Another attack on Britain's social security budget has been announced by Gideon, bringer of woe to the poor. He told MPs that he wants to cut benefits even more.
He said many more billions would need to be shaved from ‘welfare’ to avoid deeper cuts in spending by Whitehall departments.
He admitted that the government's plan to balance its books by 2018-19 would require acceleration in the cuts to departmental budgets from 2.3% in the current parliament to 3.7% between 2016 and 2019.
The Office for Budget Responsibility said that that would leave day-to-day spending by government at its smallest share of national output since 1948.
On current plans, the cuts to government departmental budgets will be 8% by the end of the current financial year and reach 20% by 2018-19.
In short, not only do we have to go through the same cuts again, but half again more on top of that!
However he pointed out that to avoid reducing spending on all departments, the next government will want to undertake further reductions in the welfare budget. If it does that, he admitted, they wouldn’t reach the 1948 number.
The chancellor believes his hard line approach will create difficulties for Labour as it makes a choice between backing his line on social security, and keeping faith with the voters who possibly rather mistakenly think that they will never need any kind of help, and not disgusting too many of their more traditional supporter, who likely find the harshness of the social security cuts to be insupportable.
It may, at this point, be worth remembering that over 45% of the social security bill in Ukok is in respect of retirement pensions.
People have paid into them all their lives, expecting that this money was being put away from their future, only to find out that not a penny piece of it exists. It’s all been blown on punching above our weight for the greater glory of a variety of second rate prime ministers in thrall to US presidents.
Much comfort, of course, that will be to most of us as we drag ourselves up to our 70th birthdays working, being hounded by IDS’s DWP as we die of exhaustion in Poundland or its likes for £65 a week dole money, or worse still being thrown off our benefits by untrained staff in Atos desperately trying to reach their monthly target of money saving, and not bothering to check if their victims are conscious or not.
Out-of-work benefits (you know, for skivers not strivers) account for less than 3% of the 'welfare' bill, and out-of-work benefits for the long-term unemployed (the hardcore skivers, the ones that Pete Lilley had a list of) accounts for less than 0.3% of it.
Of course it suits the government (of whatever colour) to let people believe that it’s all single parents, drug users, chavs and ne’er-do-wells that are eating up the taxes of the hard working “strivers”. The fact that it is all lies doesn’t seem to make much difference to them.
A great deal of the Welfare bill goes to subsidise companies which refuse to pay a living wage to their staff.
The next election is now less than 18 months away.
The Tories have laid out their outline plans for social security. The public will soon want to know what Labour’s alternatives would be, and how they would make up the money that they would continue to pay to the already denuded DWP budget.
The alternative of course is to give up nuclear weapons, Britain’s seat on the Security Council at America’s right hand, to collect tax from rich people in the City of London, abolish the ridiculously expensive and pretty useless House of Lords and cancel vanity projects like the most expensive railway in the world… Like any of that would be likely to happen.
Over to you Ed and Ed?
Will we all be expected to work till we are 90? Are we just going to starve the unemployed and the sick to death? Or dare we hope that you might levy a little tax on the rich and cut some of Britain's ridiculous posturing as a major power?