What’s this? Credit for your phone? Moisturiser to combat wrinkles? No, a little more on the subject of government ‘cuts’ and what we can learn from the political battle for language.
‘Top-up’ and ‘temporary uplift’ both refer to the Winter Fuel Allowance – specifically, the extra money given to pensioners over 80, to help with their fuel bills, by the UK government in 2008. By making the payment temporary, the previous government was able to reannounce it every year as a new handout. This gave them regular positive PR.
In the 2011 budget, the Chancellor didn’t mention the ‘top-up’, having already announced last year his intention to let it end. When contacted by a newspaper, a government spokesperson confirmed that “the temporary increase in the allowance would be allowed to expire from 2011-12”. This bad news didn’t make the front pages.
What looked like an annual act of generosity by government is now an invisible cut. Given the attraction of both those features to our leaders, it is astonishing that more government spending isn’t presented as time limited. It’s surely (forgive me) only a matter of time…