The Sunday Times is reporting today that Gordon Brown has decided to change his mind on withdrawing the relief on childcare tax vouchers.
In this case I thought the government's original position that this was not a good targetted use of money made sense.
But what has become clear is that state benefit programs which benefit the middle class as well as the working class (e.g. tThe NHS, child benefit, old age pensions) are virtually untouchable whereas benefit programs which only target the poor (e.g. jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit, income support/ESA) are subject to continual massive hostility from a right-wing driven effort to libel the "undeserving poor."
This echoes experience in the US where non-means tested programmes such as Medicare and Social Security are untouchable, but programmes to help the poor are repeatedly attacked.
I think the solution to this is to moved to a Guaranteed Minimum Income, distributed by the state to all (regardless of wealth). Such a programme would cost a lot in taxes, but since the selfish middle class would get it as well, it would be able to ensure a real safety net for the poor.