Doing things the ‘easy’ way
A guest post from one of our private sector friends today… Enjoy
Cuts season is upon us and much like a high street hooker showing a bit of leg George Osborne is warming us up for the upcoming massacre of public services by flashing us a small hint of the good stuff that is to come.
Yesterday David Cameron talked welfare reform (handily delayed until 2013) but this morning George Osborne announced his first cut of October (many more to come).
For those who missed it George Osborne announced that Child Benefit would no longer be paid to households where one member of the household earned over £44,000.
As the BBC helpfully explained:
He (Mr Osborne) confirmed the cut would hit homes with a single or two high earners (as in over £44,000) but families with two parents on incomes up to £44,000 – which might add up together to over £80,000 – would keep the benefit.
So a couple earning up to £82K a year could receive child benefits, yet a single parent earning a little over £44K (and paying more tax than a couple) would not… When asked whether his policy was fair, Mr Osborne’s response was that it may not be fair, but it’s the easiest way to do it.
So, with the comprehensive spending review almost upon us – and the axe about to fall on many of our services and benefits, I got to thinking…..if Mr Osborne is using the ‘is it easy’ test when deciding which public services to cut what can we expect from the CSR?
When reviewing healthcare spending, will he look at the cost of servicing our increasing obesity problem and suggest that we apply a weight limit for NHS care? Yes, it will massively discriminate against a vulnerable portion of our population and some obesity needs addressing medically whereas other needs a good trip to the gym but diagnosis is expensive and weighing people at the front door of hospitals is much easier.
What about education? Should we just abolish year 5? That would cut the money pretty quick. Yeah, there would be a problem for parents and carers and we’d have to make teachers redundant but surely that is a much easier option than re-negotiating pay deals and dealing with the ensuing strikes?
And local government, well that really is easy – we’ll just half the number of councils: That’ll save on senior management (Eric Pickles will be pleased) and we could sell some of the buildings. And who needs democratic accountability anyway; getting rid of half the councils is definitely easier than working out where real savings could be delivered.
Transport is even easier: We’ll just stop paying for A roads and close the airports in the Midlands; those people can get north or south anyway.
The fact is, public spending is more complicated than that….and if it was that ‘easy’ we wouldn’t be in the current financial dire straits. Basic issues of fairness and equity will prevent Mr Osborne for implementing his child benefit policy. I just hope he thinks a bit more sensibly when it comes to the rest of public spending or we could be in real trouble.