Tax avoidance v benefit cuts: What David Cameron has done this week

Tax avoidance v benefit cuts: What David Cameron has done this week

Despite, or perhaps because of, being called a "dodgy prime minister" who is "up to his neck" in the HSBC controversy, David Cameron has decided to make benefits cuts his big issue of the weekend.

The prime minister is expected to announce on Saturday that the government will look to cut the benefits of people who suffer from obesity and alcohol or drug addiction if they refuse treatment.

Some have drug or alcohol problems, but refuse treatment. In other cases people have problems with their weight that could be addressed, but instead a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice.

  • David Cameron


The prime minister was criticised earlier this week for appointing Stephen Green, HSBC’s former head, as a trade minister in early 2011, despite the government allegedly being made aware of allegations aimed at the bank months before.

Ed Miliband then challenged the prime minister to look into the tax arrangements of Tory donor Lord Fink. Rather than answering the question, Cameron decided to attack Labour's record and crack out a joke about nuns (see video above).

We know what happens - every week you get more desperate because you can't talk about the economy, you can't talk about unemployment, so you come here with fiction after fiction.

  • David Cameron

As he arrived in Brussels on Thursday, the prime minister was then asked by a reporter: "Is tax avoidance normal Mr Cameron? Lord Fink says it is." To which the prime minister simply walked away.

On benefits

Instead of addressing the huge sums of money deprived of the Treasury through tax avoidance, the Conservatives are aiming to make £12bn in benefits cuts in the next parliament.

This chart shows the amount of taxes left unpaid to HMRC each year

The prime minister will announce today that obesity and addictions are treatable and that people claiming long term are choosing “a life on benefits rather than work”. A move that is likely to be criticised by addiction and other health charities.

Mr Cameron's announcement could be described as a "dead cat strategy" - whereby a political party tries to dodge the issue everyone is about by creating something so objectionable - i.e. a "dead cat" - that will instead take the headlines.

A separate report in the Independent today also shows that the poorest in society have been hit the hardest by austerity with the most deprived areas seeing the biggest cuts to public spending.

It is not fair to ask hard working taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work.

  • David Cameron

We wonder what "hard working taxpayers" have to say about secretive bank accounts in Switzerland...

More: We went on a tax avoidance tour through the heart of London

More: Nicola Sturgeon has this to say about the next election

More: Stanley Fink - meet the man behind the 'vanilla' tax avoidance

More: Ed Miliband brings up HSBC claims, gets threatened with legal action

More: The people connected to David Cameron who are linked to tax avoidance

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