Coffee House

The Tories mustn’t make another silly pledge on benefits in 2015

17 December 2012

2:19 PM

17 December 2012

2:19 PM

As the country approaches a general election, a party leader, desperate to reassure a key group of voters, makes a very silly pledge. He is as unequivocal as possible that, in spite of the big spending implications in a time of economic crisis, he will stick to this silly pledge to keep his target voters happy. Months later, a Coalition has formed, and those target voters are enraged because that promise turned out to be worth little more than the paper it was written on.

We all know that this is what happened with the Lib Dems and their extraordinarily stupid pledge to block rises in tuition fees. But in 2010, David Cameron also made a similarly silly promise, which was to protect universal benefits for older people, including the winter fuel payment, TV licences and free bus passes when he knew there would have to be a squeeze on welfare payments. He said in May 2010:

‘And let me say very clearly to pensioners if you have a Conservative Government your Winter Fuel Allowance, your bus pass, your Pension Credit, your free TV licence all these things are safe. You can read my lips, that is a promise from my heart.’

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Nick Clegg, who has been muttering about this for months, made another push on pensioner benefits today in his speech to CentreForum, mentioning ‘looking again at universal benefits paid to the wealthiest pensioners’. He might have half an eye on the work Ed Davey has been doing on the subject, first reported on Coffee House. The Prime Minister’s spokesman didn’t wait around to quash this suggestion, saying this morning:

‘The Prime Minister made a commitment to protect those benefits and he believes in keeping his promises.’

But aside from this wonderfully catty side-swipe, there are other Conservatives who are in favour of a move away from universal benefits,  including Robert Halfon and Nick Boles. Labour, meanwhile, continue to oppose any change in its own silly way (it was the party’s scaremongering on pensioner benefits that provoked Cameron into making his pledge in the first place): Liam Byrne told me last week that ‘Winter Fuel Payment is actually a very efficient benefit’.

Aside from the nonsense of cutting benefits for working-age people who need the support while continuing to pay pensioners a benefit regardless of their financial circumstances, the Winter Fuel Payment is not efficient because it does not deal with the source of the problem in many cases. Every year, a pensioner in a cold, poorly insulated house will spend their £200 from the government bringing their rooms up from freezing cold to just about bearable, while the heat continues to dance merrily out of the loft and the windows. Targeting the payment towards insulating those houses would mean it could in the future pay for homes to be warm.

Clegg is unlikely to get his way on this before 2015: the Lib Dems might have suffered for their silly promise on fees, but the Tories will need something enormous to persuade them to break the manifesto pledge on universal benefits. But even if Cameron lets the Lib Dem leader chunter away about his own policies to no real effect, he should at least take heed of those within his own party who don’t want it to be another silly pledge in 2015.

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Show comments
  • real__world

    Am I worried about my winter fuel payments ? Not at all. Cameron cannot remove them without an alternative in place such as rolling it into the state pension and for political reasons that’s why I’m unconcerned about this debate.

    WFP was a daft idea at the outset but given its architect Gordon Brown, its hardly surprising. When that one eyed Scottish git introduced it, the reasons were to buy votes and nothing more. He made the start age 60 years to woo Labours public sector workers retiring at 60 whilst the rest of us had to work to 65.

    As an ex-pat and receiving this for the first time this winter due to an ECJ ruling last year, I’m grateful for the ECJ and still waiting for the legal section of the DWP to rule on my request for retrospective payments as stated in the ECJ judgment by default.

    However, what ever happens in my case it should be scrapped and rolled into the state pension where it can be taxed appropriately (means tested) and you only receive it when you reach state retirement age.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    So we should cut welfare payments for pensioners, whilst the EU forces us to start paying Job Seekers Allowance to any EU immigrant who pitches up in the UK from the day they arrive … whether or not the intend actually seeking a job. Then we have to provide Tax Credits for any Eastern European who begs for money by ‘selling’ the Big Issue; and social housing for the lot of them.
    We will be swamped with Romanians and Bulgarians in 2014 – all claiming the generous welfare support which is paid for by UK taxpayers.
    I know who I’d rather MY tax went to support and its the people who worked in the UK all their lives; paid their taxes; and rebuilt the country after WW2. Not the new arrivals who are just here to leech off the rest of us.
    If Cameron thinks cutting payments to pensioners whilst providing it for immigrants will get him votes, he has truly gone mad (mind you, his recent performance tends to prove the latter).

  • TomTom

    Might be worth investigating Direct Debit charges by utilities. Having seen a revised assessment sent out by one utility “estimating” a doubling of average daily consumption and taking the excess charges in revised monthly debits in Jan, Feb, March, April before reverting to the regular direct debit; I suspect some utilities are fleecing pensioners of their Winter Fuel Allowance……..they do back down when younger relatives point out their fraud however. The fanatical manner in which utilities go “rent seeking” is an abuse of the direct debit system and it usually occurs in winter so they can build a cash reserve out of customers

  • studio1972

    Getting rid of the bus passes is a red herring, it saves nothing, all the well off pensioners have a car anyway, so they don’t use the passes. If you don’t use them, they don’t cost.

