Eric Avebury writes … LibDems should oppose Tory measures against the poor

The Children’s Society reveals that 1.2 million school age children in poverty aren’t getting free school meals, 700,000 because they aren’t even entitled to them.

At the same time the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill comes into force, under which almost two thirds of the money saved comes from the poorest households. According to the Department for Work and Pensions, the effect of the Bill is to increase child poverty by 200,000 children. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimates that by 2015/16 there will be 300,000 more children in poverty than today.

The bedroom tax, which kicks in this month, affects 660,000 lower income householders. One spare bedroom means a loss of £624 pa housing benefit, two means you lose £1,144. If you take in a lodger to make up the loss, any rent you get over £20 a week is docked £ for £ from your benefits. In many areas you can’t move, because there are no smaller properties available.

The benefit cap, starting in four councils this month, rolling out countrywide in September, cuts the yearly income of 56,000 poor families by an average of £4,836 (USDAW Parliamentary briefing).

Fuel poverty in the UK is the worst of any country in Europe. Five million households need to spend more than 10% of their income on keeping warm. As energy costs rise and benefits go down, there’s no chance of improvement in the offing.

Council tax benefit has been cut by 10% and passed to local authorities to administer, loading fresh burdens on them, instead of being incorporated in Universal Credit.

Will the victims of benefit cuts be able to get advice? Not to contest the amount they get paid; legal aid for benefits, as well as for housing, debt, divorce, education and employment has all been stopped. The Citizens’ Advice Bureaux budget for those cases has been slashed from £22 million to £3 million.

How did Liberal Democrats allow this situation to develop?

We accepted the proposition that in getting the country out of debt, every section of the community had to make a contribution. Instead, we should have said that families at the lowest end of the income scale would be exempt, while those at the top would be asked to carry a bigger share of the burden.

The Equality Trust has produced abundant evidence to show that income inequality is correlated with indices of social dysfunction such as crime, drug taking, alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy. Conversely, UNICEF measures of child well-being are better in more equal societies.

Income inequality in the UK is the third worst in the world among developed states, and worst of all for child well-being. The Coalition’s policy of cutting the benefits of families with children is going to make things worse, not just now but in the future when these deprived children become parents themselves.

Nick Clegg should say plainly to the Tories that we will not accept any measures that ask the poor to make further sacrifices from now on. Liberal Democrats have the numbers in both Houses to stop the Government fleecing the poor even harder over the next two years. Let’s use that power.

* Eric Lubbock, Lord Avebury, is a working peer, and Vice-Chair, Parliamentary Human Rights Group. He blogs here.

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48 Comments

  • I assume by children in poverty you mean children in relative poverty, not actual poverty?

  • Geoffrey Payne 2nd Apr '13 - 1:13pm

    I just wish all Lib Dem Parliamentarians had your awareness on this issue.

  • David Wilkinson 2nd Apr '13 - 1:25pm

    Well done to Lord Avebury for his comments , glad to see there are still some real Liberals left in the party.
    On top this list are the fees required to a tribunal, the restriction in payouts from a tribunal and today Jo Swinson saying in that Liberal paper the DT that the minimum wage is costing to much.
    And the leadership thinks crude actions will work, it just shows how remote they are down in Whitehall.

  • No further cuts?
    Gee thanks.
    My entire income now goes on paying for the housing benefit cuts.
    There is nothing left over even for food.
    I live in a tiny 1bed flat.
    That’s after 10 yrs of work and taxes!

    So thomas- I expect it’s actual real life poverty, as in ‘can’t afford to eat’

  • James Sandbach 2nd Apr '13 - 1:39pm

    Pleased to see you speaking out on this Eric as you have done consistently in the Lords, and putting the case so cogently, Tony Greaves and Sarah Teather have spoken out also, and there are many in the Parliamentary Party who disagree with the changes for the reasons you have given. Surely now is the time however for all those in the Parliamentary Party concerned about the drift of welfare reform to speak out with ONE voice – including as you suggest in your final paragraph threatening withdrawl from the Government whip; there is not a political consensus or majority for these regressive reforms.

