I would love to know who runs the Conservative Party’s communications and what they are paid – but they’re certainly not very good.
The demand that Iain Duncan Smith somehow “demonstrate” he can live on ₤53/week completely and utterly misses the point; as does his ridiculous determination to meet what is a false challenge. He himself should know this!
Firstly, let us be clear, this is ₤53/week after housing and most childcare (and of course it won’t be taxed). It is, in fact, not at all rare for people and indeed entire families in work to be clearing less than ₤53/week after housing and childcare (and tax and national insurance). Two years ago, I myself was among that latter number. I and others do not come through it due to artificial interventions to “top up” our income; we come through it because we are educated, networked and skilled so that we can go out and find employment of some sort to raise our income. This is the fundamental point here, that daft online campaigners are utterly missing.
Secondly, let us also be clear – by definition, a third of all mortgaged households in NI are losing net wealth weekly. Far from clearing ₤53/week, people who bought a house in NI in 2007 and are still living in it will, on average, have lost ₤100,000 of wealth in that time – around ₤325/week every week. So they will have had to clear – after childcare, tax and national insurance – nearly ₤400, well above the average wage after tax, just to even it up to the benefits figure now being widely quoted. That’s ₤400 earned each week for a standard of living to match others being given ₤53/week – out of their taxes! No one thinks about that, do they?
If it were suggested that the taxpayer should intervene to help those who bought at the top of the market – in the form of outright payments, not loans – so they could clear ₤53/week after childcare, tax and national insurance, there would be outcry. And rightly so. And that is my point.
For, thirdly, most people in fact picking up the ₤53/week are also the recipients of much higher public spending that those struggling with their mortgages as noted above. They may well have free sports facilities, free health programmes and a spanking new community hall – none of which would be available to our mortgaged, in-work family. So not only is our mortgaged-to-the-hilt/has-to-pay-for-own-childcare/fully-taxed struggling family actually paying the ₤53/week for others, they are actually paying further more for a raft of sports, leisure and health facilities they themselves can only dream about!
The real point – vital, but as ever utterly missed – is that we have a whole host of people in society who have been left, deliberately, dependent on the State and thus incapable of contributing to society to the value of more than ₤53/week. It has to be looked at that way around. Beveridge himself warned, very specifically, against “ignorance” – what we now more politely call “educational underachievement”.
Should the hard-pressed family in negative equity should be contributing even more taxes out of the money they earn just to break even on their home? Of course not, that would be scandalous, since their taxes are already paying others’ housing costs, the very costs which cause them themselves stress and anxiety every week.
So, since the amount of money available for benefits is not going to increase, if someone takes money out of the benefits pot and places it into education and skills – thus ensuring that we do not lose another generation to, ahem, educational underachievement – is that not rather a good thing?