By his own words: Osborne to ditch protection for disabled


8:44 am - September 19th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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George Osborne is planning to end the automatic annual increase in benefits in line with inflation.

Last year, when Osborne said he would stick with the plan to link benefits with CPI inflation, he said in his Autumn Statement (via Paul Cotterill):

I also want to protect those who are not able to work because of their disabilities and those, who through no fault of their own, have lost jobs and are trying to find work.

So I can confirm that we will uprate working age benefits in line with September’s CPI inflation number of 5.2%.

If the move is implemented, many benefits would be frozen for two years, then rising only in line with average pay.

The FT’s Jim Pickard asks whether the Libdems will once again block a freeze in benefits or this time let it through. He says the Libdems “seem likely” to give in, given the economy.

By his own measure then, George Osborne is planning to remove protection from disabled people and those who cannot find jobs, instead of cutting from areas like Defence.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


The argument about cutting defence rather than benefits is an easy one to make, but begs all sort of questions. We really need to decide the purpose of our forces and have a coherent plan in that area before making such changes.

The Osborne strategy follows the tory pattern of hitting those least able to help themselves and avoiding the issue of quality of life and ability to pay. Those are the grounds on which the battle needs to be fought.

Or closing the tax-dodging loopholes he’s opened up for the mega wealthy.

3. Richard Carey

I don’t see how the headline matches the OP.

By his own measure then, George Osborne is planning to remove protection from disabled people and those who cannot find jobs, instead of cutting from areas like Defence.

Do you not read the papers Sunny? Defence is being cut like crazy.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/05/thousands-soldiers-compulsory-redundancy

So what’s new labour had plans for the disabled like ending DLA, not making a new benefits Brown himself thought DLA was a wasted benefit. SO this does not surprise me.

“Do you not read the papers Sunny? Defence is being cut like crazy.”

Cut to welfare 30%

Cut to defence 7%

I’m guessing that is what Sunny meant. And until the above figures are reversed, it will remain the case that welfare cuts are ideological and nothing to do with the deficit.

Cut to welfare 30%

Cut to defence 7%

It’s clearly my fault for not reading the papers properly – but where does the 30% figure come from?

8. James from Durham

Cutting defence for the hell of it is crazy. One of the main purposes of government is to defend the country. However, at any time and regardless of the financial situation, what we spend should be appropriate to the security needs of this country. Pulling out os Afghanistan would save money, but more importantly, it may jus be a waste off money anyway – not to mention, and more importantly, a waste of lives.

@ Tim – You know the 30% figure is one of those stats that you read and remember, but can’t quite remember from (I think it was the IFS but can’t find it on there site now).

However, having searched for it over the past half hour and not been able to find it, I’ll concede the point. Although I suspect I’m curious enough to spend the weekend looking for the actual figure. 🙂

Which does raise the question of what percentage welfare has been cut in real terms. Given that claims self evidently fluctuate according to economic conditions, the predictions of the welfare bill for the next few years show a slight rise in cash terms. What we really need to know is the percentage welfare has been cut if we assume a static number of claims with the same circumstances etc – this would help us with a like for like comparrison. It also doesn’t help that the entire welfare system appears on government docs in different budget lines.

In the 2010 spending review osbourne announced 18 billion worth of cuts – which looks around a 20% cut on what we spending then (again it depends whether you include pensions in this). He also changed the rules on how increases in benefit levels were calculated, so that over the next 5 years a real terms cut of 30% probably isn’t far off what has happened. It is undeniably the case that the actual amount of money being recieved by people stands to be significantly less.

Good, so glad we have the lie dems to protect us. Can’t wait to read their manifesto at the next election. A blank piece of paper would be about as much use. And about as honest.

I agree we need a level of defence, however, I think war has evolved, and I don’t believe we’re ever going to see another war involving millions of soldiers marching onto battlefields.

It’s going to be technology in the main, and most likely millions of civilian deaths instead.

Whatever happens with defence, it’s still fairly obvious that Osbourne is cutting welfare not for financial or ideological reasons, but purely because the image of poor and sick children dying makes him tumescent.

There’s no other reason for spending more on dealing with fraud than the fraud costs, or bringing in private companies for hundreds of millions to do a job worse than was already being done by doctors as part of their job.

