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Too good to be true?

Nick Robinson | 15:25 UK time, Sunday, 3 October 2010

Ponder just for a moment David Cameron's promise this morning - a massive programme of welfare reform which produces a system which is simple, traps nobody in poverty, rewards virtue and punishes idleness and in which nobody - that's right, nobody - loses. Oh, yes, and it'll save money too. Wow. Why didn't anyone think of that before?

The answer is that they did. Merging the tax and benefit systems was very voguish in the 70s but politicians decided that whilst the end goal sounded magnificent actually reaching it would prove tricky and costly.

Here's just one example of what I mean. The new scheme is to be introduced over a decade - starting with new claimants, I assume. Surely admin costs will increase as benefit officers have to manage the old and the new systems at the same time. Ah, I hear you say, improved computers will sort that out. Like the ones that led to the passport fiasco or the child support agency debacle or the tax credits mess?

My point is not to deride the promise or the objective. Few could oppose the idea. There's even talk of the party formerly known as New Labour supporting it. However, as someone once said, the devil's in the detail.


  • Comment number 1.

    Its the new Tory/Coalition mantra:

    "Its really really bad, its a mess, look what we've been left with. Oh no wait a minute its not that bad, dont over-react."

    "Labour didnt have a plan to cut deficit. Oh yes they did, look folks it was nearly as tough as ours, you would be suffering under them too."

    "Labour have left us bankrupt, so bad we need to cancel £60m loans to a Sheffield business because there's just no money. Oh no wait a minute, its not that bad, we can overhaul the benefits system, just need £7bn."

    Which is it? Cake and eat it springs to mind. Blame cuts on the last Labour govt cos they spent too much and didnt protect against Global financial meltdown or if people decide to blame the Torylition who bring the cuts in then lets say its not that bad folks.

    Just to be clear, I totally agree with any policies (for any of the parties) that involve simplyfying benefits, taxes, whatever.

  • Comment number 2.

    At least David Cameron is willing to attempt to reform the system that is well out of date and is not fit for purpose anymore.. Well done David...

  • Comment number 3.

    Next you will be telling us DC is "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound".

    What I found much more telling is one particular paragraph in the BBC item on DC's interview with Andrew Marr. To whit:

    "It may not be an easy week for the new Labour leader Ed Miliband who has yet to appoint his team, let alone formulate key policies. A Downing Street source said they would be "holding his feet to the fire" over the deficit, demanding to know what he would do to tackle the nation's debts."

    Nice to see that the government is showing its true colours - who else would make a virtue of a public school bullying practice of the victorian era, viz "holding his feet to the fire", as a legitimate method of enforcing policy agreement. So for all DC's finesse, and claim that he is middle class - just like the rest of us - breeding will out.

    (with apologies to George Orwell).

  • Comment number 4.

    There is a rotten daily mail pleasing stunt at the heart of the new deal. The assumption is that those who are out of work, otherwise healthy are simply workshy when in reality for most of these people the jobs simply dont exist.

    These people will be punished for a crime they did not commit in order to satisfy the braying middle classes in the tory shires.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the coalition should be given credit for having the guts to do something others have shyed away as it was too tricky and costly in the short term. This country needs a government that takes decisions based on the long term effects not short term headlines like Gordon Brown's New Labour shambles.

    I'd be suprised if Labour did support it as that would mean putting the interest of the country before the short term interests of their party which is not something Ed Miliband did when in government!

  • Comment number 6.

    I think what bothers me about disablement benefits in the UK is they give disablement benefits to those who caused their condition, i.e. drug addicts and alcholics, yet for someone like me, injured in a work accident, it has been a real struggle to get accepted. I think addicts should be put on JSA and not get the W.T.Credit disablement premium. I think doctors should decide who is elligable too and not some stupid private firm with targets (ATOS)

    I don't think addicts deserve higher rates, when there are much needier cases that get turned away, as these groups of people often band together and compare notes to 'take advantage of the system', when most genuine disbled people are isolated and have no one to give them tips, often resulting in them not getting the benefits they rightly deserve.

    I don't think addicts/alcoholics should be made to work, they should just get the basic allowance like the unemployed do. If you get yourself in that state, don't expect the hard working tax payer to bail you out with premiums to the benefits you receive.

    So if you want to reform welfare, there is an example of a good place to start!

  • Comment number 7.

    seems simple enough and it could end up being better than what we've got now, who can say till its done and in practice. however a utopian system its unlikely to be and even if it were how could it fit into a capatalist system which cant produce full employment or anything near it. capatalism needs reform.

  • Comment number 8.

    Surely the issue is not the idea, but the outcome. If it improves and distributes money more equally then it is a good thing regardless of who does it...the key issue is trust. I don't trust Cameron or Clegg to do the right thing here. I do not believe they are compassionate, nor do i believe their personal politics will allow vulnerable people and communities to flourish under a public sector led approach. They just won't accept that the free market has failed in many of our communities, villages and towns. They woudl rather see people suffer than accept this reality.

  • Comment number 9.

    #7 paulio

    The belief is that after cutting public spending and reducing the size of the public sector it will free up the private sector to create jobs. Oddly enough, during the steady growth of the first decade of this century, the private sector couldn't produce the jobs then. How will it do it now?

    I agree with you, capitalism needs reform.

    Co-operativism can fill the gap.

    Of course the dependance on incapacity benefits began in the eighties as Thatcher tried to hide the true cost of the last tory disaster in lost jobs.

