Remember just before Christmas when the definitely-not-bullied Chancellor and the definitely-not-bullied Business Secretary were out and about gambling Â£18 Billion fine British pounds on their plan to save the economy by persuading ‘everyone’ to sign up for a new Plasma TV in time for Christmas?
Not a word was said about whether you could afford it or not, you were doing your bit for Britain by signing up for more debt.
Remember when the Business Secretary was out and about urging you to chop in that old banger and sign up for a nice new shiny car?
Not a word was said about whether you could afford the HP payments or not, you were doing your bit for Britain by taking Â£2,000 for the rusty heap in your drive.
This is a government which has never shied away from telling us what to eat, what to drink, no detail of our life is too small to escape their advice – except for debt. Have you seen any government sponsored advertisements advising you not to get into debt? Advising you to use any spare cash to pay off your existing debts? No, neither have I.
You are about to see a lot more advertisements concerning debt though. The afternoon TV advertisements, aimed at the out of work and the home-bound pensioners will be awash with them soon – for today the government have announced their latest plans to help people ‘avoid the poverty trap’ – the trap that the government were so keen to see them walk into.
The legislation governing Debt Relief Orders, the mechanism by which those who couldn’t afford it in the first place are released from their obligation to pay for whatever their magpie eyes had alighted on after 12 months, leaving the supplier of the goods out of pocket, is being tinkered with once again.
It was this Nu-Labour Government who introduced the Enterprise Act 2002, which contained provision for those whose avaricious eyes were bigger than their wallets, to be able to walk away from their obligations to suppliers after a mere 12 months. The take up rate of this magnanimous offer has been, as predicted, astounding.
The present parameters are:
Debts of no more than Â£15,000 – so comfortably taking in that DFS sofa, the Plasma TV, the new car, and the Littlewood’s catalogue debts.
Surplus income of less than Â£50 a month – so comfortably including anyone on benefits.
Assets of less than Â£300 – so park the goodies round at the sister-in-laws when the tally man calls by appointment.
Now the government have realised that some pensioners are excluded by the ‘Â£300 asset’ marker, since they have occupational (Post Office, British Rail?) pension pots of more than Â£300.Â The asset marker is to be increased on a sliding scale. As some small sop to the hard working families who run small businesses up and down the country, the amount that debtors have to pay to join in this wonderful scheme and have their debts wiped out is increased from a desultory Â£360 to an equally desultory Â£450.
When they have forced every retailer in the country to go bankrupt themselves providing Â£15,000 worth of glittering goodies for a mere Â£450, then what are they going to bribe Labour voters with?
This smells remarkably like Government sponsored theft from decent buinesses.