With the Labour Party announcing at its conference that it would maintain the £20 Universal Credit uplift before replacing it entirely with a new benefits system, Starmer is now facing the inevitable task of explaining where he plans to find the £6 billion needed to fund it. Pushed this morning by BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt to explain “who is it to pay for all this“, Starmer claimed:
“We’ve had billions of pounds wasted on crony contracts […] millions of billions of pounds wasted on contracts that have never ever delivered […] We’ve got stamp duty relief for second-home owners and the Prime Minister is going ahead with building a vanity yacht which nobody needs […] What I’m saying, and I’m surprised anybody quarrels with the idea, that we need to cut this waste of billions of pounds.”
Stayt finally teased out something of an answer towards the end of the interview, with Starmer conceding:
“When it comes to taxation, the big divide between us and the Government is the Government wants to tax working people through National Insurance, we say it should be those with broader shoulders.”
If Starmer wants Labour to be the party of lower taxes on workers, he’s going to have to learn to resist every spending demand to make that add up. Whilst Labour voted against an income tax threshold freeze earlier this year, which would stop taxes on working people rising, it would make funding the cost of that £6 billion uplift harder…
UPDATE: John Rentoul points out that Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow DWP Secretary, has already claimed Labour would not restore the cut to Universal Credit. Reynolds must’ve been surprised to hear his own party leader say “it would stay, we wouldn’t make the cut, we would then replace it with something better” on television this morning. Does the Labour front bench even know its own policies?