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Cretin is cretinous

The Guardian has a story on the benefit cap this morning.

It’s troubling at a personal level for those impacted.

It’s troubling at a policy level because there is no real evidence that the benefit cap changes behaviour with regard to work. That’s hardly surprising: why should it?

In that case it leaves only one justification for the cap, which is vindictiveness.

And in the comments:

Interestingly over the weekend I was browsing in WH Smith at the weekend and came across not one, but four or five, books extolling the Danish way of life, and hygge in particular, and asking why they are supposedly the happiest country on earth (doubtless a little over-hyped, but still).

To which the Spudmonster replies:

Richard Murphy says:
November 7 2016 at 8:09 am
It’s my pleasure to work with Cioenhagen Business School

I can see all the attractions

Excellent, in Denmark:

The reform will mean there will be a limit on the amount of money citizens can get from the state in the form of unemployment benefits, child benefits, housing benefits and childcare subsidies.

Recipients of unemployment benefits will not be able to receive more in welfare than the equivalent of 80 percent of a monthly salary of 18,500 kroner – in other words 14,800 kroner.

4.3 weeks to a month, currency translation, this is £420 a week.

What’s our benefit cap again?

55 thoughts on “Cretin is cretinous”

  1. It’s troubling at a policy level because there is no real evidence that the benefit cap changes behaviour with regard to work.

    I’m certain that the word “real” is doing more work there than lexicographers ever intended.

    That’s hardly surprising: why should it?

    Money, who needs it?

  2. The Left have this persistent delusion about the Nordic countries (is Denmark one of them? Anyway). They are their Shangri-La. They are consistently almost completely ignorant about what these countries are really like.

    Read any article by Polly Toynbee for vivid illustration.

  3. t’s troubling at a policy level because there is no real evidence that the benefit cap changes behaviour with regard to work.

    (Irritably swats Reality away while bashing fists into keyboard).

  4. If they want to “make work pay” then they need to make WORK pay. I see no evidence of governments forcing employers to actually pay employees enough to stay alive. When a day’s work leaves me out of pocket there’s something very wrong with the system, and no amount of reduction in benefits will change that, it needs an increase in the amount that work pays to make, duh, WORK pay.

  5. Rob,

    I have found when I have lived in various countries that the stuff they have a reputation for usually doesn’t exist or is flawed, and the things they do really well aren’t known about. One of the best things about France is the quality of its toll-roads – they’re better than German autobahns – but you don’t hear people talking about them in Britain.

    The French health service – which people go on about – is very good in some ways, but you need to do all the administration and coordination between different branches of medicine yourself, e.g. if a GP tells you to go and see a specialist he’ll write you a letter to hand to the specialist but it’s up to you who you see and when. Also, the system is bankrupt: not that this matters to the end user, but it is hopelessly wasteful: there is a reason why there is a pharmacy on every corner in France, there is always a queue of 5 people in each pharmacy, and you leave those places with an armful of stuff that WWII corpsmen could have used to establish a field station at Iwo Jima.

  6. Picking up on Rob’s point: Well, Murphy is approaching correct: for *some* people, the cap won’t make them work.

    For those people, nothing short of fixed bayonets would.

    But that’s not the point of the cap- it was to stop people who could and would work being caught in a poverty trap. It was never intending to get everyone out and working- just those who were stuck at home when they could work.

    You can argue that it’s a crude method for achieving this, or even that the amount of the cap is wrong, but saying it’s not a guaranteed fix all for those on bens is just stupid.

    As usual.

  7. @jgh
    “If they want to “make work pay” then they need to make WORK pay. I see no evidence of governments forcing employers to actually pay employees enough to stay alive. When a day’s work leaves me out of pocket there’s something very wrong with the system, and no amount of reduction in benefits will change that, it needs an increase in the amount that work pays to make, duh, WORK pay.”
    Or they could let people build more homes *so you need less to live (and would get less in housing benefit, so work would be better than benefits again.

    Which of the 2 would be better for almost everyone apart from landlords and Nimbies.
    *Making pro single parents share would be even better and possibly should be done as well.

