Monday, December 18, 2006
Another Day, Another Crack-Down
How often have we heard Ministers announce a crack-down on benefit scroungers? Today it's DWP supremo John Hutton (he's that bloke that nobody quite knows in the pic):
"If it is possible for migrants from Eastern Europe to come to Britain to find jobs without any difficulty at all, we have got to ask ourselves some fairly basic questions... there are some people who probably are perfectly capable of working but for a variety of reasons are able to find a way through the system and they don't work. I just do not believe that is an acceptable state of affairs."
Well, neither do we John. But talk is easy: we have zero confidence in your ability/willingness to grip it.
Hutton's Department dishes out £120bn pa of our money, including over £3bn pa it admits losing to fraud. And just today, we hear of the £400m pa fraudulently obtained by cohabiting couples claiming to live apart.
As we've blogged many times, the current benefit system is a shambles of complexity and inefficiency. Even the officials administering it routinely make mistakes because they can't understand it.
Drastic simplification is clearly needed, hence the attraction of the Citizens' Basic Income.
True, when I looked at the numbers, I couldn't get them to add up. So there'd definitely be losers among the vulnerable poor.
But as several people have argued powerfully to me since writing that post, there'd also be winners among the working poor, who'd be rewarded for their determination to take responsibility for themselves, rather than sliding into the easy dependency of so many around them.
And the more I think about the alternatives, the more I think CBI is actually the only real show in town.
However much hand-wringing softies like me might do, Big Government is no more capable of running complex welfare arrangements than it is of running education and health. And in attempting to conduct Gordo style targeting - whatever its fine intentions- it's fed a monster that can't even walk, let alone complete its supposed mission.
So ring-fence pensioners and deal with them separately. But for the rest, I'm taking a closer look at CBI and private charity. My first New Year's resolution.
Posted by Mike D at 8:13 am