Give me £10,000 and I will save you £23.7 billion

By DeusExMacintosh

You’ll have to forgive me for indulging in a little light maths, but as the current coalition partners in Britain have failed to do so, I figure it’s important that someone does.

Having been one of the three million-ish disabled people scared sh*tless by their statement on Disability Living Allowance in the emergency budget, I am getting really tired of banging on about the unfairness and exorbitant cost of the current “revisions” of welfare entitlement in the UK on every blog and comments section I can find. Apart from those of us at the end losing money, I doubt many actually care. Cameron & Co. pre-emptively announced that

…they can withstand the kind of pressure put on the Blair government in 1997 when disabled people chained themselves to the gates of Downing Street.

Speaking to journalists on the margins of the G20 summit in Canada, Mr Osborne said that reducing the welfare budget could spare some other departments the 25 per cent average cuts he announced in last week’s Budget. “This is a real trade-off,” he said. “It’s not a choice that can be ducked.”

The Independent

Useful to know, and saves wasting two months worth of DLA on a return rail ticket to London. I wanted to join the Disabled Person’s Protest at the Conservative conference in Birmingham at the weekend but my mother made me promise not to go. That’s not going to stop me though, I have a BLOG and I know how to use it!

As a Skepticlawyer reader most likely in Australia, you’re probably getting a little tired of me banging on about Britain’s welfare state and am wondering when I’ll get to the funnies. You’ve read the emergency budget, then. Laugh? I nearly re-qualified for Disability Living Allowance’s Middle Rate of Care on the basis of urinary incontinence.

George Osborne, the chancellor, also suggested he was looking at cutting the welfare bill by more than the £11bn earmarked in Wednesday’s emergency budget, in order to prevent spending cuts as high as 25% in higher education, local government and transport .

If he were to cut a further £13bn from benefits, Whitehall departments would only have to reduce their budgets by 20% over the next four years, rather than the 25% Osborne predicted in his Commons statement.

The Guardian

Apparently it is essential for the nation’s economic survival to kick an extra £11 billion out of the poor in order to save the rest of the nation from vicious cuts in public services. Or was that £15 billion, by the way?

The government is planning to reduce the annual welfare bill by a further £4bn, Chancellor George Osborne has told the BBC.

He will give details of the savings, which follow an £11bn cut made in June, in October’s spending review.

The Treasury says the targets for the reductions are still being discussed. But Mr Osborne told BBC political editor Nick Robinson that those making a “lifestyle choice to just sit on out-of-work benefits” would be affected.

Sorry, should I have said £17.5bn?

George Osborne is secretly planning to take £2.5bn from the welfare bill by cutting the budget for long-term sickness benefits, it was claimed last night.

The Chancellor confirmed plans to impose deep cuts on the budget for employment and support allowance (ESA) – the successor to incapacity benefit – in a letter to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in June, according to a report in The Observer.

The suggestion that cuts to ESA – paid to those judged unable to work because of illness or disability – is “a particular priority” conflicts sharply with the Government’s insistence that no decisions have yet been made on where the cuts should be made.

Once Iain Duncan Smith’s wheeze of turning the various benefits back into a single “Universal Credit” (a bit like the Supplementary Benefit that Income Support was created to replace back in the 80s) goes ahead, the lifestyle choice of “sitting on out-of-work benefits” will become “sitting on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign” as the entire administrative system sh*ts itself student loans style.

You think I’m catastrophising? The DWP is already groaning under the weight of new applicants for the Employment Support Allowance that’s replaced Incapacity Benefit for people who are unable to work due to poor health or disabilities. It takes a year to get your appeal heard at a Tribunal where 40% are then upheld (70% if you have someone like a Welfare Rights Officer with you who knows what they are doing). In February they’re due to add 2.65 million people to the waiting list as they begin the compulsory migration of people on Incapacity Benefit through the ESA assessment process using a computer system that’s never been tested.

The Chancellor and Secretary of Work and Pensions have been playing leak and leak about to the point where editors are desperately looking for photographs of the pair together, just to save time. Both have agreed that our current swamp of special-purpose allowances, benefits and tax-credits are going to be swapped for a one-size fits nobody “Universal Credit” that IDS first advocated in his Dynamic Benefits paper for the Centre for Social Justice. No-one is admitting how much this puppy is going to cost, just that it’ll save £9 billion every year in “Fraud, Error and Waste” ™ [more on this later in the week].

Figures for the cost of raising the personal allowance to a tax-free first £10,000 for everyone are put anywhere from £7 billion to £17 billion to £30 billion so I’ll just give you the one concrete figure: £23.7 billion pounds. That’s the amount that The Guardian’s Data Blog estimated back in June that the Tax Credit bureaucracy is costing us. Tax Credits that could be abolished entirely and replaced by a £10,000 personal allowance that would “make work pay” for anyone willing to attempt it, without impoverishing those unable to do so.

10 Comments

  1. Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    dem: a question: have the pollies implemented (not mearly announced with implementation “in due course, in the fullness of time” as Sir Humphrey would say) any austerity measures affecting themselves – on things like government advertising, salaries of politicians, political allowances (including numbers and salaries of political advisors and staffers), housing allowances, etc, etc, etc?

  2. kvd
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    As a Skepticlawyer reader most likely in Australia, you’re probably getting a little tired of me banging on…

    No. It’s more a case of admiration, respect, that you’re able to see the light side of anything at the moment. More power to your pen.

  3. Hugivza
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Having just returned from the UK over this past weekend, I cannot help but increasingly feel that it is going backwards, particularly in the availability and quality of health care. The watch cry appears to be “how much money do you have and we’ll tell you what you can afford!”. DEM more power to you, but moving deckchairs on the deck of theTitanic would seem to be of more effect than trying to turn the UK ship of state around.

  4. Posted October 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I have a friend on disability allowance down here in Oz: you keep right on blogging on the issue. Particularly as you do it so well.

  5. Patrick
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Great blogging DEM, keep it up.

  6. Peter Patton
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    DEM

    Tired of you banging on…? Oh god things really are wrong when you feel obliged to be apologetic! 🙂 I have lived and worked in the UK, and the place has undeniable attractions IF you are rich[ish]!!

    With each new post of yours on these developments, I truly shiver. Britain does not do vulnerability at all well. The daily/weekly announcement of a team of male adults from Eton and Westminster using the power of the state to gouge food and heating from that society’s most vulnerable is beyond sadistic. Their message is “you can only be truly ‘disabled’ if your father went to Eton. The rest of you are liars and con artists’.

    You should leverage the technology of blogging to AMPLIFY your “banging on”.

  7. Posted October 4, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Just from my point of view, I have to say this whole thing has now become so complex that I’m having great difficulty working out (a) who is up who and (b) what the government’s policy actually is at any given moment. And this is from someone who has done serious research in the fields of behavioural and welfare economics, both at Oxford and in the private sector.

    Anything that clears up the morass of confusion can only be a good thing.

  8. Peter Patton
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    SL

    I get where you are coming from. But outside our parlour room debates, there are clearly hundreds of thousands of disabled Britons packing shit they are about to be relieved of the anxiety of choosing between heating and baked beans.

    The Etonians have decided they can have neither.

  9. Posted October 6, 2010 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks everyone. UK-side we’re all still waiting for detailed information. Hopefully that will be included in the Spending Review due on 20 October, if not it’s a matter of trolling through the white paper due later in the year. As you can imagine, I will be keeping a close eye on developments (and likely ranting about it here).

  10. PAUL WALTER
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    NOW do some folk realise why some of us further down the food chain were less enthusiastic about having Abbott up, last election?

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