Despite the bold statement in the last blog about Child Benefit being safe without means-testing, the UK's Coalition government is now floating the idea of means-testing it - and also Winter Fuel Allowances. Nothing definite is sorted yet apparently, but The Sun 18 Aug gives the flavour.
Some of us had hoped that this new government would use lateral thinking about welfare. The biggest problem that came from Gordon Brown's approach to welfare is the complexity he has left behind. What a universal benefit like Child Benefit (CB) has done, for some decades now, is to save huge amounts of administration involved in checking incomes of millions of families. It has also delivered help where it is needed. If CB is now to be means-tested it will add another layer of admin and MORE cost. OK but why let wealthy families have cash they don't need? Let the taxation regime take care of that. Read The Free Lunch - Fairness with Freedom and look at the Citizen's Income Trust website.
We need a simpler system and a more effective one. This threat to a return to the failed old complex ways of New Labour in welfare is astonishing from politicians who have had over a decade to work out quite a different way to address the problem. The principle of universal benefit already inherent in the National Health Service needs extending to welfare, not cutting back. The Coalition has only run for 100 days. Why on earth, so soon, would it now take Child Benefit - so effective and cheap to run - and tangle it up. Even Gordon Brown didn't do that to this one.
posted by Charles Bazlinton