  8. But that’s not the point of the cap- it was to stop people who could and would work being caught in a poverty trap

    Nope. It was to stop people who simply couldn’t be arrsed working earning significantly more in benefits than people who had got off their arrses and were in a perfectly reasonable (i.e. not just 24hrs at minimum wage) job.

  9. jgh: ” When a day’s work leaves me out of pocket there’s something very wrong with the system…”

    Or there’s something very wrong with your outgoings, rather than your income.

  10. If we are going to demand heavy evidence for a benefit cap, why not one for the plethora of ‘progressive’ programmes and spending. Put them under the microscope.

    I bet you will find much that doesnt achieve what it is supposed to and does little or no better than doing nothing.

    But that would pretty much undermine most ‘progressive’ politics if their social engineering policies were found to not be evidence led. And it would threaten a whole class of public sector employees who convince themselves and us they are adding value because the intentions are good whether or not it works.

  11. I would note that, for a while, Mrs S-E went to work and travel and child-care costs were greater than she was paid but we accepted it on the grounds that I was earning enough and it stopped her being trapped in the house with nobody but a toddler. For days on end, if I was working away.

    Our personal choice, though. We didn’t expect anybody else to have money taking off them to fund that choice.

  12. I see the Telegraph appears now to be free apart from premium articles. I’m wondering if it is worth it to subscribe given that you get an Amazon Dot free (I already have an Amazon Echo) and also access to the Washington Post which means an effective cost of about £50 for the first year?

    Basically, apart from the Mail, the redtops and the rather parochial Scotsman, that just leaves the Guardian as the only free UK newspaper site.

    Thoughts?

  13. Rob nails it with his usual deadeye accuracy,

    If the likes of Murphy spent any time actually getting into the detail of the 5 Nordic countries (6 if you count the Faroes) they would realise that what is achievable there is not achievable here for a raft of reasons. Indeed, given their fondness for Scandinavia, our wish to emulate a Norwegian type of relationship with the EU therefore ought to be welcomed, no?

  14. @”Or there’s something very wrong with your outgoings, rather than your income.”
    But is that his fault or the Governments fault for making things expensive?

  15. From the Guardian article:

    “The cap in effect now provides them with stark alternatives: either one of them gets work (thus exempting them from the cap), or they fall rapidly into rent arrears and eviction. Alana and Mark are not alone in being handed such a brutal choice.”

    Getting a job is now a “brutal choice”? WTF?

  16. @JuliaM
    “anon, what things does ‘the government’ make expensive..?”
    Housing by
    1) Taking money from people who work to give to other people to pay their rent – so increasing the demand
    (they could make housing cheaper by making pro single parents share).
    2) Very strict planning controls (possibly a good thing but not if we want to have 1 and 3)
    3) Paying people to come here (I know people who have been given flats within weeks of arriving).

    Housing is far more expensive with relation to wages than it was in the past. The book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Welfare-Nations-James-Bartholomew/dp/1849548307
    (which judging by your blog you would like)
    shows this is due to planning permission in the UK

  17. JuliaM asked:
    “what things does ‘the government’ make expensive..?”

    As anon said, housing is the big one; allowing mass immigration whilst restricting the supply of new building.

    Some services (and, to a lesser extent, goods) through increased costs caused by the minimum wage.

    Most other things by 20% VAT, and imports by import duties.

  18. I don’t care if people want to go to work or not. I just don’t want those who don’t to be living in one of the most expensive cities in Europe. They can move to Hull or Sunderland to sit around watching Jeremy Kyle.

    If you’re living in London and can’t get a job within hours, you are either unemployable, or don’t care about getting a job. Either way, move to the flat cap and whippet/ecky thump/male voice choirs/marrying your sister bits of the country. Let some working bloke who has to travel half an hour to work live a bit closer.

  19. The DWP published figures showing that a significantly higher percentage of those subject to the benefit cap had found work than among the remainder of those claiming unemployment benefit.
    That is real evidence.

  20. @”I don’t care if people want to go to work or not. I just don’t want those who don’t to be living in one of the most expensive cities in Europe. They can move to Hull or Sunderland to sit around watching Jeremy Kyle.”
    Brilliant

  21. @anon

    Do you remember the grief when the Benefits cap came in? About families housed in Kensington who would have to relocate to somewhere normal?

