IDS, ₤53/week, and completely missing the point…

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?

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4 thoughts on “IDS, ₤53/week, and completely missing the point…

  1. harryaswell says:

    Robbing Peter to pay Paul you mean? Don’t think that is a good thing at all. Sadly, New Labour has left us all in such a sorry economical mess that it has to be hard indeed to find a true answer. However, what is obviously very wrong indeed is for out of work families benefitting from huge amounts of money they are surely not entitled to. What would be the point in working at all if the State is giving yout the equivalent of £100,000 pa? Something has to be done. Hopefully, the problems will be removed one by one. To do that all at one time is probably far too complicated. It is so very easy to criticise. What is “your” answer to the problem?

    • My answer to the problem is well rehearsed on these pages. I don’t see too many others providing one!

      On education – more vocational routes; radical re-structuring of subjects; more hands-on learning.

      On health/welfare – radical re-structuring to a Singaporean-style “individual account” system.

      On economy – focus on *exports*, promotion of specific industries based along motorway corridors, development of “Belfast City Region”.

      And so on…

  2. fermaniard says:

    I agree with the sentiment and the principle of some type of intervention but I don’t think that spending more money on education and skills would work with this class of people. I think we need to come to terms with the fact that they are an underclass which we may not be brought to self-sufficiency. That begs the question – ‘What to do with these people?’

    Who has the answer? Certainly not the Northern Ireland Conservatives who think that they can attract votes from these people. I don’t think that driving people into criminality through economic oppression is the answer. There was a time when the King’s shilling took care of a large proportion of them. That is not an option any more. We need some radical ideas. Answers on a post card!

    • To a degree, there is a brutal truth about what you write.

      Already implicit in my blog is a determination to avoid losing *another* generation. That assumes that one is already lost.

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