But reading the comments on Sally’s post, there seems to be some misconception that savings in child benefit from the governments proclaimed “rich” are a good thing because the money will be used to support the poorest who desperately need it.
The savings made, if there are any after the additional bureaucracy of administrating several hundred thousand additional tax returns, won’t benefit the poorest, (they’re as much the enemy of the government as they ever have been it seems) any left over “savings” will simply disappear into a black hole never to be seen again.
The whole concept of “spending cuts” is a PR myth you see- the rate of increase in government spending may occasionally slow down a little but it hasn’t fallen since this time of austerity started. In the year to September 2012, government spending increased by 3.7% and the deficit actually increased by almost £5bn. The last election was fought on a somewhat bizarre platform of deficit reduction strategies, and it’s become some sort of buzz word for “doing things right” ever since.
There are obviously issues with the child benefit payment system but it’s a matter of priority on what should be tackled first. Cycling on the pavement is illegal but we chose to go after “proper” criminals in preference to this, to give an example that will no doubt rile Mike ;)
- corporate tax evasion that sees billions syphoned to tax havens rather than generating revenue for the government;
- broken government systems that see billions written off from working family tax credits overpayments every year;
- IR35 issues with service companies that see individuals avoid PAYE and pay much less personal tax and national insurance than they properly should;
- Personal tax evasion using offshore companies, life benefit trusts, etc, as popularised by Jimmy Carr
- International Development Agency payments need to be investigated and reined in. For example we currently give over £300m a year in development aid to India. Indian spends $1.25bn a year on it’s space programme and continues to grow it’s economy during what’s perceived as a world downturn.
Maybe once they’ve made headway on those, they can start looking at means testing winter fuel payments to the elderly and child benefit to those who are “well off”. Yes, we can save a relative pittance by mucking about with child benefit but real substantial savings could be made if higher priority things were tackled first. Lets do those and then revisit child benefit with a saner, more logically thought out way of tackling it, rather than the mess that’s in situ. The way to sort this situation out and ensure the government has money to fund the welfare state isn’t tinkering with benefits, it’s to tackle the wholesale multi billion tax evasion by large multinationals.