A short history of variable benefit rates
Economist commentator Daniel Knowles seems surprised:
This is bizarre – do Tories not understand that housing benefit is ALREADY determined by geographical location? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/9782816/Tory-manifesto-blueprint-lower-benefits-for-Northerners-and-longer-school-days.html …
He’s referring to the Telegrpah’s coverage of new report to Osborne from the Tory righwing 2020 group Agenda for Transformation, in which:
One of the report’s most controversial suggestions is introducing different levels of welfare payments around the country. House prices, travel fares and some other living costs are significantly higher in London and the South East than elsewhere.
I’m not sure why Daniel’s so suprised, other than the obvious reason: he’s not been taking much notice. The proposals for variable welfare payment rates across the board date back at least to 2009, when Tory Essex County Council submitted a formal proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 for devolution of benefit eligibility- and rate-setting powers to local government level. They submission argued:
As this proposal seeks to tackle worklessness it will be essential that control over the eligibility criteria and payment rates for Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support and Employment Support Allowance be transferred to ECC. This would put us in a powerful position to tailor the most important work-related benefits to local market conditions and ECC skills and training programmes.
The 2020 group’s recommendations are simply an attempt to push through this long-desired localisation of all benefits. As Carl has predicted (though I think he might have been copying), 2013 will see the rise to real power of the far right within the Conservative party, as electoral defeat looms, and Gove and his allies set their agenda for opposition.
This shouldn’t be a surprise: it’s been coming for a while.