    Cameron will face the same issue, take people off one benefit and you have to put them on another unless jobs are produced and the best way to produce them is through public spending. That requires increased taxes so our community can hold it's head up and say, we will not settle for millions of people out of work.

  • Comment number 10.

    Although the this tory government (with lib dem spokesmen) aims to present a 'white knight' approach to saving the UK economy (listen to their shrill remarks about a 'broken' society), their philosophy continues to be contradictory and muddled.

    This is most notable with their view regarding provision of public services. At the end of this current term, there will not be any public services! The function of competition shifts the focus from primarliy doing good to a core value based on 'personal gain'. These 'new' institutions won't be able to survive without competition, and whose bottom line is based on finanical benefit to themselves. There is, effectively, no room for community good, which is what public services was designed to do.

    Competition, they say, aims at efficiency. However, this completely ignores the value of cooperation (which forms part of the european value base) which is far more efficient as it targets what is best for the common good, which is therefore a 'Good' society concept. For a 'big' society, just look at America, and thats a'big' society if there was one,and just reflect for a moment on the waste it generates by concentrating resources on the few, wasting the individual potentials of millions of its citizens thru lack of work and poor health care distribution. The tory's continue to hold antiquated notions about our contemporary world. Until the Tory's mature their value base, it is hard to see how a they can fix their perceptions of our country. (As a side thought, I wonder how many of the Government are millionares, compared the average population - this may mean they live rarified lives!).

  • Comment number 11.

    I've got very tired of Labour's attempts to criticise the cuts. They have never themselves laid out exactly what they themselves would cut so their complaints are simply not worth listening to.

    On the universal credit reform, I'd give the Coalition the benefit of the doubt. IDS was working on this problem for ages.

  • Comment number 12.

    There are two issues which are driving this:

    1. The amount of fraud in the current system.

    2. The way the current system discourages people from finding work.

    If you create a welfare system which permits both of these negatives to take place then you are not really interested in welfare. The sole principle which drives welfare in my view is that it is there for those who need it but not for those who don't. At the moment as other posters have pointed out this is not necessarily the case at present.

    Any improvement will be better than staying where we are. I hope it works. I think it will be a struggle but so long as the political will is there then we can be hopeful. I am rather nervous about those computer systems but then doesn't Trident depend upon them as well?

  • Comment number 13.

    When you are in a hole - stop digging.

    When you are skint, stop spending. - Especially on projects that will be "cheaper in the long run"

    The Blair years have softened us up, and now they can finish off Maggie's business.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Wow. Why didn't anyone think of that before?"

    Because the Conservatives are better at Government than Labour are. Next question?

  • Comment number 15.

    Too good to be true? Yes, I'm afraid it is. The conservative party rejects the social model of disability - basically unless you have a consultants diagnosis and physical impairment that leaves you house and/or wheelchair bound you're not really disabled. (Okay, so it took my neurologists five years to work out what was wrong with me, but apparently I wasn't really disabled until then, guess I was walking like a drunk for fun and profit). Cameron has accepted this definition which means he sees "massive" levels of fraud that aren't actually there and has been fooled by Iain Duncan Smith's delusions of adequacy into making completely unnecessary and expensive changes to the benefits system.

    Every one of their 'aspirations' could be achieved much more simply and cheaply by bringing in the £10,000 tax-free threshold mooted by the LibDems before the election and scrapping tax credits. Working becomes worthwhile, the 'unwilling' take themselves off benefits leaving only the 'unable' to be supported. It won't do anything to raise the national minimum wage like restricted low-skilled immigration from anywhere outside the UK. But nor will the universal credit. And it won't eliminate the couple's penalty that means a stable couple get less in benefits than two individuals (leading to the blow-out in housing benefit for unnecessary second households). But then, nor will the universal credit.

    Yes I receive benefits. Yes, I'm one of the former workers who paid their national insurance until they became disabled only to now have their Incapacity Benefit whisked away on what seems to be a whim (because the 3.5% fraud rate doesn't justify it, nor does the failure of claim levels to increase - from 2.6 million to 2.6 million by the end of Labour's term according to Danny Alexander). When I eventually age out of the out-of-work benefits, will I find that my pension will have been similarly abolished?

  • Comment number 16.

    Couldn't disagree with you more #7 Steve. Of course I have sympathy with you but I also have sympathy with anyone who finds themselves disabled by any means and unable work. I am a doctor and I have yet to find a drug addict or alcoholic who was born into a normal life, had a normal run of luck and opportunities and then conciously decided that instead of working they would rather destroy their capacity to do so by using drugs and alcohol.

    Benefits aren't based on moral judgement. The amount of money given to a person is a reflection of the amount of money that a person with that degree of disability typically needs. Thank goodness a sense of moral superiority plays no part in the decision making.

  • Comment number 17.

    Its simple Cameron's lying. There are 5.5M people on benefits. I am more than happy to see those that are able to work but too lazy being put in a position that they have no choice. However there are three major problems
    1 No one has any idea how many people claiming benefits are in that category- if they say they do they are lying as well

    2 There are lots of people on disability allowance who genuinely can not work and they will be scared and disadvantaged with these changes but Cameron does not care

    3 there are no jobs for the 5.5M to be employed. IDS said today that there are 0.5M jobs available he is lying. This is the absolute minimum number of jobs that become vacant and then are filled at any one time. Its continual turn over not job creation and he knows it.

    Its just like immigration when out of office its easy to criticise and have instant solutions when in power its not so easy is it Mr Cameron.

  • Comment number 18.