  • Realist not Fantasist

    Politicians’ promises? Might as well believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. Let’s face it, if the money ain’t there we can’t afford the plethora of ‘government assistance’ programmes now in place. Trouble is, trying taking the candy away from the baby now.

  • skinnythreejags

    Clegg is hardly likely to get a say on this or anything else for that matter, as he will, along with his fellow-LibDum-MPs, lose his seat in 2015. You can’t get away with telling a pack of lies for long.

  • Judy

    The biggest sacrifice most pensioners have already had to make and will go on making is that their savings now earn virtually no interest. There are huge numbers of pensioners very much worse off because of that–and these were savings they invested in by saving prudently for decades so that they would not have to depend on benefits in their old age. Those younger people who are paying mortgages are paying very much less for their mortgages. The pensioners are helping to pay for that, and for the lower interest payments businesses are now enjoying.

    • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

      Remember that triple lock on the state pension? That’s the recompense for low savings rates. Btw, your argument only applies to pensioners with savings that are linked to current interest rates (vs those w/ pensions as their sole source of income). Again self serving pensioner tosh.

  • pigou_a

    Why are you still pretending that Cameron has “protected the winter fuel payments”?

    Cameron has already cut the winter fuel allowance. According to the DWP real terms spending on the winter fuel allowance was from £2.95bn in 2009/10 and will be £2bn in 2014/15. That’s a 30% cut, even bigger than the 20% cuts to the pensions credit.

    Cameron has cut winter fuel payments by more than any other benefit.

    http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/index.php?page=expenditure

    • Russell

      Do get your facts right. Labour introduced a ONE-OFF increase for just one year (2009/10) after which it would revert to the original amounts,Cameron simply followed labours plan. He kept the WFA as promised on its original pre 2009 amount, he didn’t promise to extend the increased one-off 2009/10 amount for another year or longer.

      • pigou_a

        a) The extra payments were repeated for three years from 2008-2010.

        b) Even comparing spending in 2007/8, before the increase, to 2014/15, real terms spending on the winter fuel payments will fall by 15%. This is despite the number people over 60 years old eligible for the payments increasing by 14%.

        Real terms spending on winter fuel payments per person over 60 will have fallen by 25% between 2007/8 and 2014/15.

        So I would say I had the facts pretty much exactly right.

        Cameron has cut spending on the winter fuel payment by 30% since 2009/10, cut spending by 15% since 2007/8 and cut spending per person over 60 by 25% since 2007/8.

        Not only that but the DWP are planning to cut spending on the winter fuel payment by a further 3% in 2016/17.

        It’s a farcical benefit, it should be scrapped. Cameron has already cut a decent chunk of it. He should get rid of the rest.

  • itdoesntaddup

    The silly pledge was the one to be the Greenest government ever. That has made removing winter fuel benefit quite impossible, and instead moves us further into the Brownite playbook of tax and subsidy.

    Get rid of the mantra that dictates ever rising energy prices, and you might be able to ditch the winter fuel benefit in its entirety. Cut the BBC down to size, and you can cut or eliminate the licence fee subsidy too.

  • HooksLaw

    Winter fuel payments and tv licences are not silly promises.

    This is one of the most absurd posts in a lengthening list of absurd Spectator posts. For years the govt have been spending money offering subsidies for loft insulation.

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    One of the funny differences between the UK and US elections is these highly specific pledges. No US presidential candidate ever gets so specific with what they will do in office. Maybe this is a comment on the more centralised nature of power in the UK. As the PM controls the Commons he can make big promises and deliver on them.

    • HooksLaw

      Americans do not make silly pledges because the US system no one can guarantee they will happen, not least if one party controls congress and another the white house. What US senators and congressmen promise is that they will grab as much pork from the barrel as they can for their constituents as part of the horse trading that goes on as part of the unique US system of government.

      • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

        Spot on Hooky!

    • HooksLaw

      Americans do not make silly pledges because the US system no one can guarantee they will happen, not least if one party controls congress and another the white house. What US senators and congressmen promise is that they will grab as much pork from the barrel as they can for their constituents as part of the horse trading that goes on as part of the unique US system of government.

  • Cogito Ergosum

    But the winter fuel benefit is paid in cash. If people wanted to spend it on insulation they would. Do we want to revert to a “charity state” where all benefits are paid in kind?

  • Troika21

    Winter fuel payments, pension, pension credit, pension savings credit, free bus pass, free TV licence, tax-free savings, and any number of other protected-from-cuts benefits (like housing benefit), not to mention a NHS paying out for millions for geriatric medicine.

