Coffee House

Why are the left so angry about today’s welfare reform? Because it’s popular – and right.

1 April 2013

9:25 AM

1 April 2013

9:25 AM

It’s tough being a supporter of this coalition government. Mishap and omnishambles have come to characterise its first three years in office – but you can almost forgive all of this given the progress being made on education and welfare. Reforming the latter is the toughest mission in politics, and another phase of that reform comes into effect today.

But here’s the thing: the welfare reform is not causing mass outrage. Of course, Polly Toynbee is furious – but to the bafflement of the chattering class, the masses seem to think the reform is long overdue. Study after study confirms this. There was that  YouGov/Prospect study suggesting that three in four people (and a majority of Labour voters) think that Britain spends too much on welfare. In fact, popular opinion seems even more hawkish that the average Tory MP. You’ll struggle to hear any self-respecting MP using the word “scroungers,” for example, but two in five think that applies to a significant minority of welfare claimants. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that attitudes to those on welfare are even more negative than attitudes towards the rich.

Given that the average worker is having to make do with 1pc increase in salary, is it really cruel to impose a 1pc rise to welfare payments? Especially after benefits rose three times faster that salaries last year? It’s no surprise that more a YouGov/Sunday Times poll found the 1pc rise to welfare enjoys a 10-point lead in support. Ironically, welfare reform is one of the most popular things this government is doing. And it’s never more popular than amongst those on low wages, who share housing estates with the welfare-dependent and can see the injustice. You need to look at Britain through the columns of a spreadsheet not to see the wider point of what’s going on.

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If the state paves the road to welfare dependency, we ought not to be surprised that so many millions walk down it. Iain Duncan Smith is trying to pave a new road, one that leads to prosperity via work. This reform does mean restricting certain welfare payments, to make sure work is – by comparison – the more attractive option. Much more can be done (I’d advocate an emergency tax cut for the low-paid). If the welfare cuts increase the incentive to work (remember, employment in Britain is at a record high right now – there are jobs to take) then it may be sustainable. Writing larger welfare cheques, or saying “let them eat tax credits” is not sustainable. Nor is it compassionate, as Labour proved during the boom years.

I suspect this is why so many on the left are so angry. IDS is carrying out his reforms not in the name of economic efficiency but in the name of social justice. He does so plausibly and, by and large, with public support. As Christian Guy observed  on Coffee House yesterday, this is not about saving money. It’s about saving lives – and in a way that Labour failed to do when it has the time and money. A million working-age people were on benefits during every one of Labour’s 13 years and that’s far worse than a waste of money. It’s a scandalous waste of human potential.

So yes, today’s welfare cuts are tough. But public opinion regards them as fair. For 13 years, Labour fought poverty. Poverty won. David Cameron can say that the task of ending poverty now falls to the modern Conservatives.

But the more reform-minded Labour supporters will know that this is not, really, party political. IDS stands in a tradition of Labour reformers – John Hutton and James Purnell to name just two. I suspect Labour target voters will agree with IDS. This is an area where the unions, and the Labour leadership, have found themselves on the wrong side of public opinion.

UPDATE: Here’s IDS being interviewed on BBC Radio Four


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Show comments
  • mark williams

    The biggest part of the welfare bill goes to the elderly only 0.07% is fraud and this government is taking more from the poor and giving the rich back thousands of pounds and you all think this is right god help us sounds like Germany in the 30’s

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1131965402 Joan Barker

    Oh for goodness sake………… get a bloody grip here people……….. Ok I accept the welfare reform had to happen……….. I even agree there is a minority milking the system……….. But when you have worked all your life qand paid in and just happen to be a human being that got sick or to disabled to work anymore are being called scroungers etc and facing humiliating medical assesments geared up for them to fail and be found fit for work………. 1300 sick and disabled people have died as a direct result of the Atos company this government have paid millions to for carring out these assesments and finding seriously ill people fit for work is nothing short of a bloody disgrace……..Welfare is being cut to these people……….. I now soon after 45 years working have to stop work in August as I can no longer work due to lung disese arthuritus diabetic and deaf person………… Now I have no saftey net for all my tax and nat insurence I face being humiliated and being called a scrounger and being made to feel like one……………….. If you are going to reform welfare then ensure those that need deserve those benefits get them without punishing them and lumping us all together as spongers etc……….. People need to think twice before spouting of because although you are working and are well in health at this time………….. you to could end up seriously ill or disabled at any time as life is like that you are not immortal………..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sebastian-Crankshaw/791599467 Sebastian Crankshaw

    The majority also support tax rises for the rich, an end to the bonus culture, renationalisation of a number of now privatised industries, no meddling with the NHS and any number of things that you and the coalition are shrilly against. Be consistent in your arguments. Why is popular support for this policy more relevant than, say, the lack of popular support for NHS changes? You can’t just pick and choose when public opinion is relevant. Well, actually, you can do it and you are doing it, but it does rather suggest that your viewpoint is based on a pre-held ideological viewpoint that you will hold to regardless of evidence, rather than it being based on any kind of rational examination of the actual evidence.

  • Thats_news

    But for many people it is not a safety net, it is a silken noose round their necks! “Stay still or this nice, comfortable silken rope will break your neck!”

  • CHRISTOPHER WHITE

    It is not relevant here but Fraser has been praising Swedish economy. I was astonished to see that their unemployment is 8.2 & youth unemployment 24.5 (WORSE THAN OURS).

  • http://twitter.com/davidjclayton david clayton

    You simply don’t understand the reality of life for the least well off but you never will so i will ignore that point. But when you keep telling each other how all the poorest are evil scroungers you miss a big reason why the country is in trouble. If the poorest ten percent had more money they would spend it and get the economy going. This spending at grass roots level will create more jobs reduce and benefits bills. However the sheer glee in the eyes of so many on the right as they attack ‘scroungers’ ensures nothing as practical as this will happen. With high unemployment, a stagnant economy and rapidly decreasing incomes where do you think the very poorest will turn to? Or do you actually care that much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terence.i.hale Terence Hale

    Hi,
    Why are the left so angry about today’s welfare reform? Because it’s popular – and right. Not quite, it’s the way you say it. Mr. Cameron and his Bull Terriers present thing wrong.

  • manonthebus

    If I may summarise a few comments I read on another online newspaper, the problem with all middle class liberals who love welfare is that they don’t have to live next to the people who live on it. If you were a hard-working person in a poorly paid job you might feel highly annoyed at living next to the stay-in-beds who make a racket, disturb your peace and let their kids run riot. It’s not the same if you live in a pleasant middle class area and like to pontificate about helping the poor through increases in welfare. This is why the liberal left cannot understand why it’s the hard-working low paid who want welfare reform, not Tory MPs. Working people might feel that they are entitled to a little help and would like their feckless neighbours to rouse themselves and do something to deserve theirs.

  • terence patrick hewett

    The tumbrils are coming.

  • Terry Field

    The left knows that the vast subsidy system guaranteed their client recipient voters. Without the subsidies, they have much less long term attractiveness amongst the proletariat. They will win the next election, however, since the subsidised hordes will believe implied statements of returning plenty if they vote Labour. After that, further economic collapse – which is certain unfortunately, will end that illusion

    • twistedrama

      You have a defective understanding of the nature of British people and political thought.

  • DK

    Most people on benefits ARE in work, and are in for a nasty shock when they suddenly learn this applies to them too, and not just to people like me, who cynically and deliberately spend all week applying for jobs, attending mandatory courses, filling in jobsearch diaries, so I can sit on my backside and do nothing.

  • http://twitter.com/timalmond Tim Almond

    I said before the election that the Tories were running a disastrous strategy based on pushing buttons of The Guardian and the BBC, despite the fact that many people on average incomes have very different priorities (e.g. they don’t care much about foreign aid and building more windmills).

    And here we are, with opinion polls showing that all that “nasty party” stuff (the stuff that got them elected for 18 years) is actually quite popular.

  • Louis Crosier

    We may be heading upon the right course, but the difference between executive class and clerks class is essential to understand. We simply cannot rely on the ship getting into dock because its heading in the right direction. We do not have the luxury of awaiting our success, we’ve got to make it happen and the pitfalls in this type of reform are both to the intent of bettering the individual and having the revenue to balance the chequebook. If we are setting human policy on the basis that there is no money, then we have confirmation that civilisation is a failure or poor leadership must be held to account. Let us be greater than what labour suggests, in doing so we can build strong individuals for a fortified society, but we cannot achieve that through petty slogan-eering.

  • highlandjock

    To answer Fraser’s question:- Probably because nothing has happened to the bankers who caused this slump. They continue to receive vast salaries and king’s ransom bonuses, despite their criminal behaviour and use OUR money to pay themselves bonuses for ruining their banks!! You couldn’t make it up—–in Iceland, bankers are in jail, and rightly so. The reduction in benefits might be justified, but to reduce the top rate of income tax at the same moment is stupidly insensitive to say the least, but not surprising with this Chancellor’s incompetence.

  • DingDong

    With the exception of pensions I would scrap all benefits. Taxation would be decreased accordingly and we would soon return to a path of prosperity.

    • highlandjock

      So, you think it would be a good sight to see children starving in our streets?

      • DingDong

        Keep a level head highlandjock. I would never have allowed my 5 children to starve and not resulting from any welfare benefits (except those imposed upon us like child benefit). You would be amazed at the wit, resilience and determination of the silent majority who quietly get on with life’s challenges and survive outside of the “necessity” of benefits.

        • 1965doc

          Immature comment. Only a bout of chronic ill health separates you form the benefits queue. Your lack of empathy is pathetic.

          • DingDong

            Oh dear! If empty vessels stopped to think we’d be deprived of a fond proverb! Healthcare is a public service, not a welfare benefit. (By the way, it is infarction, not infaction).

            • westerby1

              What a nasty comment to someone who has had a heart attack! Mean!

              By the way I think 1965doc was talking about benefits paid to people who cannot work because of illness or disability, incapacity benefit for example. Now that IS welfare NOT healthcare.