    The social model of disability basically says that the line between the "abled" and the "disabled" is one drawn by society and not by medicine: thus we see someone in their late 60s walking with one stick and we see an active older person whereas we see someone in their late 50s walking with two sticks and we see someone who is disabled.

    The wretched ATOS thing is another matter entirely. That's the one that says, "You made it to your interview - clearly you can get to work and don't need disability benefits. You didn't make it to your interview - clearly you are work shy and don't deserve benefits." They "concentrate on what you can do not on what you can't." There was a case in Sweden where the same philosophy is now being applied, where a man with a degenerative spinal condition was told that he could work, lying down!

    And people in the UK can tell you that you're not really disabled even when you're in a wheelchair - they just say it's psychosomatic and what you need is a job. Well, what they mean is that what you need is no disability benefits - no one seriously thinks you'll be able to get a job. Ask anyone with M.E.

  • Comment number 19.

    it's dire & desperate so we will reform the poor, & those on benefits. this will cost more far more than will be saved. oh, dont worry it's not so bad, if you are a banker or lord ashcroft!, this will save them far more than it costs. kick the poorest to benefit the richest. they are attempting to get more people into work at the same time as making many more redundant. where is all this work coming from?. new business is virtually impossible & existant business can't get bank loans, probably because the banks money is earmarked for bankers bonuses!!. we british don't half tolerate the ridiculous.

  • Comment number 20.

    How? obvious of course. The Con-Dems are miracle workers. Next they'll be turning water to wine, walking on water and feeding the 5,000...

    Sorry - correction - they won't feed the 5,000... They'll tell the 5,000 to get off their lazy backsides and find a non-existent job so they can feed themselves.

    They'll systematically destroy the middle-lower and lower classes again under the illusion of the deficit, smiling as they go about it, knowing that they are getting to carry out their ideological vision and blaming it all on Labour.

    This pathetic excuse for a government will return us to the eighties, shamelessly supported by the Dems who have sold out their ideological position at the first whiff of real power.

    At the next election, think twice sheeple before you vote... I foresee political wilderness again for the Tories after this term and a disinegrated liberal party where their core vote has walked away in disgust at how they have helped the Tories carry through their unecessarily painful cuts program at the cost of us ordinary millions who really do work hard for our living.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have to agree with threedancingdragons and Northumbrian - since Osborne declared war on Disabled benefit claimants in the "emergency" budget, our community has been singled out on any number of messageboard by these self-appointed, non-disabled "experts" who can magically tell who is Disabled or not, simply by looking at us. They also seem to be under the delusion that they have a right to determine that we should live in a style that they are comfortable with. Apparently everything we have is "free" or "special treatment". These people would rather we were unseen AND unheard - and Cameron's measures wuill guarantee that!

  • Comment number 22.

    Just following up another Cameron mantra... Is Britain still broken?

  • Comment number 23.

    14. At 5:18pm on 03 Oct 2010, Tornandfrayed wrote:

    "Wow. Why didn't anyone think of that before?"

    Because the Conservatives are better at Government than Labour are. Next question?


    Hmm, is that why they were out of government for over 13 years? And could only squeeze in through the tightest of margins by cobbling together a half-baked coalition of the unwilling...

  • Comment number 24.

    Do I hear screams of anguish from the sufferers from the various ailments invented over the last 13 years to enable the sufferers to claim disability, and a care allowance for their partner. Meanwhile those with genuine disabilities either work or struggle to survive on less than the average drug addict because the system can't afford the cost. The onus must be on those who claim to be incapable of working to prove it. Being addicted to drugs ,alcohol or sleeping all day should not be a qualifying condition. Nor should , not being able to face the prospect of getting up in the morning, every morning , and going to work.

  • Comment number 25.

    Where did he "promise that nobody loses" I think you're making that up!

    This government is run by competent professionals who are willing to take short-term pain for medium-term gain, and do not expect to fight an election for 4.5 years. We have never had such a govt. Furthermore we have never had such astronomical "welfare" bills. In the 70s the cost was containable, now it is over £180bn pa which is more than the whole of government expenditure was in the 1970s.

  • Comment number 26.

    looks like the whole thing is just a sham. no surprise there.
    so the benefit claiment will be allowed to keep some of the benefit while working which will taper off. then its back to minimum wage....scraping by and the status quo of explotation of the low paid worker. of course the CONdems could have restructured the whole thing properly and introduced a living wage, but then thats not in their ideology.... like when they opposed the minimum wage, saying it wouldnt work (which was proven wrong).
    so in summary this is just another shambolic ideological attack on the low paid/poor. this is all wrong unless they introduce the following measures aswell.
    A) introduce a livable wage.
    B) ensure there are jobs in the first place. (ie. not anialitic austerity measures and cuts)

    im sure they wouldnt get a duck house built in their back garden and leave off the roof. but then again we are not talking about their lives are we.
    will they ever realise that when they attack AGAIN those that are financially poorest and yet themselves continue to live the high life....its nothing more than a disgrace.

  • Comment number 27.


    It is a little bit early in your tenure in government to have become so arrogant as to dismiss the ideas of those that oppose you, normally that comes much later, a bad sign in my opinion.

  • Comment number 28.

    Nick - a suggestion...

    Why not find out what the policy is before (a) spreading implementation doom and gloom and (b) assigning it to New Labour to annoy the right-wing Tories.

    I don't mind your bias - we all know which colour your house is painted - but please, try and get some balance in your commentary on this Conference, or else we might as well just read the Mirror.

