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Tuesday 27 July 2010

Picking On The Poorest – 6

After considering the latest “research” from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, I concluded that this was part of a drive to cut welfare benefits and abolish the minimum wage. Having also deduced that these actions were not altruistically driven, I also concluded that this was not good enough. Such moves, I believe, should be resisted, and, after the fullest debate, consigned to the scrapheap where they belong.

However, the question may then be simply put: what would I do? The benefits system does indeed suffer from poor take-up of some benefits, while here and there are overpayments, underpayments, errors, and all too inevitably, fraud. Even so, all of this is no excuse for the TPA’s solution, which would guarantee the removal of significant purchasing power from the economy, potentially making those “tough fiscal times” yet tougher.

Any examination of the benefits system should be non partisan, and that means Astroturf lobby groups like the TPA should be kept out of the process, as one would keep urban foxes away from the local kindergarten. Moreover, the rest of the right leaning “think tanks” may also be kept at arms’ length: Policy Exchange, the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Adam Smith Institute, this last a museum of outdated economic ideas whose inmates have fraudulently appropriated the name of the founder of economics.

Simplifying the range of benefits may be the way forward, and here a good idea has come out of the TPA report. However, merely telling that times are hard as an excuse for lowering the poverty line is out of order, and any such idea should be set aside. Also, the Government should restate their commitment to the National Minimum Wage, thus demonstrating to the TPA and all the other lobby groups that their campaigning in this direction is misplaced and should stop.

And then the debate can be had.

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