              Do I see an apology to1965doc in the pipeline from your good self? If not, why not?

  • allymax bruce

    Fraser Nelson, you’re right to a large degree with your article premise, however, both the pre- Bliar & Bush governments (Tory & Democrat), left a massive financial surplus for the incoming Bliar & Bush, (Labour & Republican) governments; and they pashed it all up agaisnt the wall !
    That was the time when financial regulations were ‘relaxed’ to such a degree the bankers became mammon!
    We will NEVER reach those comfortable and genuine heights in politics again.
    The financial structures now being put in place won’t make any difference to the demise of economy/decency because The Mammon is now deemed ‘too big to fail’; of which, such lavish gorgeous respect for bankers WILL ultimately destroy them, and us!

  • Its_not_craig

    Fraser – I’m left baffled by your trenchant support of this government; especially considering it rests solely on education and welfare reforms. And I’m a loyal Conservative who wants only to see Labour eradicated. I just don’t believe these two ‘reforms’ will make us successful.

    Mark my words. The education reforms are structural only, a mass centralisation to DfE diktat, disliked and distrusted by a majority of parents and have not a shred of evidence behind them that they will raise standards. If Academisation is the answer it is only to the wrong question.

    Welfare reforms will start to unravel as of today – once the public feel them in their wallets and see their effects. And whereas I strongly believe in reducing the welfare bill to our Nation – IDS’ reforms are not the answer. The welfare bill will rise for the duration of this parliament as so much of it is due to pensioner benefits – and Dave wouldn’t dare touch those since his hasty promise in the TV debates.

    That the Spectator can’t see this is deeply, deeply depressing

  • Louis Crosier

    Thankfully, politics isn’t as simple as the High Court bench. When creating policy you must take into consideration it as a work in progress. Is it achieving your goals? is it creating the kind of equality of opportunities? Is is workable and fair? On the left you have people who are pro subsidies without implementation to achieve its purpose. On the right you have an equally draconian response. How can someone pull themselves up with their boot straps if they’ve no place to live. The Tories have a real chance to build a new policy, taking into mind, the pitfalls of human nature, so that the subjects of this realm can make a future for themselves and when they do so, society will thrive

    • Daniel Maris

      The government will clearly get support where they make real progress e.g. by eliminating bogus sickness benefit claims. But so far the rest of the package is unconvincing, especially in the context of CEO pay increasing by 20% in the middle of a double dip recession and top rate tax being reduced.

  • AlexanderGalt

    It is curious to contrast private pension holders who’ve seen the value of the annuities fall by 27% as a direct result of the government’s policy of QE and teachers striking against a pay freeze.

    Only cutting our unsustainable spending will keep the whole show on the road. There’s a good analysis of that in: “Debasing Britain” at:

    http://john-moloney.blogspot.com/

  • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

    Can any conservatives remember that the Tory party put more people on the sick that Labour ever did? 772,780 people on disability benefits in 1980, and 2,403.850 in 1995 to hide the unemployment figures. And the Tories are doing it again. They keep assessing and reassessing people to show there are kicking people off benefits, but they are reassessing the same people, who go back onto claiming benefits because guess what? They are genuinely sick or disabled.

    • Hookeslaw

      The disability living allowance was launched in 1992 and the numbers claiming it have trebled since then.

  • David B

    The left has tried to frame the debate in terms of “fair” to the welfare reciepents, but because “fair” is so subjective they have fallen into their own trap. The majority of taxpayers have looked at their own shrinking disposable income and have framed “fair” as why should they be taxed more to pay higher welfare.

    They are angry because they lost the harts and minds argument, one they thought they had won by default because they are the superior intellectuals

    • Gareth

      You look ridiculous deriding “the left” while misspelling ‘hearts’. There’s a difference between critiquing a line of debate and merely insulting people. Simply asserting that you have ‘won the argument’ might give you a sense of self-superiority, but it does little to convince anyone who holds a different opinion.

      To be clear, the tag of “fairness” has been used extensively by this government as a way of justifying its changes to welfare. It is Cameron, IDS and Osborne who have sought to frame the debate in terms of fairness. You are right that this is a subjective question, but it is important to recognise that the real contention in this debate is not about what fairness looks like but who should receive it. For the Coalition, fairness is to ensure that if “ordinary hard-working taxpayers” are not being helped by stagnant wage levels (falling in real terms), then no one else should be helped either. It matches levels of change, irrespective of levels of need. It sees cut back holidays as an equal sacrifice to turned off heating, restaurants meals forgone as equivalent to meals forgone. It has no sense of compassion, offers no protection for the vulnerable, and leaves only inadequate insurance against the cruelties of life that can befall any of us.

      My definition of ‘fairness’ is different: those in most need should receive most help. Try living at the most basic level of poverty before you advocate making cuts to those who will be affected. Of course it’s popular to inflict the economic pain elsewhere, but while most of us could conceivable take it, there are others who cannot. There are very few people in this country who are deserving of homelessness, destitution or poverty. Yet for too many, that’s what these “welfare reforms” will achieve. It is this that angers me.

      • Hookeslaw

        stop obsessing about typos.
        Benefits lay down a floor. Its not a question of most to the most needy – that may be how it works out but the level is a floor and one that can be afforded. Quite how you justify for instance the payment of a benefit to someone who does not need it – ie the cost of accommodation they do not use – will be a mystery to most of us.
        It was after all a socialist who said ‘to each according to his need’.
        You are as big a hysteric as the nutjobs.

        Maybe those nutjobs will wake up when they see the hysteria abounding when some of the swinging reforms they howl about begin to cut in.
        Some nujobs still pretend Cameron is some kind of pink socialist but his govt is now being savagely misrepresented by the usual BBC calumnies and the lefty agit prop brigade.

        There is only one party to support if they want to see things like benefits brought under control.

        • Gareth

          Yes, benefits lay down a floor, i.e. they guarantee basics such as food and heating. So their level should be related to these cost. The average wage increase is irrelevant. I’m pretty sure that when (if) the economy gets back to delivering a rising standard of living, no Tories will be arguing that benefit levels should rise in line with average wages, or keep pace with average household earnings.

      • David B

        My difficulty with spelling is already documented on this
        site, does this invalidate an argument?

        You make my point on “Fairness” very well. You feel the need to
        define it, but the public have not adopted your definition.

        • Gareth

          In that case, I apologise. I’m not a regular enough visitor to have known about your particular spelling difficulties. You’re right that many of the public are supportive of cuts to welfare when these are portrayed as a lavish entitlement given to workshy freeloaders. There are such people who really need a kick up the rear, and for whom careful scrutiny and effective sanctions are appropriate.

          However, this picture is not representative of the norm. The DWP’s own figures show that the household of multigenerational worklessness is largely a myth. Most recipients of welfare need support for a time (e.g. following a redundancy), or have genuine long-term needs such as severe, persisting disabilities and mental health problems. Erode the level of assistance, and these are the people who will suffer most extensively. Crucially, as these issues become more publicly visible, support for attacks on welfare are likely to diminish: in the same way that potholes make the case for spending on road maintenance, a rise in homelessness or child poverty has the potential to undermine the desirability of welfare cuts.

          http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2013/ad_hoc_jsahistory_final.pdf

          • David B

            I was going to spend time to respond to this but just watched channel 4 news and they did the response for me. Fairness for the taxpayer is the order of the day

    • Daniel Maris

      “Harts and minds”…that’s all right deer.

  • greggf

    “I suspect this is why so many on the left are so angry. ”

    Well that maybe correct Fraser, but more to the point is the potential loss of votes as Labour’s client voters look for another reason to cast their vote other than supporting the party that will always buy it.

  • Jules

    PAEDOPHILES and rapists will dodge the bedroom tax while poverty-hit families face homelessness.

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/paedophiles-rapists-dodge-bedroom-tax-1795785

  • Edward Last

    Fraser, this is terribly disappointing fare after your Easter missive. Please re-read the 138,000 words that surround ‘If a man will not work, neither shall he eat’. Then go among the poor, as Jesus commanded you, and then come back here and rethink what you are saying. You are better than this.

    • Daniel Maris

      Also, take a look at how the first Christians organised their lives. They held property in common –

      “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their
      possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”

      (Acts of the Apostles 4) .

  • David Lindsay

    Even in the Thatcher years there was no active persecution of the
    unemployed. She and her supporters saw mass unemployment as “a price
    worth paying” for other things, notably low inflation.

    That view of the relationship between the two was as obviously wrong
    then as it is now, but it did mean that those “paying the price” were
    left alone. It was Labour that wanted to turn them into the happy,
    dancing factory operatives of the Fabian imagination. Huge numbers of
    them voted Conservative in 1992 in order to prevent Neil Kinnock from
    finding them jobs. Thus was that party able to win that General
    Election, expected by no one apart from Kinnock’s wife.

    Remember that, and remember that one quarter of Conservative voters in
    2010 lived in social housing. Hundreds of thousands of them face
    eviction one month before the impending local elections, and possibly
    millions by the time that the 2015 General Election has come round. I
    have no dependants, but I could not live on £53 per week. Unlike Iain
    Duncan Smith, I do not have a father-in-law to let em live rent free on
    his estate in a house worth two million pounds. But even under that
    circumstance, come on, IDS. Try it. Try and live on £53 per week.

    Today is the day when the Conservative Party committed suicide.

    • HJ777

      You really are quite deluded, aren’t you?

      Neil Kinnock was going to find them jobs? He’s never found anyone a job in his life. He’s a professional leech on the taxpayer.

      • David Lindsay

        That was how you won in 1992. In some places, unofficial leaflets actually circulated saying, “Vote Tory to keep yourself on the dole.” And they did. But they never will again.

        • HJ777

          The unemployment rate dropped consistently from Feb 1993 onwards, falling from 10.7% to 7.2% in 1997.

          You are too young to have any real memory of the 1992 election.

          You think Kinnock would have found them jobs? Are you joking or just stupid? No labour government has ever reduced unemployment

          • Tubby_Isaacs

            “The unemployment rate dropped consistently from Feb 1993 onwards, falling from 10.7% to 7.2% in 1997.”

