There are 2.7 million people claiming Incapacity Benefit in this nation. I often wonder if after the World War Two, did we have more than 2.7m incapacitated civilians on this Island once the soldiers had all returned? I do not know for certain, but I suspect not. Suffice it to say, although 208 British Soldiers have paid the maximum price in the conflict in Afghanistan, we are essentially a country at peace and have been thankfully for a long period of time. Not since the Second World War has the totality of the nation been involved in conflict. So why do we have so much incapacity? With the relentless avalanche of Heath and Safety laws being applied to business, they can for sure not be putting more people out of work by injury. Have the standards of our health service fallen so low over the last 60 years that more people then ever are incapacitated? To all of these, I think not. The majority of these persons who are incapacitated are just plain and simply put, work shy.
In the Sunday Times of the 30th of August, Michael Portillo in this article, said that the intentions behind the formation of the Welfare State were to prevent this abuse of our system by the work shy.
The state “should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility”, wrote Sir William Beveridge in the 1942 report that inspired the post-war welfare state. “In establishing a national minimum it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family.
How many of the 2.7m are genuine in their illness? Would it be 100,000, or 200,000, but certainly not 2.7m. Even if it was a cool 1 million people, we would still have 1.7m people who are work shy and scamming the system.
When I sit as a Magistrate, I often see abuse. I was in a domestic violence court recently where we were reviewing a Pre Sentence Report on a young man who had beaten up his 29 week pregnant teenage girlfriend in the High Street under several CCTV cameras. The Probation Service informed us that he was on incapacity benefit but that he was looking forward to the start of the football season so he could resume playing for his local team as this would take up some time. I do not know if it occurred to the probation service that incapacity benefit and a young man playing football to most would not go together.
Let’s be clear, we the taxpayer pay 2.7m people to sit at home and do nothing. This is a good 10% of our workforce that sit on the payroll of the taxpayer and do nothing. People like the above are forcing the tax burden up on the hard working families of this nation of ours. As Portillo says “As a result, taxpayers have spent £346 billion on payments to those out of work since Tony Blair entered No 10.” This is 2 and a quarter of a years worth of income tax for the whole nation out of the last 12 years just on this!
He then goes on to say “It might have been possible for the state to fine-tune benefits in that way in the days when parishes organised relief and every claimant was known to the local poor law guardians. It is much more difficult today in systems that are nationalised and standardised.
But perhaps, at least, we ought to assume that fit young people are not entitled to anything. If a few young men from sink estates are now heroes in Afghanistan, why should we presume that all the others are capable of nothing useful at all?”
A centrally planned benefits system, like anything centrally planned is bound to fail. It fails because it is impossible for a centrally planning body such as a Whitehall department, to know all the facts and all the circumstances of all the people to be able to access who is actually in an incapacitated state. We should do the following;
- Immediately send the Incapacity to the local councils as the custodians of the state,
- Let the local citizens in each ward choose a voluntary council of wise and impartial people from all walks of life, the “community guardians” in that small local ward area – maybe have a pool of 50 – 100 people who could participate. Perhaps the selection criteria of the Magistrates could be used.
- Each week, let the citizens of the ward apply to the voluntary local ward council or community guardians for “their” benefit.
- The voluntary local ward council , with all their local ward, street by street knowledge, would more than likely have some intimate knowledge and information about the life style of the applicant, or could easily take soundings and find out if their application is genuine or not.
- All the ward based GP’s should as part of their contracts be required to work on behalf of the local community to assess the fitness of someone for work.
- The law must lay down strict boundaries within which communities may be compelled to support individuals and families for reason of incapacity.
- Having knowledge also about what jobs are available in the community and the insights of an on hand GP , they may be less likely to grant benefits to the simply work shy. Indeed they will focus on only those who can not work. They may even elect to spend more on these unfortunate , but in many cases deserving people.
- The final reform would be to abolish the central taxation that relates to this provision of benefits and devolve it entirely down to the local ward to levy a tax on its citizens to pay for the incapacity of its people. With the voluntary policing of its distribution, I am very sure this tremendous burden on the hard working people of the UK will fall substantially freeing up masses of new resources to wealth creation.
Enough is enough: social progress requires everyone who can to do something of value for others. This aspect of the Welfare State needs to be reformed immediately