Mind the Welfare Gap

By DeusExMacintosh

David Cameron to slash welfare again

To William Beveridge it was about eradicating evil – the “giant evils” of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. To David Cameron it is about encouraging citizens to do the right thing – to work, to save, to take personal responsibility.

The prime minister urges us today to go back to first principles in thinking about what the welfare state is for.

For some it should be the mechanism by which the state seeks greater social justice. For others it should be a mechanism by which the state seeks to promote individual morals.

Mr Cameron’s starting point for a national debate appears to echo the view of the high Tory thinker and journalist TE Utley, who described the welfare state as “an arrangement under which we all largely cease to be responsible for our own behaviour and in return become responsible for everyone else’s.”

Instead, the Conservative leader imagines a welfare system where ministers in Whitehall pull fiscal strings which encourage people towards his party’s core values of hard work, saving, marriage and having children (when you can afford to).

To Mr Cameron, the machinery of state benefits is less about need and more about nudging. He wants to end the “culture of entitlement” and focus on those “who have no other means of support, or who have fallen on hard times”.

In order to strengthen his argument, the Conservative leader paints a picture of “them” and “us”. He talks of a “welfare gap in this country – between those living long-term in the welfare system and those outside it.”

– Mark Easton, Home Editor BBC News

6 Comments

  1. Posted June 27, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    ‘ For others it should be a mechanism by which the state seeks to promote individual morals.’

    ‘Others’ includes The Salvation Army which requires attendance at prayer in return for the soup kitchen, and which required young pregnant girls with no support in the 1960’s to pray and process commercial laundry in return for a brief haven before the infant was born and placed with god-fearing home-owners who ‘deserved’ the child more.

  2. Patrick
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Lefties droning on about the evil true thoughts of conservatives again…yawn.

  3. Posted June 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a lefty, Patrick, but that supposed “welfare gap” described by David Cameron does not actually exist. For example, only 1/5th of those receiving Housing Benefit are out of work, the rest tend to be low earners in employment living in high-rent areas. If he wants to discuss ways to exclude the non-earners from receipt of Housing Benefit that’s a genuine argument to have, but he’s just being abusive about anyone accepting money from the government (and with child benefit, that’s pretty much everyone). You don’t need a moral failing to receive benefits in the UK, all you need is a pulse.

  4. Patrick
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    I wasn’t calling you one, DEM! That was in reference to Mark Easton and his apparent insights into David Cameron’s political inspirations:

    Mr Cameron’s starting point for a national debate appears to echo the view of the high Tory thinker and journalist TE Utley, who described the welfare state as “an arrangement under which we all largely cease to be responsible for our own behaviour and in return become responsible for everyone else’s.”

    Which then allows him to present this as uniquely Tory dastardliness:

    Instead, the Conservative leader imagines a welfare system where ministers in Whitehall pull fiscal strings which encourage people towards his party’s core values of hard work, saving, marriage and having children (when you can afford to).

    Why knock me over with a feather he thinks that does he? What’s his name again this conservative chap, Tony Blair?

    The reality is that if you delete the marriage part that’s a pretty broadly subscribed to view of welfare. The devil as ever is surely in the details, but you could get a hell of a lot of not-very-Conservative politicians to endorse that.

    And there is nothing to actually link that to the imagined ulterior motives of David Cameron.

  5. Posted June 28, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I’m thinking acceptable forms of government handouts to the tories would include the following:

    (1) giving the current lot on social security a bit of equity in banks – tories love voucher systems.

    (2) encourage those same people to borrow from the banks (I’m sure shareholders get better treatment), and all declare bankruptcy. (why should bankruptcy be the prerogative of those with good accountants who have had a large cash flow)

    (3) the banks would cry poor, and the anti-social security in the moral hazard capital of the world, The City would cry “too big to fail”, the government would swing into action with a massive bank bailout, as usual. (banks can rely on bailouts, so it’s policy as usual).

    Surely this would be acceptable to everyone, Keynesianism with a croney capitalist face? The banks get their bailouts, the bank executives would get more bonuses despite losses, like they always do, the underdogs get a little luxury spending into bankruptcy and the money multiplier effect of even the temporary cash redistribution would get more people into jobs.

    Problem solv-ed as Ranger Daggett would say.

    (yes, cheeks getting massive stretchmarks here)

  6. kvd
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    You don’t need a moral failing to receive benefits in the UK, all you need is a pulse.

    DEM for Scottish PM! This would even fit in a tweet – thus disproving DCameron’s only other contribution to modern culture 😉

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