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The Conservatives’ moral mission: jobs, jobs, jobs

1 April 2014 10:56
Image: Getty

Remember Labour’s defining mission: ‘education, education, education’? Yesterday we had the Conservative equivalent ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’. In what some might see as an important day in the development of the… Continue reading


It’s time Labour talked about universal benefits

31 March 2014 10:54
Brian and Joan Caswell, who won a £24.9 Euromillions jackpot aged 74 and 72 respectively. Do they still need free bus passes? Image: Getty

For years the Nordic model has stood out as a beacon of universal welfare provision. But if you want evidence of how the global financial crisis has ripped up the… Continue reading


Will welfare cap vote be Miliband’s biggest rebellion?

25 March 2014 14:43
Miliband visits Trafalgar Place

So Rachel Reeves confirmed in the Commons today that Labour will back the welfare cap when it comes to a vote. Tory MPs cheered her as she announced this. There… Continue reading


How food banks were shunted around government departments

21 March 2014 14:34

It is well worth reading Paul Waugh’s interview with Iain Duncan Smith in the House Magazine for a number of reasons – not least his hint about docking child benefit… Continue reading


George Osborne’s Budget elephant trap is still open and waiting for Labour

20 March 2014 9:32
Image: Getty

Yesterday the Opposition didn’t really do all that much opposing. Labour announced it was going to vote in favour of George Osborne’s AME welfare cap, with Ed Balls arguing that… Continue reading


Welfare cap will change the way cuts are made

26 February 2014 11:56
Not as recalcitrant as he seems (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)

The Sun’s report that pensioner benefits will be included in the overall cap on welfare spending highlights an interesting shift that this policy will cause. George Osborne will set out… Continue reading


The Church should be employing its moral outrage to greater effect

19 February 2014 17:45

Part of the role of the Church is to give the poorest in society a voice. It should be front and centre of the public debate about welfare reform, but… Continue reading


Did an archbishop really call for more public spending in response to food bank usage?

18 February 2014 19:33
Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Image: Getty

Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, has spent an awful lot of time since his recent interview with the Telegraph clarifying just what he meant when he said that the way… Continue reading


Benefits Street: Viewers divide as the community draws closer together

20 January 2014 22:18

A change is in the air across Britain. A new divide is opening up: not between the rich and the poor, nor indeed the poor against the poor; but instead… Continue reading


Osborne sets clear welfare challenge to Labour – and his coalition partners

6 January 2014 10:51
Image: Getty

We already knew that the Chancellor would focus on welfare as a field ripe for further cuts in his speech in Birmingham today. When he delivered that speech, George Osborne… Continue reading


2014: the year of ‘hard truths’ that are easy for George Osborne to say

6 January 2014 8:57
Image: Getty

George Osborne has a funny way of saying ‘happy new year’. In his speech in Birmingham this morning, the Chancellor will describe 2014 as the year of ‘hard truths’ about… Continue reading


Cap child benefit? There are better ways to cut the welfare bill

16 December 2013 14:38
There are better ways for the state to save money than by making large families the preserve of the well-to-do.

David Davis is plainly right that the Tories are just testing the water to see how talk about capping child benefit to two children for people on the dole goes… Continue reading


George Osborne thickens his welfare dividing lines

12 December 2013 15:36
Image: Getty

We already knew that welfare would be a key dividing line for George Osborne at the next election. He set up the dividing lines in the emergency budget and comprehensive… Continue reading


Could ‘norms’ be influencing controversial fitness-to-work tests?

3 December 2013 17:05

Every so often, when another strange case crops up of someone being declared fit as a fiddle for work who then dies a few days later, or who cannot walk,… Continue reading


Social landlords have prostituted themselves over ‘Build to Rent’

21 November 2013 11:03
Involvement in schemes like Build to Rent have damaged the reputations of social landlords. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages)

Last weekend a group of young professionals, forced by a spiralling housing market to rent rooms in shared houses at exorbitant prices, moved into a new development in London’s Stratford… Continue reading


Why Mike Penning can afford to be so aggressive about the benefit cap

23 October 2013 14:45

What a combative interviewee Mike Penning made on the Today programme. The new work and pensions minister clearly felt that given the benefit cap is the most popular policy pollsters… Continue reading


Food bank use is up again: how can ministers respond?

16 October 2013 15:52
Red Cross Reports Growing Numbers Of Needy Across Europe

Today’s figures from the Trussell Trust on food bank use were good fodder for Labour at PMQs. But the message from the charity, which I profiled for the Spectator a… Continue reading


Britain’s stated aim of getting Turkey to join the EU is mad

14 October 2013 15:43
David Cameron with Abdullah Gul, the President of Turkey, in 2011. (Dan Kitwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Rather to my embarrassment, I find that I missed last night’s episode of the BBC2 three-part series on The Ottomans, Europe’s Muslim Conquerors, in which I briefly featured. So Heaven… Continue reading


The ravelling and unravelling of the only policy in David Cameron’s speech

3 October 2013 17:37
A woman cleans the stage ahead of David Cameron's speech yesterday. Picture: Getty

David Cameron’s speech to Tory conference yesterday was supposed to be policy-free so that the media would pick up his list of achievements because it had no other choice. The… Continue reading


Tories shift their plans on benefits for under-25s

2 October 2013 14:33
Latest Figures Show UK Unemployment Has Risen Above 2 Million

Although David Cameron’s speech was deliberately light on policy, it did contain one hint about a manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election. The Prime Minister told the conference that… Continue reading


Time’s up for today’s welfare state

12 September 2013 17:21
A striking public sector worker marches

Welfare as we know it is doomed to defeat. It looks like going down to defeat from three major challenges, and each challenge comes from the sea change that is… Continue reading


Liam Byrne’s vulture strategy

5 September 2013 20:45
Image: Carla Millar

David Aaronovitch’s furious Times column this morning described Ed Miliband as a vulture, swooping down on problems caused by this government rather than leading. If he wanted another example of… Continue reading


Iain Duncan Smith turns up the jargon on universal credit

5 September 2013 15:59
Iain Duncan Smith campaigning on the Easterhouse estate, where in 2002 he was inspired to start his drive for reform of the welfare system. Picture: Getty.

Iain Duncan Smith was in an aggressive mood when he appeared before MPs this morning to explain the latest awkward report on universal credit to the Commons. He combined his… Continue reading


Welfare failures that are costing us dear

21 August 2013 21:20
Unemployment Figures Set To Rise Further In UK

I’m told there’s a joke that does the round in Whitehall, that to err is human, but if you really want to foul things up you need Iain Duncan Smith.… Continue reading


Liam Byrne’s pitch to keep hold of his job

21 August 2013 17:15
Liam Byrne

It can hardly be a coincidence that one of the few Labour figures to bother giving a speech on policy in the middle of Tumbleweed Time is a shadow minister… Continue reading