Fair play to Ed Balls – his latest blog entry (didn’t know he had a blog? Where have you been?) has joined in the kicking currently being delivered to Iain Duncan Smith several times a day, while also answer critics who have (deliberately?) got Labour’s work and pensions policy arse-backward.
If you want to read his attack on the man we call RTU (Returned To Unit), nip over to Ed’s blog. Here’s the part that’s relevant to Labour’s critics. I warn you in advance – none of it is new; but it does frame the policies in a way that should make them harder to misinterpret:
Labour has been clear that we need to control social security spending, and have committed to an overall cap on social security spending.
But you can’t get the social security bill under control unless you’re tough on the causes of rising social security spending.
That’s why Labour’s economic plan will tackle low pay and earn our way to higher living standards for the many, not just a few.
Our approach is rooted in tackling the root causes of spending, boosting pay and tackling high housing costs.
So our plan will make work pay by increasing the minimum wage to £8 an hour, introducing tax incentives for firms that start paying the living wage and expanding free childcare for working parents to 25 hours a week
We’ll scrap the bedroom tax and shift funding from benefits to bricks by getting at least 200,000 new homes built each year and introducing stable rental contracts in the private rented sector.
We’ll back the next generation by boosting apprenticeships and ensuring there is a paid starter job for every young person out of work for over a year – which they’ll have to take or lose benefits, paid for by a tax on bank bonuses.
And we will get a grip on the shambolic management at the DWP, to ensure that we can deliver a fair safety net for all those who need it.
That includes calling in the National Audit Office to review universal credit to ensure it delivers value for money and a better system for claimants. And it means getting a grip on disability assessments with tougher penalties when contractors get decisions wrong, and clear oversight of the process by disabled people themselves.
This government has failed to deliver an economy that works for the many and not just a few. This failure isn’t just hurting millions of working people, it’s costing the exchequer too.
And having failed to balance the books in this Parliament, George Osborne is now talking about £12 billion more cuts to social security after the election. But he’s over-spent by more than twice this amount in this Parliament – casting real doubt on his ability to make those promised savings.
Only a Labour government will be tough on social security spending by being tough on the causes of rising social security spending. That’s the way to back working people and get the deficit down in a fairer way.
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