Simplify the Welfare bill by giving it to everyone.

If someone earns (is paid) £100,000 p.a. (after tax and N.I. and any other at source deductions) and is able to invest £40,000 p.a., then it is annoying, if some Government, or Council, official then demands £20,000 p.a. from that person.  But such irritations are passing  and will have little, or no, long term effect on that person’s lifestyle.  Perhaps only one South Sea’s holiday that year, instead of two.

It’s an entirely different case, when someone has no income, except that deriving from the British Welfare system, which was originally set up to spare the unemployed from destitution and the misery and ill-health, which it causes.

The welfare payments are meant to cover the basic necessities of that person, taking account of any personal capacity.

It’s not meant to provide them a luxury lifestyle and yet it is not meant to deprive them of any form of cheering peccadillo. E.g. as a student, in the days, when we received a grant to pursue a degree, my funds quickly ran low by end of term and I recall having on one occasion to make a choice between purchasing a steak pie, or feeding my nicotine habit with a pack of 5 Cadets (very small, very thin cigarettes).

It’s those little choices, which define your freedom and give life meaning. The very sort of choice denied those of the previous generation, who were sent to the Workhouse, when destitute.

There must be some degree of freedom in such Welfare payments to avoid crushing people’s spirits.

I can not, therefore, understand a welfare system, whereby a recipient is given this correctly determined, minimal allowance, by one official and then has another official, or a series of officials, come knocking on the door and demand some of that money back.

If the Welfare system is working correctly, the recipients will have exactly the amount of cash needed to live on, with no more overpayment than say 5% (in extreme cases) and certainly no underpayments.  Recipients would not be able accrue investments that would have any meaningful value.

Consider the State Pension.

This is about £5,000 (after tax?).

If this was decided by need rather than political pressures and incompetence, then a 5% overpayment would mean that the recipient might have £250 put aside.

This sum would be trivial in terms of payments for a holiday, NHS dental work, Community Charge, TV licence, Multi-media phone/broadband/TV channel packages, Utility bill hikes, proposed NHS charges and much more accepted as a normal part of everyday life for those in well-paid employment.

Forget running a car, or using paid public transport. Although in the case of pensioners, they do, at present, have a bus pass enabling them to travel into shops, or official appointments.

If public transport were free, if NHS dentistry were free, If there were no TV licence, if libraries provide access to broadband for all, if Council’s were fully funded by Central Government and if the Utilities were re-nationalised the Welfare system could be drastically simplified and overall cost of supporting the unemployed would be dramatically reduced.

This means putting everyone in the Nation, prince and pauper,  on this State payment and making this the minimum wage for all working age adults.

Child benefit would be replaced by a youth wage, which acknowledges their dependency on an adult to provide shared facilities, such as shelter.

Similarly, older people, needing special care, would have a relevantly reduced wage.

This sounds stupid, at first sight, but consider that we have various PAYE, NI contributions etc. from employers and employee’s.

Why not just scrap employee taxes and related employer/employee NI contributions. Companies could pay this tax burden as part of their overall tax bill, adjusting their wages and staffing demands, accordingly. By having total control of this expenditure, they could plan their budget’s more precisely and HRMC could reduce it’s oversight.

The tax take from companies can be annually re-assessed to pay the total Welfare Bill, allowing Government to see an immediate adverse reaction to any attempt to be greedy and use taxes to fund grandiose schemes of self-glorification.

The more people in employment, the lower the Welfare bill and the lower the average company tax bill.

Employer’s would pay employee’s a supplement to their welfare income. The system would be self-regulating with companies balancing their likely tax bill against the inducements needed to attract suitable employee’s.

Employee’s would be motivated by wages having to be set sufficiently above the basic, to make it worthwhile.

As public transport would be free, this would not be the bar to employment that it is now and Companies would be motivated to re-locate to region’s, where potential employee’s live, cutting their travel time and reducing traffic congestion.

I realise that this idea would need a lot of work to make it fit for purpose but it’s a better starting point than where we are now.

Even if there is too much ideological opposition to the re-nationalisation aspects, the idea of simplifying the welfare bill, by having a basic , universal State paid salary  still seems an eminently sensible idea, in view of the fact that this Hi-tech age means we’ll never return to full, wealth-creating employment, while we have ample cheap energy.


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