>Is it right to cut benefits?

>Mr Osborne (British Chancellor) said the welfare system had grown out of control and allowed some people to make the “lifestyle choice” of claiming benefits for their entire life instead of working. British welfare currently costs £192 bn a year, yet the cuts are planned to take millions off of Incapacity Benefits, many of whom really need the money. Is it right? Could it be right?


  • >yes its right. It saves money, encourages lazy twats to work,encourages chavy teens not to get preggo and get a job instead.

  • >What does it take to qualify for an incapacity benefit ? Do financial cuts need to be made, or could money be saved by tightening the criteria for whom can access it ?If incapacity benefits are for chavvy teens who get pregnant then maybe r909b9 has a point, but I don't know much about the specifics.

  • >I know of a number of people who say they have walking disabilities etc, and get money for it which is intended to be spent on caring help. They have no such disability and spend the money on xbox games (as far as one particular person goes). The criterea is fairly sound, but there is no way to check those criteria at the moment (i.e. a government representative should come round to these peoples houses, and/or pay for carers directly). There are of course, genuine cases out there – but weve all seen Jeremy Kyle etc.

  • >Osborne is still playing the role he has always done since 2007: that of the Tories' frontline attack dog. He provides cover for Cameron's 'compassionate conservative' image while playing to the peanut munchers with their Daily Mail.Other than this figure of an additional £4bn to be cut, this was a comment with no substance – no figures supposedly not working and turning down work when fit to do so, no explanation of where all this new work is going to come from (presumably not the government when we're due 25% cuts in most departments next month). Then we get the 'fine print', after he's gone in a puff of smoke, which basically says that for those in receipt of benefits it will not be cut, only if a fit person turns down paid work they will have their benefits forzen, which is what happens now.Let's get this straight. If you are not actively seeking work (which means attending compulsory Job Centre sessions, with registration) you get no JSA; if you miss an interview at Job Centre+ your benefits are frozen; if you refuse to accept a job or take a vacancy you can lose benefits for six months; if you refuse to attend a back to work scheme you have your benefits chosen. Those on ESA (incapacity benefit) already have periodic assessments of their fitness to work, those on disability living allowance need to provide medical certificates. This is emphatically not an easy system to cheat. Nor is it a lucrative 'lifestyle choice'. The maximum weekly disability allowance is £71.50 per person; the maximum weekly JSA is £65. Assuming both, that's about half the monthly take-home wage of someone on the average salary of about £20,000. And this is for the disabled; for the simply jobless you are looking at just 30% of the average wage. I appreciate there are freaks, usually with large families where many individuals receive multiple payments, that do quite well out of it, but these are anomalies. The very idea that being on the dole is somehow a 'lifestyle' choice for swathes of people is the kind of insulting drivel that could only spout forth from the mouth of a man who has had the most privileged upbringing and has not the slightest idea of what it's like for the poorest in our society. This is a (multi-millionaire) man – our lead political economist in government, no less – who not long ago put forth the notion that £18,000 is a 'comfortable' wage for a public sector employee in London. He is like Dickens' Skimpole – childishly ignorant of the very nature of money as it applies to most people.

  • >If savings are to come from welfare they need to be progressive. This means means testing pensioners' fuel allowances and bus passes, as well as child trust funds and so on. This doesn't play so well with the outraged right wingers with their Daily Mails, however, because:a) while those in receipt of jobseekers' allowance and incapacity benefit can be characterised, as above, as dossers with ill-gotten X-Boxes, those in receipt of fuel allowances can be characterised (equally crudely) as freezing pensioners burning family photographs for fuel.b) The middle classes and old people (double points for middle-class old people) vote disproportionately and vote Tory disproportionately when they do so. You don't shit on your own doorstep.However, the fact of the matter is that Terry Wogan is entitled to a free bus pass, and Margaret Thatcher will be in receipt of fuel allowance. Tell me who’s the drain on the economy.I don't know where the £4bn will come from and I'm not sure it will make the spending review, to be honest. It's pandering to the Tory peanut munchers, distracting the papers from the Coulson affair while playing up to a comfortable stereotype of an easy target amongst a soft electoral demographic. Everybody wins. I don't even think Osborne is serious, and I mean that.

  • >In other words, this was an exercise in realpolitik, not serious economics.To answer the question, welfare needs to be cut where there is flab, if at all. That starts with ending universal benefits and means testing them. We need to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, not shove them first against the wall.

  • >What a wonderful balanced answer, though i'm afriad wev'e run out of 'big questions' and I find myself typing fewer and fewer words. Yes, thankfully these people are few and far between. The person I know is on disability alowance and job seekers allowance, and is very happy playing video games all the time and eating (which comparitavley speaking doesnt cost much). But there it is.

  • >As everyone says, there are fraudsters. Whether or not the number of them is higher or lower than the press currently believes is a matter of opinion for we don't really know. Though Robin, would you hire that person you're speaking about? There are lots of people who exagerate how good their lives are, particularly if they don't see any prospects for their lives getting better.In philosophical terms it can only be 'right' to cut benefits if it's not going to increase the misery of the miserable, and is going to make others happier. This is what it comes down to. The Conservatives, if they're serious, believe that there are thousands of fraudsters, who can easily have their benefits cut and simply become incentivised to go out and work. If this was true then it probably would be a good idea. Unemployment is one of the biggest causes of depression. Pretty much no unemployed person is honestly happy being unemployed, so getting them into work would help them, the economy, and society.Yet the problem is that as Ross says Osborne is going on pretty much no empiricial data whatsoever! No matter how much faith you had in the Labour Government, I find it hard to believe that even an inept government in a rich country could overlook billions of pounds going to those who don't need it. The only way in which such situations could arise, whereby the Department for Work and Pensions give away benefits to so may unworthy cases, is if that department were grossly underfunded. Oh wait, it is! As in the case of the HMRC, if you increase the funding to these departments, even if only temporarily, then they can use the added resources to crack down properly. Remove the benefits of those who don't need any, yes. But make blanket cuts without knowing who really does and doesn't need the benefits? Not only is that stupid, it's highly unethical!

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