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Chancellors for the day slash welfare

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Chris Mason Chris Mason | 09:08 UK time, Thursday, 29 July 2010

Even a casual glance at how the government spends our taxes leaves one thing very clear: Welfare and benefits are very expensive.

For every four pounds the taxman takes from us, more than a pound is spent on welfare. The state pension, housing benefit, incapacity benefit and unemployment benefit all, of course, come with a bill.


In Gordon Brown's backyard here in Lochore in Fife, the word 'benefits' gets people going.

Some are dependent on them, others are infuriated by them. One man jabbed his fingers towards a neighbour's front door saying they were scrougers.

For Day 4 of 5 live Drives Down the Deficit, we assembled a panel of Scottish would-be chancellors in the Lochore Miners Welfare Social Club. Caron has worked for 15 years in the voluntary sector. Gary is married with four grown up kids and is a fireman. And John is the Minister at Lochgelly Baptist Church.

Our team of Treasury wannabes decided those in the highest tax band wouldn't get child benefit. Free bus passes for pensioners would only be given to people who don't have a car. The Winter Fuel Payment for the elderly would only be given to the poorest half of society. But, biggest of all in terms of savings, the state pension would be given in stages depending on wealth. Yes, it could be administratively complicated, but there would be potential for massive savings.

So how much did our trio save, very, very roughly? Perhaps up to £24bn. Opinion polls suggest people are most inclined to say savings should come from the welfare bill, and broadly, our panel in Fife agreed.

Hear our deficit reports in Drive (up to seven days after broadcast)

On Friday, we'll be heading to Nottingham to look at tax. How about a tax on text messages?


  • Comment number 1.

    The first cut I would make is the con-dem coalition. Trusting the Tories with the future of our country's plight was a mistake. We are in for "crash and burn." This country should have an egalitarian society like Denmark or Sweden. Instead we behave like we are world rulers, like we used to. Only we never really were, in the days of empire, because we didn't treat our ordinary people fairly.In September 1914 the ordinary people of this country were poised for a general strike, to fight against poor pay and conditions imposed by a greedy ruling class. Instead they were tricked into a pointless and barbaric war, that cost us a generation, and led us into another one 22 years later. In 1946 Labour introduced the welfare state and the NHS,against a backdrop of an bankrupt, war torn nation.In 1951 they were only kept out of power by the unfair voting system we are saddled with. If Labour had continued in power we might have achieved the fairer society the Scandanavians have. They pay higher taxes for a better standard of living. If you earn more, you pay more; and few complain. There are no beggers on the streets; run down inner city areas filled with danger. Our country is a disgrace!However, we still settle for second best. We argued that we couldn't afford the mimimum wage. We worry that raising taxes higher for the rich will lead to a "brain drain."I say let them leave. Lets have higher taxes for the rich; better services (not reduced ones).Ordinary people should stand up and fight the cuts; and make the ones responsible pay. Not the vulnerable.

  • Comment number 2.

    gabriel58, im afraid that is a very warped view of history. I would hardly call world war 2 'pointless'. Also if you think the last Labour administration, which was as morally corrupt as any, would lead us into a fairer society is, im afraid naive at the very least. Also they tried higher taxes in the seventies and yes everyone left - the result? less money in the coffers- politics of envy does not work. Help employers to recruit staff i steh answer - more will then pay tax and claim less.


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