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Cut Here in Case of An Emergency April 27, 2010

Posted by Audit Monkey in The State of the British Nation.
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At long last, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) have broken the silence during the current campaign and stated the obvious, there will be a dire need for public spending cuts whoever wins the General Election. Until now, the main political parties have been strangely mute on the detail and dazzled the electorate with vague references to cutting waste through efficiencies, etc.

As the two regular readers of this blog will be aware, I haven’t been paying too much attention to the televised Leader debates as these have been pretty trite in places. Last week’s debate was slightly farcical; it was supposed to be on foreign affairs but drifted off topic onto whether pensioners would retain free bus passes. Another pledge to add to the long list of ring-fenced spending the politicians are signing up to.

The fundamental problem is two-fold. There is an expectation among the electorate (tax-payers) that they should get back what they put in. For example, take winter fuel benefits. Bizarrely, the British government plays over £10million in winter fuel payments to pensioners living overseas in the Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, etc. Needless to say, these countries have warmer winter climates and the payment to overseas ex-pats is clear nonsense. Yet the sentiment from overseas recipients is that they have contributed taxes over the years and are entitled to something back. (If in doubt, see the comments on the Daily Mail article and the reader comments). This a widespread sentiment shared across British society.

I’m aware that £10m is small beer in greater scheme of things but the other issue that politicians don’t wish to tell Joe Public the nasty, unpalatable truth, that we need either need to either radically restructure the public sector or pay higher tax. Unfortunately, the main political parties are being very opaque on the topic. Allegedly, the lack of ‘Spending Review’ by the incumbent government is also hindering the debate. Yeah, I’m aware the Lib Dems have identified some £15billion in savings but as for the rest, it is anyone’s guess. Sadly, the electorate aren’t being offered much choice, which surely, is the cornerstone of democracy (?) in this General Election.

This may change on Thursday evening (30 April 2010) on the last Leader Debate but I doubt it.

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Comments»

1. Richard - April 28, 2010

To be fair to our great leaders there are so many people in the pocket of Brown’s big government (public sector/benefit recipients) that the turkeys are never going to vote for Christmas and the parties all know this. It will be interesting times post election when the big axe comes out and union-inspired Greek-style grumpiness hits the streets.

And then today there is the Birmingham council news story – http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/28/pay-female-staff-birmingham-council – about women workers being underpaid and the door could be open to backdated payouts. This is total craziness in todays fiscal climate. The most alarming thing about the story for me though was the fact that bin men were earning over 50k a year!? If we had a UK Tea Party they’d have a field day over this but then maybe I’ve just been watching too much Fox News and council workers should all be paid top dollar. After all, its investment innit, as Gordon keeps on telling us..

2. Audit Monkey - May 2, 2010

I was chatting to the Conservative candidate for my part of the world on Saturday. I asked how the Tories were going to reverse the £160billion deficit. The vague answers, freeze public sector pay for one year, cut tax credits for those earning over £50k and if I recall correctly, raising the retirement age by 1 year in 2016 (well something daft like that).

I argued the toss and said this only skimmed the surface. Suffice to say, this didn’t go down well and I should submit my ideas to Dave Cameron so ‘they are in the system!’.

I’m quite looking to the UK Greek style riots on the streets of Sarf London. We haven’t had a good ruck for a very long time (Poll Tax Riots in London 1990 spring to mind) so it could be quite a spectacle. But more importantly, it may bring people to their senses and they might realise the socialist, take it easy, let someone else do the work and get paid lifestyle is over.

Richard - May 2, 2010

You should have quizzed him on how they planned to get the debt down assuming the deficit is ever brought into line. That would have knocked you off his Xmas card list for good.

3. Audit Monkey - May 2, 2010

I did (as mentioned above?) but some more detail.

Being a crafty politician with flunkies in tow, they turned the argument around and ‘questioned’ me. “What would you do?” our Tory candidate said. I replied “cut child benefit”, at which juncture the Tory flunky commented “that child benefit is a well targeted benefit”.

It is at this point I realised that this country is well and truly buggered. The Tories are unlikely to radically reform the welfare state and we are likely to remain a high tax, high spend nation for the foreseeable future. I’ll blog on this later.

4. ITauditSecurity - May 3, 2010

Ok, I have little clue what you’re talking about, but I just had to mention one thing…..I just loved the phrase:

“I’m aware that £10m is small beer”

Is that a common saying in your neck of the woods or perhaps a brilliant auditmonkey-ism?

Either way, I’ll be stealing it shortly! Thanks again.

5. Audit Monkey - May 6, 2010

Unfortunately not one of my sayings but a phrase which crops up in the British language. ‘Small beer’ is an idiom which means ‘trivia’.

So in context, if the British Government elected not to pay Winter fuel benefits (social security payments) to ex-pats resident aboard, it would be small change in the greater scheme of things.


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