  • Helen Tedcastle 2nd Apr '13 - 1:43pm

    An excellent article. As usual, Liberal Democrats in the Quad go along with multi-millionaire Tories, Osborne and Cameron.

    It’s a shameful time to be a member of the Lib Dems because these changes are going to make the poor poorer.

  • Steve Griffiths 2nd Apr '13 - 2:11pm

    We are getting two conflicting messages on the LDV website from Lib Dem Parliamentarians. Eric Avebury is saying;

    “Income inequality in the UK is the third worst in the world among developed states, and worst of all for child well-being. The Coalition’s policy of cutting the benefits of families with children is going to make things worse, not just now but in the future when these deprived children become parents themselves.”

    Tony Greaves said on another thread on this website recently;

    ““None shall be enslaved by poverty…” – a classic statement from the mid-1930s written by Muir and Dodds that could not have come without the developments in Liberal thought earlier in the century. So we are now part of a government that is reducing the incomes of the poorest 10% of the population by at least 38%…”

    Both statements are a striking contrast to the thread on ‘bed-blockers’ by Danny Alexander. I have great respect for both these members of the House of Lords and agree with most of what they have to say, but they are in the ‘Westminster Bubble’ and the average Lib Dem member or reader of LDV is not. They will be a lot closer to Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander and likely to have more influence…after all we know just how much Nick listens to the party about secret justice and immigration. If these two Lib Dem parliamentary stalwarts have no influence over him either, then I do not know where the lib Dems are headed.

  • All very fine sentiments, but which of any of these commentators has anything to say about the 5-6% a year increase we are seeing in total benefits spending? You can argue about why this is happening, but the fact is, it is happening and that is a major reason why getting the deficit down is proving virtually impossible, even when large numbers of people are going into full time employment and jobs are being created at a rapid rate.

    Sorry, it is all very well wanting to be generous with state money, but how can you be generous with state money when we are borrowing such massive amounts for current spending?

  • These are not “Tory measures against the poor” they are coalitionist measures against the poor.

  • They are not “measures against the poor”. They are an attempt to rescue the state’s finances from ruin.

    How exactly is it going to help the poor if large chunks of future public spending go on financing interest payments on debt?

  • londonstatto 2nd Apr '13 - 2:43pm

    Fortunately not all Lib Dems are as financially illiterate as Labour (and this bloke).

  • Jonathan Hunt 2nd Apr '13 - 2:54pm

    Tony B says “these are not Tory measures against the poor, they are coalitionist measures against the poor”.

    We are increasingly forced to wonder what is the difference.

    We should not have to be in the position where we are seen as betraying the poorest in society, and those in greatest need. These measures are not part of our manifesto, nor the coalition agreement. They result from proven disatrous economic policies, a stupid departure from our traditional policies and values.

    It is great to see Eric on such great form. It makes me worry a little less about advancing old age.

    The main lesson of the coalition is the nonsense that “Cabinet responsibility” applies in a coalition, and having to accept everything the Tories come up with.

    As Harry Trueman said: “Don’t just do something. Stand there.” If only our leadership had followed that wise maxim.

  • Tony Dawson 2nd Apr '13 - 4:01pm

    I accept the Benefit Cap. I do not think that this money has been helping poor households. It has mostly been helping rich landlords. Housing in the UK is still seriously overpriced (which is why the recently announced mortgage seeding policy is utter lunacy).

    But the rest of what Eric is saying is largely correct. We agreed to a fairly-minimalist Coalition agreement which then opened the door to ‘Collective Cabinet Responsibility’, including the whipping of a government vote which effectively provides a Tory majority on virtually any measure you like, however the Lib Dem back benchers choose to vote. I do accept that there is an argument for poorer people to share in the overall costing of the nation’s massive problems but certainly not to the extent that Duncan Smith, Freud and Osborne are prepared to go.

    I am truly sorry that two MPs salaries in a household makes you feel that the minimum wage is too high. 🙁

  • Helen Dudden 2nd Apr '13 - 4:17pm

    What an arrogant attitude, I think you could say, let them eat cake.

    It most certainly makes you want to weep for those children.

