Friday 7 August 2009

Benefits madness

On Monday, the Express had a story about benefits on its front page. Coming less than a week after Judge Trigger made his ill-advised comments about illegal immigrants being behind the rising national debt, it was enough to make ignorant Express readers to put two and two together and come up with more than £42.16.

The Labour's £186bn benefits madness story was based on a Centre for Policy Studies report which was essentially calling for a simplification of the benefits sytem.

But some of the figures it used were interesting - and overlooked by the Express. The £186bn figure comes from the Budget Red Book forecasts for 2009-10. But in the first table of the report, the various benefits and allowances add up to £155.9bn - which is £30bn less.

And of that, £68.58bn is set aside for pensions and pension credit. That amounts to 43.6% of £155.9bn.

Clearly the Express will be campaigning to end that type of 'madness'.

Except, it was only in June they were complaining about the state pension being 'the most miserly in the developed world'.

But back to Judge Trigger who said, lest we forget:

People like you, and there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people like you, come to these shores to avail themselves of the generous welfare benefits that exist here.

In the past ten years the national debt of this country has risen to extraordinary heights, largely because central Government has wasted billions of pounds. Much of that has been wasted on welfare payments. For every £1 that the decent citizen, who is hard-working, pays in taxes, nearly 10 per cent goes on servicing that national debt. That is twice the amount it was in 1997 when this Government came to power.

The table here for government spending on benefits in 1997 shows the figure at around £92bn out of total government expenditure of £318bn. Using the £155bn figure for spending on benefits in 2009, out of overall expenditure of £631bn appears to show that as a percentage, benefits made up 29% of expenditure in 1997 and is 24.5% in 2009.

Comparing the figures for welfare as a proportion of national debt (which seems an odd - rather meaningless - figure, but he brought it up...) shows
  • 1997 - £92bn benefits / £357bn debt = £25.8%
  • 2009 - £155bn / £794bn debt = 19.5%
So benefit payments as a percentage of overall spending, and of national debt, are in fact less in 2009 than in 1997.

Which seems to make Judge Trigger's remarks, errrr, wrong.

But then we already knew that, and it was confirmed when Littlejohn declared he spoke the 'truth'.

And the Mail has been big enough to give a slightly dissenting voice on Trigger a say. Lawyer Richard O'Hagan has not written on the substance of the comments, but has said:

Whilst he was undoubtedly expressing an opinion held by a vast number of people in this country, the most important thing about any judiciary is that it should be seen to be entirely impartial and to conduct cases without any regard to their own personal opinions.

In giving vent to his own views in this way, Judge Trigger has not only done himself no favours, he has also given the accused an opportunity to appeal against their conviction and sentence, on the grounds that he was biased.

Judge Trigger was, of course, merely the latest victim of judicial foot in mouth disease.

The idea that the drug dealer may have grounds for appeal because of Trigger's remarks is an interesting development - and something Littlejohn and the others haven't seemed to consider.

How convenient.

(Hat-tip to Jamie)

1 comment:

  1. What's most absurd is that the same people who think Judge's should express their political opinions in court, also think that Judge's are becoming too political by introducing a privacy law by the back door (despite the fact that privacy is explicitly mentioned in the Human Rights Act).


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