            They took office in Feb 1993, did they?

            • HJ777

              I know you have the memory (and intellect) of a goldfish but don’t you remember that you were referring to the 1992 election?

              Of course you are suffering from false memory syndrome of that, aren’t you?

              • Tubby_Isaacs

                What a pleasure it is to see you stinking the message board out here too.

                I hadn’t referred to anything. It was my first appearance in this exchange.

                • HJ777

                  My apologies, I thought I was replying to David Lindsay.

                • Tubby_Isaacs

                  I think he’s got rather more of an intellect than you think.

                • HJ777

                  Obviously you are new to his tripe.

          • David Lindsay

            This was widely believed at the time, as you know.

            I have no memory at all of the 1906 Election, but I know all about it. I’ll tell you if you are not careful.

            The professionally unemployed, a creation of the 1980s anyway, either don’t vote, or they vote to Tory in order to keep themselves that way; if you don’t know that axiomatically, then you are not qualified to comment.

            As of today, they will no longer vote, because they can no longer vote Tory. Depriving the Tories of a large enough proportion of their core vote to keep them in Opposition until the end of time.

            And that is before we start about the lower-middle-class Southerners who are about to be thrown out of their homes in enormous numbers.

            The Conservative Party has just committed suicide.

            • HJ777

              You don’t know all about anything.

              I doubt you even know your own inside leg measurement.

              • Hookeslaw

                its 17

    • David B

      Not even close, today is the day people start to realise the truth. There was a lady on Stephen Nolan last night on Radio 5 live. She lived in a 4 bed house, only used 2 rooms, had welfare of £600 (between the two of them) a month and was terrified of losing £30 a week on the “bedroom tax”. Edwina Curry took a beating on how this woman would survive but tucked into her contribution was the little snippet she owned the house and did not get housing benefit, therefore she will loss no benefits. A fact no one on the show put together. This is the scaremongering that brings down Labour.

      • Daniel Maris

        Well as your post makes no sense at all , David Lindsay’s point stands.

        • David B

          Ok I will keep it simple

          1. Woman gets benefits
          2. She does NOT get housing benefit
          3. She lives in 4 bedroom house but only uses 2 rooms
          4. Because of all scaremongering over “bedroom tax” she thinks she will lose her benefits and will have enough to live on
          5. No one tells her that “bedroom tax” is not a tax and she will not lose any benefit

    • Jules

      Please sign, so IDS has to prove he can live on £53.00 per week:

      https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/iain-duncan-smith-iain-duncan-smith-to-live-on-53-a-week

      • David Lindsay

        Have done.

    • Russell

      I bet you could live on £53 per week if that was all you had as an income, you would have to, as would anyone else.

    • Daniel Maris

      Yep, I tend to agree. When I saw that Grant Shapps grinning outside his leafy residence bleating about his kids sharing a room (no doubt a very spacious room) I thought, yep they really are heading for the buffers at speed.

  • Tubby_Isaacs

    Wow, the edtor comes down from on high. This must be an important issue.

    As you say, this debate shouldn’t really be about party politics- there are simple truths that all should agree on.

    Like this- probably a very bad idea to chase loads of people through the courts for small amounts of money. Nor to make children homeless if you don’t have to- they have to be rehoused anyway, and will end up in B&B costing a fortune.

    But hey, that’s down to local councils, watch old IDS sail nonchalantly on.

    • Daniel Maris

      IDS = I Do Sincerity

  • Austin Barry

    According to the Left, battalions of pathetic Tiny Tims are now standing outside their hovels while the Tory aristos snap their crutches into splinters. Give us a break.

    • Daniel Maris

      Well, there will be a few such scenes which won’t do the Tories any good (incidentally, why aren’t the Lib Dems claiming this policy as one of their own?). BUt more importantly the Tories will have p*ssed off literally millions of people who will (a) have to pay up to keep their spare bedrooms (b) have to go down their local CAB and wait for an hour or more to see someone who tells them they aren’t affected by the proposals or (c) have parents who are affected by these proposals and won’t be available for putting up grandchildren of a weekend.

      But we can’t expect a Cabinet of public schoolboys with million plus properties to understand these issues can we?

  • darwins beard

    What gets me is the way people who demonstrate against the reform really do believe they know something the rest of the population doesn’t as if a few thousand people speak for the nation, and what galls me is the way attention whores like Owen Jones have taken up the mantel of the voice of the downtrodden and his fawning die hard followers cant see hes just furthering his career

    • Tubby_Isaacs

      So what’s Fraser doing? IDS? How do we know they’re not furthering their careers? Fraser claims, on the basis of some generic opinion poll questions, that he and IDS are speaking for the nation.

  • yarnesfromhorsham

    Some Scottish idiot on the radio this morning was moaning that if his spare bedroom was taken away then his grandchildren could not visit. Shame and the visits were only three times a year. Typical Labour underwriting holidays with taxpayers money.

  • Daniel Maris

    Grant Shapps standing in front of his leafy residence declaring that his two boys share a room (for how long? – do us a favour) was another own goal by the great strategist.

  • Daniel Maris

    The public is right in wanting to reduce welfare dependency and will support moves such as reducing the number of people claiming sickness benefit through voluntary deselection.

    But the public will not support people being kicked out of family homes – homes which they and their parents may well have paid for completely through their rents but are now dependent on housing benefit. Why shouldn’t grandparents have a spare room for grandkid visits and “family crisis” management.

    This government is just turning people into units of production and consumption, while not addressing the real cause of the housing crisis: Mass immigration leading to consequent overpopulation.

    • sarahsmith232

      older people are not going to have to pay it. the BBC are not bothering to mention this but i'[ve noticed the Murdoch’s are obviously in a sulk, could care less if Labour get back in and are also skewering their coverage to damage the Tories.
      so you’re not getting that from them either. but, yes, the oldies are exempt.

      • Daniel Maris

        Oldies??? What relevance does that have to a 50 year old grandparent? 50 is the average age for people becoming grandparents in this country, in case you weren’t aware of the fact.

        Honestly, you people are so ignorant. The Tories deserve to sink without trace – they know nothing of the people they think they deserve to rule. They are breaking up. UKIP will take a chunk of their vote. They will be massacred across the country. The Tories will split between UKIP and a left wing Cameronite rump. It’s the end for the Conservative Party. And you have sped them on to their fate.

  • sarahsmith232

    public opinion will count for zero come the next election. I know from my experience helping out as an activist at the last one. so many people detested Labour, hated all that they stood for, immigration espec’ but had been so stitched into the welfare state that their little bit they were getting back out, the free bus pass being a big one, meant that they weren’t prepared to vote Tory.
    the 2 big ones at the time were the bus pass and child benefit. but I got it about free swimming lessons, what else? can’t remember now, but it was the same response every time ‘i’m not going to vote for ’cause you’re going to take away my free’ then insert whatever little bit of welfare state bribe Labour had them hooked on. they all agreed Labour’s Britain was a nightmare, all the wrong and undeserving people getting to benefit, the good sorts being screwed but first and foremost they were going to vote to keep their free whatever.
    I think this will bounce right back on Labour next time. if the Tories start scaring tax payers about Labour’s upcoming tax bombshell, that yes, you might very well get to keep your free whatever but you’ll also be paying more tax on petrol, alcohol, income and council tax, to go to the undeserving, so not worth it.

  • Kfitzat HaDerech

    This guy needs some grammar classes… It’s as in “It is”, not “Its”, possessive pronoun.

  • Phoo

    Indeed, bigotry and selfishness has never been more popular than now in the UK.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Lawrence-Hayes/100000758178679 Paul Lawrence Hayes

    The lack of mass outrage over these deeply immoral ‘welfare’ reforms is no surprise but it is depressing. The statistically and economically illiterate and illogic-prone public have been manipulated superbly well into the irrational and ugly opinions they currently hold. And political ideologues can now appeal to these ignorant views for further justification! Clever. Despicable but clever.

    • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

      The bedroom tax is more viscerally and intellectually hated than the poll tax ever was, and it is only implemented today. When it gets up and running and families are evicted from their homes of 30 or 40 years, the outrage might get going.

      • Bill scott

        This guy is seriously amusing. I remember the Community Charge well and I have to admit that the combination of Labour MPs standing up in Parliament and telling people not to pay it i.e break the law plus the Unions in full flow organising marches etc was a sight to behold. Apparently they wished all labour supporters and Union members to be exempt from paying their share so that the rest of us could pay it for them. Some things never change.

        • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

          If you’re talking to me. I’m a Tory and voted for Thatcher at all three of her elections and that of her successor, John Major. I’m afraid the whole of your argument, such as it, falls.

          • Hookeslaw

            Under thatcher / major
            welfare 1980 24 Billion
            welfare 1997 53 billion
            Under Blair Brown welfare was 111 billion by 2010
            welfare rising inexorably

            Under Brown the deficit rose inexorably – even before the crash.
            The debt in 2001 was 312 billion
            In 2008 it was 525 billion
            During that time Brown should have been paying debt off! Instead the debt went up by 213 billion. (before the crash)
            The nation had lost the ability to pay.

            You do not say who you voted for in or 2001 or 2005 or 2010 (or indeed 1997) but the people in charge over those 13 years sowed the problems we face now.

        • Tubby_Isaacs

          How many Labour MPs said not to pay it? I can remember 2 who didn’t pay, and they were expelled.

          Tell me about all those terrible by-election results for the Tories. Eastbourne, Ribble Valley, Monmouth. I bet that was the unions rigging the vote, eh?

      • Fergus Pickering

        Bollocks. Most people support the policy. Of course those who have a spare room don’t. But everybody else does except rentacrowd.

        • JamesdelaMare

          Fergus – A home is a home. If it has a spare room for a visitor, then that’s acceptable as much if it’s a publicly owned home as a privately owned home. This is a vile and vindictive, typically Conservative, trouble-making scheme that puts everything onto a basis of money, and not on decency and generosity which is what we so much need in Britain today. I’ve never voted Labour in my life, and I’ve never been so contemptuous of the ever-worsening and ever more incompetent Conservatives.

