Nick Clegg says no to Tory plans for more welfare cuts

Newspapers have been reporting for months that the Liberal Democrats were not prepared to sign up to Tory plans for £10 billion of welfare cuts in a spending review that would draw up plans for spending into the next Parliament. Today’s Independent says that Nick Clegg himself will ensure that this Government only produces spending plans for 2015-16. The electorate will then decide in the 2015 election whether they want to pursue further cuts in welfare or a heavier burden of tax on the wealthy.

 The report says;

The Liberal Democrats’ opposition means the review will have to be watered down. Before the election, the Coalition will need to agree detailed plans for the 2015-16 financial year – for example, so that local authorities can fix council tax levels for that year. But a detailed agreement on across-the-board cuts well into the next parliament now looks politically impossible. “It is proving too difficult; we are not going to reach agreement,” one Liberal Democrat minister told The Independent.

It’s an encouraging sign that Nick Clegg is seen  to be blocking further cuts to a welfare budget that has already taken a huge hit in this Parliament. We already know that David Cameron’s ideas on further cuts include denying Housing Benefit to the under 25s, a step that is hideously unfair.

If the Independent report is accurate, Nick Clegg’s actions will ensure that such measures will not be implemented ahead of the 2015 General Election. That in itself is a good sign and something that Liberal Democrat members can take heart from. I do, however, think that it’s important that he and other senior Liberal Democrats spell out exactly why that draconian approach to welfare is wrong. Nobody else is going to tackle the Tories’ ill informed prejudice about benefit claimants. Somebody needs to speak up for a compassionate welfare system that supports those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to find a job or are too ill to work, but also liberates people from being trapped on benefits by making work pay.

Actions may speak louder than words, but it’s the words that can be replayed time and time again on You Tube and repeated on leaflets. It’s important that we start getting our distinctive, Liberal Democrat approach across now. It’s too late if we leave it until the 2015 election campaign. I’ve written before that Nick needs to be openly critical of Tory plans post 2015. We know how effective he was before 2010 over the Tories’ planned marriage tax break, which the Liberal Democrats have prevented, and in making the case for the raising of the tax threshold, which we’ve implemented.

There will no doubt be discussion and debate around this at the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference in Brighton in September, if not as the Independent article suggets,  on the floor of Conference itself, certainly around the fringe.Our party gives its members a role like no other in making policy and developing ideas. As we are putting together ideas for 2015, maybe now is the ideal time to join, or re-join and be part of that process.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • “Actions may speak louder than words, but it’s the words that can be replayed time and time again on You Tube and repeated on leaflets.”

    Ah, mon Dieu, cela n’empeche pas!

  • The country always seem to get outraged by any talks of cutting benefits to pensioners, it’s toxic to all of the 3 main parties, However, the sick and disabled seem to be fair game all the time and look ready to take another hit.

    I am not saying that I support cutting benefits of people of pensionable age, however, I do feel it is time that the sick and disabled are given a break and deserve just as much support and compassion from the country and government.

    The total welfare bill is £200 Billion

    Over 40% of the welfare budget is spent on Pensions.

    on top of that we have people of pension age in receipt of DLA if claimed before reaching 65 or Attendance allowance if after,
    Housing Benefit
    Council tax benefit
    Bus Passes, TV Licences, winter fuel allowance etc.

    So when you put the rest of the spending on welfare into perspective £87.7 Billion
    which is made up of
    Child Benefit £11.2 Billion
    Tax Credits £23.7 Billion
    Child element of Income support £1 Billion
    widows/bereavement £500 million
    Incapacity £6.2 Billion
    ESA (Cont Based) £660 Million
    ESA (Income Based) £718 Million
    Severe Disablement allowance £702 Million
    Stat Sick Pay £65 Million
    DLA £7.6 Billion
    carers allowance £1.5 Billion

    JSA (Cont) £1.1 Billion
    JSA (Income) £3.7 Billion
    Job Grants £158 Million
    Income Support £7.5 Billion
    Social Fund £827 Million
    Housing Benefit £15 Billion
    C Tax £3 Billion

    Maternity allowance £353 million
    Stat maternity pay £1.8 Billion

    Total £87.7 Billion

    I think it is pretty fair to say that the sick and disabled are being targeted unfairly. Remember out of that £87.7 Billion, some of that budget also goes towards those of pensionable age in the form of Housing Benefit/Council Tax and DLA
    The next Majority goes towards working Tax credits and child related Benefits.

    Sure the figures look bad when we here of a £200 Billion Pounds Welfare Bill, But it is time to put things into perspective and realise, that the sick and disabled only take up a tiny portion in comparison to other groups. Its time the most vulnerable where given a break and treated with a bit more compassion and respect as is given to the elderly.

  • It aint much if our big win is to block proposals that will depend on a different government to implement.

  • @matt what is the source of your figures? I need a link to such data as it is very useful.

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