Social security: Labour answers critics – and attacks IDS

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.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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15 thoughts on “Social security: Labour answers critics – and attacks IDS

      1. paulrutherford8

        Rachel Reeves IS on board with this. We discussed such things while she had lunch with us last week. I’ve been slated on twitter by some people for ‘daring’ to suggest that changes would be happening at DWP; that RR was lying to me etc.
        However, I tend to believe her. After all, talking about her hen party as well as her political party while sitting on my sofa lends a certain credence to the ‘serious stuff’ we discussed. In my opinion at least!
        Oh, Sue and Warren liked her too 😉

      2. paulrutherford8

        Forgot to mention that there is a problem Labour have: they won’t know exactly how much of a financial mess the country is in until they have access to the full govt accounts the day after the election, if they win.

        Apparently, this could be a much more serious fiscal quagmire than the ‘guesstimates’ they have to work on now.

        To some extent, it makes it difficult for Labour to promise some changes that they may be unable to fulfil quickly, despite maybe wanting to. An example could be them saying they will raise the minimum wage [or was it living wage?], *by* 2020.

        There is, I think a genuine, perhaps understandable, fear amongst MPs that the Tories are making a mess that will set Labour up for criticism if they find they can’t deliver on ‘bigger’ pledges.

        I think everyone needs to adopt a bit of pragmatism regarding what Labour will be able to achieve. They do genuinely want to make life better for a lot of people.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        It is extremely important that people hear this message and understand what it means.
        It is entirely likely that the Conservatives are creating a worse mess for Labour to fix than they are admitting.
        It is possible that they are doing this in order to make Labour look bad if Labour wins the 2015 election.
        Personally I think that, if Labour does win, then any deviation between what the Conservatives have been saying and whatever the facts show should be broadcast to the nation at the first possible opportunity.
        People should be told the depths of the deception that has been perpetrated on them; names should be named and if necessary, charges should be made.

      4. paulrutherford8

        It is very, very important Mike. You’re absolutely correct.

        I think this is the side of politics that most people don’t know about or, in some cases, if people do, they choose to ignore. I don’t recall this ever being mentioned or discussed in any MSM outlet at all.

        How to get it across to the general population is the difficult thing. MSM aren’t going to mention this.

        I feel sometimes like I’ve been given some insights or knowledge that is very difficult to know what to do with: like a double-edged sword! I think I’ll have to try and finish my [hopefully], explanatory blog post which I’ve re-written nearly every day for the last week!

        Such a massive deception has been, and is being, played out. It scares me sometimes.

        As with cutting the funding for the Labour-run Welsh Assembly Government by, I think, £1.2 billion, and rabidly criticising the likes of the [generally OK], Welsh NHS and education, I am now firmly of the opinion that the Tories are setting up UK Labour to [appear to], fail.

        Sorry, perhaps I’m rambling? It is 3 am after all.

  1. RTU

    I am fairly certain George Duncan smith will need armed guards till the it dies he’s pissed off far far to many folk and to make matters worse he doesn’t seem to care. i would not like to be in his shoes that’s for sure, i

    1. Tony Dean

      Interesting quote from a book I am thinking of sending IDS to his home address for a Christmas Present:-

      “But if most people are only unemployed or workless for short periods of time, how is it we hear of two-generation families who have never worked or that there are even:- “Some estates, where often three generations of families have never worked”, as Iain Duncan Smith Put it in 2009. Or even four generations according to one of his colleagues. The simple answer is that such cases are very rare. Indeed Robert MacDonald, Tracy Shildrick, and Andy Furlong refer in their fruitless eight month search for actual families where three generations had never worked in very high unemployment areas of Glasgow and Teesside as “hunting the Yeti””

      (John Hills, Good Times, Bad Times, The Welfare Myth of Them and Us, ISBN 978 1 44732 003 6 page page 93)

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        HUNTING THE YETI!
        That should become a rallying call against Iain Duncan Smith’s lies, shouldn’t it?
        So for example, when he says “Universal Credit will come in on time and on-budget,” we all agree that he’s “Hunting the Yeti”.
        Or when he says his ‘welfare reforms’ are vital to prevent fraud, we say he’s “Hunting the Yeti”.
        Let’s make it as big an annoyance for him as “Parklife” became for Russell Brand (although I doubt the man we call RTU will bring out an entertaining video in response)!

    1. paulrutherford8

      We can all help! Talk to anyone and everyone you can. Be enthusiastic. By talking, to one person at a time, word will spread. Time ticks away and before we know it, the election will be here.
      Keep on talking!!

  2. Mike Sivier Post author

    Ian Duncan sent this reply. Unfortunately another commenter has complained about an offensive word in his avatar. Rather than continue causing offense, I’ve decided to repeat his words in a comment of my own. I won’t keep doing this forever though, Ian, so if you want to continue being seen here, please change your avatar to one that won’t cause offence!

    Ian Duncan writes: Why can’t the rest of them be as unequivocal as this? They always seem a bit sheepish, as though they’re asking permission to have an opinion. Possibly understandable, given the sheer weight of the media’s daily attacks against Labour.

    This is the sort of thing we need to hear: straight talking with hard policies and no rhetorical escape routes and equivocations.

    Now if Ed Miliband would just put a forceful personality as shadow DWP secretary and lose that neutered fop Tristram Hunt, who really is without any clue whatsoever…

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