We are continually told (all governments) that benefit cheats will be caught, that welfare benefits will be targeted to those that need it, that new immigrants will not queue jump etc etc. I think we have all now got to the point where we know that despite the cuts planned by the present coalition that it wont really change.

I think its now time for a radical rethink of how the money collected by government with the idea of redistributing back through benefits to those that need it.

My proposal is that a card, like a credit card or the current national insurance card be given to everyone in the U.K. who would be eligible. This card allows the holder to benefit from the range of government schemes including housing, pension, NHS etc. At a stroke that wipes out anyone who is here and who shouldnt be as they will not be able to claim. If they want to benefit then they join by paying taxes like the rest of us.

Why is this idea important?

The card should reflect a persons contributions and therefore eligibility and quantity of benefits. In other words its like having a debit card where you can build up credits over your working lifetime and come a time of emergency or retirement, you have something to draw down on. The card holder, you and me, should have a choice of when and how much is taken out with the knowledge that if one benefit is used then it may be to the detriment of something else. An example could be that someone who requires an operation for cosmetic surgery would have a deduction of credits that could mean that when they retired, they would receive the basic pension but the top up for the credits was reduced because they had used the credit elsewhere.

Its a way of giving people choice but also making them responsible for their own finances, something which over the years has been taken away so that everyone now has a dependency on the state for handouts.

The card can be linked to all benefits, housing, child benefit, retirement, and the more credit you put in (more tax paid) the more you get out. There would obviously have to be a safety net so that a minimum of credits was paid to cover emergency healthcare, basic pension etc but the idea is that if you dont contribute, you dont get.

It also has the added benefit of giving people more choice. Take hospitals for example: if I need an operation, then on the whole the doctor tells me where to go and unless you have private medical cover, you really dont have a choice. With your state benefit card which is loaded with credits its now different. The doctor says you need this operation, gives you a list of hospitals that do the op and you can choose which ever one you want because they want your credits. This is going to keep hospitals on their toes as a poor rating means less ops and so less money.

Why stop there, how about schools. Give parents real choice; with their card they can send their boy or girl to the school of their choice and like the hospital above, the good schools would attract the children and receive more money to grow and the poorer schools would have to do better if they wanted to stay open. Headteachers would have a real incentive to improve the school and get rid of poor teachers as it would impact on the whole school.

It obviously needs to be thought out carefully but its about time that the state shrank back and that the public took on responsibilty and at the same time allows us choice with what is really our own money.

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