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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Labour on welfare benefits

I post this not out of anger or sorrow but merely to note for future reference the approach of the new shadow Work and Pensions Secretary to welfare benefits. This is because many Labour politicians attack the stance of the coalition government on these issues without fully understanding that if they were in power they would be doing exactly the same thing. In fact when they were in power they were cutting welfare benefits.

The Guardian reports that Rachel Reeves has vowed that Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill:

The 34-year-old Reeves, who is seen by many as a possible future party leader, said that under Labour the long-term unemployed would not be able to "linger on benefits" for long periods but would have to take up a guaranteed job offer or lose their state support.

Adopting a firm party line on welfare, the former Bank of England economist stressed that a key part of her task would be to explode the "myth" that Labour is soft on benefit costs, and to prove instead that it will be both tough and fair.

"Nobody should be under any illusions that they are going to be able to live a life on benefits under a Labour government," she said. "If you can work you should be working, and under our compulsory jobs guarantee if you refuse that job you forgo your benefits, and that is really important."

She added: "It is not an either/or question. We would be tougher [than the Conservatives]. If they don't take it [the offer of a job] they will forfeit their benefit. But there will also be the opportunities there under a Labour government.

All duly noted.
The biggest part of "welfare" is the state pension. Remembering what Labour did for pensioners when in office, there is an implicit threat to the coalition's lock in Reeves' promise to cut the welfare bill.
Where does she say she's going to cut the welfare bill? She says Labour will be "tougher" than the Tories in relation to the unemployed, that's all.
The post says that when Labour were in power they were cutting the welfare bill. I think though that being tougher has its own implications
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