steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Labour's Big Idea - the "Deserving Poor"

Of course, it's not a new idea...

In 1911:

When they had gone out of earshot, Hugh stopped and said, "I'd like to give the shilling that's left over to the stonebreaker."

"Yes," said Margaret. "He looked so poor."

"But we might need it in the future," said Laura.

"He needs it now," said Hugh.

Tom sided with Laura, and wondered whether the stonebreaker was deserving: their mother said this should always be taken into consideration in the giving of charity.

Hugh said: "You didn't wonder whether we were deserving when I found the half-crown."

Brian Fairfax-Lucy and Philippa Pearce, The Children of the House (1968)

In 2011:

We will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness...

In Manchester, as well as helping the most vulnerable with housing, they give priority to those who are giving something back to their communities – for example, people who volunteer or who work. ...

This approach means that rather than looking solely at need, priority is also given to those who contribute - who give something back. It's fairer and it also encourages the kind of responsible behaviour which makes our communities stronger. It is not about punishing people. It is about rewarding people who do the right thing in their communities.

Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, June 2011

And who said Labour had moved away from the principles of Tony "Don't Give Money to Beggars" Blair?

ETA: On the other hand, if they're going to do this, they ought at least to be consistent. Fictional Hugh makes an excellent point about whether he deserves that half-crown, and it raises the obvious question of whether there are also Deserving Rich? Perhaps Miliband should suggest different rates of inheritance tax, CGT and income tax, depending whether the person paying it has put in a sufficient number of hours clearing canals or working at the local charity shop? After all, to quote the great man, "It's fairer and it also encourages the kind of responsible behaviour which makes our communities stronger."
Tags: current affairs
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