  • Whilst it is heartening to see threads such as this, and comments such as those we see from Tony Greaves, I no longer feel these policies can be classed as “Tory”. When they are so wholeheartedly supported and justified by the leadership of the party they must now be considered Lib Dem policies as well. Like secret courts and Immigration it doesn’t matter what anyone outside of the Clegg clique think. I hope this ends prior to the next election or I will be left with no one to vote for.

  • This anger over ‘hitting the poor’ is, my view, justified and correct. The big problem with this anger is that it is far too late. The LibDem leadership has taken the party a long way to the Conservative side of the political spectrum; it is futile for the LibDems to attempt to separate themselves from the Conservatives over these ‘nasty’ policies. The LibDems have supported the Tories up to the hilt……….So we await a General Election.

  • Simon Bamonte 2nd Apr '13 - 5:29pm

    @RC: “They are not “measures against the poor”. They are an attempt to rescue the state’s finances from ruin.”

    Really? So how come it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are facing the largest cuts? Why is it always those with the least the coalition is attacking the hardest? There’s plenty of millionaires who are going to be getting a massive tax cut very soon, worth tens of thousands to some of them. But I guess, in LibDem world, it makes more sense to defend kicking people out of their homes (most of them who are actually disabled) if they have a spare bedroom than it does asking for the richest to bear the brunt of austerity. We simply cannot have the richest having to downsize to a £50 bottle of champers from their £100 bottles, can we?

    And now Jo Swinson is openly saying Minimum Wage may “need” to be cut. Just to show that “work always pays”, probably. So even the lowest paid are the next Coalition target.

    And one more thought. It is easy to tell that many people who post here will not be affected by these changes, with the cold, emotionless way they talk about this subject. Lest you forget, these are peoples’ lives and homes you are destroying. Real human beings who did not cause this financial mess we are in. All the howls from a few people on this site who say anyone who opposes austerity are just Labour trolls or whatever are simply nonsense. I voted LibDem all my life, but will no longer do so and am absolutely disgusted with what the party has done in this coalition when it comes to the most vulnerable in society. So, to those who support this, or even seek to defend it with “but-but–Labour!!” need to look into the mirror and realise it is YOU who are to blame for impoverishing people further. Nobody forced the majority of LibDem MPs and Peers to vote for these cuts. Nobody is forcing you to defend them, either. Only LD tribalists and those with no compassion or willingness to make those who caused the crisis pay for it, rather than those who didn’t, can defend this anti-poor rubbish.

    And, yes, I am very very angry as my job involves helping people who are directly and negatively affected by this coalition. So to see people talking in such cold, removed tones about the people they are making poorer truly does make my blood boil.

  • Anthony Hawkes 2nd Apr '13 - 5:38pm

    Good for Eric Avebury.

    Please remember that it was the poor, disabled, nurses, teachers etc., who caused this financial crisis and not the greedy, corrupt bankers.

    And that magic money tree – how come it exists to bail out banks, but does not exist for ordinary people?

    I am sure Nick Clegg can explain.

  • Simon Bamonte 2nd Apr '13 - 5:47pm

    @tony b:
    “These are not “Tory measures against the poor” they are coalitionist measures against the poor.”

    Indeed. The majority of LibDem MPs and Peers voted for these attacks on the poor while at the same time giving a large tax break to millionaires. And people have the stones to say it’s not an attack on the poor and certainly not something LibDems support. All while blaming Labour for their own actions, saying there was no choice. Well, there’s always a choice. Say what you will about Osborne and IDS, but at least they have the courage to try to justify these policies to the public rather than going around saying “we had to do this” and claiming it’s nothing to do with them. Even though they voted for it. Kind of like the Labour MPs who voted for the Iraq war who later went around saying “It wasn’t me, guv.”

  • James Sandbach 2nd Apr '13 - 6:01pm

    Tony – it’s worth remembering that it doesn’t take much to burst a bubble!

  • Old Codger Chris 2nd Apr '13 - 6:13pm

    @Simon Bamonte “Kind of like the Labour MPs who voted for the Iraq war who later went around saying “It wasn’t me, guv.”

