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The miscalculations have not affected any Tory donors or rich people likely to vote Conservative, so it seems unlikely the government will care.
The BBC reported that the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said the reasons for the increased spending included a rise in the cost of pensioner benefits (yet another BBC inaccuracy – the rise was in the cost of state pension payments) and an increase in housing benefit spending.
Let’s look at that.
The IFS said the £5 billion increase in state pensions was due to the “more generous” entitlements of a new generation of pensioners who had recently retired. This is entirely predictable and should have been included in the Conservative Party’s calculations before the Tories ever got anywhere near the Department for Work and Pensions. It is an avoidable mistake that they didn’t avoid. And they’re financially reliable?
Switching from measuring inflation using RPI – which shows a higher rate – to CPI (in order to pretend that the cost of living isn’t rising quite as fast as it really is) hasn’t saved the £4 billion the government expected. This relates more to pensions than any other benefits, as these are linked to inflation. The government was hoping to save billions because CPI inflation rises more slowly than RPI – but it hasn’t happened, for reasons stated in the paragraph immediately above. The Tories should have known this; they didn’t. Stupid Tories.
The BBC reported: “There had been an ‘unanticipated’ rise in housing benefit spending of £1bn, despite cuts of £2bn, which was down to the growth of the private rental sector, rising rents and slow earnings growth.
Are the Conservatives seriously trying to tell us that they didn’t realise the Bedroom Tax would lead to an increase in Housing Benefit claims on privately-rented properties? What did they think was going to happen? Oh no, wait… That was the plan! Tip people out of social housing on the pretext that they are under-occupying, and send them off to rent from private landlords. But private landlords always – always – charge more and the Conservative Party, many of whose members happen to be private landlords, would know that. So we have an increase in the amount of public money being spent on rents that are charged by Conservative-voting landlords. What a handy way of getting money into the pockets of your rich voting base! Let’s conclude that this particular bit of extra spending was in the plan from the start.
Rising rents are a logical consequence of an influx into the private rented sector from social housing. Suddenly there’s a squeeze on space and private landlords are able to hike rents. Again, Tory-voting landlords get a boost from the government.
Slow earnings growth was also planned by the Conservative Party, and is connected to spending on unemployment benefits. The benefits uprating cap of one per cent per year means an increase in social insecurity, intended to force people to seek work of any kind, no matter how low-paid. It’s not so much about making work pay as it is about making it the better of two bad options. The knock-on effect is that there is no job security any more. Anyone agitating for higher wages can be told there are hundreds of people willing to work for less. That will shut them up. The Tories planned this. It seems bizarre that they did not realise people would have to claim in-work benefits in order to make ends meet. That’s why spending on tax credits has fallen by less than expected. So – again – this should have been included in Tory calculations before they got into the DWP. It is another nail in the coffin of their financial reliability.
Here’s a personal favourite: “‘Significant delays’ in the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with the ‘less generous’ Personal Independence Payment had led to a £1.6 billion increase in spending, rather than a £1.2 billion cut.” It seems the Conservatives did not reckon on the people they’re trying to rob doing all they can to stop their money being taken away.
More seriously, this means that all the cuts to the social security budget should never have happened – nor should the thousands of deaths due to the increased pressure placed on claimants by the DWP on the order of its ignorant secretary of state, Iain Duncan Returned-To-Unit Smith.
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