How he’s spent this long as a public figure without someone punching him right in his stupid smug shiny face I don’t know.

(No I’m not really a fan of the man.)

Ii realise this wasn’t an intelligent or well thought out post, but I swear the red mist descends every time I see him, Cameron or Gove, and think about the way this country has changed in the past couple of years.

Just as a piece of evidence, against this idea that it’s a reform and not ‘cuts’.

I’ve been to my ATOS showtrial, and I’m in the process of appealing, and IF…IF I can somehow prove that I’m actually almost dead, and get put onto ESA, I’m only going to take a cut of about 40% of what I got on IB.

If not, I don’t know what will happen as I’m not fit for work, and applying for JSA will be fraud.

This man is simply a poodle for his kleptocratic friends.

It is a surprise he wasn’t lynched at the paralympics.

@7&9

Apart from the index change, the major welfare plans only began this year and most begin roll-out next. George Osbourne has committed to a cut of £18 billion this Parliament, almost entirely from the working-age expenditure which is forecast to be £53 billion this year. So for the three years 2012/13 to 2014/15 there is an average cut of £6 billion per year in nominal terms. The current benefit expenditure tables show almost no difference nominally between 2010/11 and 2014/15, but only the index change and some very minor tweaks were in place for the first two years. I’ve not been able to find a forecast for what the 2014/15 expenditure would have been without any changes. The government may have said ‘over the course of this Parliament’ but it’s the three latter years where the effects are happening, so I divide the 18 by 3.

The index change however is permanent until a future government decides to change it. If it stayed in place for as long as DLA has been with us(20 years), then we would have a real-terms 30% cut done by 2032. The consequences though will be with us considerably earlier as the second-term additional cut is now being advanced. The benefit expenditure tables say that at 2011/12 prices the working-age expenditure was £53.4 billion in 2010 and will be £48.3 billion in 2014/15. It then keeps falling for the remaining two years in the forecast, though as the planned extra cuts were only announced recently they are not yet factored in.

For those two years the expenditure in real-terms fall by £0.9 billion and £0.4 billion. As a baseline for comparison: the 1997 working-age real-term expenditure was £46.4 billion and in 2007 it was £45.2 billion, a period when the overall number of working-age claimants was stable and on a slight downward trend despite population growth. Labour was involved in some very aggressive anti-claimant behaviour that never seemed to be acknowledged and as a result was insufficiently criticised. So the current government has condensed ten years of that same behaviour into every year for the next three or five.

“George Osbourne has committed to a cut of £18 billion this Parliament, almost entirely from the working-age expenditure which is forecast to be £53 billion this year”

So an 18 billion cut to a 53 billion budget is a cut of 34% then.

So an 18 billion cut to a 53 billion budget is a cut of 34% then.

Yes, but the 53bn budget is only the “working age expenditure” isn’t it – not the entire welfare budget. I’ve seen a figure of 180bn given as the total UK welfare budget – which would make an 18bn cut a 10% one.
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/neilobrien1/100043679/50-billion-of-welfare-spending-a-third-goes-to-people-on-above-average-incomes-do-we-really-need-this/

Even then, I’m thoroughly confused as to how this:

“George Osbourne has committed to a cut of £18 billion this Parliament, almost entirely from the working-age expenditure which is forecast to be £53 billion this year”

Squares with this:

“The benefit expenditure tables say that at 2011/12 prices the working-age expenditure was £53.4 billion in 2010 and will be £48.3 billion in 2014/15.”

My maths ain’t what it was, but I can’t see how a fall in spending of 5bn over three years can be the same as a fall of 18bn over three years.

Statistics are slippery buggers.

I’m sorry but you both have it confused though I probably haven’t explained it clearly enough.

£53 billion is the forecast working-age expenditure for this year. Almost £18 billion is being cut from this over the course of three years, though a small bit of that cut has already happened because of the index change.

The budget over the next three years is £156 billion, that is what £18 billion is being cut from. That isn’t anywhere near 30%. A 30% cut however will eventually happen because of the index change which will carry on long after this government because benefit uprating no longer matches properly matches inflation. This is subject to change though because now uprating based on income(which ironically was got rid of in 1980 and changed to inflation to *save money* and reduce benefits over time)is now being considered. The presumption being that it will be a long time before wages are higher than inflation again, though what basis that has I can’t be sure of. It’s likely that the reasoning falls in line with the ad hoc justifications for welfare reforms that have been put out so far- made up as they go along.

