Means testing. Always with the means testing… October 14, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Anyone notice this about the proposals for a new system of ‘subsidised childcare’ that may, someday, or may not, be rolled out over ‘a number of years’. All this from Katherine Zappone…
Parents would log on to a website and provide their PPS numbers to see if they were eligible for subsidies, and at what level they would apply.
They would then choose a participating childcare provider. The State would pay the subsidy directly to the provider, with the parents paying the remainder of the bill.
It envisages higher subsidies for lower-income families – covering as much as 100 per cent of childcare bills – which would drop off as parental income rose. The thresholds will be determined by the amount of money allocated in budgetary negotiations over the next month and it is intended that income thresholds will rise over a number of budgets.
I’m always dubious about means testing. As the piece itself notes:
The plan from Minister for Children Katherine Zappone will be designed in such a way, however, that the level of subsidies can be easily increased or reduced should a government wish to do so.
But the broader point is how means testing is the default position for so many on the right – a sort of cover where they can nod towards issues of equality while functionally evading them entirely.
I’ve written here, ad nauseam, about how means testing throws up barriers to entry – don’t take my word for it, there’s solid evidence of same in studies in the area of welfare provision. People who won’t access benefits due to self-perceptions in regard to pride, and social standing and so on. People who don’t have the abilities to engage with such structures and systems and so forth. My own experience of seeing grants in education made me deeply cynical about cut-off points and so on in relation to accommodation costs or fees. And, of course, means testing is a very blunt instrument. Those just above income limits have every right to feel aggrieved.
What is more, and this argument is also articulated all too often here, but necessarily so I think, we have structures in place – national structures, in the shape of revenue for collecting taxes from all citizens.
Given all this it is surprising, in a sense, how quickly some seem keen to introduce small bureaucracies in educational areas, childcare and so on that would oversee means testing.