    It’s much worse than those MPs and Iraq – they were led to believe that Saddam Hussein (who, let’s remember, was one of the worst tyrants of his generation) had WMDs. LibDem MPs and Peers are doing this in the face of known facts.

    RC does have a point about the cost of Benefits. This should be part of a wider conversation. The cost of housing. The failure, over many years, to build enough. Poverty wages – Benefits, to some extent, subsidise bad employers.

  • Lord Avebury identifies relevant issues and problems that we face as a country but perhaps not the relevant solutions.

    One of the benefits and indeed even raison detre for the House of Lords is its ability to consider the needs and issues that the country faces in a less partisan and more reasoned fashion than is possible in the adversarial hothouse of the commons.

    There are two competing issues to consider here. Firstly, the need to tackle the deficit in a manner that does not make our economic situation worse; and secondly the need to ensure that families at the lowest end of the income scale are not disproportionally impacted by such policies.

    Lord Avebury quite reasonably remarks “We accepted the proposition that in getting the country out of debt, every section of the community had to make a contribution. Instead, we should have said that families at the lowest end of the income scale would be exempt, while those at the top would be asked to carry a bigger share of the burden.”

    We can also reasonably accept that those in receipt of benefits in excess of the average wage should make a contribution by way of an overall welfare cap and a cap on housing benefit or level of social housing benefit that can be claimed.

    Lord Greaves made the point last month that the increase in the personal allowance will not benefit those with income below the tax threhold and perhaps more resources should be directed to the welfare of this bottom decile of the population and (by implication) less to the squeezed middle.

    The cost of welfare quite patently does need to be contained and the focus will have to be principally on benefits paid to those of working age, The answers lie not in the relatively small level of funds that can be derived from ever higher and potentially self-defeating rates of tax on the top 1% or 5% of earners but radical welfare, tax and economic reforms that give everyone a fair shot at making their own way, whatever their current circumstances.

    In my view those reforms should include as a minimum:

    a) A non-means tested basic or Citizens Income to replace the current personal allowance, JSA, income support etc.
    b) A combinecd flat rate of tax on all sources of income to replace basic income tax and employee national insurance.
    c) A Land Value Tax to replace higher rate income taxes, council tax and business rates.
    d) A minimum wage job guarantee scheme to replace workfare that dovetails with the private-sector apprenticeship and training progras.
    e) The restriction of housing benefit and social housing tenancies to those in employment (exceptng the disabled and retirees) including participants on the job guarantee scheme.

  • The more I hear from this government and especially from it’s Tory wing, the more I’m reminded of The Shock Doctrine . Really the economic disasterer caused by listening to neoliberals has been turned into a land grab by neoliberals.

  • RC said “How exactly is it going to help the poor if large chunks of future public spending go on financing interest payments on debt?”

    How exactly is it going to help the poor by cutting the tax rate for earnings over a whopping £150,000?

  • Andrew Suffield 3rd Apr '13 - 12:07am

    Unless of course you think that you have to be starving to death in an Ethiopian famine in order to be in “actual poverty” that is.

    This is almost correct – actual poverty is a clearly-defined thing which means the inability to provide for your own basic needs.

    “Relative poverity” is an arbitrary definition, chosen to be some particular level of unpleasantness in your lifestyle compared to the people around you. There’s no particular legitimacy to the level of unpleasantness chosen and the goalposts can (and will) be moved to ensure there’s always enough people “in poverty” for political purposes.

    So how come it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are facing the largest cuts? Why is it always those with the least the coalition is attacking the hardest? There’s plenty of millionaires who are going to be getting a massive tax cut very soon, worth tens of thousands to some of them

    Anybody who’s making a million pounds in a year is, over the 5 years of this government, paying over a quarter million more in tax than they did under Labour from 2005 to 2010. You are just wrong. There is no tax cut – the tax hike is just being backed off a little in one category, and nobody who makes a million pounds a year was paying that particular tax anyway.

