by Stewart Lansley
The coalition government’s proposal to strip nearly £4 billion from the welfare bill by capping increases in benefit levels to 1%, well below inflation, marks another shift towards a welfare system that is no longer fit for its fundamental purpose of protecting those in need.
The move is a significant departure in the post-war history of welfare in the UK and is, indeed, unprecedented since the war. The last deliberate political move to lower the real incomes of the poorest members of society was more than eighty years ago in 1931. Then attempts to cut benefits for the unemployed split the cabinet and led to the collapse of the Labour government under Ramsey MacDonald. The uprating bill, before Parliament on January 8, 2013, raises a vital question: why should the poor pay the price for the failure of Britain’s economic model to deliver enough jobs and decent wages.