Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Attack on the Scroungers maybe misplaced

After a debate on Twitter the other evening followed by some time to reflect I came up with this.
There are two stereotypes that are hyped up by Politicians and the Media at the moment and are two of the biggest scourges of today’s society.
They are:
The Multi-national Rich who hide their money to avoid paying tax – be they company or individual

The Benefit Scrounger

The former clearly exist and quite notable cases have been named and shamed.

The latter is a harder subject.

There are benefits cheats, undeniably so. Many of us low paid peons know of someone or a friend of a friend of a friend who is a clamant. There is also an almost urban mythology sprung up about the benefit scrounger and the amounts they are claiming.

The media, especially the Daily Mail and The Sun publish sensationalist stories of extreme cases, the former is often quick to bring up Foreign Nationals who are draining our resources and tax payers money. Yes, there are genuine cases of this happening that need to be addressed but how many cases like this actually like this?

It is something common in history, usually minority groups used as scapegoats by a state: Kulak landlords in Soviet Russia, communists in Fascist European states and an idea of “them” and “us” could be developed. The core parallel is the Russian example. Kulak landlords were demonised as taking the wealth from the poor farmers and economy. The Agricultural and working classes became so incensed that a class war was waged and the state was able to appropriate the land for its communised lands.

In the UK, tighter controls on benefit and an attack on working tax credits is being moved under the banner of tackling Benefit scroungers.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that tightening the loop holes is a good thing to an extent. I, like the majority of people get out of bed, go to work, pay my taxes and exist on the remainder, I too am angered by those who don’t want to play the same rules, who cheat the system and make the rest of us look stupid.

However, I do not believe the number of scroungers is as high as is being suggested. It seems like the DWP is making a sweeping generalisation to save money and wielding the axe like a drunk headsman to reach a target and worse yet it will gain support for going after the banner of “Scroungers” and catch lots of innocents in the process without the proper assessments being done first.

What is needed is a gradual cut with Liberal empathy and understanding is needed and the deft hand of a surgeon.

Working tax credits are vital for many families, including mine, and help pay for child care so both parents can go back to work.

My wife and I had already been balancing our days off with childcare – one at home, one at work and Sophie at nursery three days a week so we could squeeze more hours in and live outside of work rather than just subsist and only spend our time toiling away to pay for our mortgage, train fares, utilities.

The accusation that elements of this government seem to be aiming for a return to Victorian lifestyles looks like it is gradually gaining substance.

Liberal Democrats in Parliament need to be careful to review the legislation coming out of the DWP and to make sure that sweeping and potentially harmful policies are not just being carried along under the hyperbole and demonization of a social “evil” that will also persecute those in need.

1 comment:

  1. I have lost all faith in the LibDems over this issue. Clegg should grow a pair and stand up to Camoron over this. As it stands wtf exactly is clegg doing in government? He is solely responsible for sinking the LibDems.
    BTW, a wee plug of my blog on this...