Seasoned Cabinet Office mandarin Emran Mian is off to become the Director of the zero-impact Social Market Foundation wonk shop when Ian Mulheirn quits in August. In his spare time Mian writes novels about murder suspect bankers. Sounds about right…
IPPR made a living out of producing pleasant reading for Labour, though even they couldn’t spin these figures in Ed’s favour. A YouGov poll commissioned by the Labour wonk-shop finds massive public opposition to the party’s position on welfare. 76% say the system is too soft on people who could work that don’t, with just 10% taking up Ed’s line backing those on benefits. Who is the type of person the public is most sympathetic to protecting? Pensioners, the very group that Balls has targeted for pension cuts if Labour win in 2015. With friends like these…
The line from Ed’s speech that pushed the boundaries of credibility was his promise to “be laser-focused on how we spend every single pound.” Lasers equal precision. So where is the precise detail of how Ed intends to get the welfare bill down? So far we have only had vague pledges to spend more by building houses and somehow guarantee jobs (presumably in the public-sector) which doesn’t bode well for the debt. Hardly laser like…
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has shot down Ed’s vague policy ideas to deal with welfare problems:
The main cause of Britain’s ever-increasing housing benefit bill is a lack of housing supply due to planning restrictions, not poorly negotiated deals by local authorities. Freeing up private investment in housing will bring down housing costs for everyone, including the Housing Benefit bill. Trying to cut Housing Benefit by increasing direct spending on housing won’t help taxpayers.
Grants for living wage
Offering taxpayers’ money to companies in return for paying a living wage would do little more than link two bad polices into one. Incentives for companies to switch from low-paid jobs to capital investment could lead to fewer jobs, not more.
Tax Credits and low pay
Heavy business taxes and onerous regulations mean companies have to pay lower wages. The Government should stop making it so expensive to hire low-paid workers by cutting business taxes like employer’s National Insurance and let workers keep more of the money they earn.
The contributory principle
Benefits and taxes are already too complicated. Reform should focus on expecting people to work for their benefits and preparing job-seekers for the job market while simplifying the system.
Guido was told that while discussing another much trailed “big speech“ in January, the late Maggie told a friend that the problem with modern politicians is that “they think that once they’ve given a speech, something has happened.” That anecdote came to mind this morning…
Seemingly the entire left-wing twitterati have been up in arms this week over analysis carried via LexisNexis showing that use of the word “scrounger” has rocketed in the British media since 2010. You might, if you subscribe to the Owen Jones thesis that there is a right-wing agenda cooked up in CCHQ to demonise “scroungers”, have expected it to appear more in the likes of the Mail or the Express than the ‘progressive’ metropolitan liberal press. The demonising is in reality coming from Owen Jones, who is relentless in trying to describe any reasonable attempt to reform welfare as an attack on the poor – he is desperate for a Cabinet Minister to use the term “scrounger” so that he can say to the 53% of the population that receives a welfare payment of some kind – including pensioners, war widows and the chronically disabled – that the government thinks you are scroungers. Not so. Guido has been crunching the numbers, and it turns out it is none other than the Guardian that uses the word most, followed by the Indy, where Owen has a column.
After carrying out a simple search of the word “scrounger” on each newspaper website for the period 2010 to date, the figures show that the Guardian used the word in 736 articles over the last three years. In second place is Owen Jones’ Indy, who – as he might say – “demonised the poor” 185 times over the period. Much further down come the right-wing tabloids: 76 for the Mail and 20 for the Express. Owen knows there is no public sympathy for people who abuse the welfare state, he also knows that the majority of the population, thanks to Gordon Brown, receives a welfare payment of some kind. Owen dogmatically refuses to countenance any welfare cut of any kind, that is why he is trying to encourage the likes of mothers who receive child benefit and deserving pensioners to align with those who are rightly losing benefits – fit people of working age who turn down jobs for example – he wants them to believe that welfare reformers think they are “scroungers”. That is why Owen and the unpopular progressive sections of the media use the emotive term more than anyone on the welfare-reforming right…
Methodology: Because neither Google or LexisNexis include all paywalled sites in their analysis, Guido used each newspaper website’s own internal search engine to determine in how many articles the word “scrounger” appeared between 2010 and today. The respective Sunday editions of the titles were included with the daily for the purposes of this research.
The budget has yet to entirely unravel this year though there are some nasty figures buried in the small print. The Centre for Policy Studies has spotted that deep within the Budget Red Book is the admission that the cashflow shortfall between public sector pensions’ contributions and pensions in payment is now forecast to double within 5 years. The pensions gap is growing to such an extent that it will soon represent a significant driver of the deficit. The 2013 Budget now forecasts a Public Sector New Borrowing Requirement of £96 billion for 2015 – the year the Coalition optimistically intended to close the deficit. At £13.6 billion, the pension cashflow shortfall will then be equivalent to 14% of the deficit. Unaffordable.
To put it plainly the government will by 2015 be borrowing £1 in every £7 it borrows to cover the gap in public sector pensions, at a cost of £1,500 to every household every year. So much for the post-bureaucratic age…
The cynics amongst you might think it’s an interesting time for CCHQ stalwart Nick Park to jump to the private sector.
The Tory head of research and attack crafter is off to energy giants Centrica.
The loss of the best part of decade’s experience is a blow for the Tories.
Meanwhile Labour are beefing up their attack team for the coming digital battle. Obama’s rapid rebuttal unit “backroom Brit” Matt McGregor:
“McGregor was responsible for the digital rapid response unit that attacked Mitt Romney relentlessly, ensuring that any statement by the Republican was picked over and rebutted, often within minutes or hours.”
Could get bloody…
Setting up a policy consultation that doesn’t actually do any proper consulting seems to be a growing theme under Dave. A report by Rupert Darwall, the policy wonk who helped expose the Civil Service foul up over the Virgin West Coast train franchise, has laid into the Department of Health’s consultation on plain packaging. Darwall’s report finds:
- The consultation was deliberately framed to garner support for plain packaging, presenting policy-makers with a loaded question.
- Questionable evidence: no causal link between packaging and smoking.
- Department of Health admitted the consultation was biased but has done nothing about it.
- Consultation does not consider negative impacts such as reducing barriers to illegal tobacco.
- Overall the consultation creates a misleading impression that plain packaging will cut smoking.
That went well then. You can read Darwall’s report in full here…
LibDem wonk shop CentreForum is a breeding ground for SpAds and bag-carriers. It’s not all mansion taxes and jewellery duty for these yellow sages, believe it or not they are now actually calling for tax breaks for small and medium […]