My head hurts. I've spent a long day on the Welfare and Work Bill Committee. In this meeting I headbutted the table every time the DWP and Treasury ministers in front of me made the same glaring and obvious mistake. After you have intervened on a minister twice to point it out, smacking your head against a plank seems to be the most sensible option.
I'll be as clear as I can be now, in case any of them read this. PEOPLE WHO RECEIVE BENEFITS ALSO PAY TAX. The desire of the current government to pitch people against each other is so clear, that they are willing to make a repeated and stupid mistake in order to achieve this. Turns out they are neither right nor honourable.
It's not even the fact that they seem to miss that most people in receipt of benefits are actually working that's so annoying. It's the fact that they seem to think tax payers and people on benefits are two distinct groups.
Here's my handy guide on people who receive state benefits and also pay tax:
2. People in work receiving tax credits (2/3 of tax credit recipients have a job)
3. Anyone in work or not who has a child aged 0-18 and earns less than £60,000 (so most people) and by the same token those children.
4. Anyone on any state benefit who ever buys anything other than basic food and children's clothes, or who drives a car.
I think this list pretty much now covers most of the population. Bloody hell, what a nation of scroungers - or as like to call them tax payers. Just for lols why don't we ask all these people to pay no tax for one year. I would like someone cleverer than me to tell me how much the Treasury would lose if all these people stopped paying any kind of tax. I bet it's a shed load that these scroungers are... err... contributing.
I remember when my husband received his completely not political letter from HMRC with his personal pie chart, telling him how much of his annual tax had been spent on different government budget lines. In his pie chart of hate and division - ahem... I mean tax expenditure - it told him he had personally spent £1,400 on Welfare. He popped a Post-it on it saying. "Thanks for this, I received £1,668 in Child benefit so I'm up, ta."
The division created by the Tories means that most of us who are, or have been on benefits think that when we talk about welfare we are talking about someone else. It's a bit like when someone calls me Mrs Phillips and I look around for my mother-in-law. Benefits claimants are not some woman with seven kids pushing a pram while smoking a fag. Benefits claimants are not toothless young men sat in their pants playing Grand Theft Auto. They look like me, they look like your dad, they look like your nan. In fact, to anyone who is old enough to be reading this - they look like you. Yes, you had child benefit or family allowance as we used to call it.
So on Thursday this week when I take my seat opposite Priti Patel and Damien Hinds again I'll hear the same us and them Tory rhetoric and my heart will sink. I'll know why they want us all to hate people on benefits. Hats off to them. They've played a blinder. Because while we are busy attacking each other they can hide who is really screwing us all.