I must emphasise that statistically, the change from £53 billion to £48 billion between 2012/13 and 2014/15 is representative of a cut of around £18 billion. You need to add the cuts for each year cumulatively and factor for the not-shown forecasts of what expenditure would be without any policy changes which are considerable when you see in the data that despite the recession, pension-age increases continues to account for most of the rise in total expenditure. Not the working-aged disabled(and disabled children), jobseekers or lone parents- who are the groups specifically targeted for cuts, by order of severity.

Almost all figures(especially those carried by newspapers but *especially* the Telegraph now) are misleading and do not differentiate properly between working-age and pension-age expenditure. There is a matter over whether tax credits are benefits or allowances(or at least there should be because they are inconsistently used as both depending on what argument an author wishes to advance) as they are administrated by HRMC rather than the DWP. I wish it was debated because some of them are being transferred back to the DWP in Universal Credit.

Tax credit changes are not major money savers though. Nor are changes to the small number of benefits which are claimed by parents on behalf of their children(most which are affected are listed in tables as being working-age) and pension-age benefit expenditure will get no reduction at all. All the attention is focused on the working-age expenditure which makes up less than half the total bill, yet when the public needs to be shocked then ministers and their media friends will use the sum total that combines both rather than differentiate the working-age expenditure and pension-age one.

The exact percentage of cuts won’t matter terribly much to the person who can’t put food on the table and turns to payday loans. At thousands of percent that will take what seems like forever and a day to pay off, accumulating over the years with loans to pay off debts until bankruptcy or a debt order becomes a necessity, whether a person has lost a bit or a lot of money will cease to matter – they’ve gone bust and have to go begging for help.

In many cases it will be the families and neighbours that pick up the pieces. Where I live, the movers and shakers in the community have merrily gone off and got some sort of exclusion order making it an offence to beg (and do various other things), so that will increasingly not be an option (how long before we have a national law on it?)

The reality is that some disabled people will die but there’s the growing demand for assisted suicide/euthanasia that will help with that.

Forgive the negative tone. I’m disabled and I’m frightened.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Eugene Grant

    By his own words: #Osborne to ditch protection for #disabled | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Qqt42vVp via @libcon

  2. Farzana

    There it is: Osborne ends protection for disabled via @libcon
    So much swearing in my head right now. http://t.co/A8Qz59Pz

  3. Lee Myers

    By his own words: #Osborne to ditch protection for #disabled | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Qqt42vVp via @libcon

  4. sunny hundal

    Last year George Osborne said he'd keep benefits linked to inflation to protect disabled. Now he's abandoning them http://t.co/yYzsrYat

  5. RoboMam

    Last year George Osborne said he'd keep benefits linked to inflation to protect disabled. Now he's abandoning them http://t.co/yYzsrYat

  6. ambir

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  7. Ian stone

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  8. Joe Muggs

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  9. Tim Ireland

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  10. WildWalkerWoman

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  13. IRSO

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  16. Tristram Wyatt

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  17. Paul Trembath

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  19. StPeter&Waterfront

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  21. Ben Folley

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  24. Shoshana

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  28. Tony McK

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  30. Jeni Parsons

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  32. Will Mac

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  33. Julia Slay

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  34. Alice Woolley

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  36. Jo

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  38. bram humphries

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  41. Liza Harding

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  42. Karina Marshall

    Oh look, George Osborne is fucking over disabled people again. http://t.co/3DBAtfKo via @libcon

  43. Lorraine Mackay

    Hope Labour will ask George Osborne why he's going back on own promise to protect disabled by cutting benefits further http://t.co/yYzsrYat

  44. RJMackay

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  49. Collin Whittaker

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  56. Will Libdems stand firm against more welfare cuts? | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] welfare benefits further would not only hurt the most vulnerable, as George Osborne himself admitted, but it would further depress demand in the economy and sink us further into […]

  57. Susan Archibald

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  69. Paul Cotterill

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  70. CPAG

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