Osborne’s false dichotomy: ‘people who work and pay taxes’ and those on welfare

Benefits are often an essential subsidy to low wages rather than an alternative to work.

George Osborne’s speech today dwelt on a familiar theme. In terms of locating those areas where the latest round of cuts will fall, he singled out welfare.

In order to justify this, he once again attempted to draw a distinction between “people who work and pay taxes” and those on welfare.

Unfortunately, the line is nowhere near as clear cut as Osborne likes to make out.

The chancellor is in fact avoiding an uncomfortable truth: many people receiving benefits are in work. In fact, in 2012 this was nearly a fifth – 19.4 per cent – of the total of 5,072,264 claimants. Only 1 in 8 housing benefit claimants were unemployed. 

Hardly a ‘culture of entitlement’.In the past David Cameron has said that ‘you shouldn’t be better off out of work than in work’ – an undisguised attempt to play taxpayers off against so-called benefit scroungers. And yet benefits today are for many an essential subsidy to low wages and not, as Cameron makes out, an alternative to work. 

As for Working Tax Credits, the welfare minister Chris Grayling has already pleaded guilty to the charge that the government is penalising the working poor. Osborne’s removal of tax credits for those working fewer than 24 hours a week will leave the average couple with children up to £3,870 a year worse off.

The latest attempt to paint welfare recipients as distinct from ‘hardworking families’ highlights once again the government’s failure (and unwillingness) to understand the plight of the working poor.

Gloria Roberts tweets at: @gloriarobertss

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6 Responses to “Osborne’s false dichotomy: ‘people who work and pay taxes’ and those on welfare”

  1. Michael Morgan

    Absolutely spot on.

  2. Fritz Crackers

    Correct to the Letter !


    You also propound the same false dichotomy of defining and dividing the “hardworking” and hence “deserving” (“who do the right thing” is the next part of the script) by failing to acknowledge -as the coalition fully intend- that much of the claimant count consists of those unemployed by virtue of job loss or sickness and disability who themselves HAVE PREVIOUSLY WORKED HARD AND DONE THE RIGHT THING AND CONTRIBUTED .THEY ARE NOT ALL SOME AMORPHOUS GROUP THAT TAKE WITHOUT EVER HAVING GIVEN. The lies are reinforced at every opportunity in every tv , radio or press interview with unchallenged and monotonous repetition while the clowns doing the “forensic?” interviewing behave more like the obsequious make -up artists they’ve become having forgotten that their job is to tell the truth and behave like Rottweiler’s to get at that truth and expose the politicians for their disingenuous and deliberate dissembling.

  4. robertcp

    You said what I was going to say.

  5. LB

    There are three groups.

    Those taking other people’s money.

    Those having they money taken.

    And the scum who use violence or its threat to take the money without express consent. .

  6. LB

    So what’s missing.,

    Why the hell are people like you taxing those that need benefits?

    ie. Ploticians are making people poor and then ridding along to the rescue, saying we’re here to help, have some money

    Less our rake off of course.

    That’s evil.

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