  • Comment number 29.

    28. At 6:53pm on 03 Oct 2010, Thinking rural man wrote:

    Nick - a suggestion...

    Why not find out what the policy is before (a) spreading implementation doom and gloom and (b) assigning it to New Labour to annoy the right-wing Tories.

    I don't mind your bias - we all know which colour your house is painted - but please, try and get some balance in your commentary on this Conference, or else we might as well just read the Mirror.


    Ah, I see the Young Turks from Tory Central Office have instructed to log on and stir up some trouble...

  • Comment number 30.

    20 Bryn The Cat

    They'll systematically destroy the middle-lower and lower classes again under the illusion of the deficit, smiling as they go about it, knowing that they are getting to carry out their ideological vision and blaming it all on Labour.


    I don't think anyone goes into politics to deliberately target and hurt the poor. It might wash with Mirror and Guardian readers, but no-one else will take it seriously.

    Unfortunately, successive governments of both parties have refused to sort this problem out for decades. Our benefit and tax system is ridiculously complex and we should cheer any attempt to simplify it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Labour government IT mass may not have been mass if the right people are employed to manage, design and implement the systems.

  • Comment number 32.

    The current system doesn't work and has evolved from a safety net to something to be milked to fund a way of life, at the expense of others.

    To say "nobody will lose" is nonsense; given the amount of capable people claiming additional money via incapacity benefits any decent revision of the system must ensure that the less deserving lose in order to control overall costs and focus resources on the most deserving.

    Encouraging people to work if they can, rather than feeling entitled to be kept by the state and making work pay is surely common sense; but then it may reduce the amount of dependency on the state and tying in Labour votes to protect that support, if people feel more able to help themselves they may be less beholding.
    Increasing dependency levels is Labour's legacy and represents gerrymandering of the worst kind.

  • Comment number 33.

    Apart from the obvious fact there are no jobs for these people to do, it seems that root and branch reform of welfare (whether you think it a good thing or not) and the possible means testing of existing universal benefits will be a administrative nightmare.

    One of the main arguments against means testing such benefits as Child Benefit and the Winter Fuel Allowance is paradoxically (because of the admin costs) the total bill for the benefit actually goes up.

    To do these things at a time of austerity may play well to the gallery...but realistically it is unwise.

  • Comment number 34.

    Sickness benefit, Invalidity benefit, Attendance allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Jamaican Smack Allowance etc. etc. It does need sorting out. IDS and Frank Field seem like decent blokes. Let's see what they come up with. If it's going to take ten years anyway, why is everyone having hissy fits ?

  • Comment number 35.

    30. AS71
    I don't think anyone goes into politics to deliberately target and hurt the poor. It might wash with Mirror and Guardian readers, but no-one else will take it seriously.
    Unfortunately, successive governments of both parties have refused to sort this problem out for decades. Our benefit and tax system is ridiculously complex and we should cheer any attempt to simplify
    Pray tell...oh wisest one...your experience of receiving and living on benefits or working on minimum wage and the specific details of this welfare reform and how it will inspire or help the low paid and unemployed long term. Please be super specific in order for us to fully understand your most wonderfull wisdom.

  • Comment number 36.

    At last someone is willing to grasp the nettle.

  • Comment number 37.

    All "new projects" cost money .

  • Comment number 38.

    Effective marginal taxation rate is determined by the difference in your pocket for every extra pound you earn. Most people accept that progressive taxes of some sort or another are a good idea (ie. higher earners ought to pay more than lower earners) but currently we're in the crazy situation that the VERY POOREST in society pay the VERY HIGHEST marginal rate of "taxation" of 95%! In fact, once you take into account extra costs such as childminding, an outfit for work, bus fares etc, many are paying MORE THAN 100% as the effective rate of loss on their earnings!

    Most so-called benefit fraudsters or benefit scroungers are no such thing, they're forced into that situation because of the perverse incentives inherent in the system. Until or unless you're able to do a full 40-hour working week, or earn significantly more than the minimum wage, (which many people, especially in the current climate, are simply unable to do) there's a huge DISINCENTIVE to take on (or declare) a few hours part time work here or there.

    The current system is so utterly and blatantly broken and in desperate need of reform I find it gobsmackingly amazing that there's even any debate about the need to change things.

  • Comment number 39.

    34, mikerophone.
    so true. let me set the scene.....
    an unemployed man suddenly wakes from his self esteemless pit by a ray of shining bright light through the curtains. It is the almighty. and a booming voice ECHOS AROUND THE BEDROOM. "No more jeremy kyle. you have a luxury yacht to contribute to. go forth and work in thy warehouse for £5.80 per hour. you will receive part of you benefits for a while and then it will be gone. you will have enough money to just about exist....but think of your boss and the yacht...not in envy.... but in joy of the friuts that explotation brings. Go now and be humiliated and exploted with pride, knowing that its a great time to be a tory "

  • Comment number 40.

    "Pray tell...oh wisest one...your experience of receiving and living on benefits or working on minimum wage and the specific details of this welfare reform and how it will inspire or help the low paid and unemployed long term. Please be super specific in order for us to fully understand your most wonderfull wisdom."

    And your experience, Oh King Of The Bleeding Stumps, of such an existance is what, precisely? You spend an awful lot of time bleating on about it, so you must know LOTS about it, eh???

  • Comment number 41.

    If this is carrot, I support it; but if it's stick, I don't. Wonder which it is ... carrot or stick?

