That's exactly how I feel about benefits - but I would add the appalling injustices meted out by ATOS and the dreadful bedroom tax needs sorting out as well.
ButterflyMoon (5th February 2014)
Trying hard to keep out of this one, but not much happening at work so far, so.......
Doesn't anyone think that creating a voucher system will just create another 'Black Market' opportunity for the unscrupulous and opportunistic? Or is it just me being unscrupulous and opportunistic?
Although I suppose we could take DNA samples from the voucher recipients and bio-metric the vouchers in some way. Shouldn't add more than a billion or two to the voucher system budget and of course, that billion or two (of our money) would go to private companies and some of it would probably wend it's way via several brown envelopes and the odd off-shore bank account to someone (or ones) not a million miles from Westminster.
And, of course, the benefit recipients DNA could go on the National Database for ever more, 'just in case'.
Win/win/win all round. For the unscrupulous, the opportunistic and the government. Oops, sorry.........same thing really, aren't they.
True. Anything is possible, I suppose at the end of it all they will always find a way around it. Though it would be a lot more work to have to go to black markets, not get caught, etc... Each voucher could have a unique identifier the same as money so you can't copy them and the persons name would be printed on the voucher so you would need valid ID to spend it???
And what about the shops and shopkeepers willing to turn a blind eye to photo id's? Oh, right you'll strike them off the 'List'.
Good Luck, with that, the Inspectors (there'd have to be Inspectors, there always has to be) will probably be over-worked, understaffed and unable to visit any shop more than once every three years. Sound familiar?
An anecdote, which I hate, but it's relevant.
I had to go to the local Royal Mail sorting office to collect a delivery before Xmas (it was my Secret Agent Maya Meerkat, if anyone's interested or even if no one's interested). I had to take identification, passport, utility bill, blah blah. I handed in the card they left through my door, showed my (closed) passport, didn't even hand it over and the guy behind the counter said, 'OK' and gave me my parcel.
That was Royal Mail, where, historically, I believe, any interference with items or theft of, or deliberate mis-delivery was, strictly speaking, almost a treasonable offence. Things have probably changed since I were a lad and used Royal Mail every day, but it's still some kind of offence.
If they didn't work at Royal Mail, why do you think photo id's will work in Asda or Tesco's or anywhere else, especially small shops, under pressure to turn some kind of profit? My underlying point in this is that a voucher system will cost us millions more, because changes like this always cost us more and ultimately, it'll be just as open to abuse as the current system.
Plus ca change, plus ca le meme chose. Or, as Al Stewart, said in 1974-ish, 'Oh, the more it changes, the more it stays the same'.
They might not as I said nothing you integrate into the system will be 100% people will always get around the system although it's a lot more work for them to go and get a black market voucher. Plus it means they can't by effectively drugs with it but only essentials so at least if they do feel the need to get naughty vouchers they can still only spend it on essentials and not loads of luxuries. Plus I'm sure the government would keep something like this recorded so the can see the vouchers that have been redeemed by which people so if voucher 001 was given to Mrs Smith and she used a 001 voucher and a 002 voucher in the same week something's up as they only gave her 001 to use. Plus it's the same for alcohol some shops ID children others don't but it's the scare factor of them potentially being ID'd that stops most of them doing this.
No, your anecdote is perfectly valid - I don't think I've ever had to show ID at my sorting office, just take the card. You're right, some shops will turn a blind eye to no ID, and some shops will serve alcohol/tobacco on food/rent cards without a care in the world. We'd bundle them in with the shops selling other restricted products outside of their legal range (such as alcohol, knives or fireworks to the under-age) and investigate them as they were reported.
I can't see 'legitimate' (granted, a difficult term to pin down) benefit claimants being fussed that the money they're spending on food can only be spent on food. If those terms were given to me when I was claiming, that would have been acceptable. For example, I had my housing benefit paid directly to my landlord. What's the point of dropping it in my bank if I'm only going to send it to him anyway? Not an entirely identical scenario, admittedly, but my point being I wasn't going to ever use it on anything else, therefore I did not mind the government having control over where the money was going.
Probably not the way you intend to come across, but it sounds to me like you're saying "If we can't make the system foolproof, let's not change it at all".
