Friday, 24 February 2012

The Missing Words

A couple of the MSM sites have tipped us the wink on something that is bound to cause some anger among the working taxpayer.  Both the Express and Daily Mail have picked up on the story in which those one benefits are to be awarded a 5.2% increase in their benefits so that as the government spokesman chose to put it "no one is left behind".  Certainly QuietMan has given his take on the matter.

Having looked a little further into the reports it seems the lions share could well be aimed at pensioners, to which I would say "about time".  If I have indeed read the reports correctly I would question what the papers are up to pitching it as a boost for the unemployed, although I accept that approximately £1billion is for them.

There are however two things about this story that need looking at and show where the real scandals lie.

The first point I take issue with is the quotation from the relevant minister mentioned in the Express:

At a time when the nation’s finances are under severe pressure, this Government will be spending an extra £6.6billion in 2012-13 to ensure that people are protected against cost of living increases

You see there unfortunately some words missing.  Words which put this into real perspective.  If used those words would make the following sentence

At a time when the nation’s finances are under severe pressure, this Government will be spending an extra £6.6billion of taxpayers' money in 2012-13 to ensure that people are protected against cost of living increases

Adding those words puts a whole new slant on it and one more reflective of the truth.  The reality is one in which the money you and I pay in tax is being dressed up to masquerade as their generosity.  They always conveniently omit the fact that governments don't in themselves have any money.  The only money they have is that which they gather from the labour of others.  Those others being you and I.  To put it another way, it's like being in a bar whilst someone who claims to be your friend boosts his popularity by telling the bar the drinks are on him, only to ask you to stump up the cash.

Worse still with today's story is the notion that people who are in the middle of various income freezes are to fund increases to the income of others.  To achieve that the taxpayer has to take a hit to his or her disposable income, because there is no obvious growth strategy to the economy, nor are there any meaningful tax breaks for these people.  The government won't consider that as part of their austerity packages.  So it comes from potentially two places, given that governments don't have any of their own money.  One is an increase in taxation.  The other is to borrow the money, which will result in debt that will be laid at the door of the taxpayer.  Either way, you and I will be saddled with the bill for a policy which the politicians alone will attempt to take the credit for. 

The second scandal is one further down in both stories.  As well as increasing the amount of money they intend to spend, it also turns out that the government is overspending in its welfare commitments with each year due to fraud and errors.  For some reason, the two sites are reporting different figures, but either way we have a problem.  Fraud will always be with you, especially in a nation in which you seem to have a make a very determined effort to get imprisoned for committing a crime, but it's the error part which I find insulting. 

There are pledges to try and reduce these over payments by a quarter, by 2015.  According to the Mail, the year 2010/11 saw over payments of £3.2billion and suggested that over payments stayed stable in that year.  I'm fascinated to see what they mean by that.  Assuming it stays stable as they so simply put it does we could be looking at at £3.2billion in over payments for each passing year.  Will the quarter they plan to reduce it by be across the total overpayment for the next 3 years (i.e. £2.4billion) or will it be a quarter of 2015's £3.2billion overpayment which will be £0.8billion. 

Either way, it's nothing short of a disgrace. 

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