Saturday, 24 July 2010

Savings - A Tricky Concept

Zoe Williams is having trouble with the concept of ‘saving’:
I only realised the child trust fund was worth saving about three days before the election: even then, I didn't process what a foolish loss it would be until it was lost, immediately after the poll.
Oh well, the coalition was faced with some tough choices. And a scheme to take taxpayer’s money and place it in a ‘savings’ account was clearly one that had to go.
But under the umbrella Save Child Savings, organisations from ResPublica (Phillip Blond's "red Tory" thinktank) to the Family and Parenting Institute (Katharine Rake's organisation, more red than Tory) crave one last favour. Halt the funds, if you absolutely must, but keep the infrastructure – the cost to do so is £2m a year, or thereabouts. In terms of a public savings initiative, that is tiny.
And why would we want to do that?
It would leave the apparatus in place to power the whole thing up again when the country recovers from recession.
Hmmm. Maybe.

Or maybe for when the public have forgotten what a mess they left, and elect another Labour government, you mean?
If this is so valuable that even keeping its door open is worth fighting for, why did the fund ever look dispensable in the first place? From a distance, it seemed like a lot of money to spend, given that it was a universal handout and so would go to many people who weren't poor enough to warrant it.
Precisely. It was a waste of money. And furthermore, it sent out the wrong message.
Since it was a savings initiative, it seemed also as if it might benefit the middle classes more than anybody else (with their fabled ability to defer gratification and make long-term decisions).
Isn’t ‘delayed gratification’ and ‘long-term decision making’ something to be encouraged and strived for, then?I always thought so...
Yet at the same time there was an aspect to it that was socially conservative, that distilled the beliefs of the decent Tory: the value of asset-building; in everybody having something to trade in the free market beyond their labour; in people taking responsibility for their own savings, their own financial futures.
For the last time, Zoe, ‘saving’ is what people do with their own money.

Not when the government takes money from everyone else and gives it to you.


Mummylonglegs said...

The real cock up with this whole trust fund debacle is that the government took the money from the tax payer, handed £250 back to anyone that claimed it and then went on to 'invest that money' on their behalf. Needless to say, some friends decided to top this fund up by depositing £10 a month into this fund (for 3 years). When they received their annual letter they were shocked to find that the trust fund was worth less than they had deposited. I laughed so much, I mean, who the hell would trust labour to invest money for them. I then pointed out that the £10 per month that I was depositing in each of my childrens savings account was still worth exactly what I had deposited, in fact, even with the almost nil savings interest each account had actually made about 36p. I do believe they voted Tory in the general election.

Labour, doing what they do best, taking your money, pretending to give it back and then still losing a portion of it.

Mummy x

English Viking said...

To anyone that is listening...

PLEASE stop stealing my money from me, then giving me a piss-poor amount back and expect me to be grateful.

JuliaM said...

"Labour, doing what they do best, taking your money, pretending to give it back and then still losing a portion of it."

Good grief, is there nothing that they didn't somehow foul up while they were in office?