Iain Martin reports that IDS has secured a £3bn fund to meet the upfront costs of
his benefit reform.
‘To help ensure that IDS can make the cuts which unlock his funds for welfare reform, I am informed that Number 10 and the Treasury now accept that some of the commitments made by David
Cameron before polling day to protect specific benefits will have to be revisited and potentially watered down.
In return, IDS is being urged by colleagues to accept that he cannot behave like a bull in a china shop. Says one: “He has been immersed in welfare reform for years. But he can’t
present his solutions as a fait accompli to colleagues. He has to persuade other ministers and take people with him.”’
So, we can take it that IDS will not be resigning, which, as James has argued, would have
been catastrophic to the political balance of the coalition. IDS now has the financial muscle to implement immediate welfare reform; he must disprove the DWP’s projections that simplifying the benefits system will end up costing
more money than is currently spent. No.10, determined to pursue a radical agenda, ordered the ring-fence. It will be interesting, from Liam Fox’s point of view, to see if No.10 consider
Trident to be an expense that the Treasury must fund. Fox and Cameron may not see eye to eye; but Fox and defence are just as important to the Tory right as IDS and welfare reform are.