Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Osborne under fire on further welfare cuts
I am delighted that Nick Clegg has come out against George Osborne's proposal to cut another £12 billion off welfare provision after the next general election. The Liberal Democrats' Leader is absolutely right when he says that defcit reduction should focus on taxing the wealthy rather than further targeting the vulnerable.
However, it is not just the Liberal Democrats who are critical of Osborne's stance. He has critics in his own party too. As the Times makes clear, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been accused of “hacking at the same people” by allies of his Cabinet colleague Iain Duncan Smith:
The Work and Pensions Secretary, known for his hard line on benefits, is thought to be concerned about the effect of the cuts on the poorest in society.
In a row that threatens to overshadow the Conservatives’ new year media offensive, a source close to Mr Duncan Smith said that cutting benefit payments to working-age people while leaving untouched pensioner payments — including universal handouts to the wealthy elderly — was “unbalanced”.
Iain Duncan Smith's proposals echo those of Labour. The General Election campaign may be 16 months away but it is hotting up already.