Once an entitlement is granted, it becomes politically very difficult to remove. So it is with tax credits, a form of “welfare” which actually pre-dates Gordon Brown by some years, but was cynically – and presumably deliberately – allowed to spiral out of control under his Chancellorship in pursuit of client state goals.
By the time Labour left office in 2010, an astonishing nine out of 10 families in Britain were entitled to have their incomes topped up through a tax credit system which farcically had even begun to reward some MPs. Qualifying incomes would be routinely raised just ahead of elections so as to drag as many as possible into reliance on the Chancellor’s hand-outs.
I think a reasonable starting point for any tax and benefit system would be that the bottom half don’t have to pay in from their incomes (although they will from their consumption) and the top half don’t get paid any benefits related to their income.
Gordo did rather overstep that, didn’t he?