    The audacity of these ancient, desiccated, antediluvians to suck-down benefits from a bloated welfare-system, whilst supporting its removal from others after having paid into a system half the size, curdles my bile.

    I understand completely why they have all these benefits – older people not only vote, they shamelessly vote their interests. Puts to shame my generations idea of political change being a big tent-city in London.

    But that’s irrelevant, means-test benefits, all benefits, no reason why the elderly should be protected.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Do you not know tht democracy works only if everyone votes in their own interest. Not that I give an old fart’s fart for the eternal students living off benefits and in tents. I paid for my little pension for forty years. What have you paid for?.

      • Troika21

        What have you paid for?

        Your god-damn pension, that’s what! You paid lower taxes to support your grandparents on a basic pension, not yourself today – you expect me to pay for that, and a whole bunch of extras.

        Your attitude is exactly the problem; pensioners don’t think of themselves as on benefits, yet think the unemployed (etc.) are “eternal students living off benefits”.

        Elderly people living on benefits, are still on benefits, and if the government wants to cut the welfare bill, it should start there.

      • andagain

        I paid for my little pension for forty years.

        Did you? Then why is this country broke? Someone wasn’t paying for his pension, wasn’t he?

        • Fergus Pickering

          This country is broke, if it is, because too much money was paid out and not enough money was paid in. I paid in a shedload of money. Now I am taking a little bit out again. I blame socialists, unmarried mothers and lusty beggars, all the same people really.

          • andagain

            I paid in a shedload of money.

            And if you were the mythical average man, you took a lot more out. Otherwise, we would not be in debt, would we?

            And you did not pay in any money towards your pension, because the state pension is unfunded.

            The generation currently entering the workforce did nothing to get the country into its present mess.

            But apparently, everyone is happy to pick the pockets of their own grandchildren to keep themselves in the style that they expected.

          • andagain

            Well, it did not go to the people who are young now. It all went on your own generation. Who now demand that the government screw their own grandchildren to keep them in the style which they expect.

  • Colonel Mustard

    You should read some of the comments online at the less “narrowly-focussed” websites. Clegg is getting no plaudits for this idea and everywhere ordinary people are railing about benefits to immigrants when they have paid into pension funds and NI for many years. Another spectacularly misconceived own goal.

  • http://twitter.com/commonsenseobse commonsenseobserver

    There is no Conservative government now, and probably will not be for the foreseeable future.

  • ButcombeMan

    I keep suggesting this here, in the hope that the wet behind the ears youths, in the Treasury, will see the wisdom

    WFA should be changed in nature & incorporated into the State pension, in two tranches, one pre Christmas, one roughly end of Feb.

    This would, after the initial change, substantially reduce administration costs and make the money taxable so some would be clawed back from the wealthier pensionsers.

    At the moment the admin costs are ridiculous. Just typical of the brainless Brown.

    • Russell

      Absolutely correct,.
      When is Cameron going to get rid of all the allowances/benefits which Brown & Co made people state dependent, giving them back a bit of their own money?.

      Not only WFA, but free bus travel could similarly be calculated using an average cost figure, and treated in the same manner, and Cold weather payments too.

      • 2trueblue

        WFA is an automatic payment where as bus passes have to be applied for, so should not be lumped into the same category. Cold weather payments are not paid automatically to all pensioners, so also could not automatically qualify for tax.

        • telemachus

          Further the bus pass induces Old folk rich and poor to get out and has a value beyond cash

    • Chris lancashire

      Generally agree but why not go further and just add the WFA/52 on to the weekly pension? Or don’t we trust pensioners to put it aside for what they need to spend on?
      Mind you, I generally blow mine on one good dinner out.

      • telemachus

        Cripes where do you eat?

        • Fergus Pickering

          When I go out I eat at a good Canterbury restaurant. A bill or four will come in at well over the £100 I get from a heating allowance. And that’s drinking house wine and sharing puddings. Where do you eat, friend. MacDonalds? Don’t do it.

    • telemachus

      The cash in hand nature of the WFA is of far more value to the poor than yet another “tax credit”

  • Archimedes

    “while the heat continues to dance merrily out of the loft and the windows. Targeting the payment towards insulating those houses would mean it could in the future pay for homes to be warm.”

    Well hang on, Isabel. Let’s just be clear that we’re not going to be insulating flats in London. That heat that dances merrily into the floor above keeps my energy bills low, low, low.

    You didn’t mention Cameron’s silliest pledge, though: ring-fencing the NHS. At 20% of government expenditure, it’s nuts to be protecting it.

    • IsabelHardman

      Yes, actually that’s my experience too: I saved a huge amount on heating when I was in my first house because of my downstairs neighbour’s profligacy with her thermostat. But my roof was also insulated, which kept more of the heat in my flat.