    Everybody is paying for Labour’s spending spree. There is not enough money in the nation to stop that, sadly. There’s plenty of details which could have been done better if there were less Tories in government, and we could have shuffled a few more percent from the lowest paid onto the middle classes, but that’s about all. Maintaining benefits at Labour’s unaffordable levels would have meant no benefits at all in just a few years.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Apr '13 - 12:25am

    @Andrew Suffield “Everybody is paying for Labour’s spending spree. ”
    Let’s not forget that we (and the tories) promised at each general election before 2010 to match Labour’s spending (though we did not call it a spree then).

  • @tony b
    “How exactly is it going to help the poor by cutting the tax rate for earnings over a whopping £150,000?”

    By making it less financially attractive for the earners in the sub-£1M bracket (ie. the majority of taxpayers earning more than £150,000) to restructure their income and invest in tax avoidance schemes and thereby reducing their tax payments to HMRC. Yes I know it is a little hard for some to grasp, but keeping high earners (and bankers bonuses) within the PAYE system is actually good for tax revenues.

  • I can see many providers of social housing, going in and fitting locks on the bedroom doors – thereby effectively reducing the size of the accommodation available to tenants. It would also change the nature of the agreement between the provider and the tenant as effectively the tenant would no longer have sole tenancy – unless they happened to occupy all the bedrooms.

    Otherwise I can see many providers suffering financial hardship as tenants find themselves unable to pay rents, due to being not able to ‘downsize’ and hence receiving reduced levels of benefits.

  • A Social Liberal 3rd Apr '13 - 2:33am

    RC

    The 5-6% increase is surely due to coalition policies that :-

    * see the economy flatlining and the resultant millions on JSA
    *Increasing the state pension to liveable levels
    *The relience on zero hours contracts/part time employment/temporary work that forces the claiming of working tax credits.

  • I want to be lectured on entitlement culture again by a guy who billed trimming his wisteria to the taxpayer.

  • Nigel Jones 3rd Apr '13 - 11:31am

    Lord Avebury’s article is spot on, but we need this to be followed by a concerted campaign to get the backing of all our MPs to persuade ministers to agree with these basic points and then collectively work out a way forward. Lord Avebury is in line with Liberal Democrat principles; when are we going to hear the same comments from our leadership ?

  • David Allen 3rd Apr '13 - 1:22pm

    “Lord Avebury is in line with Liberal Democrat principles; when are we going to hear the same comments from our leadership ?”

    When it comes to business policy, I do hear a consistent line of comment from Vince Cable which politely but firmly dissents from some of the things George Osborne would advocate. I can see a debate going on. I can see that Cable often loses out, but sometimes wins his points. I think one can, to an extent at least, defend the argument that Cable is there to make things less bad than they would have been without him.

    When it comes to most other fields of policy, I struggle to make any such argument. When it is a Lib Dem who actually pioneers the proposition that the minimum wage should be cut – leaving Boris, for heaven’s sake, to lead in taking the opposite view! – I cannot possibly see any debate between “heartless” Tories and “compassionate” Lib Dems. Instead, the main Lib Dem leadership seems ever more determined to prove that they can out-Tory the Tories.

    Why should they actually want to do that? Why don’t they even take the more pragmatic line of hiding behind the Tories, of letting the Tebbits and Graylings and Duncan-Smiths of this world take the “credit” for the most blood-curdling attacks on the poor, wash their hands in a Pilate-like fashion, and talk about the sacrifices they have to make for the sake of coalition and stable government?

    I believe that the main leadership group do have a good reason to want to tie themselves, and the Party, to the mast of right-wing politics. It is, simply, that they have found a home for themselves and they want to stay there. Whether for ideological reasons, or self-preservation, or both, they want to make their home within the Greater Conservative movement. By placing themselves at the head of the right-wing charge, they are advertising to their Tory friends just how reliable as partners they have become. They want to continue as part of a Conservative coalition beyond 2015, to make their position on the Right just as semi-permanent as that of the German FDP. There is no other reason which can account for actions such as Swinson’s decision to fly a kite for a lower minimum wage.

    The rest of us must recognise the facts, and do something effective about it. Writing posts like those on this thread is only a start.

