Coffee House

All not well with welfare cap

20 June 2014

8:56 AM

20 June 2014

8:56 AM

A tough message on welfare is one of the ways that both Labour and the Tories think they can win in 2015. Ed Miliband upset some on the left yesterday with his plans to freeze child benefit and dock jobseekers’ allowance from under-21s not in employment or training, while the Tories constantly trumpet the gains they’ve already seen in people coming off benefits as a sign that their reforms are working.

But the suggestion today, in a leak to the BBC, that the Employment and Support Allowance is getting so expensive that the government could break its shiny new welfare cap, threatens to undermine the Conservative narrative on welfare. Iain Duncan Smith is rolling out universal credit to more claimants today, but the ESA leak will inevitably put his department back on the defensive as it faces allegations that it is out of control.

How Labour plays this will be interesting. ESA is paid to very vulnerable claimants who are often out of work because of long-term illness or a disability, and who have had to endure the very messy work capability assessment set up by Labour and expanded by the coalition. It will not be easy for Labour to come up with suggestions about how to cut this benefit further without enraging its own side. Other benefits, such as housing benefit, are often softer targets for sound and fury about controlling a budget. Labour will want to pounce on the coalition not controlling welfare as well as it should – but how does it do it without suddenly seeming callous?

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  • Smithersjones2013

    but how does it do it without suddenly seeming callous?

    They make it a question of political competence and credibility……

  • Mynydd

    The four years in power is catching up with Mr Cameron’s government, today it is HMRC not able to manage the simple PAYE scheme and welfare cap, that’s on top of passports, shortage of prison beds, May/Gove battle, the list is becoming endless.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      But not a £168 billion structural deficit, destruction of private pension provision, the first bank failures in 150 years, Gold sold at rock bottom prices, a 7.4% contraction of the economy, 1,200 unnecessary deaths at mid-Staffs, uncontrolled immigration with no reference to the electorate etc etc that was Labour the party of lies, lying and liars.

  • Fraser Bailey

    Just abolish Housing Benefit.

    It’s not difficult.

    But it would be detrimental to the personal finances of countless MPs, so they will never do it.

  • @PhilKean1

    .

    Osborne’s short-sighted, un-Conservative decision to introduce means-testing –

    – was a precedent set that was only ever going to penalise one demographic : responsible, hard-working, NET taxpaying, middle-income households.

    I said right from when Osborne announced it that he was doing Labour’s work for them. Because “means-testing” is now embedded in British political thinking and a legacy that will live on and increasingly penalise the very people Britain relies upon for her wealth and for setting an example for others to follow

    And yesterday, right on cue, we saw Miliband respond to the precedent by extending the means-testing policy to include the parents of young job-seekers.
    .

    • telemachus

      Oh so the Duke of Devonshire needs the Winter Fuel payment to heat Chatsworth?

      • @PhilKean1

        Short-sighted, one-dimensional thinking.

        The reason Britain is in the mess it is in.
        .

        • telemachus

          Hundreds of Millions of ponds of taxpayers money is wasted on benefits that are not even noticed in the recipients bank accounts
          Whereas the poor are criminalise when they cannot pay flat rate taxes such as the TV licence

          • @PhilKean1

            Yesterday, we saw Miliband continue Osborne’s policy of penalising and disincentivising the ONLY people who actually PAY for the little they get back by way of rebate and benefit : NET and high taxpayers.

            There are currently less than 40% of the population who pay more in tax than they receive back from the state. We should be seeking reverse this downward trend, NOT accelerate it.
            .

          • Fergus Pickering

            I agree with you about the TV Licence. It shuld be abolished forthwith, don’t you think? The BBC fatcats are living off the poor..

            • telemachus

              Funded from General Taxation
              The funding to increase with inflation
              *
              Oh and yes
              Peter Mandelson to take over the chair from Tory Patten

              • Fergus Pickering

                We could save a lot of money for the poor by winding it up, don’t you think?

          • Tom M

            “ponds”? you surely mean “owls”.

    • Count Dooku

      EVERYTHING should be means tested. I’m not interested in my tax money going to wealthy people. Only the destitute, disabled and sick should get any benefits, and they should be temporary if it’s no a permanent condition.
      What you should be advocating is TAX CUTS. Why should the government tax someone, take a cut for bureaucrats, and then give them back their own money?

      • @PhilKean1

        The logical conclusion being that everyone will eventually realise that it pays to let the Government pick up the bill. Disincentivisation has its down-sides.
        Means-testing what are essentially struggling middle classes has the effect of putting UP their NET tax bill, and making their existence that much harder.

        Remember. These people are taking nothing from the state – unlike their non NET taxpaying counterparts.

        The lessons of Labour’s “tax em till the pips squeak” era of the 70s was obviously lost on you.
        .

        • Count Dooku

          Having a tax credit is obviously preferable to not having one. I want people to keep their own money.

          You are fighting the battle on the left’s terms if you even acknowledge that tax credits are a good idea in the first place. Spend your energy arguing for lower tax RATES.

          • @PhilKean1

            And I want people to keep their own money. I want lower taxes.

            I know – just stop credits for everyone – regardless of whether or not they pay for them via their tax contributions. Ok, that is impractical. And until it DOES become practical, let us not keep penalising the people who take nothing from the state.

            After all, removing credits from them is effectively removing their tax rebate and putting their taxes up.
            .

  • Blindsideflanker

    The welfare cap is the tokenist rubbish we have come to expect from our political class. Caps , golden rules, tokenist legislation, is something they use to shore up their massively discredited abilities. Rather than taking the effort to shore up their standing with the electorate by doing what they say, they instead seek to compensate by legislating against their charater flaws.

  • telemachus

    Labour will play this as another example of incompetence from Iain Duncan Smith
    He may not be dangerous like Gove or Supercilious like Hunt but a further prime example of the general poor quality of the Coalition ministers
    *
    The public yearns for the Charismatic One supported by Yvette, Tristram and Andy

    • Fergus Pickering

      I can hear them yearn.

      • pointlesswasteoftime

        Have you mis-spelt “yawn”?

    • Mynydd

      You have hit the nail on the head, Iain Duncan Smith is incompetent and costing £m. One as only to look at the past few weeks to see the poor quality of Mr Cameron’s ministers. 980,000 still not received their passport, according to the head of the Passport Office. More importantly for the country a weak, no backbone, Prime Minister is unable to move; IDS, May, Gove, Hunt and others like, the minister who said if you have not received your passport, no problem, take your holiday at home.

    • Smithersjones2013

      The public yearns for the Charismatic One supported by Yvette, Tristram and Andy

      They sound like some weird avant garde jazz rock outfit. How about a name?. I know ‘Misfit & The Idiots’……..

    • Gafto

      Are you sure you are not posting from North Korea, rather than Lancashire?

      I know you are taking the mickey now, wasn’t so sure before.

      • Smithersjones2013

        North Korea wouldn’t tolerate such deranged views

    • Aberrant_Apostrophe

      I didn’t know the Steve ‘Boring’ Davis was Labour leader.

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