      • Archimedes

        Indeed. I like to think of myself as a free-market, neoliberal scrounger which, I’m told, is a cut above the rest, and allows me to feel entirely independent at the same time.

        • dalai guevara

          I am reliably informed that living below ground is the best insulant. Not from personal experience, purely based on scientific calculations – good for those on a budget… 😉

      • RealTory

        It’s comments like “Aside from the nonsense
        of cutting benefits for working-age people who need the support while
        continuing to pay pensioners a benefit regardless of their financial
        circumstances” from neo-lib commentators like you, dear Mzz Hardman, that drives me up the wall. Why the hell should working people receive benefits? When I was young, working and relatively poor I asked for and received sod all. It is the expansion of the welfare rolls to the underserving by the social architect Brown, his predecessors in the labtard party, and various wet tories, that have brought us to this current state. Pensioners on the other hand can be assumed to have paid into the system for 40 years or more and are entitled to expect to receive the benefit of all the tax and NIC they should have paid.

        • Archimedes

          Not sure why you think that’s a reasonable argument. It’s hardly some great injustice that pensioners with good financial resources lose a little too in order to unwind this social experiment. Future generations are going to pay for the majority of this rebalancing. They’ll have paid in too, but it’s unlikely they’ll be getting much back, and they’ll hardly be able to put money in the pot for their own pension, crippled by the cost of supporting yours.

          • RealTory

            I think it is reasonable to expect those who have paid into the pot to get something back. It is not reasonable for taxpayers like me to pay for feckless underperformers on low wages who want to have children they cannot afford while driving cars, smoking, drinking, watching premium Sky channels and voting in the labtards who put them on the state payroll. I do think welfare should those who, no fault of there own, need limited help that there families cannot provide. And before I get the howls of outrage of “it’s only a few”, “think of the starving children” Blah, blah blah, let me say, even a few are too many and there is no poverty in this country. If we don’t resolve this welfare problem, we will all go down (well you will anyway because I will be in Singapore). Also, I refuse to engage with Telemucktwat or other trolls from now on on this or any other subject.

            • Archimedes

              The point is that the pot was never big enough. Your generation is as guilty as any other of putting pressure on politicians to make pension and welfare promises that couldn’t be afforded. Removing pensions for those that can afford to look after themselves is quite a modest and reasonable start.

              • RealTory

                The pot was big enough until labtard started doling out the contents to all and sundry and borrowing to fund the creation of their client state. I am not against means testing of pensioners in principle, just against them being subjected to cuts whilst the underserving welfare spongers get increases.

                • Archimedes

                  Right. I think that part of the point of the article is that if the Tories begin to means test pensions, then they will have more legitimacy to cut welfare.

              • HellforLeather

                This country had one of the soundest pensions systems imaginable until Labour/Blair/Brown let loose on building up their dependent client state (including uncontrolled immigration where possible).

                Many of today’s pensioners have already been seriously mugged by Brown’s pension raids,

                Existing pensioners are not culpable for the way latter-day politicians have destroyed the economy, or the pressure that recent generations may have exerted for unaffordable promises.

                • Archimedes

                  Of course they are. They played their part in those demands, and it is the society that they created that shaped the current generation. No one is inculpable.

                • HellforLeather

                  Er, with all due respect to you trying to come across as Cranmer — doesn’t work.

                  But I’d be happy for you to explain, at greater length, to me how existing pensioners “created” the society that shaped the current generation, and its current demands?

                  And your last assertion is clearly bonkers (ie: No one is inculpable), there are many people out there who are (especially those, for medical or other reasons, not able or qualified to vote.

                  I’m inviting you to back up your 2-1/4 lines worth on this.

                • Archimedes

                  I assume you’re referring to the Archbishop, but I don’t read his blog, and I wasn’t trying to come across as anyone.

                  If you create an institution such as the NHS, and fail to see what a democracy will do to it, then you have failed to hold your own judgement properly to account, and failed to see how the principle will extend into areas of life, for the sake of a temporary trend. That isn’t to say that any other generation would have done it any better, but you can hardly separate out the development of a society and place blame for the failures on a single generation within that. Our democracies are founded on institutions created by the Greeks and Romans thousands of years ago. To imagine that what a previous generation did has no effect on the direction and shape of today’s society is insane.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  I smell a nasty little lefty. May your balls shrivel and drop off before you indulge in the Archimedes screw and father little red bastards to carry on your horrible line. Is this abuse? Sure is.

            • telemachus

              No but we will re-expose you ToryOAP
              I think Isabel a blue pencil again if only for the appendage to my name
              The Vicar beckons again

        • Archimedes

          Incidentally, you call them wet tories, but a dry tory would not hesitate to slash pensions in this way and take all the slack and outrage that would follow.