    It's a Clown government, the issue is impact on the poor, and I'm a betting man - thus I have it as:

    Carrot 100/1
    Stick 1/100

    But 100/1 shots do come in every once a while, so I'm open minded and not very hopeful at all as I await the detail.

  • Comment number 42.

    More of the usual Daily Mirror kneejerk guff as usual.

    No surprise here. Dont know anything about the policy, anything about how it is going to be structured, dont know anything about the detail, just oppose it for the sake of it.

    Thats not politics. Thats just angry villager crap.

    Never mind. Nothing to see here.

  • Comment number 43.


    "Thats not politics. Thats just angry villager crap."

    You said it old chap...

  • Comment number 44.

    Con Dave: I promise to get people off the circle of benifits.

    People: Well we don't like it either and want to look after ourselves

    Con Dave: Well don't worry, we'll sort it out, we'll get rid of the scroungers and before you know it we'll get everyone back to wark!

    People: What all of us, all five million?

    Con Dave: yes, you need to be at work, we'll try our besy to get all five million back at work.

    Five million people: Great, we're all available for work Dave! What do we do now???

    Dave: Bo***cks, I'd not thought of that......

  • Comment number 45.


    I thought you were going to lay off that clown stuff. Or is it open season again on "ZanuLieboor" and all those desparaging terms you dislike?

  • Comment number 46.

    I think a lot of people in this thread are missing the point somewhat. Regardless of whether it's right or wrong as a country we can't afford to carry on paying countless millions of people not to work, but receive the same amount of money, free of charge, as the poor chap who gets up at 6 in the morning for a 12 hour shift, come rain or shine, day in, day out.

    'Oh' I hear you say, 'but why should I go out to work for minimum wage and be no better off?'. Wrong question really, it should be 'why won't I?'. Please don't start on about how there's no job vacancies out there, there are countless, it's just that some of you will have to lower your sights a little.

    Now here's the thing, when all benefits are lowered, as they undoubtedly will be, you will actually be better off working compared to the levels of benefit people are used to at this point in time.

    Now go off and get exploited, like every other working man and woman in the country.

  • Comment number 47.

    40. fubar.
    indeed i expected your arrival. the blogger who bloggs almost full time..on here...and also guido fawkes and conservative home. who posts regularly on the same blog under different usernames. attacking left wing bloggers with diffrent usernames (personas) as to give a perception of numbers and gravitas. who apparently works on eu contracts and lives in belgium and votes....UKIP.
    chest puffing and inane nonesense fubar....thats all you have to bring.
    but more importantly...if you have any idea how deeply people are going to suffer under this coalition and their over zealous ideological cuts...only then you would realise how deeply sad your right wing mockery is.
    in regard to not knowing anything about the policy.....well its been outlined...
    of course the devil will be in the detail. good saying that.

  • Comment number 48.

    David Cameron's problem is that the education system in the UK has also failed ... so when he says that the UK welfare budget is similar to UK defence spending ... some do not not understand what he is saying.

    When David Cameron says that the UK welfare budget is out of control and unaffordable ... some do not understand what he is saying.

    'U-n-a-f-f-o-r-d-a-b-l-e' is a big very word and is best now explained to us Brits by ... Erm ... foreigners? You know those ... who understand finance and business and do have rubbish GCSE/ A levels quals etc.

    No wonder Mr Cameron is having a problem with explaining all of this ... to ... those Brits who do not understand big words and do not have a good grasp of 'English' .. (am I still allowed to write 'English or will the BBC moderate this out in case it offends a 'foreigner' or a 'BBC, I wanna strike leftie'?)

  • Comment number 49.

    No (45), let's not descend into tit for tatting. Be good for you to try the moral high ground. New horizons.

  • Comment number 50.


    I'm actually posting from Estonia at the moment, lefty. But more to the point, you're not going to answer the question then, you're just going to slag me off instead?
    I dont have any idea as to who is going to suffer under this round of cuts and more to the point chum, until they are announced, neither do you.

    You're just running around screaming with your hair on fire shouting about how the martians are coming. You've never offered up a single piece of evidence to back up your scaremongering, not a single iota.

    "Its been outlined".... oh, right. So, thats what you base your political judgement of anybodies policies on is it, what is written in the Sunday Mirror? Thats every bit as bad as the Little Englanders who base all their faux rage on what they read in the Daily Mail. Its just a knee jerk reaction.

    I dont need numbers or gravitas (do you know what that means by the way?) to attack the left. They're quite happily digging a hole for themselves, thank you very much and even Red Ed is going to have a hard job finding a reason to oppose benefit reform. And, he knows a damn sight more than you do mate.

    I could say something about it being opposed by the left because it goes against the principle of having built up the client state and keeping people in benefit dependence and therefore costs the left votes, but that would be wasted on you.

    You care about as much for the poor as I do for the regulation of yak milking cycles in Tibet, mate. In other words, not a great deal.

    Tell me what is wrong with the proposition of welfare reform then, as you see it now. According to interviews, this is along the lines of the unthinkable that Frank Field was asked to think in 1997 but Blair bottled out of after Brown refused to sanction it. If you're quite happy with people earning over 50,000 pounds per year getting benefits that they dont need and dont spend and are quite happy with the idea of universal benefits being there for everyone in this day and age, then you truly do not have a clue what you're talking about. You cant adopt a position like that and then turn round in the same breath and bash the bankers.

    "Overzealous ideology" indeed. Listen to yourself man, thats all you've got! You havent got anything else!

  • Comment number 51.

