I read with fascination David Cameron’s article in The Sunday Times ("The pain – and the prize – before us", p21) which compared his coalition Government’s mission to repair our broken economy and restore national confidence, with "the methodical turnaround of a failing business".
He talks of cutting obvious waste, attacking ingrained waste, stopping things that don’t add value or are unaffordable, and raising revenue. And he points out that the ‘ingrained waste that outranks all others’ is welfare and tax credit fraud and error, at £5.2bn a year. He maintains that he "passionately disagrees" that we have no hope of resolving this; of stopping the handouts to cheats and scroungers.
So why isn’t this the overwhelming, ‘above-all-else’ priority of Government? Because by the time we’ve saved this £5.2bn, we’ll already have cut off vital health and social care services to countless sick, vulnerable and needy citizens, and made life immeasurably worse for countless more.
The dichotomy is surely that in its fervency to show strong resolve, the Coalition Government is in danger of a ‘shotgun approach’ which will pepper everything with a modicum of effort. How can it be right to curtail critical services to those in need at the same time as knowingly allowing others to dishonestly take cash from the system?