    For some reason if you were on HB, it was OK (nay, essential) that you lived somewhere unaffordable. The rest of us can fucking well stay in our rabbit hutches on postage stamps/ proleholes in suburbia, because? Because ‘fuck you, that’s why’.

  22. And don’t get me started on the Spare room subsidy.

    “No, that room is totally unneeded, but I want society to pay for me to continue to have it, despite massive housing need for 3-4bed properties”

    “Isn’t that a bit selfish? What with you not needing the room?”

    “Fuck you”

  23. “Alana and Mark are not alone in being handed such a brutal choice”

    I haven’t looked yet, but IME every “special case” the left puts forward is fraudulent i.e. they aren’t as poor as they claim they are.

    You might remember a few months ago a couple (Liverpool I think) started one of those on line pledge things to stop themselves being evicted due to the evil Tories bedroom tax, plastered all over the usual left places.

    The chap had an odd name, and I looked him up on Facebook. In the previous 18 months, they’d been on six holidays, three of which weren’t in the UK (one of them was a trip to Newcastle to see the Rugby World Cup, perhaps that doesn’t count as holiday but still not exactly poverty stricken) There were lots of holiday snaps with the two of them on.

    I asked him about it on his begging page and he admitted the holiday in the South West which apparently was generous friends but didn’t say anything about any of the others. They must have a lot of generous friends.

    They all seem to be like this. The previous one was a couple from Colchester being evicted with their famiy. It didn’t take long to notice they had two cars and the “poor children being evicted” were carrying rather expensive equipment. The daughter also had a Facebook page devoted to their many travels.

  24. Tim Newman,

    “I have found when I have lived in various countries that the stuff they have a reputation for usually doesn’t exist or is flawed, and the things they do really well aren’t known about. One of the best things about France is the quality of its toll-roads – they’re better than German autobahns – but you don’t hear people talking about them in Britain.”

    French railways: The TGV is pretty awesome. But it isn’t actually that cheap, and the regular network is quite poor.

    American service: I’ve been to shops, cafes and restaurants and actually found it to be less friendly than pubs and cafes here.

    The things I love about France: 1) no pedogeddon. Go to a swimming pool, take all the photos of your kids that you like. 2) no anthropomorphism. Deer are there to be shot and eaten. Tigers for doing tricks in circuses. Foie gras for sale in hypermarkets. You can feed elephants at the zoo and see a trained seal show still 3) family restaurants. These great places owned by mom and pop serving up a choice of half a dozen dishes that chef has been making for decades that are brilliant, tasty and cheap 4) no multiculturalism/separation of church and state. We’re serving pork at school, because we’re french. Don’t like it, bring sandwiches. And take that headdress off, as it’s not school uniform.

  25. It was that ‘spirit level’ nonsense that cemented the Nordic countries into the left wing psyche.

    Nordic countries are more financial equal.
    Nordic people are happy.
    They must be happy because they are financially equal.

    Of course, they were (at the time these studies were done) a pretty homogenous lot. Maybe that’s why they were happy and prepared to share? Now there’s lots more immigrants, hey guess what, they don’t seem as open and generous. Maybe cultural diversity isn’t a good idea?

    Of course, that can’t possibly be right though, can it?

  26. French railways: The TGV is pretty awesome. But it isn’t actually that cheap, and the regular network is quite poor.

    TGV is pretty cheap – €70-odd to travel from Paris to Avignon. Add an extra €5 to travel first class. Compare with Eurostar which is at least double the price and half the distance.

    The regional service has really weird timetables. You’ll get two trains in 40 minutes and then nothing scheduled for three hours. The service stops for the day at 7pm.

  27. I wonder how long it will take for Sweden’s current mass sexual assault affliction to permeate into the Left’s Shangri-La? Forever, I imagine.

  28. @John Square
    When the benefit cap came in, I was so pleased I told my wife that I don’t want to emigrate any more.

  29. Rob,

    “TGV is pretty cheap – €70-odd to travel from Paris to Avignon. Add an extra €5 to travel first class. Compare with Eurostar which is at least double the price and half the distance.”