    Welfare reform is long over due, something that the clown Brown always shied away from, Frank Field tried to put forward suggestions and ideas on how to reform Welfare, but Brown as chancellor was not having any of it.

  • Comment number 52.

    46. howdoyoudo.
    easy to get the wrong end of the stick somestimes. especially when ones eyes are shut.
    anyway off to bed now. 5.15am alarm call. 28 days working so far with only two full days off. its good to be able to understand whats right and wrong.whats moral and imoral and not have to be in a benefits situation to see the difference/feel/understand the pain. although perhaps a spell there at some point might help with empathy. had a spell there howdoyoudo?

  • Comment number 53.


    Thanks mate. Can be quite lonely up here sometimes... :o)

  • Comment number 54.

    "its good to be able to understand whats right and wrong.whats moral and imoral and not have to be in a benefits situation to see the difference/feel/understand the pain."

    Right. So, you dont know anything about this subject from experience then, lefty, after all that chestbeating?

  • Comment number 55.

    1. no fubar i dont read the mirror. although i did hear the welfare plans outlined (from the horses mouth) and it gives a good description of what they want to do
    2. again you are imagining that i have said that welfare doesnt need to be reformed. tell me where i have said that . nowhere. but half cocked ideological lowering of already poor living standards is just appalling.
    3. i think that pretty much answers the few points in your long winded ramble but i am taking the liberty of cutting it so we can revisit it when the gory details are announced.
    4. oh other said i dont care about the poor. assuming i spend time on these bloggs for fun and some sort of self indulgent pantomime gratification. fubar... thats your brush and i dont need tarring with it. comprende.

  • Comment number 56.

    This BluLabour coalition is nothing but a sham and a house of cards. I'm sure I speak for the great majority when I say we're counting the days when a proper government returns to put back in place a decent society...

  • Comment number 57.

    Two words: Supplementary Benefit. This welfare reform proposal of a Universal Credit was done before (or something very similar), and was stopped, by the Tories the last time they were in power. It didn't save money then, it won't save money now.

  • Comment number 58.

    Welfare reform is not all its cracked up to be.

    1. There's no point in changing the system and spending lots of money on it to remove the disincentive to work - IF THERE IS NO WORK FOR THEM TO GO TO!

    2. For most people on benefits, their standard of living is very low - but the wages they could earn are similarly dreadful - and they would have the added cost of working, e.g. travel. IF WAGES ARE LOW AND BENEFITS ARE LOW, NO AMOUNT OF "REFORM" CHANGES THE FACT THAT THEY ARE BEING ASKED TO WORK FOR A PITTANCE.

    3. There is no easy solution to sort out welfare and work - without sorting out low wages and the lack of jobs. To claim that it will take two parliaments - . TEN YEARS - to reform the welfare system is a pretty thin attempt to buy time.

    4. Offer someone a decent job with a decent wage and they will bite your hand off for it.

    5. Given 1.2m public sector jobs going and the effect of £1 Tn of spending cuts, there are going to be a lot of people out of a job - and a lot of them will be desperate to work - if there are others willing to stay on welfare, perhaps we should let them until things improve.

    IDS & Cameron talk big - I just don't think all this talk of reform will deliver anything lasting - you'd need to change low pay and job prospects to do that.

  • Comment number 59.

    Nick expressed the opinion that the introduction of a new system alongside the old system will increase workload and further that the new computer system will not work (or at least there is an high probability that it will not work.) I have to totally agree.

    Note also the this is also the case for the revised structures of the NHS which will be far more disastrous.

    We have to insist that government reduces complexity and pilots and fully test all new admin. systems or they will only waste more and more of our money, and also not actually achieve their stated aims.

    Why do the amateurs (the politicians) not listen to advice from professional IT people BEFORE they create yet another disaster.

    Further, what is it about the administrative grades of the civil service that lets these scheme start in such a damaging way - don't they care, don't they understand either or perhaps they want a disaster - in any of the circumstances they do the Nation an enormous disservice and should be sacked!

  • Comment number 60.

    ".... assuming i spend time on these bloggs for fun and some sort of self indulgent pantomime gratification"

    You said it brother. :o)

    You heard it from the horses mouth, eh? Been in conversation with Call Me Dave or with IDS, have we?

  • Comment number 61.

    35 lefty10

    Pray tell...oh wisest one...your experience of receiving and living on benefits or working on minimum wage and the specific details of this welfare reform and how it will inspire or help the low paid and unemployed long term. Please be super specific in order for us to fully understand your most wonderfull wisdom.


    Simplicity versus complexity, in general I would have thought simplicity is better. Maybe you disagree?

    So in general, I would welcome an attempt to simplify any system. We don't have any specific details of this reform yet, when we get details then we can discuss details.

    My point was that to assume that it must automatically be a bad idea
    and/or an attack on the poor because it comes from Conservatives, despite not having the details of the proposal, is a bit foolish.

    Not sure what relevance it has, but I have had the odd brief spell on unemployment benefit and housing benefit. Why the interest?

  • Comment number 62.

    61 AS71

    I would had thought that this decision involves millions AS71.

    Simplicity! don't you question the 10year period of delivery?

    It's seem to me that there is a hidden means-tested clause and by grouping the benefits together, there probably will be reductions in payments.

    Simples!! less benefits, more need to find work! is that a chinese proverb?

  • Comment number 63.

    "I'm sure I speak for the great majority when I say we're counting the days when a proper government returns to put back in place a decent society... "

    Yeah right. You'll probably have trouble counting past twenty-one brother and thats will all your fingers and every thing else.

