The Curmudgeon


Monday, October 04, 2010

Blunt Instruments

Goodness knows why, but some people are surprised that George the Progressively Regressive is going to punish single mothers and pay child benefit to richer households while withdrawing it from poorer ones. Under the new rules, a household with two people earning £43,000 each would receive the benefit, while a household where one person earned £45,000 would lose it. There is a good reason for this; namely that the Government is trying to keep the system "as simple as possible", so that even George the Progressively Regressive can almost understand it. With his customary aplomb, Iain Duncan Smith paraphrased Thatcher's There Is No Alternative for the free-porn era ("there is no way of doing it in a more spread way than this") and took the opportunity to have a blather about his Universal Credit, which will cure all the defects in this idea as well as in everything else.

The Institute for Public Policy Research criticised the decision to abolish the universal entitlement: "The welfare state will only survive if it has the support of the middle classes and child benefit is their key payback," the deputy director said; while the chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute claimed that, "For many women, even in higher income brackets, this is the only source of income they receive directly, giving them independence and control over family spending". The idea that the Conservatives might want to incentivise people away from supporting the welfare state, or might regard gender equality mainly as something to be sniggered about in fringe meetings, is apparently too uncharitable to consider.


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