    That’s very much a “starts from €70” and I think that’s one way. St Pierre (the TGV station for Tours) to Paris tomorrow at peak, around 160 miles, is £114. It’s the same with Swiss railways. I paid £75 from Zurich to Bern.

    OK, these are still cheaper than Swindon to London, but those trains are rammed. Why would you want to charge less than £140 when every seat and most of the standing room is taken?

  30. Yes, one way. 620km though. I think that’s pretty good value.

    I paid that on the day last year (a Saturday) after missing my original train because the fucking RER was shut.

  31. John Square,

    For some reason if you were on HB, it was OK (nay, essential) that you lived somewhere unaffordable. The rest of us can fucking well stay in our rabbit hutches on postage stamps/ proleholes in suburbia, because? Because ‘fuck you, that’s why’.

    I’ve had this argument with lefties. “But this is their commoonity” “so, we should subsidise people raised in Sandbanks to live there?” “That’s different” “How?” (pause) “you fucking tories always after poor people”.

    Forget all the trying to chase down people committing a bit of benefit fraud by pretending they aren’t living together. You save billions by capping benefits at say, Wolverhampton or even Milton Keynes levels. If someone on benefits has the right to live in a place, so does a working man.

  32. @ Martin
    One may also note that the CSA does not step in to insist that the absent spouse contributes to the upkeep of the children when the father isawarded custody.

  33. @BiW

    I had exactly (pretty much) that conversation with a director of housing at a HA.

    She was outlining why the cap was a disaster for London. I asked if I could have a pad in Chelsea. She said “Not on your salary- besides others need the place more than you”. I asked her if she’d move to Rochdale, and she asked why- I said other people needed her house more than she did, and besides she could afford to move.

    She didn’t follow the logic.

  34. The guy in Birkenhead with 3 children probably gets:
    Child Benefit £47/week
    Child Tax Credits £169/week
    Income Support £73/week
    So to not be affected by the ‘cap’ he needs his Housing Benefit to come in at £93/week.
    He needs to get his ex to come in with some child support. But even without that, there are 31 results on right move for private rentals up to £104/week which are affordable to him. And the council would pay a rent deposit for him to move.
    The reason he’s going to struggle is that the council house he is in is £162/week, based on the Chakrabortty article, and ‘Steve’ is being ripped off by the local government.

  35. Bloke in North Dorset

    “I haven’t looked yet, but IME every “special case” the left puts forward is fraudulent i.e. they aren’t as poor as they claim they are.

    You might remember a few months ago a couple (Liverpool I think) started one of those on line pledge things to stop themselves being evicted due to the evil Tories bedroom tax, plastered all over the usual left places.

    The chap had an odd name, and I looked him up on Facebook. In the previous 18 months, they’d been on six holidays, three of which weren’t in the UK (one of them was a trip to Newcastle to see the Rugby World Cup, perhaps that doesn’t count as holiday but still not exactly poverty stricken) There were lots of holiday snaps with the two of them on.”

    And there was that guy in Wales, IIRC, who complained that he needed the spare room for when his mate came round to get pissed with him so that he could sleep over. That went down well.

  36. “I haven’t looked yet, but IME every “special case” the left puts forward is fraudulent i.e. they aren’t as poor as they claim they are.

    Who can forget the classic of the computer programmer from North Wales, who hadn’t worked for a million years and the BBC portrayed as a sob story, while accidentally revealing he was buying packs of cans of beer and fags like they were running out tomorrow?

  37. john77 – changed a lot then has it? Back in the early days they did insist. You want to work out the income of a stay at home mum or housewife? Its zero child support payable.

  38. BiW,

    I quite agree with your comments about France. I didn’t mention the TGV because of the f*cking strikes. Grrrr.

    TGV is pretty cheap – €70-odd to travel from Paris to Avignon.

    I paid 216 Euros return in first class (upgrade was in the order of 40 Euros) on the weekend of 22nd-24th July, bought three days in advance.

  39. @ Martin
    30-odd years ago one of my friends got sent to jail for failing to pay child maintenance while he was in hospital.

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