By Conor Campbell
This week it has been announced that the footballers in the English Premier League have had their wages rise once again, and we also heard David Cameron and George Osborne tell us that we are set to face ‘painful’ cuts in public spending.
While no-one will be shocked to hear that there are set to be cuts there will still be huge interest as to which departments will be hit hardest when the budget is announced on the 22nd of June. One of the Conservative posters during the election campaign attacked Gordon Brown for taking money from pensions, and informed the voters that a vote for the Conservatives would be a ‘vote for change’. With little more than a month gone of the new Conservative/Lib Dem government’s tenure, Mr Cameron has already signalled that there may indeed be cuts in pensions, as well as benefits and pay.
George Osborne has set out to create a so-called ‘star – chamber’, who will challenge the spending of Whitehall, but I feel the group could be put to better use. If benefits and pensions really are to be cut then the Government has to be extremely careful to where it is being done. The majority of people on benefits are not able to afford the loss any of those support packets that they receive. I have done work for councils, helping people sort out their payments, and although I will admit there are people who wrongly defraud the system, there are hundreds more who do need every penny. So before cuts are made in the benefits system, maybe a group needs to be gathered to determine who needs protecting to the greatest extent. Outside the world of The Sun and The Daily Mail there actually are people, other than teenage girls who get themselves intentionally pregnant just for the benefits, who depend upon the benefit system in order for them survive.
Many people only have a state pension to rely on, and if cuts are to be painful, why not capitalise on an already unpopular strategy by adding one more. Means testing for pensions would be vastly unpopular; however they could shave millions on the budget if done. Although there are many flaws in doing so, as it can be truly unfair to those who saved, I am sure there are many people who receive the pension who would not notice if it was paused for a period of recovery. I hear somewhere Michael Caine is entitled to a pension, would he miss the £92 a week?
David Cameron seems to be a little delusional if he truly believes this deficit will affect ‘our whole way of life’. The lower down the pay scale you go, the higher the reliance on the public sector. For those who can afford private health care, who attend the public schools, which have their children watched by nannies and spend thousands on home security, cuts in the public sector often go by unnoticed. So maybe our new PM meant ‘Your’ instead of ‘Our’? David Cameron has also insinuated that the current government has been left in a disastrous position thanks to the previous one. Mr Darling is correct, it is just another case of the new blaming the old, something which the Labour government had no trouble doing in their early days either. Alistair Darling points out that the Conservative Party agreed with the spending plans going into recession, then in late 2008 they began to oppose every decision made. I suppose they suddenly remembered what ‘being in opposition’ meant.
If I bump into Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne before the 22nd of June, I would pass on the information that the average Premiership footballer earns £1.1 million a year. Not the best, the average footballer. Maybe in these difficult time a tax rise on the top earners would be a little fairer, unless they are truly worried about Mr Caine leaving the country again.