Social Security is Security for the whole of Society

by Elias Blum

The Tories show their stripes once again, with a plan to cut disability benefit and ‘incentivise’ disabled people into work – work which in many cases will be low-paid and put an unnecessary toll and burden on them; and, more worrying yet, work that is simply not available.

Leaving aside for a moment the ethical, moral and philosophical objections to Tory leadership’s big idea of turning Britain into a sort of giant open-air sweatshop and workhouse, let’s just look at this pragmatically from the point of view of ordinary Tory voters.

Surely, if you are a typical Tory voter, you have a vested interest in having a social security system that looks after disabled people with a reasonable degree of dignity and comfort. But they don’t seem to act on that. Indeed, they seem to ignore the fact that disability can affect everyone. Do the think that disability just happens to other people – to the ‘feckless’ and the ‘scroungers’? Do they think that nice middle class people with good jobs don’t get illnesses, or have accidents, and end up unable to work? Don’t they realise that even someone who has a good job and savings will burn through that in a year if it all goes pear-shaped. Are they really that ignorant or that short-sighted?

What’s lost in all this is the idea of social security as Mutual Insurance, rather than as a Transfer Payment. The beneficiary is not just the person who receives the payment, but also the one who pays in – and thereby receives security and peace of mind.