Coffee House

Tories make hay with Labour’s welfare stance

8 January 2013

8:55 AM

8 January 2013

8:55 AM

The Welfare Uprating Bill won’t fall into difficulty when it has its second reading in the Commons today, but with around five Lib Dem MPs expected to vote against or abstain on the 1 per cent rise in benefit payments, it’s going to be a lively debate. The Conservatives are focused on making the debate less about Sarah Teather and other angry colleagues in her party and more about Labour’s welfare stance.

Grant Shapps has a new, bald poster campaign today on six sites in London.


Shapps’ new posters simply read: ‘Today Labour are voting to increase benefits by more than workers’ wages. Conservatives: standing up for hardworking people.’ Iain Duncan Smith has taken the same line on his morning tour of the television and radio studios. The Work and Pensions Secretary insisted that benefit rises must be compared to incomes, telling Sky News:

‘In actual fact, directly as a result of this Bill, the savings will be in something in the order of about £1.9bn. What Labour are doing yet again today, as they’ve done for the last two years – on universal credit, they opposed that; on the cap on anyone getting more than average earnings, they opposed that; on the housing benefit changes which blew up under them, doubled in size in ten years, they opposed that; they opposed absolutely everything that we have brought forward.

‘This is a shambles of a Labour opposition, it is a pathetic, opportunistic group who spend their time trying to pretend to people there are soft options out there. No one said this would easy. It is very difficult. We are in very difficult economic times, left to us by Labour with a collapsed economy when they left office in 2010. Actually, I would think that they would apologise for the mess that they left us in.’

The polling on this issue is closer than you might expect. YouGov’s poll for the Sunday Times this weekend found 45 per cent of voters back the 1 per cent limit, while 35 per cent do not. But Labour is currently more trusted than the Tories on the issue of welfare, by 30 to 22 per cent. Then again, 47 per cent don’t believe the government is being sufficiently tough to those on benefits and that ‘more should be done to force them into work’. It is for this reason that both parties are so keen to take ownership of the ‘strivers’ at the centre of this battle: Shapps has his ‘hardworking people’ posters, and Ed Miliband has been repeating his ‘tax on strivers’ image again this morning.

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Show comments
  • Gary Wintle

    Increase the retirement age to 85 and the deficit problem will be quickly solved, as the proportion of working people will be far greater than those in retirement.

  • James Randall

    It’s “bold” not “bald”

  • dalai guevara

    If average wages in Britain rose by 1.4% to £26.5k (a rise by £370), which benefits was Labour going to raise above that level? Tell me, tell me.

    • Gary Wintle

      Tax Credit is Corporate Welfare, that’s why the Tories won’t touch it; the CBI loves TC.

  • Russell

    A caller on BBC Devon radio yesterday was objecting to the fact that as a higher than £60,000 per year sole earner in his household, he was going to lose his child allowances for his 3 children, whilst 2 earners in a household earning £49,000 each totalling £ 98,000 for their household would keep their child allowances.

    A point which is missed in every discussion of this matter is that the household with 2 earners are paying significantly more Income Tax and NIC, as well as both their employers NIC, and providing work for childminders who pay tax and NIC.

    I am sure if all of the above was taken into consideration, the working couple are more than making up the child allowances they continue to enjoy.

    • HJ777

      In that particular instance, the two earner household may be paying more tax and NI, but in many others, the opposite is true.

      Let’s compare a single earner family on £60k with a two earner family on £40k each (£80k in total). The two-earner family gets two personal allowances of around £9,500 each, whereas the single earner family only gets one tax allowance. The single earner family will also pay income tax at 40% above around £42,000. In this instance, the single earner family will pay appreciably more income tax AND lose child benefit, whereas the two-earner family will keep theirs.

      The government really should be taking a neutral stance on whether a family with children chooses to be single or double income. This change should, at least, have been accompanied by transferable tax allowances.

