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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Labour to embrace coalition benefit cuts

Nobody in the Liberal Democrats is comfortable with the benefit cuts that are taking place at a UK level, and most of us recognise that mistakes have been made, not least in failing to exempt disabled adults from changes to housing benefit for spare bedrooms.

What does grate however is Labour politicians' sanctimonious public opposition to these changes whilst failing to acknowledge that they initiated many of them, would have done the same if they had won in 2010 and will not reverse the reforms.

Thank goodness therefore for Liam Byrne, who according to the Guardian, at least acknowledges that Labour are going to have to embrace many of Iain Duncan Snith's reforms, even if they are not in the same format as present:

Byrne's speech, titled Fiscal Discipline in Social Security, suggested the party is gearing up to accept many of the coalition's schemes to cut spending on benefits.

Labour has already signalled its intention to cap overall benefit spending, end winter fuel payments for the richest pensioners, tighten the rules on some benefits for foreign workers and maintain restrictions on child benefit for wealthier families.

Miliband has said the coalition's welfare cuts will be a "starting point" that cannot be reversed without savings elsewhere, but promised an approach to benefits that will restore the "dignity of work".

However, even Liam Byrne has had to make some concessions to the refuseniks. If it really was that easy to cut the benefit bill by massively increasing welfare to work schemes, does he not think that the Coalition Goverment would have already done it?

The problem with such schemes is that whoever runs them and no matter how well designed they are, they just end up providing subsidised employment for six months before the vast majority of participants go back onto benefits.

We need to create real jobs and real enterprise, something that the Coalition needs to up its game on. At least the brightening economic outlook gives us a small glimmer of hope that progress can be made in that direction.
Why "Thank goodness"? That is terrible news! Whilst it is true that the government has decided to embark on a program of austerity, it has still been able to finance a cut in corporation tax. It didn't have to cut benefits, it simply demonstrates where it's priorities lie in doing so.
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