The £50,000 “affluent household” lie

Boris Johnson is the latest member of the Tory hierarchy to decry the affluent middle classes [being] showered with taxpayers’ cash in the Telegraph today.

This comes hot on the heels of trust fund millionaire George Osborne (personal fortune of £4m according to wikipedia) saying he’s giving up his child benefit, and Ken Clarke (personal wealth over £1m) has been on the record using the two things as interchangeable terms.

I earn just shy of enough to be affected by the changes in child benefit but through the tax and national insurance system, I contribute well over £16,000 a year to the Treasury (and my employer contributes almost £7,000 in employers national insurance as a result of employing me), so I don’t think the government does badly out of me, especially when you factor in the fuel duty and VAT on filling the car up and the VAT on almost everything nowadays (including ebooks irritatingly).

I certainly don’t feel affluent in the way that these millionaires presumably do. We have to watch what we spend each month carefully, we discuss any spending over £50 between ourselves, don’t go on foreign holidays as they’re too expensive, and so on.

The answer to all Britain’s financial woes? Oh dear

No, what this is really about is a shift of focus. It’s about engaging the middle class guilt complex and trying to get us all to think that “we’re not doing our bit for the country” in this time of cuts. This time of cuts also happens to be the time when the Government is spending £643m on a feasibility study into replacing Trident. That’s not money spent replacing Trident, that’s money spent in seeing whether we should replace Trident. I have no problem with paying my dues but I’d rather not pay them to see stuff flushed down the toilet before I’ve even started.

Bizarrely when the original scheme to stop child benefit completely from families with one higher rate tax payer was announced, the savings were expected to be £1bn a year. Now that the watered down system is in place, with a higher threshold and sliding scale, the Government thinks the savings will be over £2bn a year. Obviously they’re far too caught up in their own spin and PR on the matter to see their own figures massively contradict each other but hey, this is only the economy right?

Preying on middle class guilt is a much better approach than dealing with illegal tax evasion which costs the government tens of billions a year isn’t it?

Of course society as a whole is under attack because the Government is so fundamentally intertwined with big business, it wont (or can’t) seek to make savings by doing something as fundamentally basic as enforcing the law when it comes to corporate tax evasion (and it’s not impossible, the US government has recently effectively put a Swiss bank out of business for harbouring offshore money from it’s taxation system) It’s apparently much easier to systematically disassemble the welfare state which the party are ideologically opposed to anyway.