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"Tens of thousands of the poorest pensioners are too proud or too confused to access the complex system of means-tested pensions benefits that Gordon Brown has introduced."

It is not just those who are too proud or too confused, it is also those who have saved more than £6k in their lives who are penalised. If ever there was an incentive not to save, this must be it.

Some good quotes from Darling after he took over from Harman & Frank Field
"I'm determined to ensure that the whole process of welfare reform moves from being a series of ideas into a firm plan that we can implement and work.

"I think everyone recognises that pensions ....the time has come to move forward.

"We will be publishing a Green Paper this autumn because we need a pensions framework that will see us well into the next century."

"What I'm interested in now is seeing the whole concept of modernising the welfare state, ensuring it helps people get into work, helping pensioners, actually becomes a reality."

So pensions are still under discussion 8 years or so later, radical reform is no longer on the table.

Darling also said "The test of any government, any department, at the end of the Parliament, is what did you actually deliver,"

So what has deen delivered?

We need to hit Labour hard over their attempt to turn being a welfare claimant in to the norm rather than the exception. Lets put it in simple terms, take tax credits for example. We have a team of government busybodies taking money off people, and another team of busybodies giving it back, neither team can be trusted to get their sums right, is that any way to run a country? It is a socialist job creation scheme to rival anything they had in the Soviet Union. Surely for many of the lowest paid taxpayers, a more cost-effective and dignified thing to do would be to not take money off them in the first place. As with most other areas of public expenditure it comes down to 'Who do you best trust to spend YOUR money, you or the Government?'

The idea that a couple earning almost £60,000 should be eligible for state benefits is surreal. It should be attacked and mocked relentlessly. Only a sadistic control freak would revel in taking people's money off them then making them jump through hoops to claim some of it back. Step forward Gordon Brown!

We should start from the bottom up, taking low earners out of the tax system altogether, raising allowances, pushing the higher level tax threshold up so it is, once more, genuinely high earners who are paying the higher tax and not millions of ordinary people. If we just didn't take the money in the first place, the whole expensive mechanism for giving it back would be unnecessary.

We also need to be careful not to buy-in to some of the socialist definitions. Relative poverty is a dangerous concept as it defines poverty as having less than a certain percentage of the average. It could be that in a wealthy society a very comfortable standard of living could be classed as being in poverty. It fuels the politics of envy. If you have a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back; can you really call that poverty just because you can't afford a new widescreen TV like your neighbours. This sort of thinking encourages the victim mentality and undermines notions of ambition. It also ensures that so-called poverty can never be eradicated without recourse to socialist controls on pay as there will always be people who earn less than the average.

Also our education system needs to lose its snobbish obsession with academic qualifications and the fixation with getting people into university. Kids need to understand that there is no shame in doing good honest manual work. A benefits system that can provide a comfortable standard of living, coupled with a disdain for manual labour have produced a generation who feel that manual work is beneath them and that they have a right to expect the state to support them. Not working has become a lifestyle choice in some parts of the country. Proper vocational education, which enthuses children with low academic ability and gives them confidence and a sense of self-worth is essential. The focus on league tables and '5 good GCSEs' has left a significant proportion of young people marginalised in education. Our education system should be about helping every child maximise their potential, even if that potential isn't particularly high from an academic point of view. Equality of opportunity rather than the socialist equality of outcome favoured by the current system. The flip side of that is that children from poor households who do have talent and ability must be allowed to shine and given the opportunity to excel.

In the Thatcher years the left's mantra was that the poor were getting poorer while the rich were getting richer. That wasn't the case then, but it is certainly the case now that the poor stay poor. Gordon Brown is perpetuating the class warfare myth by using tax and benefits to keep the poor working class in their place. We need to make sure we portray our desire to help people help themselves. We must strive to build a dynamic society where people are given a helping hand when they need it, but other than that government stays out of their way.

We must never forget 'a rising tide lifts all boats' or the idea that a bigger cake means bigger pieces for everyone. The best way to eradicate poverty is to make the country wealthier, more competitive, with more jobs.

Ted. 'So what has been delivered?'

I was just thinking how much I agreed with you, and that perhaps someone should try to pin the government down on what they HAD actually delivered (other than endless meaningless words), when I realised that of course THAT is what all those confusing statistics are for, to do just that - answer tricky questions and CONFUSE!!

Mike C. Well put.

I completely agree with Mike Christie. You are a true Conservative.

Mike I enjoyed reading your comments, just one question though - "The idea that a couple earning almost £60,000 should be eligible for state benefits is surreal" wasn't this benefit the old married man's tax allowance that they wanted to take off married couples with no children to support and give it to co-habiting couples with children through a means tested tax claim back method?

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