A little noticed announcement in the Budget today indicated that all long-term recipients of incapacity benefit will have to undergo new tougher medical tests - called work capability assessments. The tests are designed to ensure that more IB claimants return to work and have already been introduced for new claimants.
The chancellor said today that the tests for existing claimants would begin in 2010. He was adopting an idea first proposed by David Freud, the investment banker who's advised ministers on welfare reform, and which is already Conservative party policy.
This move will allow Labour to claim that the Tories will not be able to make any savings from a more radical approach to welfare and, therefore, that their public spending plans don't add up. That's why James Purnell is the minister being put up to open the Commons Budget debate. He's likely to ask two questions of the Tories - would you spend the money we're spending on cutting child poverty and, if so, where will you get the money from since you won't make any savings on welfare and you've already promised much more than you can afford?