You're right - maybe it would cost way too much to implement now. My assumption (though I admit it is based only on assumption) is that the current benefit system was originally created around 'the code of honour' (I'm not aware of any restrictions on the old food stamps, but I haven't extensively researched it so I may be wrong), which now sadly seems to exist in very few places. Regardless, there are problems with the system. Other methods could handle the system better than it is currently handled. Whether or not it is feasible to switch to new methods is another problem, but so far as I see it, benefits shouldn't be 'giving them money', rather, 'giving them access to the essential things money would buy them'. Nobody cares about money - money on its own is just useless paper - what they care about is what that money can get them.
Yes, tax dodgers are a huge issue, too. Go ahead and start a thread on that and I'll be right there supporting you when you say let's tackle those, too.
No, the way I want to come across is that whatever changes we make, nothing will ever be foolproof, it'll just cost US more money, because changes always cost US more money. My biggest fear is that, that 'More Money' will go to private companies and no tangible improvement in security or verification of voucher spend or claimants will result.
My biggest disappointment is that no one mentioned my Secret Agent Maya Meerkat. Fanboy heaven, that is. Second only to my 'Pulp Fiction' wallet.
I think the tax-dodging/evasion/avoidance issue is inextricably bound up in any government expenditure issue. It's entirely relevant in this thread, unless the thread REALLY is about 'He's got a bigger TV than I have etc'. Working Families Tax Credits as was, I think they've been binned, correct me if I'm wrong. I'm as certain as can be that somewhere in Amazon, Starbucks, Vodafone and the rest of them, there were employees claiming and being paid Working Families Tax Credits. Public money going to subsidise low-wages so multi-nationals can keep down their costs, maximise their profits, while paying no more tax on billions of profits (proportionately) than you and I pay on our salaries.
You cannot separate the two. Benefits are paid from taxes, so collect those taxes from everyone, not just from under-paid Joe Public. If you're going to change the benefits system, you have to change the tax system too.
Last edited by LosOjos; 5th February 2014 at 12:06 PM.
I guess the simple solution is just to scrap the entire system and say be gone with it.
If each time people come up with an idea and its blown out of the water because it "could still be abused" or tax payers would have to pay Company X to gain X amount of profit from the scheme. On the other hand Company X would have to employ more staff, get more people in to jobs and employment which will cut down the requirement of the vouchers or "scheme".
How about everyone who is so Anti Changes of the system simply say HOW TO FIX IT. People like me offer ideas and if they don't work, they don't work. At the end of the day I want the system to stay and work.
Again as I said before if it can't be fixed it will be scrapped then people cant abuse something that doesn't exist. That's what I fear will happen if it's not solved, we have created a benefit culture because we either pretended it didn't exist or we just didn't care because life was good for us.
I don't see it being fixed in all honesty. What I see happening is that people who actually need the benefit to feed their family, pay their bills or simply be able to survive those poor souls will have to bend over backwards to prove they deserve it. Personally I don't want that kind of a system but if that's the only way to stop the abuse then what can we do? Although the fact that this becomes such a heated discussion every 6-12 months on here maybe that goes to show that there is something fundamentally wrong with the benefit system and it really does need fixing.
Tricky one. Obviously I'd like to say 'No, my social conscience would prick me too much' but I'd probably have shareholders and other investors to consider so I'd probably say 'Yes, of course I would'.
If I were a private multi-millionaire, then I'd probably set-up some kind of tax-reducing foundation while donating money to my favoured charities. At my time of life, I've realised that NO ONE needs multi-billions or multi-millions to live on. One of the saddest things about my 'Win The Lottery' fantasy, is that I would probably buy some land and build a walled compound for my family to live in, in our separate dwellings. You know, soon as you get rich, you start cutting yourself off, separating yourself, from the real world.
What we have to do is change the tax system to remove all those avoidance tactics, or as many as possible. Plug the loopholes which allow blatant under-assessment. Why does the tax system have to be so sacrosanct? Why can't we make those changes? We're told, stridently, that these companies 'Will move somewhere else, damaging our economy, losing vast numbers of jobs etc etc.'..............let's call their bluff, why not? Would our economy really be better off or worse off without, for example, the rate-fixing, fraud-committing bankers?
I heard the same thing in the 70's about equal pay for women and in the 80's and 90' about a minimum wage. None of it happened, and now Georgie Oz has gone on record saying he'd like to see the Minimum Wage increased. In the year before an election. How socially conscious of him, the cynics amongst us are forced to think.
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