Benefit Cuts And Government Reforms

Logic seem to be lacking in the whole debate and introduction of benefit cuts and government reform. Watching the news this morning and paging through news feeds, the proposed child benefit cuts keep popping up. I am not inherently opposed to either cuts or reform, but if changes are made, it should be an improvement and not just justified by ‘this will cost less money’. A great deal of things would cost less money, there isn’t one single golden path to reduce spending and just because this is the first idea that comes to mind that will be cheaper, does not make it the best one.

I am rather frustrated by the way changes are being made. Child benefit cuts, for example, will be based on a single income of the highest earner in a family, rather than household income. On BBC news this morning, when a Tory MP was asked three times specifically why this was done and isn’t it rather unfair, her responses were: 1. “We didn’t want to introduce a complicated system… we tried to bring in something that’s fair…”, then 2. “The important thing is that we didn’t want to bring in a complicated means tested system…” and 3. “It’s a tough decision but a fair one”. I agree that introducing a complicated system would be costly and a complicated systems in general are unwieldy and prone to inaccessibility. I would have thought that the important thing was the introduction of this change rather personally and tough but fair, that I just cannot agree with. I don’t understand how looking at household income instead would have made it more complicated and how doing so would not be an improvement over the system being introduced.

To determine which parent are earning the most money, you need to know the income of both parents. How using that information, which you will have in front of you, to calculate household income, i.e. adding the two figures to reach a different threshold or adding it up and dividing it by 2 to reach the £44,000 threshold set is will result in a more complicated system I can’t fathom. If basic math is thought to be that complicated, we have bigger concerns than benefit cuts and government reforms. The system isn’t fair. It means that a family with children where one parent works will receive cuts to their income when the family next door who have a much higher household income, but both parents work, will not loose their benefit. It means that one family with a household income of £44,000 will be penalized because one parent doesn’t work whilst another with a household income of up to £86,000 will not be affected at all. Not exactly a tough but fair decision.

I’m worried about the speed changes are being rolled out with what seems to be a driving force of spending less at first glance. The changes proposed to Disability Living Allowance Assessments on closer inspection will most likely cost more rather than less, changes proposed in the white paper on health does not seem to be a good idea, The Jobbing Doctor expresses his concerns very well and there seems to be a general lack of proper foreward thinking and planning. There are always cuts that could be made, spending that could be cut and yes, it’s extraordinarily complicated and complex to try and improve an unwieldly large system like the government sections. But I’m not seeing improvements anywhere.

Wiltshire county has been amalgamated into a single authority a while ago in order to save money and yet moving from north to west wiltshire, I have to apply for a new everything because apparently, I have moved to a new area with a different team despite technically being in the same authority. However, when ringing up social services to have a new social worker assigned, it’s a county wide number that can be picked up by any social worker in the county and we ended up speaking to a social worker based in Salisbury that could look at my file on the system, but couldn’t help at all as she’s in Salisbury and that’s not in my area. She apologised, said she would send an email to the administration office in my area to explain my situation, but that’s all that she can do. I really need to talk to someone in my area, but I can’t ring the social department in my area, I can only ring the central number which puts me through to a different social worker in one of many areas in Wiltshire every time. Money was spent on creating one authority and yet money is still being spent maintaining all the different smaller authorities independent of each other.Money is being spent paying someone to take phone calls and write e-mails to pass information along when I’m sure they have better things to do. It just doesn’t make sense. I’m tired of listening to debates that come down to “we can’t help everyone and so we should help the people who deserve it the most”. Some think those on the lowest income are the most deserving, others think the chronically ill and disabled are, this morning I have heard that middle-class families are as “they’re the ones that aren’t super rich and pay all their taxes”. It would be nice if the changes being contemplated and introduced focused on people rather than money and stereotypes. It’s important to make sure that those unable to work are taken care of, it’s important to help those who can potentially work to be able to do so, it’s important to make sure families that are providing a big chunk of goverment income can continue to do so and make ends meet.

It’s all important, there isn’t just one cause, one group, one section that is more deserving than another and when changes are introduced, they should be as fair as possible and not try to be an incentive to create a homogenous set of people who are married, have kids and both parents are working. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could work full-time, but it’s just not a realistic option. People aren’t being greedy; whether they’re unable to work, ill, disabled, middle-class and working or stay at home mums wanting to raise their children, they’re just trying to do the best they can. I wish we could stop pointing fingers and creating a competitive environment for limited resources and instead try to work together to create a situation that’s best for everyone.