For better or worse, the central theme of this blog is that we would live in a better world if the talents and skills that lie in the marketing, media and communications businesses were applied to society as a whole as well as to commercial objectives.
A core skill in the behavioural economics business is the sophisticated collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
In this light, would any self-respecting marketing company or advertising agency have endorsed the announcement of child benefit cuts this week?
As has been widely discussed: “Osborne sparked fury after admitting that a household with two people earning £43,000 each, totalling £86,000, could still receive the benefit, whereas a household where just one person was earning £45,000, would have it withdrawn. Osborne said this was because the government was trying to keep the system “as simple as possible”. He said he hoped higher-rate taxpayers would stop claiming child benefit but, if they did not, the same amount would be deducted from them through the tax system.” (http://bit.ly/a1R8Du).
It gets worse.
At best, couples will find ways to transfer their income from one to another to ensure they don’t hit the threshold.
At worst, this proposal will feed the black economy by encouraging people to work for ready cash; wheel and deal on a barter basis; establish fictitious or even dead people’s identities; set up companies to hide their real incomes by employing friends and family to ‘work’ in vital roles that, conveniently, fall just under the threshold, falsify Income Tax returns and – especially among those who used to receive these benefits – encourage more harmful crimes to make up for their lost income.
All you and your team have done, Mr Osborne, is lower the threshold of tax-avoiders from multi-millionaires to people earning just over 40 grand.
This is how it is in the real world.
And it is your actions that will provoke people to behave in this way.
And how will the HMRC police all this? How will they chase down the data required? They won’t be able to, of course.
As any grown-up manager in any agency could have told you, on a data collection basis alone, this scheme falls flat on its face.
Take it from me, you need professional help.