Fraser Nelson

Why Hain must go

Why Hain must go
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Of all the reasons why Peter Hain should go, here’s my top one. Right now a quarter of British families are caught up in Labour’s hideously complicated means-tested benefits – tax credits, etc. If they “forget” to declare income, it’s called benefit fraud – an offence for which Hain’s department successfully prosecuted 28,800 people in 2006-07. Yet now that Hain himself has forgotten to declare income he has a get-out clause: declare late, and you are automatically off the hook. Not so for those being hounded for over-payment of tax credits.

 

Everyone has seen the DWP posters “no ifs, no buts” – which Guido brilliantly adapts for Labour special advisers now and again (and, indeed, a version adorns my News of the World column today). Hain claims he was stumped by a four-page, large-type Electoral Commission form. Has he any idea about the 25-page forms he makes low-wage British workers fill in to reclaim a fraction of their money back? For as long as the DWP is prosecuting a zero-tolerance approach to income declaration, it cannot be led by a man who “forgot” about his legal obligation to declare £103,000. For as long as Brown keeps him, he will represent grotesque double-standards at the heart of his government. And families forced into the bureaucratic nightmare of tax credits (ie, the people who decide British elections) will resent it the most.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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