Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Bullying the bottom of the pile.

New Labour again puts the boot in on those at the bottom of the pile. John Hutton is determined to tackle the problem of the ‘lazy and feckless’ long term employed who are not taking work in areas where there are unskilled job vacancies.

At the same time the government is running an ad campaign promoting zero tolerance to any benefit claimants who take additional part-time work. It follows on from the campaign a couple of years ago when we were urged to shop anyone we know who was fiddling benefits.

But let’s get this into perspective.

Job seekers allowance is £57:45 a week, in real terms it is worth roughly half what the equivalent benefit was worth in 1979. And the long-term unemployed that Hutton wants to target who have not worked for more than six years, represent 100,000 people.

My arithmetic makes that about £300 million a year. I can only guess, but let’s say that 20% (???) of that represents fraudulent claims – that’s £60 million a year.

On the other hand - tax evasion costs £75 BILLION a year.

And (legitimate) tax avoidance costs £10 BILLION a year.

I don’t remember seeing an advertising campaign asking you to shop anyone you know who fiddles their tax. Those who choose to live off of trust funds are not described as ‘lazy and feckless’ but instead are celebrated in Hello, Tatler and Country Life.

And whilst the Daily Mails rants about advice centres that help claimants ensure that they get their full entitlements, tax advisers are considered a perfect legitimate part of the accountancy profession.

So let’s not kid ourselves this isn’t about getting back ‘lost money’. It is New Labour sticking it to those least able to answer back whilst Middle England cheers them on.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Also pretty ironic that the government intervened to stop the Serious Fraud Office investigating alleged back-handers and other incentives to the Saudis to buy `our' military planes. So much easier to go after someone fraudulently claiming a bit of extra family credit!

And to think I spend ages every year making sure I'm not by mistake claiming an extra few pence on my tax return, while `A-listers' decide to make Monaco or some other tax haven their registered domicile, in order to avoid paying tax on their millions.

As always it's one law for us . . .