Have Labour taken Dan Hodges’ advice and given up on fighting on welfare? This morning IDS took a sawn off shotgun to the opposition for their welfare record and a legacy that ‘let these problems be ghettoised as though they were a different country. Even now, for the most part they remain out of sight – meaning people are shocked when they are confronted with a TV programme such as Benefits Street.’ The speech was packed with ideas for reform and the moral case for it, yet the increasingly underwhelming Rachel Reeves is trying to suggest that it showed IDS has ‘no answers’. Which is rich coming from someone whose contribution to the benefits debate so far could fit on the back of small Post It note.
As Trigger’s speech on Monday proved, it is Labour who are devoid of any real contribution to the welfare reform debate. As Hodges said:
“It’s time for Labour to just shut up about welfare. It’s clear that Miliband does not feel comfortable advocating genuine cuts in the social security budget, and has no real intention of making the case for them.”
IDS sums up the problem rather well:
“Met with the problem of social breakdown, the Left would have it that a sympathetic approach is to sustain these people on slightly better incomes – the accepted wisdom of the last Government being that poverty is about money, and more state money should solve it. As a result, Labour ratcheted up welfare bills by an enormous 60%. Yet rarely did they stop to ask what impact that money was having, no matter if it kept individuals from the labour market, if it labelled them ‘incapable’, if it placed them in housing that they could never have afforded if they took a job. Where for most people, their life’s direction of travel is dictated by the informed decisions they make: can they afford a large family? Should they move in order to take up a better-paid job? Can they risk a mortgage to get a bigger home? Yet, too often for those locked in the benefits system, that process of making responsible and positive choices has been skewed – money paid out to pacify them regardless, with no incentive to aspire for a better life.”
Labour have no answers because they want to ignore the question.