      • Russell

        Your numbers don;t add up.
        The 2 earners family are both paying NIC and their employers are also paying employers NIC! The difference in additional total deductions amounts to far more than what they receive in retaining child allowances

        • HJ777

          I agree that the two earner family is paying more NIC, in this instance. However, they are paying considerably less income tax.

          You are also counting NI as if it were exactly the same as income tax – it isn’t. While I would agree that it has become more and more like a straight tax, it still retains a contributory insurance element when it comes to unemployment benefits, for example.

          In any case, if I had provided an example where the the single earner before-tax income were the same as the two earner household (i.e. £80k), there would be little doubt who was paying more tax and NI – it would be the single earner. But only the single earner family would lose child benefit.

          Your arguments about childminders paying Tax and NI are somewhat spurious. If the same money were spent on something else instead, the staff involved in providing those goods and services would also contribute tax and NI.


    YouGov could easily have determined whether those supporting more benefits are ON benefits. It would have been an interesting poll if those on benefits overwhelmingly believed they deserved even more.

    Why was that distinction not made in the survey? Or was it and it is not being reported here?

    • UlyssesReturns

      Sky News this morning had their reporter in Rochdale where (they said) over 70% of the population are on benefits. Apart from the usual inarticulacy we have, alas, come to expect from our brethren in the northen wastelands, the not unsurprising result of the voxpops was a preponderance against the ‘cuts’. The general lefty tone was somewhat spoiled by a young single mother who agreed with the 1% raise at it would gove ‘more incentive to find work’. What I find extraordinary is that so many of the welfare ‘skivers’ and single mothers interviewed complain about lack of jobs but seem incapable of looking beyond their place of birth. If I had stayed where I was born I would be picking olives and living on EU CAP funds now, or mugging tourists.

  • John Moss

    Those earning £9,500 are £950 better off because of the rise in Personal Allowance and NI threshold. The difference between an increase at 2.2% and at 1% is about £170.

  • Span Ows

    making hay? Is that what they mean by being ‘in stable condition’? …I’ll get my coat.

  • Noa

    Whilst in agreement with the reported comments of Mr Duncan Smith, it is the glaring inconsistency in the application of Government policies which we observe.

    Unlike him, in the case of Child Benefits, Cameron and Osborne have simply funked the challenge of dismantling Brown’s client voter creating tax credit system, missing the opportunity to reward workers by replacing it with a simple allowance.

    I am left to conclude that IDS has thought out his reforms, argues for them ably and with conviction and is prepared to fight to secure their implementation.

    His qualities demonstrate that he is the leader the Conservative party let get away.

    • JamesdelaMare

      Noa – Although I think you’ve well overstated Mr Smith’s abilities as a Conservative leader, most will surely agree we really need a Conservative leader with real charisma and genius, with a practical and inventive approach to the problems which have almost overwhelmed this country in the last fifty years? Mr Smith certainly isn’t that. Nor can I see another such person among his colleagues.

      However this capping is yet another minor piece of nonsense. They flatter working people by the universal description of “hard working”. It is the Poles and East Europeans and Asians who are usually hard-working – not the British. they stay at home or do the minimum amount of work for the maximum possible rewards. Plumbers on £1000 pw or solicitors charging up £250 an hour or more. Greed and grasping have overcome moderation, commonsense and honesty.

      The fault the Conservatives NEVER want to address is the constant use of percentages instead of real figures. A 2% rise on a £5000 state pension is only £100 p.a. (£2 pw), but on an MP’s salary it’s £1300 p.a. On a higher £250,000 salary a 2% rise is £5000 – the equivalent of a whole year’s income for a pensioner. The gap widens all the time, stoking up well-earned resentment.

      The critics of Conservatives may be at fault here and there, but the Conservatives seem inherently incapable of dealing properly or fairly with the most obvious and stupid wrongs they confront us with.

      • Noa

        Regardless of what the Conservative party thinks of his talents he would make an excellent leader or CofS in a UKIP Parliamentary party.