          They’ve misled the fools who comment here backing them up. This will save nothing worthwhile in terms of tax, and it will stir up discontent – which is the very last thing we need at a time of financial instability. The government is not fit to be in control of this nation. The sooner it goes, the better, but of course they’ve made such a mess that we’re likely to get Labour in who’ll add to the mess. An appalling lost opportunity.

          • Hookeslaw

            The issue is who is paying for the rent – if its public or private the renter pays for the house they can afford.
            Those on benefits pay what the benefits bill can afford.

      • dalai guevara

        Interesting, my cleaner explained to me today that she had 67 options to downsize.
        Anyone could see that there is a lot of waste in the allocation of social housing, the blanket payments of winter fuel aid to millionaires etc. The thing is, it will not make a jot of a difference in the books.

  • http://twitter.com/grumble000 david trant

    he Work and Pensions Secretary said he could survive on £7.57 per day if he “had
    to”, as he defended a raft of cuts to welfare payments coming into
    force today.

    Mr Duncan Smith’s current salary gives him £1,581.02 a week or £225 a day
    after tax. He would have to take a 97 per cent cut in his income if he were
    to live on the same sum as some benefit claimants.

    Hmmm he may be asked to!

    • alexsandr

      How silly. Its not his money that matters, its tax payers money. taxpayers who have seen a cut in real terms take home pay who want a better deal for them

      • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

        And the impoverishment of 2,000,000 people with the bedroom tax will save you…. tuppence a day. I hope all that destitution is worth so rich a return.

        • alexsandr

          What bedroom tax? It is a change in benefit rules. Why should taxpayers pay for people to live in a house that is too large for them?

          • Daniel Maris

            Why should grandparents who have paid rent on a house for 30 years not be allowed a spare room for visits from grandchildren? Why do you want to make everyone live in a shoebox?

            • Russell

              Because grandparents who pay rent for private housing have to pay for a spare room!, and the welfare bill has snowballed out of control by Labour, particularly housing benefit.

              • Tubby_Isaacs

                “and the welfare bill has snowballed out of control by Labour, particularly housing benefit.”

                That’ll be why it’s risen under the Tories then. It’s what happens when you rely disproportionately on the private sector for social housing. Rents go up, and never down. With more council houses to be sold, at ludicrous discounts, that’ll get worse.

              • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

                The only difference is that private tenants get the double in subsidies than social tenants

                • Russell

                  Presumably the Labour lie/spin/smear office told you that, or the BBC. Housing benefit is based on family circumstances, not on whether or not you rent a council house or a private house.

                • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

                  Check the figures. It is tiring to always repeat the same thing

                • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

                  It’s worth adding that mortgage interest relief for those buying houses costs billions more than housing benefit. Another thing our deeply honest government always fails to mention, along with the fact that the biggest beneficiaries of housing benefit are pensioners, who are not affected at all because a majority of them vote Tory!

                • Hookeslaw

                  ha … ho ho… MIRAS had been eroded over many years and Brown scrapped it in his 1999 budget.

                  Tax relief was originally allowed on interest paid on any loan. In 1974
                  it was restricted to mortgage loans and limited to £25,000. I am surprised Ed Balls has not suggested that it be reintroduced as he wants to reunbalaqnce the economy based on unsustainable spending and borrowing.

                  Encouraging people to own their own homes is a good thing.

                • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

                  http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/housing/owning_a_home/buying_a_home/mortgage_interest_relief.html

                  Ha ha ha he he he. Mortgage interest relief doesn’t end till 31 December 2017.

                • HJ777

                  In the Irish Republic.

                  It was ended here years ago.

                  So the reason why the government fails to mention it is because it is a figment of your imagination and if they were to mention all your delusions we would be here all day.

                • Hookeslaw

                  Remember you are talking to a thick socialist. Agreed it seems he has based his entire vitriol on a figment of his imagination.he clearly has never owned a house or taken out a mortgage and is not a tory voter as he pretends.
                  He is as clear example of a labour troll as we could imagine and its illustrative of the extent labour goes to and how everyone should work hard to make sure they never return to power.

                • HJ777

                  He thinks that we are the Irish Republic where mortgage interest tax relief won’t be abolished until the end of 2017.

                  Quite how he thinks that mortgage interest tax relief in Ireland costs the UK taxpayer “billions more than housing benefit” escapes me. But he is one very confused individual.

                • Russell

                  What mortgage interest relief. Miras was scrapped many years ago. The government repeat many times that pensioners are not affected by the reduction in housing benefit, or the disabled.

            • Dai Station

              They are ‘allowed’ the spare room. What they will not be allowed is to have the council tax on that spare room subsidised. They therefore have to make a choice about their priorities, just like many homeowners who down-size.

              • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

                The bedroom tax and council tax are totally unrelated. You obviously don’t understand the issue.

                • HJ777

                  There is no bedroom tax.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Because the house in not theirs. It is ours. It belongs to me. I py for it. So I have some say in it, do I not?

              • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

                Like I have a say on the kind of healthcare you receive. After all, I paid for it, didn’t I?

                • Hookeslaw

                  You do have a say on his and my healthcare – via NICE and via the amount the govt spends on it. Given the level of deficit labour left behind its risible to suggest the taxpayer pays for anything. Labour bought votes with borrowed money. A big example of the big labour lie.

            • Hookeslaw

              You tell me – why should they when the accommodation is needed for larger families?
              Its not their accommodation its provided by charity.

              10 years or 30 years its not a right its a gift and gifts can only be given when the giver can afford to pay. Labour left an economy which had shrungk by 7% and now complains that the income is not there to pay for the massive increase in benefits under their tenure.

          • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

            I’ve never used the NHS, yet I subsidize those who do. And I don’t use trains, yet I have to subsidize the tickets of those who do. How is subsidizing the rents of the unemployed and disabled any different – always bearing in mind that most people of working age who get housing benefit are working and that the people who benefit most of all from it are the 9 million pensioners. For god’s sake get a better argument than the vapid ‘why should I subsidize…’ one trotted out by Smith and the rest of his wolf-pack.

            • HJ777

              Mortgage interest tax relief was phased out donkeys years ago!

              Do try to keep up.

              • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

                Still it breaks my heart that my taxes are being used to pay for your healthcare, or your children education. I do not think either of them deserve them.

                • HJ777

                  Because I pointed out that mortgage interest tax relief was phased out years ago?

                  Don’t worry – I paid for my child’s education and any medical care out of my own pocket and I paid taxes to fund yours too.

              • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

                http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/housing/owning_a_home/buying_a_home/mortgage_interest_relief.html

                Actually it’s not abolished till 31 December 2017. Do try to keep up.

                • HJ777

                  That’s in the Irish Republic, dimwit.

                  It was abolished here years ago.

            • Hookeslaw

              Have you parents or did you come into the world via a spaceship from the planet Zog.
              If you were born then you have used the NHS. So did your brothers and sisters. So will your sister when she gives birth or your wife when she does or did.
              If your mother father siblings or wife or children were to get run over by a car they too will use the NHS.

              You do not subsidise the NHS – without the NHS you would have to pay some other insurance. The NHS has a finite budget.
              Benefits are not being abolished – they are being constrained into what can be afforded.

              • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

                What a total load of nonsense. Some people’s use of the NHS is 100 times greater than other the chronically sick. Do taxpayers complain that they’re subsidizing others’ use of the NHS. Should people who have no children subsidize the schooling and child tax credits and child benefits of others? Should people who don’t use libraries subsidize those who do? Where do you stop with the ‘I don’t use that government service/I don’t get that government benefit’ so I shouldn’t have to pay for it? Where does it end? And, more importantly, what’s next? Legal Aid for a myriad of things stopped today, including legal aid for custody cases and divorces and housing issues. How long before they turn round on you? – or your life takes a turn for the worst, say a road accident, and you suddenly need some of the services whose elimination you’ve been applauding?

                • Hookeslaw

                  No one is subsidising the NHS. Any more than I when I insure my car (by law) am subsidising someone who has an accident.
                  You could come down with some hugely expensive disease tomorrow.

                • Hookeslaw

                  We spend billions on welfare, welfare is not being taken away. Someone in subsidised housing is being told that if they do not need 3 rooms they will not be subsidised for 3 rooms.

                  With the NHS we have the wonderful NICE which tells us that some medicines will not be made available to us because it is not cost effective and we cannot afford it.
                  There is no bottomless pit of money.
                  You are clearly a thick socialist.

                • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

                  You’re rambling.

          • Hookeslaw

            Yes. Why should ‘POOR’ taxpayers pay towards it.

            And as Osborne will say the other tax changes will help people, leave them with more in their pockets to pay their costs.

      • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

        As Margaret Thatcher said, council tenants are a nett contributor to the Exchequer, the state, the Treasury, the taxpayer, because all council homes were paid for decades ago – that’s why she said she gave discounts on council house sales. Move on 25 years and the same Tory Party is claiming that council houses are ‘subsidized’ – a total inversion of Thatcher’s stance – to support their egregious ideology. You couldn’t make it up.

        • HJ777

          Council rents are subsidised, because they are lower than commercial rents.

          This means that councils (and this ultimately taxpayers) are forgoing a proper return on the capital value.

          • Tubby_Isaacs

            Lower than market rate doesn’t mean “subsidised”. Where I live you could sell parking spaces for a fortune on the open market if they weren’t reserved for residents. Funnily enough, when I read the papers no-one’s saying they’re subsidised. It’s all about how the poor residents are paying too much.

            Council houses were built (not least by One Nation Tories) to provide housing at below market rate. They’re doing exactly what was always intended for them, by politicians off all parties.

            That chancers like Thatcher and Cameron should presume to sell all that off is disgraceful.

            • HJ777

              Yes, being let out at a rate less than the market rate does mean that they are subsidised because the taxpayer is forgoing a normal return on the capital employed.

