At last someone in the Labour Party is speaking up on political issues

… and it’s John Healey! Who’d have thought it?

His article in yesterday’s Guardian makes a lot of sense (although obviously he doesn’t go far enough in his suggestions. Labour never does, these days).

At least he’s making the right noises – pointing out that the Conservative Government’s plan to cut social security by £12 billion will harm people who are trapped by failing markets for housing and jobs. Think about it – cutting social security means people will be more insecure. That’s probably why Tories prefer to call it “welfare”.

He claims that the cut to the total annual household cap on benefits, from £26,000 to £23,000, is popular but will save less than one per cent of the total target.

More will follow – cutting tax credits (the subsidy for under-paying businesses, meaning people in work will be plunged into poverty), housing benefit (the subsidy for landlords, meaning people will be unable to pay their rent), and to disability payments (because nobody cares what happens to society’s most vulnerable until they become society’s most vulnerable; the evidence suggests these people will die).

According to Healey, every time the Tories wield the axe, they will challenge Labour to support them. If Labour refuses, the Tories will then be free to shout about Labour being the “party of welfare” – and never mind the fact that the Tories are the party of corporate welfare, funnelling billions to bosses.

Many of the cuts will punish the poor – without reducing the benefits bill, he reckons.

Take tax credits. Over the last five years, the Coalition government made 23 separate cuts, freezes and rule changes to tax credits costing working families £13.4bn. But overall spending rose, by £2bn.

Or housing benefit, where 10 separate cuts cost low-income renters both in and out of work over £5bn. But the total bill went up by £4bn over the Parliament.

Healey drew up a lengthy factual analysis of Coalition Government policy on housing benefits and discovered that the Tories and Liberal Democrats were actively increasing the bill.

The decision, for example, to raise council and housing association rents to 80 per cent of market rates will increase housing benefit spending by £5.4bn over the next 30 years, on those homes built in the last parliament alone.

He called this a “Conservative policy failure, with both the taxpayer and families on low incomes paying the price”.

His solution was for Labour to commit to building 100,000 new council and housing association homes a year until 2020, in the knowledge that those homes would pay for themselves, in full, in housing benefits savings over 27 years.

Just as people take out a mortgage over that time period and see a return on their home investment, so government could do the same.

Every pound invested in a genuinely affordable home means the state pays out less in housing benefit.

Over thirty years, I calculated that £1 generates £1.18 in savings… by recycling savings in benefit to build new homes, the up-front capital costs for those 100,000 homes each year would be no greater than the housing investment when I was Labour’s housing minister in our last year of government.

We can’t spend this parliament debating welfare costs on Tory terms again, so our challenge is to sidestep the narrow Tory narrative and start making a bigger case for bringing benefits spending down.

So this is the answer: Use the Conservatives’ own record against them and demonstrate that the government is asking the wrong questions and proposing the wrong solutions.

Source: Labour must make and win the big arguments on welfare – Comment – Voices – The Independent

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. hugosmum70 June 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    forgive me if i am wrong (though i don’t think i am) but wasn’t it labour who brought in the NHS and the different benefits and welfare system to help the poor? wasn’t it labour who brought in council housing to help those who had lost their homes to the war bombings etc?? so why are they ashamed to be called the part of welfare now? all these years labour have been proud of those (and other) achievements. now,because the posh millionaire bully boys who want for F all.say its a shameful thing for people to be unemployed, on sick and other benefits …because THEY SAY IT IS… Labour no longer feel proud of those achievements? Let the bully boys shout out that we are the party of welfare. its nothing to be ashamed about. what IS and should be ashamed of is the conservatives who have caused the welfare budget to spiral out of control and stopped peoples benefits for little or no reason to make savings that actually don’t go to the treasury they go to fund the govt’s 10/11% wage increases.(3-4 in the last 5 years alone whilst squeezing everyone from middle class down.they have sold off companies or caused private companies to go bankrupt or move to other countries thus causing our unemployment figures to rise colossally. Labour… you do not have need to be frightened of the Tories spouting words against you in this way. the party has a lot to be proud of over the past 70 plus years. stand up to those bullies and tell them to grow up and start looking outside their silly circle to how the world and especially Britain actually lives. cos they don’t have a clue.

    • John Gaines June 10, 2015 at 9:44 am - Reply

      They are ashamed that they are stuck with Labour in order to get cushy jobs, the Tory’s don’t want them, like Milliband they look down their noses at the ordinary working Man, waving their a-hole PPE degrees and claiming they are Mittal Class don’t you know, just showing the peasants how to survive on less….’Ohhh reely, did I just get a £10, 000 raise of that nice Mr. Cameron now where can I sponge, loot or Con some more, must stay in touch with the RICH you know’
      Four Jags Later……………..

  2. Michael Broadhurst June 9, 2015 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    about time someone spoke out like this about what labour SHOULD be doing and fighting for the REAL working class,the people who go out everyday and actually get their hands dirty
    we need a real leader with fire in his belly,not the incompetents who are putting up for leadership now.they are all tory lites not a real socialist among them.

  3. Mr.Angry June 10, 2015 at 7:17 am - Reply

    Totally agree with the two comments from hugosmum70 and Michael they are showing themselves more like the Tories which is an absolute disgrace.

    What dribble we have endured since losing the election has certainly brought out some home truths from the so called Labour candidates.

    I find it inconceivable they are supporting Tory issues and can’t see what the majority of the nation are crying out for.

    Those on the receiving end of the Tory agenda are really desperate and suffering, we all need some inspiration not more of the same.

    Behind all this cloak and dagger politics there are children who’s lives are being ruined by these Tory cuts, but then again we are the underclass as seen by the bullingdon boys, so must not forget our status.

  4. amnesiaclinic June 10, 2015 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    This is good – taking the tory propaganda and statistics and using it against them to show the reality of what is happening in people’s lives.
    If you missed it, there is a wonderful episode on the Richie Allen Show with Max Igan talking about the practicalities and solutions for the way forward with people taking the initiative and not leaving it to ‘representatives’ who just represent themselves and their rich millionaire buddies:

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