The politics of welfare cuts


Curb benefits for big families. That, once again, is the cry coming from the Conservative side of the coalition.

The idea - to cap benefits after families have their second child - is guaranteed to generate headlines, controversy, but, you know what, very little money.

Officials in the Department for Work and Pensions estimate that the savings could be one or two hundred million. That's compared with the £18bn already cut from the welfare budget and the additional £10bn now being looked for.

There are two reasons. The first is that there are far fewer big families than people imagine. The second is the the Tories are examining curbing benefit for new claimants and not existing ones.

The real money-savers come from lowering the annual increases in benefits - the switch from the RPI measure of inflation to the lower CPI. Ministers are now debating raising benefits this year by less than either measure.

So, why all the talk about caps? They're hugely popular. I'm told that support for setting the cap for benefits for families at two children is around three quarters of the population. If, instead, you suggest capping benefits at three children, support drops to around a third.

Why? Because most families have two children and don't understand why people who don't work should have things they don't. A view which changes, of course, if they lose their job.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    301 steve.
    Look Steve, take a look at this link, Your not going to like it, in fact i would suggest checking this whole independent site out. The truth is far more complicated than your right wing drivel. Please don't come back unless it's at least a bit intelligent or is backed by some factual evidence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    This government baffles me

    Why make a song & dance about stuff like this & the pasty tax

    They are non starters

    Are there not enough real problems to deal with

    Only somebody really stupid would waste time like this, oh well that explains it

    Or maybe the idea is to use up time so the real problems cant be dealt with because they are real difficult

    So its stupidity or procrastination

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.


    So, letting in an extra four million people to do the jobs the doleboys saw as being beneath them or to rub the right's nose in multiculturalism kinda blew up in your face, eh Lefty? And its easier to get your pig thick supporters to think its the tories fault... Cue you slagging off UKIP and avoiding answering the main charge...

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.


    So why keep on having them if this is what happens to them? Surely this reinforces the case?

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    I hope everyone can have a good look at this article on IDS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    There may be only a small number of large families but they are disproportionately likely to be poor. Indeed coming from a large family puts children in a vicious circle of poverty. They get less individual care and attention - they are far more likely to end up in gangs and involved with crime. This is not just about money, it's about society and the causes of poverty. It's not a quick tho.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    @296 nautonier
    Mars bar one is in BBC R4's archives! No - your 'building seven cities the size of Brimingham'.

    IIRC, I was listening at the time Sir Andrew Green said it on R4 (in the archives!) 'a new city, the size of Birmingham, needs to be built every ten years to accommodate the current rate of net inward-migration to the UK'.

    Why don't you take it up with him or MW's Press Officer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    Who is being inaccurate here?
    You mean the Mars Bars? I think the issue is clear as depends on population as now trending towards 70 million within 16 years as is 7 million population growth as is 5 times size of metro Birmingham & is 'conservative estimate' as building vast estates of new homes will mean population soars way above 70m & needing more & more & more

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    @294 nautonier
    Who is being inaccurate here?

    AG's reference was, IIRC, 'a new city, the size of Birmingham, needs to be built every ten years to accommodate the current rate of net inward-migration to the UK'

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    @269 nautonier
    Quote came direct from Sir Andrew Green

    and the quote is now dated & obsolete
    But, otherwise, do you think '7 new cities the size of Birmingham' will cost more than mars bars?

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    @268 LL
    From what I have heard from the Director's own mouth, Migration Watch make a great effort to be absolutely balanced on both inward & outward migration. Have no reason to doubt that thus far.

    Unfortunately those on the Left & Right seek to exploit migration. More than one N.Lab MP has owned up to that.

    B.Barber still needs to explain why TUC ignored unemployed 1997-2011.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Cruddas was just forgetful you see, an honest mistake.......I get it, a simple one which could all make (if we ignore the reminders). Slightly plebbish though dont you think Jon.

    Ref the politics of welfare cuts, currently only the very rich or the very poor can afford children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    @269 nautonier
    Quote came direct from Sir Andrew Green 'Net benefit to UK from inward migration is roughly equiv to one Mars bar p/person in the UK'. He then went on to say that for figures MW claim for UK popn, it worked out at £1.5 - 2bn. Thats a lot of money but neglible as far as UK Govt tax&spend is concerned.

    'Negligible benefit' is phrase still being used in 2012 on MW w-s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    Don't know why previous referred as all content previously reported on BBC's own website.

    Mitchell's behaviour was not criminal and remains unproven.

    Situation where an MP commits a criminal offence is fairly clear from the Ministerial Code.

    Cruddas should do the decent thing here and Labour scalp hunters need to keep calm & 'stop howling for scalps'.

  • Comment number 289.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    285 Nautonier
    Calm down dear!
    Cruddas committed a criminal offence but keep it in perspective.The reason that Mitchell resigned were 2fold:
    1 The Tories are trying to shed their patrician image and calling a copper a pleb doesn't fit
    2. If he was a "pleb" he would have been charged with offensive behaviour to the police and he wasn't
    If Cruddas was Minister of Transport he should resign

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    One problem is all three parties (& many recipients?) wanting to keep the provision of Universal Benefits with Con & Lab having inflated cost of living drastically in UK over 40+ yrs. These Bens then go to needy (75%?) neutral (10-15%?) & wealthy (5%) of population.

    What to do? Tax UBs is quick but slightly messy solution. No one willing to bite bullet ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Driving without insurance is a criminal offence in the UK.

    He may not have sworn or be alleged to have called someone e.g. 'a pleb' - but is a serious criminal offence.


  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    According to Labour's Cruddas - Labour deliberately flooded the UK with immigrants (1997 - 2010) so as to depress wages.

    He's been in Court today & has been banned from driving for 8 weeks for having no car insurance & MOT & presumably he will now also resign as is not conduct that is fit and proper for an MP?

    If Cruddas was a Tory MP - Every leftie in UK would now be howling for his scalp

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Low paid jobs are topped up by welfare in order for these people to survive financially. If the pay was better the need for welfare would be lower.

    I have never mentioned laziness!
    Who was it who was relaxed about some getting filthy rich?
    Inequality increased under Labour?
    5m + no of immigrants depressed UK wages per New Labour policy
    making many 'more dependent'


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