Friday, 11 June 2010

Benefits Reform

The BBC have reported that Frank Field, appointed by David Cameron as a 'poverty tsar' (off on a tangent, I hate that phrase whenever it's used in Government - 'enterprise tsar', 'poverty tsar', all that bollocks. Tsar is a Russian contraction of Caesar. They're not fucking Emperors, for Christ's sake) is considering taxing or age-relating Child Benefit.

Frank Field, Poverty Tsar*

I have a better idea.

Abolish it.

Yes, that's right. Get rid of it.

Here's why:

The State shouldn't be in the business of financially incentivising people to have children.

I should point out that I am a divorced father of two who does not receive it. I haven the past. I wish I hadn't.

The subject of benefits reform is a thorny one, quite simply because of the culture of dependence in this country. Nowhere else in the world is the State expected to provide so much to so many. Over £100billion a year is spent on working-age benefits. And the system is creaking.

To my mind, the entire system needs wholesale change. There are currently between 30 and 40 discrete State benefits. These can quite easily be rationalised by taking a more holistic approach to who should receive benefits and when.

Firstly, benefits entitlement should be limited to British Citizens. That's how to solve that irritating immigration problem. Same with the NHS - free treatment only to British Citizens. Everyone else is expected to pay for it.

Next, sever the link between National Insurance contributions history and benefits entitlement. The whole point of the benefits system is to help people when they need help, not when they need help provided they've paid a wad of tax already.

Next, look at which people you need to help. To my mind, there are only 4 sets of circumstances when you should be claiming anything from the State:
  1. You're too old to work - if you're past the State Pension Age, fair enough. Thanks for your efforts, here's your pension;
  2. You're too ill to work - if your ability to work is compromised, either partially or totally, by illness or injury, then you need support. This would also include the disabled;
  3. You can't work because you need to care for someone else - if your ability to work is compromised, either partially or totally, by the requirement to care for others, such as children or disabled friends/relatives, then you need support;
  4. You aren't working because you're temporarily unemployed - if you're unemployed, but are actually capable of work, the State should be supporting you but doing everything it can to return you to suitable long term employment as soon as possible.
The only other circumstances where you would actually be out of work are:
  1. You're rich enough so that you don't have to work, in which case you certainly don't need to be claiming benefits;
  2. You're too lazy to work, in which case you are perfectly entitled to the freedom of laziness. However, you are also entitled to the freedom to starve.
So the entire benefits system can be rationalised into 4 basic benefits. How much administration will that save?

Just a thought.

*Not actually Frank Field, but Nicholas II, last Tsar of Russia. Hobbies included murdering Jews and commanding armies despite only being a second-rate cavalry officer.

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