        • telemachus

          If the capitalist monsters controlling employment in this country gave a living wage we all might agree

          • HellforLeather

            Ah, may I refer you to the Guido Fawkes blog, and their posts Monday on how the socialist-leaning New Statesman (proprietor worth more than £300 million) auctions off internships?

        • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

          The average pensioner has taken out way more than they have put in. This argument of I’ve worked so hard and saved the country is utter self-serving tosh.

          • HellforLeather

            Rahul Kamath says: “The average pensioner has taken out way more than they have put in.”

            Please substantiate. You must have info, referenced to creditable sources?

            • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

              Sure: look at the work done by John Kay as a starting point.

            • andagain

              If they had given more to the government more than they had taken from it, the government would have a lot of savings, instead of a lot of debt.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Hear, hear, old chap! My entire unemployment benefit through a working life was £28. But I never thought it was for the likes of me.

      • HooksLaw

        Ms H you’re a complete gumball dick head.

      • HooksLaw

        You are still a total airhead and have perpetrated one of the worst posts in living memory

        • HellforLeather

          HooksLaw and I disagree at times. But he’s never been more right than on this one.

          (I’d drop the reference to “total airhead”, but it’s up there and only you, Ms IH, can remove that, at the expense of free speech).

          Ms IH, Remember the last posts of mine you removed? You didn’t bother to check with your editor, FN, as to why he’d been prepared to accept a response from me to a post of his, using the same link you found so objectionable?

          I reckon it’s still up there on your website. He sanctiioned it, you censored it.

    • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

      Fully agree w/ you on NHS, again a pledge brought on by fear of Labour.

    • telemachus

      Not sure you really want to ga back to seeing grandma racked for years with hip pain or Aunt Maud on an uncomfortable casualty trolley for 24 hours before a bed comes up

      • Archimedes

        The reason that the NHS is even partially sustainable is the result of efficiencies in the market – otherwise you could tax at 100% and still not be able to afford it. What we go “back to” is not going to be nearly as dire as you are suggesting.

    • Fergus Pickering

      No it isn’t. It’s very sensible. Everybody uses it.

  • Russell

    Whereas Labour made a promise some years ago never to introduce tuition fees and some years after breaking this promise, promised not to increase tuition fees and also broke that promise, apart from promising a referendum on the EU Constitution (re-named Lisbon Treaty, but almost identical) and broke that promise!

    Labour the party that doubled tax for the lowest paid from 10% to 20% yet criticise this government who have reduced income tax for the lowest paid by £1000 in less than 3 years in office!

    • HooksLaw

      its a funny old world

  • http://twitter.com/CommonSense4Now Common Sense ✟ كافر

    Why focus on the old age pensioners when we pay BILLIONS for immigrants in benefits. Just visit any inner city jobcentre for yourself and see

    • Colonel Mustard

      Because pensioners are a soft target and easily demonised in an increasingly ageist society. Immigrants have a special status for the forces of the left, whether they are socialists, “liberal”-“democrat” socialists or wet, de-toxified Tories, because being seen to attack them in any way undermines their metro-trendy, guilt-ridden “I am not a racist, xenophobe or little englander” credentials. That is far more important than the good of the country. Image is everything. Substance can be twisted, lied about and misrepresented.

      • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

        I’m going to offer you a prize when you find one problem in the UK that immigrants are not to blame for.

        • Archimedes

          Gordon Brown.

          • RealTory

            Scottish immigrant sucking on the Westminster teat while he spends his unearned income in Scotland.

          • telemachus

            Read Bill Keegan
            *
            World leaders and international experts have testified to Gordon Brown’s brilliance and tenacity in leading the colossal collaborative action of governments that prevented global financial disaster from becoming global economic devastation.

            Bill Keegan’s objective and fluent account of that achievement is vital for anyone wanting to understand how catastrophe was averted and what must now be done to build consistent growth in place of prolonged stagnation.”

          • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

            Lol assumes you think he’s a problem!

        • Colonel Mustard

          But if you care to read my post, rather than re-writing it according to your own imagined prejudices, you should be able to see that I’m not “blaming” immigrants for any problem! I have merely opinionated why the benefits of pensioners are an easier target for government cuts than the benefits of immigrants.

          I refuse to allow you to define me in your terms. The way that immigration has been managed (or perhaps mis-managed) is the problem. Immigrants are not to blame for that. In fact in the face of such governmental discrimination and largesse I don’t blame them at all!

          So your “prize” is neither warranted or welcome.

          • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

            So if you were in govt whose benefits would you cut first: immigrants or pensioñers?

            • HellforLeather

              I would make a determined effort, for once, to cut the uncontrolled flow of immigrants.

