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How politicians created, rather than reacted to, negative public opinion on benefits

 

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Interesting blog from Tom O’Grady of LSE on how politicians appear to have lead public opinion rather than followed it in respect of social security and welfare reforms.

How politicians created, rather than reacted to, negative public opinion on benefits

     
nevip
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Good article Paul.  It’s as I’ve always said.  The ruling class and its media mouthpieces don’t, and never have done, tell you what to think, but tell you what to think about, and equally importantly, how to think about it.

     
John Birks
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Yes just who pays for that ‘sort’ of programming?

I doubt the fees for tv ads covers the cost, yet there are many of them. Who’s watching? Why make them?

http://www.barb.co.uk/viewing-data/weekly-top-30/

     
nevip
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 10 November 2017 12:35 PM

Interesting blog from Tom O’Grady of LSE on how politicians appear to have lead public opinion rather than followed it in respect of social security and welfare reforms.

How politicians created, rather than reacted to, negative public opinion on benefits

A perfect example of this is housing policy.  In 1977 parliament enacted the Rent Act.  This brought in a system of strict rent control and security of tenure in the private sector.  This did not go down well within sections of the landlord class.  In the 1980’s parliament brought in the right to buy in the social housing sector and limited replacement building in that sector.

Throughout the 1980’s, instead of building more social housing, thus increasing supply, the government sold the line that availability in the private sector was shrinking as landlords were less willing to let properties due to low rents, and softened up the public to tacitly accepting the need for less rent control and security of tenure.  More landlords would be willing to let, it said. Whereby, it enacted the Housing Act of 1988 which abandoned rent control and security of tenure, in any meaningful sense, through the assured shorthold tenancy.  This, the government said, would make more properties available for rent due to increased supply.  This was the start of the road to high rents as property values began to rise due to other (linked) mechanisms within wider economic policy, and thus an increase in the housing benefit bill.

Thus, years on, when the government wants to do away with whatever security is left in the system (with the completely disingenuous claim of wanting to reduce the housing benefit bill) it appeals to the baser instincts in people who will then more readily adopt the “I have little security why should my neighbour have it” line of thinking (see also the benefit cap).  We are also left with the absurd situation via the ‘bedroom tax’ of using the benefit system as a tool of housing policy, simply because we have failed to build enough affordable housing to rent.  We have finally arrived at the end of the race to the bottom.

 

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Brilliant post Paul.

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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On a similar tip from the Guardian, as to ambivalent public attitudes about which kind of fraud is “the worst” and how the government used this to drive through austerity.

Last year’s British Social Attitudes survey asked Britons about their feelings on this issue. Our analysis of this data (with Ben Baumberg Geiger of the University of Kent) revealed that the British public believes tax avoidance to be commonplace (around one third of taxpayers are assumed to have exploited a tax loophole). In moral terms, people seem rather ambivalent; less than half (48%) thought that legal tax avoidance was “usually or always wrong”.

By contrast, more than 60% of Britons believe it is “usually or always wrong” for poorer people to use legal loopholes to claim more benefits. In other words, people are significantly more likely to condemn poor people for using legal means to obtain more benefits than they are to condemn rich people for avoiding tax.

Why do people care more about benefit ‘scroungers’ than billions lost to the rich?

     
John Birks
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At the risk of upsetting anyone I’d have to say this is pretty basic stuff and more worthy of the common room.

We all avoid tax whether we save in an ISA, a Pension scheme or buy second hand goods.

The question asked in the article perpetuates the myth that we all live and work in the same system.

Of course we don’t.

The fact is there exists an ability to lift oneself out of the tax system by various means and methods that are not open to those on the lower end of the income scale.

Some people may not even own the mansion they live in and therefore are not responsible for it’s upkeep.

They probably don’t buy their cars as these are depreciating assets and it’s more efficient to rent (not a PCP) and reduce the amount available to be taxed.

The fact is the world is very complicated and the tax right or wrong thing is pitched at a very low level as to what is really wrong with the ‘system.’

     
SamW
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What ‘legal loopholes’ can be used to claim more benefits?

The only think I can think of is the bedroom tax exemption where the legislation had been drafted wrong. Maybe at a real stretch people signing on for JSA and a ‘temporary period of sickness’ with no intention of looking for work (which is really a reaction to the problems the DWP created by introducing MRs with no ESA payment ).

If you think of the general aim of the tax legislation as being to ensure that individuals/companies pay their ‘fair share’ of tax - tax avoidance is finding the holes in the legislation where you can not pay tax (or pay much less) and be ‘untouchable’. I don’t really see many, if any equivalent situations in benefits law.

I certainly agree with the first post - things have got to the point where I’m sure we have all got our experiences of claimants themselves pointing the scrounger finger at immigrants etc or ‘Jimmy down the road who has nothing wrong with him but gets more than I do’.

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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I suspect ‘legal loophole’ in the context of benefit claims is simply a nicer way of implying benefit fraud, which is pretty well researched to be vastly overestimated by the general public.

     
Stainsby
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This loopholes are maybe closing, but consider this real life scenario ( there was no illegality here)

Claimant is a pensioner.  He is a council tenant and is not in good health.

Following advice claims attendance allowance and pension credit.

He is then advised to buy his council house under right to buy, gets 50% discount and an interest only mortgage of £15000.  The repayments are less than his previous rent.

Three years later, he is advised to sell said council house.  He uses the proceeds of sale to obtain a £96000 mortgage and buys a bungalow in a much nicer area.

The DWP had to allow the increased housing costs because the bungalow was more suited to his disablement needs

The crux of the improvement in this man’s living conditions was the right to buy, but the costs were all paid by the state and the former council house is now owned by a private landlord and no doubt let to housing benefit claimants.

This scenario is maybe an example of a prisoner’s dilemma but it raises all kinds if issues about housing and social security policy

     
Gareth Morgan
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Stainsby - 17 November 2017 06:27 PM

Three years later, he is advised to sell said council house.  He uses the proceeds of sale to obtain a £96000 mortgage and buys a bungalow in a much nicer area.

... and next year he will be ‘borrowing’ £208 a month from the DWP towards the interest that he, or his heirs, will have to repay with compounded (low) interest.