Lord Freud’s remarks were, by his own admission, offensive. If he had said ‘blacks’ or ‘women’ or ‘gays’ were ONLY WORTH £2 per hour the true offence of his words come to the fore.
Note well I use ‘blacks’ and not black people as that is the same offensive and condescending label Freud use of ‘the disabled’ when he referred to this group of people. The true offence of his words and thoughts were heightened by this condescension and bigoted use of language and especially in the context of discussing their worth.
It is extremely dangerous ground for any politician to open a debate about people’s monetary worth as then it opens up the meritocratic debate about how much they are worth – and in Lord Freud’s case that becomes a minus figure per hour.
Lord Freud, the architect of the bedroom tax and the (unelected) welfare minister charged with reining in the ‘burgeoning’ welfare benefit spend which the ‘last lot’ left the country in a mess with in the coalition view. So let’s have a cursor glance at how much his tenure over the radical welfare reforms have saved UK plc.
Yes the first point is that the overall welfare spend has increased by 13% since the election and that is a 13% increase in welfare benefits and a 13% increase in working tax credits too.
On that simple analysis Lord Freud has seen the ‘hard working taxpayer’ (strange how that term is never used!) having to find an additional £44 billion per year on his plans all aimed at reducing the welfare spend which he has ‘burgeoned’ through his own incompetent policies.
Ah you say but a large part of that is the pensioner bribe, which admittedly all parties do when in office, and which all parties fail to tell Joe Public they take more than £2 of every £3 spent in welfare benefits.
Yet as you can see this has increased some more under this coalition moving from 66% to 68%
Yet lets leave aside the contentious issue of the pensioner spend as just raising that FACT – yes its one of those bloody pesky facts again reader – causes outrage. How dare you call the pensioner a scrounger (by inference) etc, when the “poor” pensioner only gets double the minimum amount of welfare benefit that the scrounging single working-age person.
In Freud’s case let’s look at Housing Benefit which he and his coalition ministers cite as the largest welfare benefit spend after pensions and which is the key target for the bedroom tax, benefit cap and the rest of the welfare reform policies. Let’s look at his record there.
A month after the last election and after the first budget the coalition stated they would reduce the overall HB bill by nearly £2 billion per year by 2014/15 from the outrage of £20 billion they inherited from the last lot who they say had doubled the HB bill.
Today’s HB bill is in excess of £24 billion or £4 billion per year more not £2 billion per year less and is therefore £6 billion more as a direct result of the policies of Lord Freud.
So reader how much is Lord Freud worth judged by his record?
And while on the subject of the last lot ‘doubling’ the HB bill here are some more of those damn pesky FACTS which show that Freud, McVey,IDS and the increasingly politicised DWP civil servants have been lying through their teeth when discussing Housing Benefit
As you can see the HB bill went up by 78% in 13 years of the last lot, which compares to Thatcher increasing it by over 6 times in her 11 years. And those of you who can do basic arithmetic can see from the above that the HB bill went up from £5.095 billion to £11.38 billion in the 6/ years under the Major administration.
In summary Freud should be sacked for his performance and not just for his incredibly offensive remarks over people with a disability.
PS – Of all ironies all the above figures come from official data on benefit tables and caseload figures released by DWP in the same month that Freud uttered these truly offensive remarks and available here