Wednesday 21 October 2015

Tax Credits: The Toffs are making it tough

All buses gone
One morning when I was still living in Amsterdam, I walked up to the bus stop one morning to catch a bus to the train station one my way to work.
Until, that morning, we had 5 buses going from that bus stop in different directions going to the train station that no one had to wait more than 10 minutes for a bus to come by. However, no bus came, or the only other bus that did was not going to the station.
One cursory view of the bus timetables showed that all buses from that stop to the station had been cancelled. I was later to learn that the buses were cancelled because there was a new tram service going to the train station, only that the said tram service was another 6 months away from coming into service.
This was some sort of forward-planning made without considering the impact and consequence on our community for the 6 intervening months where we had to find alternative convoluted arrangements to get to the train station, we had to wake up earlier and leave home earlier to make our connections because of this.
The travesty of tax credits
This brings me to the issue of the day in UK politics, the review of Tax Credits as proposed by the Chancellor of Exchequer. That Tax Credits exist in and off themselves is a travesty and a failing of the democratic capitalist model we have in the UK.
Tax Credits are neither taxes nor credits but a socialist means of supplementing the incomes of workers who are paid such atrociously low salaries in the public and private sector that they can hardly subsist on their incomes. In a way, our capitalist framework does not pay fully for the employment and utility of labour and the slack is taken up by the public purse in the quest to lift the poorly paid above the poverty line.
There are probably macroeconomic policies that can be put in place to make capitalism pay up in full for the cost of labour and expertise, allowing for a middle-class kind of existence, but no government has had the guts to stand up to business and demand they do the morally and ethically right thing about wages. In most cases, these businesses that leach of us to exist for the primary profit motive will howl about changes that cost them more when they are not even meeting their basic costs.
The truth is, we’re worse off
What the new Conservative government plans to do is to reduce the level of income at which people will qualify for the full in-work benefits over which the payments reduce and to limit the benefits towards children to a maximum of two.
We are told that changes to the living wage, higher tax payment thresholds, more subsidised childcare access and other tax jiggery-pokery will compensate for the loss of Tax Credits. The fact is like the transport situation I described earlier, nothing could be further from the truth.
Independent analysts and institutions have already determined that all taken together, up to 3 million families will be worse off, losing an average of £1,000 a year whilst saving the government up to £4 billion in their ideological quest to plug the deficit brought on by the financial system gone riot and the government using public money to save private financial atrocities for which no significant member of the financial community has been held accountable for.
The toffs are making it tough
In all, it is the poor and the low-income earners that have taken the bigger brunt of the austerity measures put in place to compensate for the ‘crimes’ of the City and rich investors, the squeeze is still on the poor without respite.
This might well be the Conservative government’s Poll Tax moment, but I guess not much can be said for the concern or consideration of a well-heeled governing class who have trust funds to last generations that the cries of anguish of the masses will only be an irritation to be blocked out in the comfort of their gilded and soundproofed castles.
This is not the Great Britain many signed up for, but that is the way things are. My transport situation was resolved in 6 months, the lives of people dependent on Tax Credits will not get better in the long run and that is a shame.

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