Cameron’s “back of a fag packet” welfare speech brings back Labour policies he’d scrapped

David Cameron’s keynote welfare speech yesterday included the re-announcement of a Labour policy which he scrapped when the Tories came into government.

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David Cameron’s keynote welfare speech yesterday, described by The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour this morning as “the most ambitious set of specific proposals for reducing the welfare state since 1945”, included the re-announcement of a Labour policy which he scrapped when the Tories came into government.

David-Cameron-welfare-cuts-speechOne of the prime minister’s 17 ideas to cut an extra £10 billion from welfare is the requirement of anyone on jobseeker’s allowance to undertake full-time community work such as tidying up a local park, Cameron explaining:

“In Australia, robust, rigorous activity such as ‘work for the dole’ is standard after just six months.”

A policy remarkably similar to Labour’s ‘Work for your Benefits’ programme (pdf), part of the Flexible New Deal, set to come into force in November 2010 – until the coalition announced it would be scrapped.

Now it appears they are bringing it back, forced into another reverse because of the failure of the Work Programme.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne described the speech as “real back of a fag packet stuff”, with IPPR’s Nick Pearce calling it:

A melange of populist initiatives, without any overarching strategy or argument either about the future pressures on the welfare state, and the priorities it should embody, or about the balance between the principles, such as need or contribution, underpinning it.”


See also:

After Jubileegate: Five reasons why the Work Programme gets it wrong 6 Jun 2012

Charity survey shows up shambolic work programme 1 May 2012

We need a firm limit on the time we are prepared to tolerate anyone being unemployed 17 Apr 2012

Unemployment: How Cameron and Clegg are letting the next generation down 14 Dec 2011

Million young unemployed figure highlights enormity of the situation hitting our youth 16 Nov 2011


Amongst the other headline measures are plans to remove access to housing benefit for anyone aged 16-24, which the government claims will save £2 billion a year and affect 210,000 social housing tenants, time-limiting benefits by reducing their levels if someone is out of work for longer periods, and imposing a new specific cap on housing benefit so it is worth no more than £20,000 a year.


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