    • Gary Wintle

      Tax credits are a form of corporate welfare. Their primary purpose is to subisdise the private sector so it can pay people wages they cannot live on.

  • Matthew Whitehouse

    Labour is currently more trusted than the Tories on the issue of welfare…

    That’s because Labour is the party of the welfare handouts, it solves everything you see

  • nilsinela boray

    If by “making hay” you mean making themselves look like nasty bigots with a hatred for the poor, and no grasp of mathematics then you have it spot on.


      nilsinela boray is, by her own description, a labour blogger and a headteacher.

      On her blog she most recently opines that the Indian rapists will not be able to get a fair trial and that ‘the world is being found wanting over this case’.

      I think this shows the sort of perspective nilsinela is coming from, so one must wonder why she wants to post here.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Frightening isn’t it, to think that person, a teacher, who makes a statement like that about a legitimate government and political party – “nasty bigots with a hatred for the poor” – has influence over impressionable young children. How is it possible for such a person to be impartial in her teaching responsibilities? Very worrying.

        • Noa

          Oh I woudn’t worry too much about her teaching impressionable young minds. Since Labour’s educational ‘reforms’ most H/Ts have retired from an area they hate, the classroom, to their offices. From there, as shiny-arsed paper shufflers, safely protected from the real world, they can recruit from eager young cadres of proto-socialistas to achieve their common purpose design.

          • Colonel Mustard

            That doesn’t reassure me but rather compounds the worry! Her blog contains a disclaimer but I think the open advocacy of politics is not something teachers of any description should be indulging in.

      • Gary Wintle

        Consider for a moment Steubenville, Ohio, where college footballers are allowed to rape girls and the Sheriff and the college protect the rapists. Let’s not pretend India is much different to the USA or Britain… Steubenville proves it isn’t.

      • nilsinela boray


  • Bob339

    Bye Bye Tories. Welcome UKIP in 2015. Whoever votes Tory or Labour fromthis day forward sees a fool when they look in the mirror.

    • Span Ows

      Many ‘fools’ will see a vote for UKIP as a vote for Labour.

      • francbanc

        But, of course, the Party of closet commies are the same as the Tories, apparently.

      • Noa

        I voted conservative in 2010, as I have always done previously. The result?
        A virtually identical, self serving Liberal-Socialist construct and a PM that is distinguishable from the previous incumbent mainly in having the normal complement of eyes, though he chooses not to use them.

        As both refer to people like me as ‘closet racists’ and ‘odd’, you will understand why I fail to see any difference between them when I caste my vote for a party which actually shares my concerns.

        • Span Ows

          I can confidently assure you that, as a UKIP voter, Cameron (nor labour I presume) have ever referred to you as a bigots, ‘closet racists’ or ‘odd’. He may have referred to SOME of the candidates as such.

          • Noa

            Then, as is often the place with Cameron supporters, your confidence is utterly misplaced:-


            • Span Ows

              “There are some pretty odd people,”…thanks for making my point. Read what he said not what the papers say he said!

              • Noa

                I did, which is why I referred you to an article which you either misread or misinterpreted.

                And regarding your original comment UKIP candidates just happen to be UKIP members too, Cameron’s nasty little jibe applies to all regardless of your misinterpretation.

                • Span Ows

                  If by misinterpret you mean find out what he said and not be taken in by journalistic misquoting then I am pleased to misinterpret. If however you mean believe the wrong meaning as the journalist intended, and as you have, then I beg to differ:

                  (a) “There are some pretty odd people,”
                  (b) “Ukip supporters are ‘pretty odd'”

                  One of the above is a headline and one is quoted words. I suggest it is you doing the misinterpreting.

                • Noa

                  People can judge for themselves what Cameron meant from the Marr interview at minute 59. I expect most will take the journalist’s understanding, like me.


                  It was throwaway, a snide little remark which will cost him dear.

