Thursday, January 14, 2010

Conservative proposals to reduce the deficit (part 4)

  • Stopping Child Trust Funds, except for the poorest families and disabled children. We will stop new spending on Child Trust Funds for better off families. But to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, disabled children and the poorest one third of families should continue to receive both new Child Trust Funds at birth and top-up payments.
As a Liberal Democrat, one can hardly oppose this as a concept. After all, we're calling for the abolition of Child Trust Funds too. However, calling for their total abolition means that that you cut out all of the bureaucracy involved, with a resultant saving that is obvious.

However, the Conservative proposal is likely to give us the worst of both worlds. Yes, there will be a saving in terms of the amount of money handed out. However, you still require a bureaucracy to handle this, and now you add means-testing, with additional forms to fill in, compliance teams to deal with fraudulent claims, and so on and so forth.

The proposal looks compassionate, but if the Child Trust Fund is designed to provide a start to young people, and isn't accessible by the child until he or she reaches the age of eighteen, how do such payments help the poorest and most vulnerable, disabled children and the poorest one-third of families? It doesn't.

There is a sense here that, like political magpies, the Conservatives have stolen a Liberal Democrat policy, sought to soften it at the edges without really getting the point. Anyone would think that bureaucracy comes without costs...

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