Osborne’s benefits petard
Jim Pickard has a good piece up at the FT’s Westminster blog on the coming assault on benefit rates:
It’s no surprise that the issue has reared its head again, with the uprating decision due in December. The question is whether the Lib Dems will once again block a freeze in benefits (or shift in uprating from CPI inflation to earnings) or this time let it through – the latter seems likely given the worsening in the fiscal situation.
What Jim doesn’t mention though is the way Osborne presented the decision to stick with benefit uprating linked to CPI inflation, back in his 2011 Autumn statement:
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 Osborne does now change track, and cuts the uplift from CPI to earnings (i.e. from 2.9% to 1.5%), the logical conclusion must be that he is no longer interested in “protecting” the people he had such concern for just 12 months ago.
Got that, Labour spokespeople? Don’t say I don’t make your lives easy.