              Why they were built, by whom and with what intention, is irrelevant to the fact that they are subsidised.

              I’m afraid that one of the problems with debating with the left is that they so often refuse to accept economic facts as a basis for rational discussion, preferring instead to deal in misleading assertions (such as the idea that there is a “bedroom tax”, for example”). The tragedy, of course, is that were they not engaged in such behaviour, there are sensible and constructive criticisms that can be made of the government’s policies.

          • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

            You can only subsidize something by paying for all or a part of it. Council rents provide a nett income for the taxpayer and it is preposterous to claim, as Smith and Cameron are, that the taxpayer subsidizes council rents. It is a gigantic confidence trick and people are falling for it.

            • HJ777

              It takes an extraordinary degree of economic ignorance to believe that renting properties out at less than market rates does not represent a subsidy.

              When much of the opposition to the government’s policies comes from those who accuse them of dishonesty based on nothing more than their own ignorance, then it is hard not to sympathise with the government.

              The question is whether you really are as ignorant as you make out or whether you are just deliberately dishonest. It’s one of the two.

              • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

                The fact that you have to attack me personally rather than what I say tells me everything I need to know about the quality of your argument, insofar as it is an argument.

                The fact is that Thatcher gave discounts to people who bought their council houses, and this government is still doing it, and she made it plain that she was giving those discounts because council houses had already been paid for many times over and tenants were a nett contributor to the taxpayer – in other words, they were subsidizing the taxpayer. There’s nothing you can do about it: no amount of sophistry can enable you to claim that council tenants are being subsidizing by the taxpayer when council rents are subsidizing the taxpayer.

                • HJ777

                  The circumstances under which Margaret Thatcher sold council houses are not relevant to whether council housing is subsidised.

                  You lack of basic economic understanding continues to amaze. If council housing is not subsidised, indeed is making a profit for the taxpayer, then why don’t we build council housing for everyone, all benefit from lower rents and the taxpayer make a profit into the bargain?

                  It’s because there is (and was) a capital cost which is included in the national debt (which has to be financed) and on which we are not getting a return.

                  Your argument is laugable. But then you think mortgage interest tax relief in Ireland is costing the British taxpayer billions more than housing benefit in the UK does, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.

  • David Ward

    Ian Duncan Smith is a man who has spent most of his adult life sucking on the public teat and sponging off his wife’s family.

    He has a dim view of spongers and has promised to cut another £10billion off the state’s handout bill. Obviously, the people who take handouts they don’t deserve should be the first to take a cut.

    So let’s start by talking about someone who lives off the state and has little experience of the world of work you and I know. He is 58 years old and has suckled upon the publicly-funded teat for most of his life.

    He’s signed on the dole. He’s had four children and received child benefit for all of them. He has put them each through private school, too.

    His wife hasn’t worked since they married, except for 15 months in which he got her a job paid by the taxpayer.

    He and his colleagues eat and drink food subsidised by the tax payer in a palace we pay for. He is driven around in a car he does not own and has not paid for – we did.

    And when he is too old to ‘work’ any more he will receive a better pension than most of the rest of us – which again we paid for.

    He started out at the age of 21 with six years of taxpayer-funded military service, during which he acted as bag-carrier to a Major-General. Then in 1981, aged 27, he left the Army and signed on the dole for several months.

    He then began a period of ordinary work based upon the skills he had gained at the taxpayer’s expense, and worked in sales for arms dealer GEC-Marconi.

    He then moved on to a property firm, where he was made redundant after six months, and then sold gun-related magazines for Jane’s Information Group.

    After 11 years of this not too glittering a career he succeeded in once again boarding the publicly-funded gravy train in 1992.

    In the intervening 20 years he has been paid by the taxpayer every year more money than most of the rest of us manage to earn. He has managed to boost it up to more than six figures for a few years here and there by being more pompous than the others in his position.

    In 2001 he helped his unemployed wife to have a suckle, arranging for her to be paid £15,000 a year to be his diary secretary. (The Newsnight TV programme pulled a story that seemingly alleged she didnt actually do anything).

    These days he is given the grand total of near £150,000 a year from the taxpayer.

    He lives for free in a £2million Tudor farmhouse on his father-in-law’s ancestral estate in Buckinghamshire.

    He has three acres of land, a tennis court, swimming pool and some orchards, which is not bad for a life paid for by the state.

    ‘Who is this parasite?’ you might cry. ‘Tell us his name, let the authorities know his address. Let’s get this guzzler out of the cushy life and show him what life is like for the rest of us,earning £7 an hour with a rise once every eight years and a miserly pension if we’re lucky.’

    His name is Iain Duncan Smith, and his address is: Palace of Westminster, LondonSW1A 0AA.

    He is disgusting and a far far bigger leech on your money than the worst dole scrounger you can think of and twice as pointless.

    • Hookeslaw

      What a pathetic load of drivel. Behold the rampant envious jealous nasty socialist. take a good look and decide do you want them in power again.

      Heaven forbid somebody should be successful. Or that their parents should be successful. Someone has a tennis court. Off with his head. Do you know I took the dog for a walk this very morning and I walked past a house with a tennis court!

      ALL the staff even the poor downtrodden unionised ones get subsidised food at Westminster.
      It takes a Labour MP to go round hitting people as a result.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Is that “disgusting” © Amy Rutland? Thanks for the demo of what socialists do best when faced with policies they don’t like – sneer and smear.

    • ButcombeMan

      Odious drivel as Hookie said.

      IDS’ worst offence was being complicit in the Iraq war.

      • Hookeslaw

        Complicit?

        Was he assisting Blair in preparing his dodgy dossier? Did he advise him on his ’45 minutes’ speech??

        Was he in govt? Did he have any part in the planning and execution of the war? Was he responsible for our military policy in Basra?

        • ButcombeMan

          He very foolishly led the Tories into supporting the war on Blair’s obviously flawed & false prospectus.

          It was not an action of any wisdom at all.

          The war was always forseeable as a disaster and a distraction from Afghanistan. It removed Iraq as a counterweight to Iran and was not in UK long term interests.

          If IDS had had the wit to get the Tories out of supporting the war, the whole future of the Tories would have been better.

          The moral is, never trust an Army Officer to have brains, who does not get above Major.

        • arnoldo87

          There was never any “45 minute speech” Hooky. Blair only mentioned it briefly when presenting the September dossier to the Commons in September 2002.
          Another example of how you have been brainwashed.

    • Daniel Maris

      There was the small matter of his education CV remember? and there was Betsygate.

      But he’s right to target people who get benefits through making unfounded claims. :)

      • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

        “he’s right to target people who get benefits through making unfounded claims”

        He isn’t.

  • Mark Myword

    The general public are not heartless, but they believe in fairness. When the present welfare state was created after the war, it was based upon a contributory principle (National Insurance and Industrial Injuries). However, there was also a non-contributory scheme – National Assistance – for those who were in need but for some reason were not covered by the contributory scheme. Whereas the contributory schemes provided entitlements as of right, National Assistance was discretionary aid based on need. Over the years we have moved further away from contributions and towards a needs based system. Nevertheless, this change has been concealed behind a facade of contributions – National Insurance contributions. Today the public do not begrudge pensioners their pension: because they have paid for it over the years. They do begrudge benefits going as of right to those who have not contributed whether these be immigrants or the workshy. The needs based system also creates a resentment in the case where someone who has contributed over many years, but who needs help, is treated less well, or no better, than a person who has contributed nothing. The present reforms are well-intentioned, and will do some good, but there will still be a basic problem of contribution versus need.

  • http://twitter.com/notnix nick porter

    This is the April fool piece.

  • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

    This article is based, like the welfare reforms, on myths of an Arthurian scale. The first question the author should ask himself is why are Iain ‘Duncan’ Smith (whose double-barrelled name is as phoney as his degree from the University of Perugia), Shapps and Steve Webb out on Easter weekend, on Easter Monday yet, propagandizing the populous by land and sea and air about the bedroom tax and other welfare reforms? And the answer is plain enough: because they can already feel the heat of the firestorm heading their way. The bedroom tax in particular is a catastrophic measure and the coalition are waking up to its effects too late and have dug themselves in too deep, presumably forgetting that the best advice when you’re in a deep hole is to stop digging. They are shaking like late autumn leaves about the fallout these measures are going to have in the upcoming shire elections in May. In the most recent council by-elections in Islington there was a 30% – 30% – swing away from the sitting Liberal Democrats to Labour and all the candidates were agreed that the issue on the doorstep was the bedroom tax. So devastating were the results that the Liberal Democrat apparatchiks left before the end of the count.

    Of course when YouGov asks vaguely about cutting welfare payments they get a positive response on the street. Of course they do. The welfare bill is £200 bn. What they don’t explain is that the vast bulk of this goes not to the unemployed, that supposedly feckless, rumpen lump of society, but to the NHS and the pensioners, of whom there are 9 million, who all receive substantially more than those on the dole. It is part of the daily routine of national newspapers to trot out stories about the unemployed and how well-off they are: tales about their mobile phones, their Sky television, their cigarettes and their prodigious consumption of alcohol – all on Jobseekers’ Allowance of £71 per week. It is so frequently reported by the Mail and Sun and the like that the image of the unemployed with wads of money in their idle mitts is embedded in the national psyche.

    But none of these stories, of course, are based upon any empirical evidence whatsoever; and shame to report it but Mr Nelson seems to have fallen for the same reheated tripe. For his information, housing association representatives project that the bedroom tax will COST the taxpayer £140m rather than save the government’s vaunted £500m. But let’s suppose that the £500m figure is correct. Sounds a lot of money, doesn’t it? In fact it amounts to less than one quarter of one percent of the welfare bill. And for that one quarter of one percent of the welfare bill he government suggests that it will ‘only’ affect 660,000 people. Well, that figure is disputed, but more than that it is not 660,000 people but 660,000 households – 2,000,000 people, the vast majority of them either disabled or school-age or younger. And so we’re clear about welfare fraud it is as well to remember that for every £1 lost to benefit fraud, £100 is lost to tax evasion and tax avoidance. And to make it even plainer, the dubious £500m amounts to tuppence per capita per day off the tax bill. For the devastation and impoverishment of two million people.

