In an article for The Telegraph today, Iain Duncan Smith says that “Labour’s legacy on tax credits tells a sorry story of dependency, wasted taxpayers’ money and fraud.”, and that “Even for those in genuine need of support, tax credits were not fit for purpose”. Now, for sure I am one who is almost always cynical of claims made by politicians – especially by conservative politicians – but does he have a point? After all, there is no doubt that the benefits system is outdated and inefficient.
On some of the specifics, he may have a case; It is true that the level at which your income must increase before your claim for tax credits is reassessed was raised from £2,500 to £25,000 in 2008 by Labour, and it is also most likely true that this raise was put in place as a means of attracting votes for the election – not that the conservatives would ever cynically invent policies for that end (and assuming that the public actually pays attention to policy). This increase most definitely would have increased the bill, for obvious reasons, and does appear to legalise what seems like bona fide fraud. So score one for IDS.
Other statements make considerably less sense. In reference to the raise in income disregard, he says,
“It will come as no surprise therefore that fraudsters from around the world targeted this benefit for personal gain.”
This kind of crap infuriates me. Making shit up to score politically is one thing and nobody is surprised by that, but by denigrating the hard working folks who move to this country not only promulgates the false debate over immigration but promotes bigotry and is just plainly not true! Comments by ministers, like former immigration minister Damian Green, claiming that immigrants “come from anywhere in the world and on day one of arriving in Britain live off benefits” are a perfect example of this. Let’s get this straight – no-one is coming to Britain to scab off our benefits system for the simple reason that it is one of the WORST in western Europe!
Smith continues to dig himself a comfy hole to sit and wallow in his own bullshit:
“This Government is on the side of hard-working taxpayers, the people across the country working in the private and public sectors who have seen their pay frozen or cut… And all the while these people have watched those on tax credits or benefits see their income rise, outstripping their earnings”
As if the public sector pay cuts weren’t their own doing. He uses his words as carefully as his tiny little brain allows to make it seem like those on tax credits and benefits are actually earning more than regular working folks! Well, truly I am shocked and chagrin. I might mention that I have made use of both benefits and tax credits, and I can tell you that neither outstripped the earning of those in the public or private sectors! Maybe he was joking, or maybe he’s just completely out of touch with how hard it really is to live on minimum wage? Old Iain is not known for his witty demeanour, so I guess we know which one it is.
After all this pap, I think we can go one further. IDS says,
“Far too much of that money was wasted, with fraud and error under Labour costing over £10 billion. Small wonder really, given that the system was wide open to abuse.”
I can’t comment as to the veracity of that statistic, although it wouldn’t
surprise me – I’m no great fan of Labour either (or any other party, for that matter). But Catherine McKinnell MP makes a couple of great points:
It goes without saying that the government should tackle fraud and error in the tax credits and benefits system, just as they should tackle the billions lost each year in tax avoidance and evasion…
Iain Duncan Smith should start focusing on sorting out his new universal credit which even his own Cabinet ministers are warning is ‘a disaster in the making.
So, how about it, Dunc? How’s that tax loophole closure going? How’s your Universal Credit looking? Perhaps you should check out the FACTS and ask your butler for a tall, cool glass of Shut Up juice. Or Fuck Off juice, your choice. Oh wait, you’re a politician. And conservative. And living in an ivory tower. And…
Ahhh, fuck it.
They probably laugh at us folks who point this shit out.
As well as all those dumbasses who read the Daily Mail, Sun etc. etc…