                • Span Ows

                  Oh I doubt that: it will be lost amongst the myriad other reasons he will lose votes for! 😉

              • HooksLaw

                There is no interest and in quoting the truth or even recognising it.

  • @PhilKean1


    As opposed to the Tory Welfare Stance

    Question : – How to combat the growing problem of too many people living off the state?

    Cameron Party Answer : – Keep penalising those who work hard and take NOTHING from the state. Err?

    Still, yesterday’s decision to inflict extra taxes of up to £1,750 per annum on responsible, middle-class parents has come just in time to help neuter opposition from those who will object to annual benefit rises being restricted to 1%.

    Who said it was just Labour who Govern in unprincipled and politically-motivated ways?

    • Glenn Ludlow

      “yesterday’s decision to inflict extra taxes of up to £1,750 per annum on responsible, middle-class parents” So are you suggesting as well as income they are discriminating on class as well, or have you fallen into the journalist trap of equating middle class and middle income?

    • Gary Wintle

      The Tories won’t get rid of Tax Credits because they were created to subsidize the private sector. Employers love tax credits as it means they don’t have to pay employees a living wage.

  • Jebediah

    90% of the population, inculding most workers can claim some sort of benefit. It’s a result of Labour’s client state, bribing people with their own money. Welfare was originally created to protect the poorest. It’s the central weakness of democracy that Govts bribe today’s adults with their children and grandchildren’s money. (See Gordon Brown-defict and debt).

    • Andy

      You are quite right. Governments, mostly Labour Governments, have used the Welfare system to ‘buy’ votes. It is frankly absurd to tax someone and give them their own money back as a ‘benefit’. It is no such thing. We need far more radical benefit reform. Child benefit is another example. Why is this a universal benefit ? Why even have a ‘child benefit’ ??

      It is time we made a link between taxation and welfare. You have to find the money from somewhere and one of the main problems we now have is that far too many people receive from the State rather than contribute to the State.

      • James R

        Why even have child benefit ? Excellent question.Perhaps it’s so that working families,and some ‘non-working’,can save up and take their precious little ones on an all you can eat and drink holiday in some god-forsaken toilet in Spain or Greece.Ditto France and Italy for yer educated classes.

      • Eddie

        Exactly – I have been calling for the abolition of all universal benefits for years.
        We need means testing which takes into account assets (esp property) when considering if people are in need. Income alone is not enough – on that basis, millionaires like Milliband can say they are ‘average’.
        Scrap child benefit. And scrap maternity pay linked to income too.
        The problem is that these hand-outs have become de facto bribes given by politicians to the greedy smug middle classes who are, pound for pound, far bigger spongers off the system than any chav dole cheat.
        Why should poor people pay taxes so that rich people get benefits they neither need nor deserve anyway?
        Most well-off people spend their child benefit on paying their ‘help’ anyway or for holidays. When I was a private tutor, my clients used it for a ski-ing holiday money every Easter. Were state benefits meant to be used for holiday spending in Switzerland?

        • Andy

          True. I deal with the affairs of a 91 year old. Her income is not vast – it was better before that liar Gordon the Moron Brown abolished dividend tax credit. However, every penny she pays in income tax is recycled across to road to a delightful couple with two children and a beautiful cat. They go on their two holidays (sometimes three holidays) a year all thanks to her taxes. And she buys cat biscuits !

          I’m sorry but I think it is morally wrong that we tax the elderly to supply treats for the middle classes. Reform, reform, reform is what we need.

          • Airey Belvoir

            Cat biscuits, tsk…sums up all that is wrong with our nation…….to the barricades!

            • Andy

              The Cat likes Cat Biscuits, and he likes the old lady.

