Posts Tagged ‘benefits cap’

Labour has got itself into a mess on welfare

04/04/2013, 07:00:01 AM

by Peter Watt

I don’t know what Labour’s position on welfare reform is.  I know that the Tories want to cut welfare bills and make work pay.  I know this because they keep saying it and because they have just spent the last few weeks pushing changes to the welfare system that appear to confirm this.  It doesn’t matter at this stage whether the policies will actually achieve this or not because at this stage what matters is that their rhetoric is matched by actions that appear consistent with their words.

But Labour has in the past also talked tough on welfare and that it would like to reduce welfare bills.  The problem is that it is currently fighting a battle in which it is opposing the government’s attempts to achieve this.  So Labour appears confused.

The truth about the current crop of welfare reforms will not be known for some time.  Both the government and the opposition have talked up the changes brought in on April 1.  The government wants the changes seen as being a turning of the corner in the ever increasing rise in welfare payments.

The opposition wants the changes to be seen as evidence of the inherent nastiness, unfairness and cynicism of the government.  The truth is of course somewhat more complex.  The so called “bedroom tax” for instance is probably flawed as there is not enough social housing stock for people to actually downsize to.

People will therefore either be worse off or have to move to smaller premises in the private sector which will of course cost the state more in housing benefit.  But other aspects of the changes seem reasonable like the benefits cap; even if the government is crudely talking up the tiny numbers of families able to actually claim hundreds of thousands in benefits.


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How Labour can win on welfare

01/02/2012, 08:00:55 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour will win the welfare debate when we reassure the public that we believe in the responsibility to work and convince them that the government is too incompetent to secure the right to work.

Labour’s approach to rights is anathema to Tories, and goes beyond the legalism of liberalism. The right to work is fundamental to us – we’re Labour, after all. Tories see no such right. Unemployment is a price worth paying. And work is, of course, a relational and lived experience, which can’t be distilled to the system of legal rights that defines liberalism.

All have a right to dignity, which the welfare state that Labour created must ensure. This right, more associated with Labour than other parties, is, however, abused when it subsidises the unwillingness of some who could work to fulfil their responsibility to actually work. That Labour has a stronger emphasis on rights than other parties, can leave us vulnerable to attacks predicated upon appeals to responsibility.

Iain Duncan Smith has launched such an attack. The principle driving his benefits cap is that all who are able have responsibilities to look for and take up work. Where there is more to be gained by staying at home, welfare incentivises the violation of responsibilities to seek and undertake work. (more…)

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