    It is difficult to read the last paragraphs of Mr Nelson’s piece without feeling the bile rise in one’s throat. He talks of ‘social justice’ and ‘fairness’ in the same nauseating terms as the man from Perugia and his ‘welfare’ department. Smith is an unmitigated, inchoate mess, just like his policies. The Tories thought him incapable of running their ever-dwindling party but do think him capable of being responsible for the welfare of millions and millions of people. Classy. And with him are Lord Freud, who wrote to one disabled complainant that she could not expect the taxpayer to pay for her ‘lifestyle choice’; and the ‘lifestyle choice’ he referred to was her blindness; and the most illiberal Liberal you ever heard of, Steve Webb; and Esther McVeigh. I will not tell you how McVeigh is known on social media outlets like Twitter, but some may recall what Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II, was known as during her lifetime.

    One last observation. There are many hideous examples of the realities of the bedroom tax, and some are worse than others. There are, for instance, people in social housing who have lost children in this last year to illness, disease, murder and accident. In some cases ‘spare bedrooms’ have been ‘freed up’. In the coming year, as a consequence of their bereavement, Iain ‘Duncan’ Smith will be sending these parents a bedroom tax bill. This is one of the many hundreds of the distasteful realities of this vicious, unconscionable policy, the policy this article defends as ‘fair’ and as being brought in in the pursuit of ‘social justice’. If that’s Mr Nelson’s idea of fairness and social justice I dread to think how violent a policy would have to be for him to call it unfair and unjust. And in case people come to the conclusion that I am one of the ‘chattering classes’ or on the left-wing of the Labour Party, I am a lifelong Tory since the days of Ted Heath, Mick McGahey, Joe Gormley and Jack Jones. And because of the bedroom tax I will never, not ever, vote for my own party again. I’m not alone and the Tories will be mutilated in the upcoming by-elections and the 2015 general election, primarily because of these ‘fair’ and ‘just’ welfare reforms.

    • Colonel Mustard

      A much more interesting question is who you are out propagandising for? The Labour party or one of the many socialist infested NGOs, fake charities or gobby agenda groups? Come on, let’s be having you, comrade.

      • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

        Er, I first voted in ’79, for Thatcher. Then again in ’83 and ’87 and so on. I’ve never voted for any other party, nor thought about it. As for propagandizing, I was simply replying to the unbalanced, disingenuous article. If you address the substance of my reply rather than question me, I will give you a substantive response. Otherwise you are doing the same as the other respondent and querying my credentials and, in his case, trying to justify Smith on the grounds of his father’s military record! His and your arguments must be weak indeed if you’ve nothing to say on the substance.

    • Hookeslaw

      What a load of disingenuous tosh.
      There is nothing fake about his name, which is not hyphenated. His father was Wilfrid George Gerald Duncan Smith, DSO & Bar, DFC & 2 Bars . 17 confirmed kills, two shared kills, six probables, two shared probables and eight damaged in aerial combat

      Rapid rebuttal out in force today — they have had plenty of time to prepare i suppose.

      • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

        “His father was Wilfrid George Gerald Duncan Smith, DSO & Bar, DFC
        & 2 Bars . 17 confirmed kills, two shared kills, six probables, two
        shared probables and eight damaged in aerial combat”

        So what? What has this got to to with Iain ‘Duncan’ Smith of the University of Perugia (according to Who’s Who) and Betsygate? If that’s the best defence you can muster of Smith – that his father was decorated and had the same middle name – you needn’t have bothered.

        • Hookeslaw

          So what? you brought up IDS’ background you sneering wotnot.
          You are a tory?? ha ha ha. As much a tory as Wilhelm.

          • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

            Obviously the fact that I’m a Tory of over forty years punctures your fantasy that the objections to the bedroom tax come from the left. In fact plenty of conservatives oppose the tax, not least the 25% of social housing tenants who voted Tory in the last election! The news is that they won’t be voting Tory again. You are clearly delusional. And Smith did ‘study’ at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia, the equivalent of the Sidcup School of Pottery; and he didn’t pass any exams! For god’s sake get a clue before you comment on here again.

      • Frankie D.

        “The Tories will do anything to suck up to the Scots: not only was Iain
        Duncan Smith born George Smith, but even the second name on his birth
        certificate is spelt Ian, not the Scottish-style Iain. ”

        http://www.newstatesman.com/node/143082

        • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

          It should be noted that the bedroom tax will affect 100,000 Scots, none of whom will vote now for the Union because the bedroom tax is Westminster policy and is hated. It could easily cost the coalition government the Union of England and Scotland. What a terrific legacy for Cameron as he walks away from No 10 Downing Street in 2015. Thanks, Dave.

      • Tubby_Isaacs

        He’s got the same middle name as his father. He’s using that to make it sound like it’s double barrelled. He’s changed the spelling of his other middle name and adopted it as his first name.

        Utterly consistent with his false CV exposed by Michael Crick, where he lied about attending the University of Perugia, and tried to make some weekend courses at Marconi’s training college sound like a management qualification.

        Betsygate though was got up by Tories wanting him out. He wasn’t actually at fault there.

        • Hookeslaw

          Shocking, an absolute disgrace…. IDS studied at the Università per Stranieri … in Perugia.

          Your assertions are miserably pathetic .. a bit like saying Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was trying to rewrite history by calling himself ‘Tony’ and forgetting he went to arguably the poshest public school in the country.

          or Anthony Neil Wedgwood-Benn was trying to rewrite history by renaming himself ‘Tony Benn”, and forgetting he went to Westminster School.

  • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

    IDS is carrying the welfare reform in the name of ideology, which is why he has been busy giving interviews, and feeding lies to newspapers in order to justify the unjustifiable for the past few days.
    Some disabled people will be hit today by 6 different benefit cuts. And if people are in favour of this, it is because they are been fed a daily diet of lies which paints disability claimants as scroungers, who can claim benefit for a blister.
    Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph ran an article about 900,000 people who stopped their claims before being assessment, suggesting they were frightened to be found out.
    For the more intelligent readers, I will ask the question: where are these 900,000 people? because they do not appear in the JSA count, and they are not in work either. At least, some Daily Telegraph readers seem to get it.

    • Hookeslaw

      ‘disabled’?

      We have had a 30% rise in the the number of claimants in recent years, with the annual cost of the benefits reaching £13bn.
      its been rising well ahead of any other gauge you might make about illness, sickness, disability or for that matter, general trends
      They have been badly structured so that it was very loosely defined. On reassessment, lots of people weren’t actually seen and many, 70% were just given a way for life.

      How do you know these ‘900,000’ are not in work or claiming some other benefit. may it be they are not really disabled at all?

      • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

        Funnily enough, of all the people on Incapacity Benefit who have been reassessed, 76% were found to be entitled on their benefits with a much stricter test. There is not much point reassessing people who have degenerative illnesses, but that is what is happening now, at a huge costs for the tax payer, as the same claimants are being assessed and reassessed in order to boost the numbers.
        Otherwise, the main costs in benefit are pensions, and with an ageing population these costs keep increasing.

        • Hookeslaw

          Pensions
          Old age pensions: 102 billion – many billions of pounds are collected each year in NIC/pension contributions.

          Sickness and disability: 36 billion
          Welfare: 117 billion (‘social protection’ is 54 billion)

          Stop pretending the country is full of people with degenerative illnesses.There is no reason why people should not be reassessed.
          We are told 900,000 disappear and don’t take the test then you claim a big percent pass..

          • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

            You do not understand how the system work, do you? You have not been told that 900,000 people disappeared, but they stopped claiming before the assessment. This number is commensurate with any previous number, as people stop claiming as they get better, died etc,. But I still want to know where these people are? They are not claiming JSA, they are not in work.

            And to stay informed http://www.turn2us.org.uk/pdf/Mythbusting.pdf

    • DWWolds

      Does it not occur to you that they do not appear in the JSA count because they were actually “moonlighting”. In other words, they were working in the black economy whilst also claiming benefits.

      • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

        And your evidence for this is…..?

        All these disabled people were moonlighting, were they? Priceless.

        • http://twitter.com/AnitaBellows12 Anita Bellows

          This is an argument I did not think about. But it does not solve the issue does it? because they should still appear somewhere. Unemployed, economically inactive, economically active. People do not ‘disappear’ like this. Well they do for the conservatives.

          • Hookeslaw

            Why should people ‘appear’ somewhere?
            How do you know they have indeed not appeared somewhere in all the various counts.
            It is amazing that you do not think its significant that 900000 have decided its not worth turning up for an assessment. Almost as amazing that ylou do mnot think that 24% and 37% are not significant statistics.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Thanks for that party political rant on behalf of the Labour party or its fellow travellers in the lucrative NGO, fake charity or public union sector, especially the dodgy pseudo-intellectual smuggery (“For the more intelligent readers…”) cunningly contrived to both insult and exert emotional blackmail.

      • dalai guevara

        I note it is you who is working hard today, colonel.

        900,000 might indeed be the final number of people ‘cunningly exerting’ their influence and making IDS live on £53/wk, all whilst you and I enjoy a well deserved income tax break to trickle down onto the plebs.

    • StubyDu

      The government’s often quoted ‘latest figures’ regarding the 900,000 people who stopped their claims is only available up to 2009 – the year before the coalition government took office.

  • http://twitter.com/grumble000 david trant

    I seem to remember similar arguments from the Right over something else that was fair and right and of course a flagship policy…….the Poll tax, of course it was fair and right when JM scrapped it as well.

    We’ll get back to this in about 18 months time, I wonder how the battlefield will look then?

    • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

      The bedroom tax won’t get so far as 18 months. It is already dead in the water and only a matter of time before it is cast adrift, probably along with Smith.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Ah the sublime arrogance of the socialist. Born to rule over us, brim full of triumphalism and grievance protesting against any government which isn’t Labour and any point of view which isn’t socialist. Never mind, I’m sure you and the rest of the lefto-fascists will “get back to this in 18 months time “when you secure the levers of power and make life miserable for us all again.

