Thursday, August 19, 2010

'Middle Class Benefits' - My Arse!

I am heartily sick of the use of the term 'middle-class benefits' to describe universal benefits, such as Child Benefit and Winter Fuel Allowance.

The ConDem coalition announced yesterday that it will be reviewing said benefits, and the media happily went along with the term 'middle-class benefits' on the spurious grounds that as they are universal, even better-off people can get them.

'Universal' in this context has a similar meaning to 'comprehensive' in the context of schools. So perhaps we should start referring to 'comprehensive schools' as 'middle-class schools'. No, didn't think so.

When the filthy rich remain filthy rich, when they are suffering a tiny fragment of the cuts which hit everyone else savagely, it also seems to me that turning fire on the so-called 'middle class' is aiming at the wrong target. Usually, when anyone gets down to specifics, they talk about excluding families with an income over, say, £40,000 from these benefits. But raising kids, or paying the bills, on a joint income of £40,001 is not exactly the life of Riley.

If people are really railing at the injustice of very rich people being entitled to benefits, fair enough. But rather than take the benefits away, make them pay for it through a more progressive taxation system.

Because if a universal benefit becomes a means-tested benefit, it is not just the 'middle class' who suffer - it is the working-class people who might still be entitled to the benefit but will stop actually getting it. As explained in my previous post here.