Reverse-Robin-Hood Osborne to raid benefits again to give to the rich

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 13:54 -- nick

George Osborne is to deliver the final budget of this parliament next week, and as usual, his familiars and henchmen are already trailing details to his favoured media outlets.

Trying to keep the Mail - and its millions of readers - onside is a Tory priority, with its rival Express already likely to support UKIP at the May election and the Mail casting eyes in that direction.

So finding a story on the government's spending plans in today's paper a week in advance is no surprise, and there is even less innovation in the direction the budget is likely to take.

Under the headline: "George Osborne's big benefit freeze: Budget to signal election pledge to cut £12 billion from welfare" the paper shows the same familiar lack of imagination and ceaseless punishment is likely to be found next week as in every other coalition year.

Most of the individual elements have been trailed before, including a reduction in the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 for a family, under-25s only being allowed benefits if they are in work or training, and child benefit stopped after three children.

This last one may be the undoing of the Tory plan. To paraphrase Martin Niemoeller, first they came for the unemployed, and the majority were silent. Then they came for the disabled, and there was no outcry. But now the Conservatives are coming for low-paid workers - child benefit cuts apply to them and can be added to planned chops to tax credits - more and more of the apparently 'deserving' poor will be affected and have common ground with the unemployed.

The money saved by this will partly go towards paying off Britain's debts, but partly towards raising the top rate tax threshold to £50,000 over the next parliament.

Only those who earn £50,000 or more will fully benefit, meaning you would have to be in the top 10% of single earners and top 20% of joint earners to get anything from this.

So this is another example of a policy which impoverishes the poor to benefit the rich.

Even the suggestion that the bottom tax threshold should be raised to £12,500 does nothing for Britain's poorest - one-in-five people do not even earn that much.

Behind these policies is a desire to shrink the state to a tiny rump and have the Conservatives' rich donors pay as little as possible to support it.

Finding ways to demonise innocent people, and to tell a story that provides moral justifications for cuts, is all done in the service of these rich few.