The other day I wrote about the Fantasy Budget. It was a fantasy because most of it was based upon calculated savings that are completely outside the Government's control. They have announced that they are going to make cuts of 25% in non-protected budgets. But, no one seriously believes that will happen. They have no idea what they would cut to achieve that kind of figure, and so no idea whether they could actually get away with making such cuts without destroying services completely, without provoking unmanageable civil unrest, or without causing significant economic dislocation. No Government including Thatcher's has achieved cuts on that scale. They are not in the interests of Capital, and certainly not in the interests of the permanent State bureaucracy, which will do all in its power to frustrate them. On that basis alone the Budget calculations, and that for the deficit could be out by tens of billions of pounds.
The Tories have also said that they are going to make cuts in Welfare Payments. But, here too the only actual savings that the Tories can count on are the savings arising from scrapping particular payments, and the savings from indexing to earnings or else to CPI rather than to RPI, at a time when RPI is set to rip. In reality, not only do they have no idea how much they might save from Welfare Payments, but the consequences of their Cuts, and other deflationary measures in the Budget could push unemployment up by hundreds of thousands - in fact if they did actually push through those 25% cuts, unemployment would rise by around 2.5 Million -and as a consequence could send Welafe payments through the roof.
Now the Toies are coming out with more such guff in relation to Incapacity Benefits. over the last 20 years successive Governments have attempted to reduce the number of IB claimants by continually toughening the criteria, by introducing medical exams by hired-in private doctors and so on. But, the numbers have not fallen, which suggests that the reason is that people claiming IB are doing so for the simple reason that they are not capable of work. In fact, there have been many reported cases where people have been turned down who clearly were unfit for work, such as the woman who was told she was fit for work despite needing to be on oxygen for 14 hours a day, or the other who was awaiting a heart transplant! Its not surprising that the majority of people who appeal against being turned down win their appeals.
The Tories claimed that under Labour fraudulent claims were costing £80 per second. They said they would slash this by introducing a policy of stopping all benefit for three years to anyone cuationed or convicted of fraud three times. But the BBC's Mark Easton checked this out and found that the number of people who this would have affected would have been precisely zero!!!! Even if you took those only cautioned rather than convicted, twice, the number came to just 69 people last year.
So how much of that £80 per second would that save? Just 1 penny per second. Given the huge cost of trying to administer and polcie such a system, its certain that it would in fact mean greater cost rather than a saving. The only thing that could be saiud for it would be that at least it would provide some people with jobs in the bureaucracy administering it. But, didn't the Liberal-Tories claim they were going to reduce such bureaucacy and waste, not increase it?
If that is what they desire then rather than pick on a few poor souls reduced to scraping a living off Incapacity Benefit they would find that a cost-benefit analysis would show that putting the same resources into claiming the £120 billion of tax that is avoided each year by big companies, and the very rich would be far more effective. Greece has come in for considerable scorn for the fact that it is incapable of collecting taxes, but the reality is that in Britain taxes are only collected from the working class and middle class, and from those rich people who effectively volunteer to pay. The Liberal-Tories will not take action to collect in that tax from the rich - which would pay off the deficit in one year - despite the election propaganda of the Liberals, because the reality is that it is these uber rich who are the backers of the Liberal-Tories, and it is their interests they exist to cater for.