    One option would be to scuttle the ship. To stand rival “Real Liberal Democrat” candidates against Clegg, Laws and their main acolytes at the next election. To accept that the centre-left Liberal Democrat Party will never be revived unless it is first decimated.

    Those who would disagree with that should tell us – what is the viable alternative?

  • Andrew Suffield 3rd Apr '13 - 3:38pm

    There is no other reason which can account for actions such as

    This is always wrong. It’s the wrong thing to think, it’s a lousy argument, and it’s how you end up with conspiracy theories like that one. Look for the real reasons.

  • David Allen 3rd Apr '13 - 5:07pm

    OK then Andrew, what are the real reasons? Enlighten us!

  • Original post: “we should have said that families at the lowest end of the income scale would be exempt”

    How about people, rather than the Daily Mail-esque mantra that “families” are the deserving class.

  • Tony Dawson 4th Apr '13 - 3:23pm

    @Andrew Suffield:

    “Anybody who’s making a million pounds in a year is, over the 5 years of this government, paying over a quarter million more in tax than they did under Labour from 2005 to 2010. ”

    I would love to believe this and to persuade others to believe it. Where’s the ‘beef’ behind these assertions?

  • Tony Dawson.

    “Where’s the ‘beef’ behind these assertions?”

    That seems an easy one. The top rate of income tax under Labour was 40% up until the last few weeks before the election.

    The top rate from 2010/11 was 50% for three years and is now 45%. Anyone with earnings of a million in a year will have been paying £100k per year more in tax at the 50% rate and £50,000 more in annual income tax at the current rate.

  • David Allen 4th Apr '13 - 11:09pm

    Joe Bourke,

    You’re right, but, there are other points to consider.

    As Harold Wilson put it, when times become hard it is the broadest backs which should bear the greatest burden. Irrespective of the change of government, it is rational to let the rich pay relatively low taxes when times are good and the money is not needed, but to increase the tax rate on the rich when times turn hard.

    To come right up to date, the rich and their bonuses got away with it big time during the boom years. They presumably still have a lot of the money left. The nation needs it now. It is entirely arguable that the coalition have not tried hard enough to get it!

  • David Allen,

    I appreciate the moral point but I am not so sure it is rational to let the rich pay relatively low taxes when times are good and the money is not needed, but to increase the tax rate on the rich when times turn hard.

    Increasing taxes during a recession or lowering taxes in a period of economic growth is not a policy that lends itself to economic and financial stability.

    I would much prefer to see stability in the level of taxation to national income throughout the economic cycle with the funding of automatic stabilisers during periods of recession coming from current spending restraint and associated tax surpluses during periods of economic growth. Coupling this policy with the maintenance of a consistent level of capital investment funded by borrowing levels that see a gradual year on year reduction in debt to GDP levels, should aid in smoothing the kind of wild swings in public sector finances that we have experienced in recent times.

    With respect to the current issue of taxation of accumulated wealth my preferred solution would be the intoduction of Land Value Taxation on the top 15% of Landholdings by value at a level sufficient to replace higher rate taxes on income and business rates entirely.

    More extreme solutions might be a Cyprus type one off levy on the accumulated assets of very wealthy individuals as suggested by Donald Trump not so long ago Trump Proposes a Tax for the Rich / One-time levy on net worth would pay off entire national debt, perhaps to retire the £375 billion of government debt currently held by the Bank of England.

  • @Joe
    “More extreme solutions might be a Cyprus type one off levy on the accumulated assets of very wealthy individuals”

    From what I can determine one of the reasons why this seemed such a good idea for Cyprus, was the amount of foreign and non-EU monies held. Hence I suggest for the option “to retire the £375 billion of government debt currently held by the Bank of England” to be realistic and for the UK to come out with a net gain, I suggest we need to attract significant amounts of money that is currently being held in offshore tax havens …

  • Roland,

    I expect you are right about the need to attract significant amounts of money that is currently being held in offshore tax havens.

    Donald Trumps proposals were based around a 14.25% levy on the net worth of individuals and trusts with a net assets of $10 million dollars or more that would have seen him personally paying $725 million.

