Clegg’s role in IDS’s welfare reform plans

Mark Pack blogged here on LDV this morning of Promising news on welfare spending as major reforms set for go-ahead, and noted that “Steve Webb’s backing for the policies is a promising sign”.

Also crucial, it seems, was Nick Clegg’s role, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Iain Martin:

I revealed in the summer that IDS and George Osborne had a stand-up row over the welfare budget, with a deal eventually being brokered in which IDS delivers cuts but gets to keep several billions for his reforms. The shape of those reforms will be announced at Tory conference next week.

Oliver Letwin has been the key number cruncher, but I hear that Duncan Smith’s most important cabinet ally against Treasury opposition was Nick Clegg. The Deputy PM argued forcefully that if the cuts were being made then they might as well involve once in a generation large-scale reform and leave a legacy.

Another factor is that Clegg’s chief of staff is Richard Reeves, formerly an aide to Frank Field. The former welfare minister under Tony Blair learnt what happens when radical reform at the start of a government is torpedoed by the Treasury.

Some cartoonists are sticking with their meme that Nick Clegg is little more than a ‘fag’ to David Cameron’s ‘fop’. Yet its clear that his behind-the-scene influence, especially through the influential home affairs cabinet committee which Nick chairs, runs far and wide.

Nick knows the urgency of the task in hand. Will there be a Coalition Government after 2015? Will he still be Deputy Prime Minister? No-one knows, including Nick. What’s clear is he’s determined to make the most of his time, and to exert his personal stamp on the government.

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  • Excellent. This looks increasingly like the Liberal policy of a citizens income (i.e. universal benefit). This could indeed be the welfare reform we’ve been wanting for decades.

    Good on Nick, and yes his influence in govt is becoming increasingly apparent. Let’s see how long it takes before the Labour trolls stop saying he’s just a puppy and start claiming that actually he’s the “power behind the evil throne”.

  • Andrew Suffield 3rd Oct '10 - 3:11pm

    This looks increasingly like the Liberal policy of a citizens income (i.e. universal benefit). This could indeed be the welfare reform we’ve been wanting for decades.

    It’s not quite what we’ve been wanting, but it’s so very much closer than anything we’ve ever had before.

  • So hearsay from one journalist gives you cause to blow Cleggs trumpet? Is this the way we are now to judge LibDem influence, on hearsay?

  • John Fraser 3rd Oct '10 - 11:31pm

    Untill someone explains how we will be ‘integrating’ / (abolishing ? ) key benefits such as housing benefit into a single benefit we should remaim very cautious. If we give more to the low paid simply at the expense of the unemployed (the undeserving poor ?) we will have turned a potential victory into a catastrophy and given those who believe in social justice little reason to remain with us.

    Does anyone have the sligtest idea of what one universal benefit actually means ???

  • Jessica Ottowell 4th Oct '10 - 12:37am

    I am quite worried about how this will play, esp here in the north. I am also worried that it will be most unworkable, not just in how much it will cost to implement but on how we can implement it without being unfair to them who can not work on health grounds. We also have the problem that some people have not got the skills required for most new jobs and due to age can not easy acquire them, not to mention the fact that we have less jobs now in the uk than people out of work, perhaps bringing back manual industry might help.

    In this area alone we have problems with people who just, to put it bluntly, lack the brain power to go and do anything more than a simple manufacturing job, what are we to do with them?

  • And how long will these changes take ?

    Two Parliaments. Ten or more years.

    IDS lost and this is all “in the fullness of time” long grass stuff that will have zero priority once the Cuts hit.
    It’s Blairite headlining with no substance.

    If this ever happens it’s going to be implemented long after the £15 Billion of Welfare cuts take place.

    And if Nick associates himself with this public relations spin about a policy that might never happen, of which there are no concrete details, then he’s more gullible and desperate than even his friendship with Cameron had led us all to believe.

    On the bright side this would have been yet another massive computing scheme disaster to implement making the PAYE debacle look small beer indeed. So at least we are spared defending that at next year at the elections.

    I’m hoping the right wing ideological NHS and Education reforms will also be kicked into the longest of grasses.
    Though they will no doubt be talked about, spun and hyped this week by Ministers desperate to avoid talking about the Cuts.

  • Patrick Smith 4th Oct '10 - 7:06pm

    This new visionary `Coalition Government’ championed welfare reform must maintain the principle that help,access and work to emeployment is key in delivery for hard pressed worst off British families.

    Let us not forget that Beveridge believed in full employment and lived in a time, when there was only 3% unemployment in the British Economy.

    Sir William Beridge (1879-1963) spent a lifetime in public and social service and first devised a system of unemployment payment in1909 and believed,even at that time,that someone who was unable to work due to permanent unemployability should be paid a state benefit,if necessary for life..

    Beveridge later became a Liberal MP for Berwick-Upon-Tweed 1944-45 and led the Liberal General Election Manifesto Campaign in 1945.It only yielded 12 Liberal MPs but nvertheless they were all the pioneer of the first modern welfare state and founding of NHS in 1948 that was adopted almost root and branch by Clement Atlee.

    The task today is to make certain that there are enough well paid skilled jobs available to ensure that work has the same kind of meaning that was envisaged in the Beveridge Report 1942.

    There has to be new economic growth and prosperity at the same time as the implementation of the `Spending Review’ on Oct. 20th.

    Jobs creation is all important to enable work to be available to those as an inalienable human right of all those seeking the dignity of work and was implicit in the core liberal beliefs and values of Beveridge.

    This was underlined in the pamphlet `Full Employment in a Free Society’ (1944) written by Beveridge that was allied to social justice for each individual, ideally in employment but fair State consideration if not should prevail..

    Lloyd-George had written `We can Conquer Unemployment’, in 1929, that could be seen as a precusor of the Beveridge Report and the new reforms envisaged of welfare to work targetted reforms surely follow the same vein in 2010?.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Oct '10 - 9:24pm

    Is it me, or is there something wrong with the numbers being bandied around regarding the child benefit cut?

    For example, the Guardian says 1.2 million families will lose benefits of “£1,055 a year for one-child families and almost £2,500 for those with three children,” and that this will save £1 billion. Based on the proverbial 2.4 children wouldn’t the saving be more like £2 billion?

  • ‘Good on Nick, and yes his influence in govt is becoming increasingly apparent. Let’s see how long it takes before the Labour trolls stop saying he’s just a puppy and start claiming that actually he’s the “power behind the evil throne”.’

    So Clegg supports the benefit cuts that will result in the biggest social-engineering that we have seen for decades?And Liberal Democrats are happy about this?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Oct '10 - 12:04am

    I must say that, though I think the principle of withdrawing middle-class benefits is preferable to the alternatives, I’m flabbergasted by the extent to which the child benefit cuts appear to have been thrown together without any thought being given to the consequences.

    The IFS is advising that anyone with two children and an income between £43,876 and £46,850 should ask their employer for a pay cut to £43,875 or less to avoid losing out.

    And couples with a combined income of up to £87,750 will continue to receive child benefit, while families with only one breadwinner who earn anything above £43,875 will lose it. Surely it’s not beyond the wit of the government to devise something fairer than that? Or maybe it is.

  • Countless people will be now getting their boss to keep their wage at a level just below the threshold and will mean the chancellor will not get his 1 billion.
    Now he has demolished the principle of universal benefits , will he have a go at bus passes, tv licences, winter fuel or even the state pension?
    Nick clearly said child benefit was not going to be touched.
    All credibility is now utterly lost. No one can believe him ever again. I bitterly resent having given my precious vote to the lib dems.
    There are many like me who cant wait for May.

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