Benefits bill ‘virtually unchanged’ under coalition, says IFS

The biggest cuts to the welfare system are 'yet to come' says think tank

Most of the coalition’s reforms to the benefits system are yet to be delivered and it will fall to the next government to implement them, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The think tank said that although the coalition had reduced spending on benefits by £16.7 billion, because of weak growth in wages, spiralling private rents and an ageing population the overall £220 billion bill was “virtually unchanged”.

Welfare reform had been a case of “evolution rather than revolution” and the most significant cuts were “yet to come”, the IFS added.

The think tank warned that the next government would face “difficult decisions” as to whether to cut the state pension or reduce the amount of child benefit paid to middle-income families.

And it said that “most of the major structural changes [to the benefits system], such as universal credit, have run into problems, and are yet to be delivered”.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves MP said the report confirmed “that you can’t control welfare spending without tackling its root causes in low pay and rising rents”.

“Only Labour has a plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and low pay as part of our tough but balanced plan to get the deficit down, control welfare spending and earn our way to higher living standards for all, not just a few at the top. A Labour government will raise the National Minimum Wage to £8 an hour, bring in Make Work Pay contracts to ensure more people are paid a Living Wage, get more homes built and extend free childcare provision and will get the next generation into work with a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.