              And don’t throw that “racist” crap back at me. I’ve explained my position on immigration elsewhere in comments to this author’s post — it’s there if you take a moment to find it,

              The hugely unprecedented, sustained flow of uncontrolled immigration puts enormous strain on infrastructure and services — and therefore budgets, and therefore people who’ve been careful to look after themselves where possible rather than rely on the state.

              What doesn’t make sense, especially in an economic crisis? These are not all asylum seekers we are talking about

              • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                Eh, earlier u asked me for data, why don’t u provide me with data on “hugely unprecedented, sustained flow of uncontrolled immigration puts enormous strain on infrastructure and services — and therefore budgets, and therefore people who’ve been careful to look after themselves where possible rather than rely on the state.”

                • TomTom

                  You are much worse educated than was apparent and too lazy to do your own research. Look at the Gross Number for Immigration….even you should be able to do that with your IBM background…a bit of google perhaps ?

                • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                  Eh that doesn’t answer the question. The gross number doesn’t prove anything. But I’m sure you know that. You are just trolling.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  I don’t think he is the troll. He comments widely on a broad range of subjects. You arrived recently and appear to specialise in chip-shouldered innuendo around one particular subject.

                • TomTom

                  The Gross Numver proves that lots of people like Rahul Kamath comes to our country and are alien to its values then insult the people who have lived here for generations. It is typical of Neo-Colonial attitudes and we don not want 500,000 foreigners immigrating each year

                • Colonel Mustard

                  It’s pretty obvious really with plenty of empirical evidence* but spend some time at Immigration Watch – there is plenty of data there.

                  *A friend of mine, indigenous British who has been in work and paid taxes and NI throughout her adult life, was refused specialist NHS treatment for “lack of funds” but on the day of her appointment with a specialist there was a foreign woman at the same clinic, barely able to speak English. She was demanding loudly whether an interpreter had been scheduled for her forthcoming appointment by shouting repeatedly “Interpreter? Interpreter?”. The receptionist tried to assure her that it had been arranged. The NHS spend £20m a year on interpretation and translation services to accommodate foreigners, that cost being far more than my friend’s treatment. People get angry when they see things like that and rightly so. Anyone who cannot see why it is wrong is a nincompoop.

                • TomTom

                  http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/display.cfm?ID=736…n 2007, the United Kingdom received a gross flow of
                  577,000 people….The sustained inflows of immigrants have resulted in
                  increases in the United Kingdom’s stock of foreign born and foreign
                  citizens; the latter group has nearly tripled in size since the early
                  1980s. The current picture shows that the United Kingdom had about 6.9
                  million foreign born in 2008, 11 percent of its population, and 4.4
                  million foreign citizens, about 7 percent of the population. The latter
                  figure is lower primarily because of naturalizations……………..Not including dependents, the United Kingdom
                  received 15.2 percent of the worldwide total of 555,310 asylum
                  applications in 2002, more than any other country, according to the
                  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

                  ……………………A more recent report from the London School of
                  Economics, using a similar methodology but based on figures through the
                  end of 2007, estimates a higher figure of 618,000 illegal residents,
                  with a range between 417,000 and 863,000. London has about 70 percent of
                  this total, with a central estimate of 442,000 and a range between
                  281,000 and 630,00..

            • HellforLeather

              And this, from a separate response by me:

              Benefits for immigrants should be allocated from the overseas aid
              budget, until such time they opt for/are granted British citizenship.
              Such spending is effectively foreign aid.

              Many pensioners have endured far worse circumstances than today’s
              younger generations can imagine — such as the horrors of World War 2, including rationing of food and other essentials both during and after the war.

              • Fergus Pickering

                I experienced food rationing. I think horror is going a bit far. The most horrrble thing I remember from the fale forties/early fifties was a school dinner. Now there we really have progressed. .

            • Colonel Mustard

              Dodging admission of your original mistake by an aggressive question designed to imply your original accusation is just a little bit silly. My comment was in response to another comment about why pensioners benefits are targeted rather than immigrants benefits. That was and is not a burden to the chip on your shoulder whereby the words “immigrant” or “immigration”, unless accompanied by only positive soundbites, appear to stimulate an immediate Pavlovian reaction of indignation.

              I note that you did not address the original comment with your indignation.

              If I had been in government I doubt the choice would be necessary. We are at the end of several decades of cock-up, avoidance and incompetence where the choices now to be made are merely the consequences of more foolish earlier decisions and/or neglects. By dancing around the tweaking Clegg is merely confirming his qualities to be those of a mediocrem third rate bureaucrat rather than a statesman.

              • Colonel Mustard

                Oh, and malevolence of course! As Peter Hitchens has pointed out New Labour’s “Neathergate” plan was entirely malevolent towards the English people in its purpose.

              • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                Who is avoiding the question now?

