Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Labour in Scotland agree with Nick Clegg

The BBC reports from The Liberal Democrats  conference that they are looking at curbing all age-related universal benefits for pensioners with assets of more than £1m.

The changes could affect payments including winter fuel allowances, free TV licences and bus passes.
Nick Clegg said the welfare budget "cannot be immune" from efforts to find government budget savings after the next general election in 2015.
But Lib Dem minister David Laws said he was "sceptical" about the proposals.
The proposals could form part of the party's manifesto. They would not come into force during the current coalition government, as it is a party, rather than a government, matter.
The changes, if implemented, would come in after the next general election, after the 2015-16 spending round.BBC 
 Asked whether the welfare budget could be ring-fenced from the debate on future savings, Mr Clegg told the BBC that "it can't remain immune".
Mr Clegg said age-related universal benefits such as free bus passes, winter fuel payments and TV licences for well-off pensioners would be protected for the duration of the current Parliament.
But he suggested the debate may have to be reopened for such entitlements after this period.
"I think there are many millionaires in this country... will also say voluntarily that maybe they should give up some of these universal entitlements to help people who are less lucky than them to make ends meet," he told BBC Radio 4's the World at One.
He added that it was "very difficult to explain... at a time when people's housing benefit is being cut that you should protect Alan Sugar's free bus pass".
 BBC 25 September 2012

At almost the same time  the BBC also report that Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has questioned universal

In a speech to party members in Edinburgh she said it was time to end a "something for nothing" culture.

"Well, I have to ask what is progressive about a banker on more than 100,000 a year benefiting more than a customer on average incomes from the council tax freeze?
"What is progressive about a chief executive on more than 100,000 a year not paying for his prescriptions, while a pensioner needing care has their care help cut?
"What is progressive about judges and lawyers earning more than 100,000 a year, not paying tuition fees for their child to follow in their footsteps at university, while one in four unemployed young people in Scotland can't get a job or a place at college?" 
 BBC Scotland25 September 2012

So it seems that the two leaders are in agreement and at first glance it does make sense.

But it it is only a step from excluding the rich to means testing .

Once you draw a line then it will not be long before the the level drops from those earning £100,000 a year to £50,000 then £25,000 then £10,000?

Once the principle is there. Not long I suspect.

The whole idea of these benefits is that they encompass all. There is no cut off point where you say 

"You don't deserve this" ?

If Clegg and Lamont need the money from the rich to help those who are poorer then Tax them!

Or is that to hard and the donors they seek will not mind loosing Free prescription and a Bus pass but will not pay a extra 1% in Tax?

Once we go down the road these two leaders are proposing. Politicians will start talking about the "Deserving and Undeserving" poor.

It will give the idea that this is not an entitlement that people have earned but a gift from the government.

Th Welfare state embraces all and is an entitlement not a benefit.

How long before Clegg and Lamont argue that there should be a cut off point where people pay for some of their health care ?

I'd rather see Alan Sugar getting a free bus pass than Mrs Jones next door not getting one because she's deemed to be just over the threshold. Or people not taking up their prescriptions because they fel they can't afford them.


Cibwr said...

Of course the idea that a millionaire would use the bus or get a free prescription of paracetamol is laughable.

Plus the cost of meanstesting is not free. It is quite likely that the cost of collecting payment for prescriptions could quite easily outweigh the income generated.

glynbeddau said...


You are likely to be right here.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

I agree with Cibwr (not Nick!) If I win the Euro Lottery's £80 million today, or if I get an unexpected promotion to a job that pays £200K a year, I'll probably stop using my bus pass, I'll join a private health scheme so I won't be using my right to free prescriptions, I'll buy a house with its own swimming pool so I won't be using free access to the public baths for my kids, I'll buy my own art and antiques so I'll not make much use of my free access to museums and galleries.

The fact is that withdrawing so called "freebies" from the super rich won't save a single penny, because the super rich rarely take advantage of such benefits. If a politician uses the argument that they are going to "stop millionaires getting free Paracetamol" you can guarantee that their real aim is to start withdrawing benefits from people much, much lower down the wealth ladder people like Mr, Mrs and Ms Average; people like you and me!