End of entitlement – for the middle classes…

Reform have today launched a report calling for the end of middle class benefits to stave off increases in tax. Before querying that proposal, let me say first that I am glad that they have waded into the debate and I don’t want to sound as if I am hanging on to my entitlements hoping (as I believe Ronald Reagan said) “that I can carry on feeding the crocodile hoping it will eat me last.”

However, I do have a problem with the proposals if they are implemented alone. The underlying assumption seems to be that the tax burden will increase ON THE MIDDLE CLASS without Reform’s proposals. I suppose if that is the counterfactual, I would prefer the cut in benefits. However, having had 12 years of dramatically expanding means-tested welfare provision and provision for those not working and relatively badly off, there is a danger that taking away universal benefits (or raising taxes on the middle class) will simply reduce further the net returns to working, to education and so on. 

We cannot deal with the current recession by simply piling further burdens on the middle class. The first extension of Reform’s programme would be to abolish free TV licenses, free bus and tube travel and the winter fuel allowance for all pensioners…

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