                • TomTom

                  You do frequently and repeatedly

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Why should I be required to answer your questions anyway? Where is the rule that says that when Rahul Kamath inserts himself into a thread and asks aggressive questions intending to imply that whoever comments negatively on or expresses concern about immigration is a racist they must be answered. What a fantastic approach. You have still not admitted your complete misrepresentation of my first comment or apologised for it.

                  Your approach is tedious. People are getting tired of this and the old ploys are not going to work anymore. As I have told you before, I am not going to be defined by you in your terms. The game is over.

                • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                  If its so tedious why are u still responding? Actually I’m starting to find you tedious now, never mind both disingenuous & disrespectful.

            • Mike

              I would require that any benefit handed out would require that person to have paid into the system for 5 or perhaps 10 years before receiving a benefit irrespective of their birth, colour, religious or ethnic group. That way no one group is being picked upon and every one complies with the same rules for eligibility.

              • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                That is actually the system now for most immigrants, though not the native born. 5 yrs of residency (ok, if u r a non-working spouse during that time u don’t pay in) before you qualify for ILR and any entitlement to benefits.

                • TomTom

                  Not true.

                • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                  Why don’t u share the truth with us oh wise one, with data and supporting links please, not drivel from your sad envious navel.

                • TomTom

                  You are an odious creep – clearly your Indian Christian College left a sneering contempt for countervailing views

                • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                  Particular contempt for your views. And Eddie/ Wilhelms.

                • TomTom

                  I am feeling charitable to a poor ill-educated Subcontinent IT Worker and helping him out with basic URL searches……here’s one…http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/student/info_sheets/welfare.php You must do the rest yourself if you want to progress……

                • TomTom

                  http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/benefits-for-non-uk-nationals……..Person with indefinite leave to enter / remain you will generally have
                  the same access to benefits as UK citizens……………Refugee or someone who has been granted Humanitarian Protection /
                  Discretionary Leave you will be able to apply for benefits in the same
                  way as a UK national……………….Third country national (nationals of a non-EU country) with limited
                  leave including work permit holders, spouses and civil partners during
                  the two year probationary period you generally won’t be able to get any
                  benefits

                • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                  You have just proved my point, thank you.

                • TomTom

                  You clearly have no cognitive skills – do read Mike on Contributions Record and explain why he should fund Asylum Seekers etc to live on his taxes….or Discretionary Leave to Remain should be living well on his taxes….or Indefinite Leave to Remain…..both parties have overseen at least four back-door amnesties over the
                  last 20 years and presided over an immigration system that operates a
                  14-year rule allowing long-term illegal residents to be granted
                  indefinite leave to remain.

                • Mike

                  5 years of residency is NOT 5 years of paying into the system. There’s an estimated 500,000 of illegal immigrants in the UK and I’m sure most of them have been here for 5 years are you saying they should get benefits after 5 years. Obviously non working dependants shouldn’t have to pay in but the head of family should otherwise no one should get anything.

            • TomTom

              They are mutually exclusive in your view ? Immigrants do not age ? Fascinating.

            • Heartless etc.,

              Obvious – stoopid! People who were born, have lived, worked, and suffered in and for this country over many years SHOULD take precedence over vast numbers of imported people – who in many cases arrive entirely for the benefits and contribute little or nothing – apart from swell the growing ranks of contentious issues, many of which are anathema to us, – the natives of this beleaguered isle.

          • TomTom

            Actually Rahul is illogical – immigrants who are pensioners are still pensioners in Colonel Mustard’s book, but still immigrants in Rahul’s book……it reflects a mindset that immigrants cannot have any other status than immigrants

        • Fergus Pickering

          Immigrants are not to blame for Ed Balls. He is a born and bred British idiot..

          • telemachus

            Remember Mary Riddell in the Telegraph

            Don’t believe the Jeremiahs. The Alan Johnson crisis is not a debacle for Ed Miliband. Johnson is a great politician, but he wasn’t on top of the detail, and he wasn’t up to the
            job. Whatever his personal difficulties, this was never the post for him.

            Ed Balls will be brilliant.

            He’s possibly the only person who can galvanise the economic debate and put George Osborne constantly on the spot. He has tenacity, rigour and intellect. His Bloomberg speech accusing the government of growth denial was easily the best of the leadership campaign ( and this from a man who fights a stammer).

            • Fergus Pickering

              He may fight but, hell, he is losing. Really at his age he ought to have overcome this. I had one as a child but now I speak like effing Demosthenes. I think he puts it on in an effort to gain sympathy.

        • TomTom

          Really ? You are most generous but it is Colonel Mustard’s country and not yours. People get tired of being colonised and marginalised.

          • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

            Are you sure it’s yours? U seem to be so sure it’s not mine.

            • TomTom

              Snering contempt…keep going. It fits your persona beautifully. Your prejudice oozes out of your keyboard….personal insult must be part of your culture – keep going…..you cannot escape the limitations of your background

              • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

                Look in the mirror son!