    Cant see the coalition collapsing in the next three weeks.... LOL..

  • Comment number 64.

    How much were we spending on welfare in say 1997?
    7.76% of GDP
    And how much after all those terrible, wasteful, scrounger supporting Labour years?
    6.72% of GDP
    In between it fell as low as 5.74
    Something for the Coalition to live up to?

  • Comment number 65.

    63. At 11:27pm on 03 Oct 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    "I'm sure I speak for the great majority when I say we're counting the days when a proper government returns to put back in place a decent society... "

    Yeah right. You'll probably have trouble counting past twenty-one brother and thats will all your fingers and every thing else.

    Cant see the coalition collapsing in the next three weeks.... LOL..


    I'm not sure what you refer to when you say "and every thing else". But you're clearly one of the minority taken in by the hypnotic ramblings of your reactionary Tory supply leader, and, as far as I'm aware, we're not related - brother!

    Why don't you get your mother to tuck you up in bed with some chocolate milk and read you your favourite editorials from the Daily Mail...

    Also, "thats" should have an apostrophe in it and "twenty-one" shouldn't be hyphenated.


  • Comment number 66.

    Fiddling with the benefits ( even though they are horrendously complicated ) will do nothing to change things . The fact is that Capitalism requires a large pool of unemployed to work in the way it wants to . In the days of full employment , when workers could change jobs easily and ask a decent wage , the benefit claimants were usually in between jobs, ill or just coming onto the jobs scene . The scroungers were very visible in those days . However with the advent of government endorsed greed and a war on the workers unemployment rose rapidly . This means that the employers have the upper hand and can drive down wages and hours worked to suit themselves - no regard to the divisive social impact of their short sighted profit based attitude . So , in continuance of the mill owners ethic which still pervades the tory party , unemployment will be kept high ( keeping wages down ) and at the same time benefits will be cut . There is going to be a great need in Dave's 'Big Society ' for all the volunteers it can get - to man the soup kitchens and hand out blankets to those on the park benches ( unless they haven't been privatised by then ) .

  • Comment number 67.

    Dear god. The reactive responses on this blog just get worse.

    TheGingerF, SotonBlogger, threedancingdragons, Eddythered, SEANSDAD, Bryn The Cat, Chris_Page, lefty10, and especially PaulRM for his enormous reverse snobbery. Shame on you all.

    There is no clarity yet on how this will be enacted however you have all jumped on it because it originates from the Tories, who you all seem to believe swan around in top hats and canes while occasionally taking a stout working man to one side to batter while shrieking 'death to the masses!'.

    Seriously. For one minute disengage your prejudices and look at the economic facts. The welfare bill fiscal year to 2010 is now at a staggering £110 billion. Nearly 3 times the size of the defence budget. And three times what it was 5 years ago. The defence budget in the meanwhile has grown by.... £10 Billion. So one budget goes from £42 Billion to £110 Billion. The other from £33 Billion to £43 Billion.

    What planet are you all on???????

    22 Billion on Family and Children allocations. At the very least a simple means tested approach here (why is the middle class receiving child benefit???) could save hundreds of millions. Before you go off the deep end, please start considering that the current government is not run by modern Augustus Melmottes and seriously.... start considering that the current *structural* govt budget of £668 Billion is £240 Billion higher than it was *5 years* ago.

    Look at the figures and start thinking. Knee jerk lord snooty remarks make this blog very tiresome sometimes.

  • Comment number 68.

    One correction - once you take into account local govt spend in 2005 the total welfare budget in that year increases to £78 Billion. So x3 increase incorrect. Instead the budget has grown by a mere £42 Billion.

  • Comment number 69.

    I don't think they'll be any sensible discussion until we change how we view the entire concept of lazyness. What does it actually mean? As far as I understand it, I'm totally lazy myself, assuming lazyness means emotional inability to work. I'm a self employed electronic designer, and can manage, with some distress, about 10 hours of work a week, from home, on top of barely being able to cope with household chores, paperwork etc, plus a sports activity one evening a week. I don't claim any benefits partially cause I'm too lazy to fill in the forms, partly cause I probably don't think I deserve them and partly because I have savings (partly because I'm too lazy to go out and spend money, and partly because I'm too scared to not have the financial security savings give). Council tax is my biggest expense.

    You could diagnose me as suffering from long term chronic depression, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, general anxiety disorder, delayed phase sleep disorder, and some might even suspect aspergers syndrome. But the thing is none of that is massively acute, and what's the point of medicalising it? If there are days I feel too rough to get out of bed, it's not like it causes anyone any problems compared to say a schizophrenic or an attention seeking self harming depressive. I've tried seeing Doctors in the past, but at the end of the day they conclude I'm not that bad and characterise me as lazy, which isn't all that unreasonable and what can they do for me anyway, other than giving me drugs that make things worse long term. But day to day I really really struggle. A normal amount of work that someone else might find natural I just inevitably find impossible. It sounds pathetic but that's the reality, I'm definitely not normal and at the age I am I've lived long enough to know my own limitations.

    To say I'm workphobic would also be accurate, which again is a term of derision.

    I think people need to realise that people's capacity for work varies, and that the lazy need acceptance just as much as someone with a moderate physical disability. You wouldn't expect everyone to be fit enough to run marathons everyday, so why expect everyone to be able to hold down a 40 hour job? What does society expect me to do, ruin my health with valium and anti-psychotic medication year after year so that I can cope with the arbitrary responsibility of a 9-5 job? Is the country really going to be stronger long term from waging a war on the lazy? Stigma is not going to help me be more functional.