      • Hookeslaw

        They wont get back in if people vote tory.

      • arnoldo87

        Yes, Colonel – if only they were all like you – rational, fair minded, and always ready to indulge in civilised debate.

  • Russell

    I agree with almost all you have written Fraser, apart from seven words that are so out of touch with what most people think “So yes, today’s welfare cuts are tough”, Really Fraser, who in their right mind thinks a tax free benefit cap of £26,000 per year is fair? certainly not the millions of low paid workers with incomes less than that amount and on which they have to pay tax and NIC!

    Meanwhile the BBC and Sky keep wheeling out Labour after Labour spokesman plus wheelchair Tammie and the church. The most distorted concerted attack on a government for decades.
    How about the single people on low income who are getting a £50 per month boost to their take-home pay through the personal allowance and who don’t have social housing or benefits?

  • Austin Barry

    OK.

    Now can Cameron reduce the foreign aid budget or does that offend his simpering, patrician sensibilities and concern to ‘do the right thing’?

    Noblesse oblige is fine, but not when it involves the hard pressed taxpayers’ money.

    • Redneck

      Austin
      Well-said: the foreign aid budget is an egregious example of gesture politics & largesse with other people’s money, by a strangely out-of-touch Conservative leadership.
      Stands as even more ludicrous, given we’re making very modest in-roads on the unsupportable “domestic aid” budget!

  • Framer

    “Not causing mass outrage?” Tell that to the BBC who are parading the entire membership of the National Union of Shroudwavers (or their well-paid spokesmen) every hour on the hour.

    One statist must stick by another. Solidarity bruv.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      National Union of Shroudwavers…LOL!

      • Andy

        Sums it up brilliantly.

    • andagain

      I don’t think that does the Tories any harm. It helps to remind people that they are reforming welfare.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    The proposed welfare reforms are heading in the right direction – but far too slowly.
    IDS has now admitted that he has given up trying to reduce the welfare bill and is simply managing its growth.
    The left-wing BBC, on behalf of the Labour Party, has done a superb job of warping the language of welfare reform. The Government is going to regret not dealing properly with the Biased Broadcasting Corporation when it had the chance. Putting Fat Pang in charge was a huge mistake.

    • Portendorfer

      Broadly in favour of both the social justice concepts of the reforms and the failure of the BBC to emphasise these.
      However should we forget our Christian duty to the weak.

      • Fergus Pickering

        You can fulfill your Christian duty by giving to the poor. That is not the business of Caesar. How much DO you give? Sweet Fanny Adams is my guess. Come on. Fess up. What proportion of your income do you give to the poor. 10% was considered a fair whack. Do you give 10%? No you don’t, you whited sepulchre, you.

        • Portendorfer

          Gesture politics do not help society.
          Our corporate need is to examine welfare reform and ensure the poor and weak are protected.

    • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

      The reason the welfare budget isn’t being reduced is because over half the welfare budget is old age pensions (which I suspect most people don’t regard as “welfare” in the same way that job seekers allowance clearly is). And pensions are due to rise in line with wages or inflation (whichever is the higher) as well as getting larger as the retired population grows.

      Clearly the way to make a substantial dent in the welfare budget is to cut pensions, but this would be politically disastrous for the Tories.

      • an ex-tory voter

        it would be no less disastrous for Labour because the majority of the population would not accept it as fair. It is currently politically impossible to achieve welfare reductions by reducing stature pensions.

        The only sustainable solution is to increase the size of the tax paying population, ie to enable and promote economic growth.

      • http://twitter.com/MisterQuintus Tony Quintus

        Cutting pesions is impossible, cutting the cost of providing them is not, which is the whole idea of the state pension reforms, though frankly they’re not moving fast enough and they should apply to those already retired

        • alexsandr

          I’d make WFA part of taxable income. Small step but at least the well off pensioners would not be so feather bedded

      • Fergus Pickering

        Or for anybody, I would have thought. I was told all my life that my pension was not a benefit handout. I had paid for it. Now you tell me you were lying and I had not paid for it. Of course politicians lying, particularly lefty ones (Think Blair) is nothing new. In my entire working life I claimed two weeks unemployment benefit, so I must be owed SOMETHING. I think all benefits EXCEPT pensions can have what they cll a haircut. If someone can’t live on his handout then he’d better do something about it..

        • arnoldo87

          Fergus,
          You know full well that Blair was neither a liar or a socialist.
          The proven liars that spring most readily to mind are Aitken, Kennedy, Major, Huhne, Archer and Profumo.
          Not a single red amongst that lot.

          • Hookeslaw

            Blair was a socialist why else would he have Brown as his Chancellor.
            Stop pretending – he was leader of the british socialist party.
            As such and as a socialist he regularly lied.

            • arnoldo87

              “Regularly lied”?
              In that case, Hooky, you will have no trouble giving us a few examples.

              • Hookeslaw

                We all know he lied about iraq
                And along with Brown he lied about the impact of advance payment of corporation tax on pensions.
                He regularly lied about his economic policies and the purpose and point behind his NHS targets which were simply a political machinations.
                He lied about how wonderful the NHS was under labour when it was killing people in Mid Staffs.
                He regularly lied about the tories intentions towards the NHS.

                I suppose you could argue that he was merely thick, but thats not particularly new. You have yo be thick to be a socialist.

                • arnoldo87

                  These are just your opinions, old chap. You need to give us a quote (words, date and medium) that prove that Blair said something that he knew to be untrue at the time.
                  Just give us one an Iraq – the subject on which he is often accused of lying.
                  If you find one you will be doing really well. No one else on this site has ever been able to produce one.

                • gothasim
                • arnoldo87

                  I have read the PMQ transcript a few times, as well as both Blair’s and Campbell’s account of the affair. There is agreement by both that the matter was handled very badly, with Blair saying he had acted stupidly and Campbell being typically frank about the level of incompetence displayed by most of those concerned.
                  Blair conceded that New Labour had lost their virginity on scandal, but the PMQ exchanges do not contain a Blair lie. He had sought advice from Lord Neill (Chair of the Commons Committee on Standards in Public Life) on what to do, and Neill advised Blair to return the money. By the 19th the process was being enacted to do just that. So Blair’s two statements both confirmed that the money was in the process of being returned.
                  There was no attempt to conceal what was going on, and if this is your best shot at a Blair lie, it just goes to show how disgraceful has been the ten year campaign to label him as a liar.
                  In the meantime, we still await Hooky’s example of just one of Blair’s “regular lies”

              • FrenchNewsonlin

                Try Brown’s grotesque “I’ve abolished boom and bust!

    • statechaos

      Watched Liam Byrne on BBC Breakfast who was actually challenged by Bill Turnbull regarding his infamous note stating that ‘there is no money left’ when he vacated his job as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. His response was that ‘there is even less money left now’!! No wonder the economy was in such a mess when someone with his mathematical skills was second in command at the Treasury under Labour.

      • Russell

        Like Browns zero % increase! one of many incompetent labour ministers ’97 to 2010.

        • http://www.facebook.com/gary.wintle1 Gary Wintle

          We’re so sort of money that Mervyn King and Osborne are subsidizing our incompetent, terrorist funding welfare-addicted banking industry.

      • Tubby_Isaacs

        So if there’s no money left, where did Michael Gove find a £1bn to overspend on academies from?

        It was a joke.

        • http://www.facebook.com/gary.wintle1 Gary Wintle

          “No money left”, yet Osborne can waste a fortune propping up house prices to line the pockets of the greedy Boomers at the expense of the rest of us.

          Plenty of money for corporate welfare for the bankers though, eh, George?

          IDS claims he can live on £53 a week, let’s see him try. “Ministers Expenses” are a form of welfare, Government Ministers are ridiculously overpaid given how incompetent they all are.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      I agree entirely Boudicca.

      statechaos, in January Liam Byrne was banging the IDS drum (he didn’t want to admit it though: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/02/beveridge-welfare-state-labour-revolution)

      • Hookeslaw

        Even today on the BBC Byrne boldly stated unemployment was going up – it has of course fallen.

    • Russell

      You could support my petition on No.10 website to sell off the BBC (under media & culture section).

      • http://twitter.com/MisterQuintus Tony Quintus

        No thanks, I’d prefere not to kill the entire UK comercial broadcasting sector at a stroke. And what would replace it as the UK’s emergency broadcast network? and where would the money to set that up come from?

        • fantasy_island

          We have loads of free to air commercial channels available, no problem at all withdrawing compulsory funding of the beeb.

          • http://twitter.com/MisterQuintus Tony Quintus

            But if you put the monster that is the BBC into the commercial sector it will eat almost all the advertising revenue, you can see that by just how popular the UKTV (50% BBC worldwide owned, mostly BBC content) channels are, and as for radio, forget about it.
            Sky would be dead in 5 years, the BBC and BT would hook up and you’d have a vast commercial monopoly holding sway over the public.

            • fantasy_island

              Absolute rubbish.

            • Hookeslaw

              How would the monster that is the BBC be a monster without its public funding?

              BBC 3 and 4 can easily scrapped. We can have a Public broadcasting Service funded from taxation, from subscription from a levy on other broadcasters – limited funding – for worthy things like films about penguins and privatise the BBC with its mostly execrable content

              It would be tough on Huw Edwards living on £54 a week but no more than he deserves.

    • Hookeslaw

      You make the mistake of believing a Telegraph headline.
      IDS does not say they have ‘given up’ (does he use the words even though its in quotes by the Telegraph?) he merely explains govt policy and points out it is not as draconian as opponents pretend. It never has been nor was intended to be and so there is nothing to ‘give up’ on. He points to comparisons in Europe.

      Not for the first time the Telegraph misrepresents the govt.
      We must wonder why the free press behave in this way.

