

5 04 2013
Ana Achucarro

you make a reasoned argument and I agree with the points you make.

5 04 2013
c2drl

I think the reasoned debate the chancellor is calling for should include why the taxpayer is supporting the lifestyle of innumerable civil servants, council officials, Quango leaders etc who’s pay levels seem to be increasing the gap between the poor and the rich at an excessive rate. Their lifestyle in a time of great need is to me no less acceptable that that of the family of Mr Philpott. Or those of the ruling classes in Pakistan who avoid paying taxes because of the overseas aid taken from the paypackets of the poor in this country to support citizens of Pakistan who should be supported by their rich countrymen.

Why is it acceptable for the rich to milk the system but not the poor?

5 04 2013
Kevin

Therein lies the key point really – why is it acceptable for the rich to milk the system but not the poor? Answer: because they can. It is too expensive to chase them down, too politically damaging to name and shame, because the rich can easily get a voice, get lawyers, get political coverage. The poor…? They are easy pickings. We have to stand up for the poor, wherever we are from. I think it was Ghandi who said the mark of a society is how it treats its poorest members. This is not a good week for us.

5 04 2013
Dave May

Yes, I love c2drl’s question “Why is it acceptable for the rich to milk the system, but not the poor?”
Tax avoidance amounts to £30bn whereas benefits fraud amounts to £1.9bn. Of course, neither is acceptable, but which is the bigger problem and which is more deserving of the chancellor’s scorn and attention?

5 04 2013
dorothy726

Totally agree. and very clearly reasoned.

5 04 2013
neil stewart

As ever, Kevin, a well argued point of view, I feel those in our society can work to support themselves and their families should do so. I also feel society could do more to encourage those struggling with physical or mental health problems or disabilities should be encouraged, supported and helped to make whatever contribution they can as I feel this would be good for the individuals and would benefit society as a whole.

I feel the church has huge role that they should and could be playing. Maybe by renting local shops turning them into charity shops where people who’ve been out of work sometime could get some decent work experience and I think local communities would support this by donating unwanted items and so forth.

I also feel the church could have a role in offering short-term affordable loans to people so that people do not have to resort to payday loans or loan sharks. It would be quite easy to set up a desk at our regular coffee mornings/luncheon clubs where people could come and borrow at sensible interest rates for a short period.

5 04 2013
Kevin

Thanks Neil. There are certainly loads of things that church can and does do… Offering financial support may be a step too complicated but working alongside Credit Unions and people like CAP is a good way to do that.

At the ground level for churches in these areas though, with few financial or human resources to offer, it’s about being a place of support like you say. It’s about loving people where they are at, working or non-working, disabled or abled, and not joining in the divisive playground bullying our government is propagating. Feels a long way from the Big Society rhetoric of 2 years ago.

6 04 2013
Crimes of the Welfare State? | throughtheeyesoflittlemissw

[…] a very dangerous chancellor (the blog of kevin) […]

6 04 2013
hephzibah007

Well put Kevin
Thanks so much for posting. You raise some very good points. I wonder how many poor and disabled people will take their own lives, feeling a burden to society, before or government realises that they have got it wrong in their cold-hearted policies to shame and ostracise the poor and needy?
It’s good to hear a voice of reason at last in your bog. I feel very sad about the way our country is heading…
I am so glad of the work CAP, the credit union and food banks etc are doing 🙂

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