    The rationale for such a ‘solidarity’ levy in the UK could be the asset inflation – particularly in the stock market and Central London property- that has been brought about by quantative easing and near zero bank base rates.

    There is certainly a precedent in the UK for windfall taxes. such as the levy on excess profits of the privatised utilities in 1997.

  • David Allen 6th Apr '13 - 12:54am

    Joe Bourke,

    “Increasing taxes during a recession or lowering taxes in a period of economic growth is not a policy that lends itself to economic and financial stability.”

    That’s right of course (such a policy would be the opposite of Keynesian). But what I called for was increasing the share of taxation paid by the rich during a recession – not increasing taxes across the board. Shifting the tax burden toward the rich in recessionary times means minimising hardship. It also means taking money away from rich savers and giving it to the poor who can be relied upon to spend it, thereby promoting recovery. And if you believe such a shift should take place, then logically you should believe that a shift of the tax burden away from the rich should then take place once the economy is booming – a reward for succesful entrepreneurs, perhaps, at a time when the rest of society can afford to provide it.

  • David Allen 6th Apr '13 - 12:58am

    “Anybody who’s making a million pounds in a year is, over the 5 years of this government, paying over a quarter million more in tax than they did under Labour from 2005 to 2010. ”

    Assertion based on false premises. Very few people are making a steady million a year. The top bankers were earning massive bonuses under Labour, but have made a lot less since. So even though the Coalition may (on the average) have increased the top rate of tax, they are taking in far less actual money from top bankers. They need to try harder. The bankers still have the nest eggs stashed away.

  • Rosemarie Rourke 8th Apr '13 - 10:09am

    If I hadn’t already been ashamed to be British, I am now. I read many of the comments above and it saddens me to see the justification of the new blood sport, ‘pick on the poor’. Never did I expect to hear a Liberal Democrat justify such inhuman actions.
    Yes the benefits system needed looking at, but sorry to burst your comfortable bubbles, but even higher than the pensions bill, is the bill for family tax credits. This is benefit that prop’s up business and enables it to pay appallingly low wages in this country.
    But will the new style of benefit payments, we will no longer be able to see in accounts how much higher that bill goes, because there is a new ‘universal’ payment. Lumping all payments in the same accounts column and making it impossible to see the future benefits to business in the UK.
    As if this shameful change is not enough, we then pick on the disabled with self righteous excuses of ‘these people need to feel useful’. I have personal experience here, after working until I was 52 I became ill (so taxes and NI have been paid). For safety I need night time supervision, however this is not a good reason to have a 2nd bedroom and if I really cannot afford the pay the extra £15.14 a week then maybe I need to get the ‘carers’ who share the job, to club together and pay the extra out of their pittance of a wage they get. (so which one of you is going to apply for the job in the future, and pay to do it?).
    And finally, just to push the nail in the coffin and amidst the tax cuts for the top earners, Osbourne announces his belief that benefit claimants have the same potential to turn out as evil as the murderer Philpott. (before I get the cries of that’s not what he said, I suggest you read the headlines in the tabloids. That will be the headline for the future)
    Just to round off my condemnation to the current popular attitude in the UK, I would like highlight the fact that Banking has no more regulations in place that it had 6 years ago, their bonuses are the same and I see no attempt by the industry to pay back their share of the bail out.
    Do not insult the public further by telling us that this state is all the fault of the poor. More importantly, do not continue to portray the Lib Dem’s as a fair and just political party. My membership has gone and I see no reason for trusting you again.

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    Martin. To discuss democracy you must first define what it is and then decide whether the concept of a pan European democracy is desirable and...
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    The UK will have to follow the EU's rules ( or so it seems) so we don't really seem to be leaving it David. You...
  • User Avatarmarcstevens 13th Nov - 9:10pm
    Do you think we can refrain from attacking and stereotyping people on the basis of their gender and race on this site? As a liberal...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 13th Nov - 9:09pm
    Martin I want us to leave the EU which is what I am the majority of the British people voted for. You asked me to...
  • User AvatarMartin 13th Nov - 8:52pm
    David Warren: An EU Parliament more powerful than it is at present would imply a power for the EU beyond the confederation that it really...