                • TomTom

                  Keep going – it’s lovely to see your podgy face and your contemptuos attitude towards the natives of this country.

      • HellforLeather

        Spot on. I’ve tried to express the same point, in a different way, in reply to Common Sense. I think I’ve noticed this drivel before from same author — one of her hobby horse.

    • HellforLeather

      Benefits for immigrants should be allocated from the overseas aid budget, until such time they opt for/are granted British citizenship. Such spending is effectively foreign aid.

      Many pensioners have endured far worse circumstances than today’s younger generations can imagine — such as the horrors of World War 2, including rationing of food and other essentials both during and after the war.

      Without them, Ms Hardman would be writing this rubbish in German not English.

      • telemachus

        We must think of the future
        *

        There should be a safety net for all pensioners but o encourage immigrants is to encourage the forward economic and cultural march of our Great Nation
        *

        As we have from Claudius, Hengest and Hors, through Georg Ludwigof Brunswick-Luneberg to the awkward American Churchill.

        • HellforLeather

          I have no problem with immigration per se.

          The present economic crisis is exacerbated by such socialist and lazy “forward thinking ” endorsed by you and the then Blair/Brown governments which allowed huge, uncontrolled immigration.

          As for your dream about “the forward economic and cultural march of our Great Nation” — sounds like North Korea propaganda to me. You could probably also get a job with the EU spouting their nonsense.

          • telemachus

            I think we well rehearsed in the Polish thread yesterday the actual drive and dynamism many of these folk have which is probably lifting us out of recession in the face of that Dimwit Osborne

            • HellforLeather

              I will agree with you on the dynamism of the Poles, and the Dimwittism of Cameron/Osbourne (who have reinvented themselves as NuLabour)..

              But you deliberately misread/misinterpret my post which says “I have no problem with immigration per se”.

              I have two Polish builders working at my house at the moment, and I’ve not seen anyone work that dilligently since I was a youngster in a Third World country.

              I came to Britain, as a young adult invited take up a posting at corporate HQ by an international company which had recruited me abroad, and appreciated my work-rate. I bust my gut to get that posting, and many international postings thereafter.

              Don’t you dare lecture me on drive and dynamism. That is precisely why I abhore your socialist leanings. They encourage entitlement, not hard work and aspiration.

            • The_Missing_Think

              “I think we well rehearsed in the Polish thread yesterday”
              _____

              “These nomadic tribespeople followed herds of reindeer and wild horses northward to Britain as the climate warmed.”

              http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/07/0719_050719_britishgene.html
              _____

              You instictively bond very strongly with these people you say, more so than other, more distant, immigrant communities…

              That’s not inadvertant “parochial altruism” is it?

            • Colonel Mustard

              But you didn’t answer the Stalin and Katyn questions. What do your Polish acquaintances think of your views on those. Or do you show them yet another face that omits these genocidal and totalitarian tendencies?

        • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

          How is further immigration going to enrich our nation now that globalism has taken over? Its not as if we haven’t got our own McDonalds and Hilton Hotels,don’t watch the Disney channel and drink Coca Cola already.

          Thats the problem with internationalism and globalism (just like it is with socialism) its all the same one size fits all mediocre tedium. The days when other nations could enrich our own country are fading fast because they’ve all been invaded by the globalists!

      • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

        Go on direct.gov and look at the entitlements for benefits. No immigrant can get benefits till they become a resident which is effectively becoming a citizen.

        • HellforLeather

          Rubbish. Depends what benefits you talk about, not all are direct claims. NHS, for starters — (even for tourists pretending to be othwewise, racking up huge unpaid bills)

          • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

            Have u gone on and looked or are u just shooting off bile?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Yes they can. Poles do, bless their hearts. They send money home to their Polish children whic includes our child benefits. As for, say, Africans, well, I should effing think so.

        • TomTom

          Not true. You really must start to look at how the system works not what you think it says

          • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

            Right back at you old bean. I look at data, you look at your navel.

    • telemachus

      Immigrants bring net benefit to the economy
      Pensioners are a major net drain

      • Colonel MUstard

        You really should save yourself the trouble of typing out these comments. Just write SOPT* in each post and we’ll all get your drift.

        SOPT = Same Old Predictable Tripe

      • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

        Economically this is spot on though I think its less to do w / immigrants vs. pensioners and more to do with young vs old and working vs. retired!

      • Fergus Pickering

        Immigrants do not bring net benefits. Pensioners take out what they have put in. What do you advocate, mass killing of those over seventy, as was the custom with red Indians? I wouldn’t put it past you.How old are you, by the way? Are youn planning on getting any older?

    • treborc

      Are they better educated then, most I see are either poorly educated or working for some other Asian on low wages lower then the min wage in most cases.

      Inner city jobs you have to at least speak English

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