          • Eddie

            It is morally wrong that families who own houses worth a million and who earn 6 figure sums get universal benefits such as child benefit. Don’t be sorry for telling the truth!
            These benefits should be called what they are: BRIBES – from politicians to the socalled middle-classes who see such payments as a tax rebate really. And while we are at it, it is time to scrap maternity ‘pay’ linked to income – which enriches stinking rich women, discriminates against poorer women, and costs the taxpayer 4-8 billion a year. I am not against statutary maternity pay – but when a woman who earns £1million a year (eg Nicola Horlick) can sponge £20k a week off our taxes, I think that is amoral and sick.
            A chav benefit sponger on £50 benefits a week gets £3k a year off us – and so what sort of sponger does that make the woman who gets hundreds of thousands of taxpayers money for every pregnancy. Horlick had 4.
            Almost everyone pays tax – even the very poorest. Much of that money gets given as bribes to the wealthiest 20%. Strange really that Labour wants that redistribution to continue.
            It is time to end the benefits culture for ALL people. We must also somehow stop so many foreigners claiming housing benefit and for landlords (and ladies) to use the system to enrich themselves and extend their propety portfolios. Rent controls maybe?

          • Gary Wintle

            The vast majority of welfare budget is spent on pensioners. To reduce the welfare budget, the retirement age should be raised to 80.

          • Mike Cloud

            Like most of the commentators, you are economically illiterate. That middles class couple still probably pays way more in taxes than your dear 91 year old. The child benefit for higher earners was de facto a small rebate on their taxes. These horrible middle classe people with children ( a hate figure among Speccie readers as well as Guardian readers, I seae) will still pay a helluva lot of taxes both in absolute terms as well as percentage terms. Sure, the child benefit gave them some advantage v childless couples, but children do cost money and time and try running a welfare state or an economy without young workers.

            • Andy

              And like many commentators you have no moral sense. It is a bloody disgrace that a 91 year old with a very modest income – probably far less than yours – has to pay quite large amounts of tax so that benefits can be paid to those with far greater means than her. Like you for example.

              • JamesdelaMare

                Andy – I’m not as old as 91 but I’m well into the OAP age range, and I’m forced to pay council tax, vat and all the usual taxes on a tiny income. Primarily it’s not to support activity I want, need, use, have any say over or is useful to me. It goes on high remuneration a world apart from the level my own is (and always was) for those currently in employment. That is what concerns Labour more than it does the Conservatives, who’ve never been remotely interested in closer pay ratios in all the 60-plus years I’ve known the party.

            • Eddie

              No-one is economically illterate – and your false argument does not show anyone as an economic illiterate but you.
              We are NOT talking about total tax contribution and that is not relevant. By your method, it would be moral to reduce the tax rate the higher people earn! DOH!
              The fact is, benefits were not meant to be de facto tax rebates or bribes – which is in effect what they are now, with most people getting benefits.
              And why should those who have not made the selfish decision to breed subsidise the ski-ing holidays and public school fees of well-off families who often have asset worth of half a million or more?
              Your attemt at emotional blackmail is typical: no-one NEEDS your children but you. They are YOUR children and you should pay for them – if they get very rich they won’t be buying me a house, will they?
              Young workers? Oh you mean the immigrants who will look after me when I am old while your children moan and whinge as they inherit your wealth and sponge off the state’s benefit bribes?
              There is no moral justification for such a spongers agenda – and those who argue for it are not better than the worst council estate workshy chav on benefits for their 7 children. In fact, those people sponge WAY less than the yummy mummies who claim child benefit and maternity ‘pay’ linked to income.
              We badly need a reintroduction of a moral compass here. Only the destitute are in poverty and deserve benefits; people will half a million pound houses do not. Means testing is needed – which includes assets and not just income.

        • treborc1

          Means testing of course means that the testing will normally cost more then the benefits you would save if you saved anything.

          means testing is expensive very expensive.

          better to say no benefit s for people over ex amount. you can use the tax code.

    • George_Arseborne

      What is wrong paying people in their own coins buddy? I thought Grant Shapps alias Micheal Green was sharper than that ridiculous poster, well it seems he is worse than our beloved Baroness Warsi

  • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

    Who cares. Both parties will say anything to anyone to get their hands in the till.