    • JamesdelaMare

      Boudicca – Strange that suddenly so much attention is focused on this issue. Yet when benefits are paid to the poor (or relatively poor), the money is spent in the economy here, helping employment. Yet when the taxpayers money is spent paying the EU bureaucracy and supporting foreigners and foreign countries it’s simply given away. No sign of that stopping!
      No doubt some reform of the welfare system is needed, but cutting back on HB and charging up for bedrooms is certainly no more than tinkering stupidly. Expecting everyone to work is equally stupid – there’s always been a large portion of the population which doesn’t work at all, or doesn’t work for money, and there are not the jobs.
      This scheme is less about saving taxpayers’ money than a base unscrupulous attempt at stirring up Conservative activism (under an entirely false sense that taxes will be cut by the “reforms” – they won’t be) in order to stave off the very real threat to Conservative votes coming from UKIP.

      • Hookeslaw

        We spend 117 billion on welfare. Thats why it needs reforming. You say some reform is needed – you think we are daft. We know that whatever reform of this vast sum the tories came up, with the lying socialists would complain

    • Daniel Maris

      Yawn. It’s not as though the Government didn’t have Sky, the Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times on board to begin with. Really, they scr*wed up. Cameron is just a PR figurehead, so left it all to Osborne. And Osborne is useless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-Hill/100000917822376 Iain Hill

    It is hard to dispute that the welfare bill must be cut, but you seem wilfully blind to the mean spiritedness and cruelty of the current approach. This government, as with job seekers, seems to think megaphone rhetoric and posturing are enough. A mature, compassionate government would MANAGE the situation by giving those affected the opportunity to move into smaller properties. The lack of any attempt to do so merely underlines that this is a cheap divisive political move, with no real concern for financial savings. Characteridtic of our Daily Mail government and the Spectator could do better!

    • statechaos

      Councils have been given the job of arranging swaps for those people who require them, which IS an attempt to manage the situation. The housing benefit bill has doubled in the last 10 years whilst many families now live in overcrowded accommodation. It is the logical solution to stop the taxpayer subsidy of rented homes which are too large for their occupants.

      • http://twitter.com/RolandsDelectus RolandsDelectus

        No, the logical solution to a housing shortage, oddly enough, is to build more houses. And the taxpayer does not subsidize council homes, they pay into the Exchequer because all the construction costs of 99% of council homes were paid decades and decades ago.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Of course the left are apoplectic. IDS is going to shrink their client state, their raison d etre, their meal ticket, their road to riches, their path to glory and the backs over which they clamber to power.

    • http://twitter.com/Shinsei1967 Nick Reid

      I think your claim that Labour support greater welfare reliance to boost their “client state” sounds as silly to anyone neutral as the claim that the Tories want to sell off the welfare state to “enrich their posh mates.”

      Fraser hits the nail on his head with his more reasonable claim that the Left are just misguided (albeit good intentionally) in the best way to get people into work and self-supporting and yet still providing a safety net to those who through bad luck or incapacity need help or can’t help themselves.

      • andagain

        I might use words like “self-righteous”, but to be honest, I could apply those words to the supporters of all sides in politics.

  • Paddy Briggs

    You fail to state the truth that 40% of the “Welfare” budget is the State Pension. You must exclude that in any sensible analysis.

    • Russell

      £120billion per year bill for welfare (excluding pensions) is still unaffordable to the rest of the taxpayers.

      • Paddy Briggs

        My point is that Welfare and the State Pension are entirely separate subjects. Both worthy of analysis – but not lumped together.

        • ButcombeMan

          They are worth lumping together when considering the unaffordable total liabilities of the state under Brown..

          • Paddy Briggs

            No they are not. The jibe about Brown irrelevant.

            • ButcombeMan

              It never irrelevant to remind anyone listening, of the astonishing economic incompetence of Brown and his accolytes-including Ed Balls, in creating “The Big Brown Mess”.

              It ought to be on Gove’s history agenda-forever.

          • petermorris

            The state pension is paid out of the ring fenced National Insurance Fund which has a surplus of over £30 billion as at the end of last month. So currently the state pension is fully funded and the surplus is actually loaned to the government for other purposes. The government pays interest monthly to the NI Fund for the use of its money.

            • Hookeslaw

              Very good point well made. I doubt that the loony tunes who hark on about the ‘pensions debt’ will like it

              • ButcombeMan

                You and Morris are clearly both in it together?

            • ButcombeMan

              If you believe that anything at all is ring fenced when politicians mess up and there is a deep financial crisis, you have not been paying attention and you are extraordinarily naive..

              One word: Cyprus.

              • petermorris

                If it looks like a ring fence, sounds like a ring fence and acts like a ring fence, then it’s a ring fence! HMRC think it is, the NAO think it is, the GAD think it is and the DMO think it is.

                https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/89249/ni-fundaccount10-11.pdf

                You sound like you are the only one in step. Keep up Dear Boy, Keep UP.

                One word: Euro.

                • ButcombeMan

                  Do not be so easily fooled The National Insurance Scheme is financed on a pay-as-you-go basis with contribution rates set at a level broadly necessary to meet the expected benefits expenditure in that year, after taking into account any other payments and receipts and to maintain a working balance..

                  Future liabilities are part of HMG future liabilities. Supposedly ring fenced or not. One of the problems of an ageing population is the lack of younger people to “pay as you go”.

                  As the Cypriots and the Irish have found, when there is melt down, everything melts.

                • petermorris

                  The Government Actuary Department says the working balance for the NIF required for prudent operation is one sixth of the annual payments required. The current NIF surplus of over £30 billion exceeds that in any case. Future liabilities may be counted but if you are going to do that, you should also count the future revenue flows from NI. All the monthly contributions from all employees and all employers in the land. I am not saying the system is perfect but I am pointing out that the state pension system is not yet as bad as some people are trying to make out.

                • ButcombeMan

                  You are missing the point. You are also struggling.

                • petermorris

                  Where?

  • Youbian

    Well said Fraser. It is the same with immigration. What the chattering classes think of as extreme views are the centre ground of the majority of voters.

    • Edward Balls

      I am more impressed by Polly’s take on the topic.
      “I refuse to believe most people would not be shocked if they knew, if they saw and if they understood. Even some of the 30% who always vote Tory might be appalled if they weren’t so well deceived by their ministers, MPs and newspapers, who lie knowingly and deliberately. People should know that historians will record the earthquake of social destruction that happened in their name, while they read of nothing but “scroungers” and the “soaring benefit bill”.

      • http://twitter.com/MisterQuintus Tony Quintus

        If people “saw and understood” just how huge the benefit bill is (non pension) and “knew” just how much is was adding to taxation in this country, you’d see protests that the “Occupy” and “Stop the war” types could only dream of telling the government the scrap most of the welfare state.
        Then we could tell them just how many people are hanging off the government purse strings in worthless non-jobs and really get them mad! Who knows, we might actually fix the country without another civil war.

      • Steve R

        You’ve got to hand it to Pol, no one does extreme hyperbole better (“the earthquake of social destruction”) although the way the BBC news last night portrayed what was kicking in from 1 April (welfare “cuts”, new commissioning arrangements in the NHS) you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world really is going to end today.

        • Hookeslaw

          BBC in full socialist mode.

      • an ex-tory voter

        “You” would be impressed by Polly. Your problem is that the majority of the voting population see life as it really is and not from the vantage point of privilege and the public purse, or through the heat haze surrounding a Tuscan villa.

        They see real life every day on their estates and in their supermarkets and at best they see your “earthquake of social destruction” as self-serving nonsense, or at worst they see it as the result of your own misguided immigration policies. Either way, you and Polly get the blame!

      • Youbian

        I agree that the reality of life poor can be hard. I grew up with a father who became too ill to work. He had to apply for some sort of benefits. I presume incapacity benefit and it was hard to pass the test each year even though the only time he was left alone in twenty years he put himself in hospital for four months as he had epileptic fits and poured boiling water down his whole body. So I have enormous sympathy for people in similar positions now. At the same time I am fully aware now of many people I meet taking the state for a ride. Of course there needs to be a safety net as there was in part for my family. We struggled of course. However work should pay more than benefits.

        • dalai guevara

          The thing is Youbain – for many, work does not pay. The moment you realise that is when people like Bojo start talking about ‘living’ rather than ‘minimum’ wage levels.

        • ReefKnot

          They are not taking’ the state’ for a ride. They are taking ‘the taxpayer’ for a ride.

          • Hookeslaw

            Its right that the state – we the taxpayer and the people who are employed via their NICs pay towards supporting those stuck on hard times. It is in our interest, it stabilises society and in any event it might be us one day or someone we know.

            But that is all… its a support a safety net to stop people starving and lying in the gutter.

            There are other issues at play in terms of the wider problem of people actually needing the benefit in the first place. These are wider issues that Labour chose to ignore. They prefer their client state.

            • chan chan

              The point is it’s well past being a safety net. It should be just enough to keep one nostril above water, not a lifestyle choice with 50″ plasma tellies.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Ah well said Ed.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Don’t you just love that Toynbee with her Tuscan villa and her quarter of a million a year. What an imagination the woman has. She can connect, just like that with the wretched of the earth – the guy on £53 per week (which turned out to be £153 per week), but hey, how does the poor fellow get by?

    • Eddie

      I used to know an old lady who got top-up benefits for the rent on her small flat and felt guilty about it. She had to pay when she needed home help later. She was deserving.
      Most who cream money off the benefits system are not deserving. Those who claim billions in housing benefit (many foreigners too) are not deserving and neither are the landlords who profit from it.
      I fully support the benefit crackdown (it’s just a shame we can’t restrict benefits to British people actually). I now look forward to the government focusing on the utter scam known as maternity pay (linked to income) whereby well-off women get billions to take time off work – which the taxpayers subsidises massively, especially amongst teachers and nurses etc. Maternity pay, yet; linked to income, no.
      Moreover, about time those with massive assets in property got no benefits at all anyway. About time salaries paid by the state were cut too – 20% across the board. Plus regional pay cuts. Plus new laws to claim back taxpayers money from academics’ pension funds.

      • chan chan

        Don’t forget child benefit. Axe it now.

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