Monday, October 4, 2010

On Losing Our Child Benefit

So busy today I only caught the planned cut in CB on the BBC News at 9pm. Every family with a higher rate taxpayer to lose it. That included us and many of the people we know. We'll lose about a grand and a half - over two grand if a third kid ever arrives. Feels quite tough on people just into higher tax, not so bad for proper high earners.

My wife's reaction was that fair's fair, we all have to take the hit and at least this isn't regressive. I tend to agree. Middle class welfare - or univeralism as it is euphamistically called - is supposed to be what keeps us all signed up to the welfare state. Personally I think this is out-dated and today is a step in the right direction.

The other stuff from Osborne today. A 500 pound cap on benefits is ok until you look at Housing Benefit in the capital and high-rent cities like Brighton. People will be forced to move on - or become homeless. While it will eliminate the lunacy of people being given property that is clearly far, far nicer than their working equivalents, at the other end it will hurt a lot of people, which does concern me.

Overall, I am with Frank Field, IDS and others in taking a long, hard look at the welfare system. The postwar settlement has long left too many people to languish and we have, in effect, made work the exception rather than the rule for too many people in too many parts of the UK. This furthers inequalities because people who don't work lose their health, self-respect and future earning capacity faster than anyone else.

Indeed I don't think that my last organisation, Speaking Up, would have had nearly as many people on its books not for the mass welfare that many of our clients had an entitlement to, which meant, for nearly everyone, getting work meant a world of pain and complexity with your benefits.

Welfare is just one staging post in reform of the Beveridge settlement of the late 1940s which is long overdue. The best thing I have read setting out a positive future for the public realm - neither statism or economic consumerism - is the vision of the `social citizen' set out in the 2020 Public Services Trust's final report. Well worth a read.


Rob 'Arris said...

"Welfare needs to become an engine of mobility, changing people's lives for the better, rather than a giant cheque written by the state to compensate the poor for their predicament"

Any guesses on who said this recently.................?

Mr Nick Clegg (Tory spokesperson). The times, and the principles, are a changing.....

Joe Roberson said...

Completely agree. So much just common sense. Good post, Craig.