    If any journalist is interested in this subject I'm sure I could give them a compelling explanation of my view.

  • Comment number 70.

    I have got no idea how many people are 'undeserving' of benefits received, or who are actually cheating the system. We can't know because those figures don't exist.

    What worries me is that in attempting to reform the system, people in genuine need may suffer.

    Yes, we need to cut the deficit, and yes we need to eliminate waste, but care needs to be taken not to penalise people who are facing genuine hardship through no fault of their own. Talk of 'rewarding virtue but punishing idleness' seems rather simplistic. The current economic crisis was not caused by people who are unemployed or on benefit. For many, it's the other way round, with people losing their livelihood because of the recession.

    Over the last few years we have also lost much of our manufacturing base with jobs exported abroad. People want cheap goods and are not too bothered how they are made, even if it it involves child labour in other countries.

    One way of helping people back into work in this country would be to keep taxes low. Employers also need to be helped to cut the red tape.

  • Comment number 71.

    61. AS71.
    I was just checking with you because of your last post on unemployment. the one where you commented on all the closed curtains in the mornings...until the off licence opened! just wondered if it is all stereotypical daily mail guff........ again.

  • Comment number 72.

    No 67/68 - well done for correcting your initial knee-jerk figures and reasction to multiple opinions not in line with yours.

    Welfare does need tackled but as another post pointed out (as per IFS statistics) the welfare bill is no higher now in terms of GDP % than it has been for years, including Tory years.

    Us not fully in support of the coalition (there is a few out there) just looking for a coherent, consistent message rather than sound bite and spin.

  • Comment number 73.

    It is too good to be true. The interaction between the tax and benefit system is enormously complex, and made more complex by the fact that people have different family circumstances and different motivation in relation to work, leisure and how they want to spend their money. Any oaf who thinks that you can get a transparent, fair and incentivising system, and get to that system from present morass without creating massive numbers of gainers and losers needs to think again (or really try reading the literature , and not over-simplified briefs provided by under-educated aides). If you don't believe this just try to work out how you modify the system to satisfy one of today's sound-bites -withdraw child benefit from higher rate tax payers- without making a mess of incentives around the higher rate tax threshold (work out marginal rate and note that if you have sort of taper you will get into higher admin costs etc etc) -and this is easy compared to a lot of the interactions. Also do the people proposing this 'easy' change have a clue how many people are affected now, and more significantly by earnings change as their income rises (as it does across lifecycle for many) in coming years. Also in relation to this sound-bite, what does this say about Mr Cameron's stated intention of supporting the family. This benefit reform superficiality stands with Mr Lansley's disastrous proposals for health care which seems to be based on the view that all GPs put their patients interests before their own financial and selfish interests - this very group of whom 90% abandoned out of hours care for their own patients, only for 40% of them to take up providing more lucrative out of hours services for the abandoned patients of other practices.
    What I feel about all of these social policy proposals is that the ConDem ministers involved have been too lazy to study these problems properly (their lives involve too much fork and faces and not enough study). Oddly enough the same accusation of laziness that they level at those who live on benefits -maybe that is Britain's real problem -too many idle chancers in all parts of society.

  • Comment number 74.

    Just too add for those who might think they have a quick solution to the child benefit issue, child benefit is paid to mothers -is it them or their partner who must be in the higher tax band -what if they are unmarried and we have a low personal income mother with highly paid partner?

  • Comment number 75.

    It MUST make sense to limit state support to those who genuinely need it.

    As a priority - it MUST make sense to STOP those who are defrauding or cheating the system NOW!

    It also makes sense to STOP providing UK state benefits to the various peoples of the enlarged EU or to those who arrive here from overseas, resident here or not, legally here or not, and to do this NOW!

    However, it CANNOT take ANOTHER £7bn to do this or indeed to reform any kind of system! Can it?

    How can anyone believe / accept that you need to spend this kind of money???

    Those responsible for these projects really do need to think these things through, get back to the basics and implement the critical components with a sense of urgency!

  • Comment number 76.

    Re #75 - "However, it CANNOT take ANOTHER £7bn to do this or indeed to reform any kind of system! Can it?"

    Of course it can, and probably a whole lot more. The problem is claiming benefits pays more than work does for those who rent or have children, therefore you have to introduce new benefits payable to people that work, which costs extra billions, but actually solves the problem.

    Also helping people to get work costs money. Counseling costs very roughly about 50 pound an hour. Prison costs about 100 pound a day. Psychiatrists about 200 pound an hour. 60 pound a week Job Seekers Allowance is quite a cheap option when it comes to the difficult cases.

    A lot of the reason the welfare bill has spiralled is because housing costs have spiralled - on average, as a percentage of our income, housing costs double what it did a few decades ago. Basic Job Seekers Allowance at 60 pound a week isn't particularly a lot of money, it's housing benefit that pushes the bill up and makes the whole system ridiculous. Some how the cost of providing social housing has been incorporated into the welfare bill (likewise 'care in community' has done the same thing with the cost of mental hospitals). When house prices _tripled_ in the last decade, did you not expect that to have an impact on society?

    Another thing that has caused the ridiculous situation is people having children. But with an ageing population and a demographic time bomb you can understand why governments provide incentives for people to have children.

    The Daily Mail stories basically exploit reader's ignorance of the actual problems. Kind of like the Klu Klux Klan but with poor people instead of black people, but I'm not sure when or if the lynchings will start.


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