The Telegraph is today running the old non-story that Iain Duncan Smith is furious that his alleged plans to limit child benefit to the first two children was slapped down by Cameron. As I stated here, IDS knew and admitted on the BBC Daily Politics debate on 5 May that there would be no cuts to child benefit or child tax credits in the first two years.
I will cover that issue first as in doing so it led me to the fact that IDS is making cuts to DLA for children and for pensioners and aside from the high political sensitivity of both of those issues, it is also significant that to date in this quest the zealous IDS is on to reduce welfare benefits in all other cases the child and the pensioner have been exempted and cuts have all been from those adults of working age and not children or pensioners.
IDS is caught on film saying there is no cut to Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in the first two years (apart from a freeze which is a real term cut) and it seems the Telegraph like the Times which ran the original non story that he had been slapped down are in a bit of a flap and trying to lead us all in a merry dance.
I will leave you reader to look twice at the photograph of IDS that the Telegraph use in this contrived non story and reflect on whether the left-handed Seig Heil salute of IDS is a subliminal message or not but this ‘story’ is noticeable for two absences.
Firstly, it repeats the old issue that IDS has asked the DWP civil servants to model what the reduction of child benefit would mean yet mentions nothing at all about child tax credits when in the original Times story it was both. So is this just lazy journalism by the Telegraph or is this omission significant and IDS is looking to limit Child Tax Credits to the first two children?
Secondly, and linked to that, is there is no mention or discussion of what limiting Child Benefit and or Child Tax Credits would do to the IDS mantra of ‘work will always pay more’ as any reduction or limit there could mean and in the case of CTC most definitely would mean that work cannot pay more and take away his claimed cultural aspect of hi welfare reforms (sic) getting more people into work.
Child Tax Credit is £67 per week per child and so the family with three children would lose this £67 per week meaning they have to find a job paying at least £86 more before tax than is the case now; the family with 4 children or 2 more would lose two lots or need to take a job paying £172 per week more in gross terms – and that assumes no reduction in Child Benefit either.
This is why I am puzzled that this non story refuses to go away as it can ONLY mean that work cannot pay more which is the IDS mantra and claimed rationale that is churned out again and again and again.
Of course I would never expect the Telegraph or the Times to raise the question if IDS can ask his civil servants to look and assess the CB/CTC issue, then why can’t IDS ask them to look at all hi welfare reform policies which the IFS have stated actually cost the taxpayer more and do not save a penny?
Since the claim that the Tories if re-elected would reduce the welfare spend by £12 billion in the first two years of this administration everyone has been looking and speculating as to where this would come from.
Nobody has thought to ask was this a mere aim and assumed that a £12 billion cut to welfare spend would take place and automatically took this at face value that £12 billion would be achieved. As I pointed out the £12 billion has always been stated to come from the ‘welfare spend‘ and not from the welfare benefit spend and they are two separate things as we can include Child Tax Credit as a welfare issue but it is not a welfare benefit, it is a tax credit from HMRC not a benefit paid by DWP.
One final point on this cockroach of a story is the Telegraph reports that Cameron himself killed the story again yesterday at PMQs and then stated a hugely duplicitous fib when asked about cut to the disabled as part of this £12 billion ethereal cuts…
Cameron in claiming that PIP is more generous than DLA fails to state that in the same BBC Daily Politics interview in which IDS admitted that cuts to CB and CTC had already been ruled out, he also admitted that the transfer from DLA to PIP would see 600,000 fewer claimants of PIP than of DLA making this a huge cut to benefits paid to those disabled!
Duplicity indeed Prime Minister! Yet that leads me down a very significant road of enquiry that has yet to emerge and requires a huge amount of scrutiny.
DLA is received by not just those of working age but also by children and by pensioner both of whom are exempted from all other welfare reform and welfare benefit cuts I am surprised that none of the disability lobbies have picked this up and sought further detail of where these massive disability cuts – from 2.2 million DLA claimants to a target of 1.6 million PIP claimants are coming from.
As you can see from the DWP Statistical and Accounting Data table above for 2013/14 some 35% of DLA goes to pensioners and accounts for £4.771 billion alone (which is MORE than the £4.338 billion total paid in Job Seekers Allowance in 2013/14) yet nobody has thought to ask whether the politically sensitive pensioner is part of the cuts of 27% from 2.2 million DLA claimants down to 1.6 million PIP claimant target!
Additionally a further 11% of the DLA welfare spend goes on children at £1.463 billion yet nobody has thought to take the government to task on whether they plan to cut benefit for disabled children.
My distaste for the bullshit spin the printed media puts out over welfare reform (sic) leads me to these other unintended lines of enquiry such as: –
(a) How much of a benefit cut will the disabled pensioner get? and
(b) How much is the government planning to take off the disabled child?
Now that we know that the word ‘austerity’ literally means to leave a dry bitter taste in ones mouth, it does!!
Is the real reason that the Telegraph like the Times wants this IDS being slapped down story as a deflection from the fact that the DWP is going to cut the disability benefits of children and the pensioner?
The numbers – the 27% cut from 2.2m DLA claimants to 1.6m PIP claimants cannot be achieved from just working age adults who account for 54% of all DLA and must have to come from the DLA of children and pensioners. This is of huge significance as once welfare cuts come from previously exempt groups then they begin to be applied to more and more areas. We already know that under Universal Credit the mixed-age pensioner couple will be liable for bedroom tax and that applies to about 70,000 households where one of the couple is not of state pension age as both will need to be in order to continue to be exempt from the bedroom tax whereas now it only needs to be one member of that couple.
Gradually applying by stealth welfare cuts to pensioners and children appears to be strategy of IDS in his welfare reforms (sic) and the additional 70,000 mixed-age pensioner couples is a 15% increase to those hit by the bedroom tax which is a significant number yet was previously seen as the only area or at least the only known and recognised area that cutting benefit for the hitherto exempted pensioner and child groups applied. Now we can add DLA recipients who are pensioners or children to that growing list.
All of the speculative predictions on the £12 billion of welfare cuts focused upon existing welfare recipients for such cuts and did and do not tend to look for a wider group of people such as the exempted pensioner and child for these savings. If we continue to believe that £12 billion of cuts will be sought then it is also time we looked at a wider audience for those cuts in the pensioner, who I restate here receives more in DLA alone than we pay out to every job seeker in dole… hmm!!