Nick Clegg slams Osborne’s ‘living wage’

Former Lib Dem leader says the change is designed to trick workers


Writing for the Evening Standard yesterday, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg described his ‘dismay’ at George Osborne’s July Budget, in which he introduced plans for a new living wage.

According to Clegg, the chancellor’s plans to cut tax credits and slash universal credit to the bare minimum amount to ‘an extensive dismantling of the working incentives for millions of low-paid workers’.

Clegg isn’t the first to say that the living wage will be undercut by benefit changes. This week the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculated that only around 13 per cent of the losses due to tax and benefit changes for all working age households will be offset by the increased NLW.

As Clegg points out, Osborne is essentially making up the cost of the living wage to the treasury by cutting benefits. The amount someone can earn before they start to lose their tax credits has been reduced to £3,850, and universal credit can start to be reduced when someone is earning as little as £2,304.

Clegg is also critical of the way the changes undermine the work incentive:

“People will think twice about taking on more work when the amount of money they can keep before their benefits disappear has been so dramatically reduced.”

Of course, Nick Clegg spent five years in the government which sowed the seeds of these changes, and he does have the grace to say that he’s ‘no slouch when it comes to welfare reforms’. As deputy prime minister he voted for a welfare cap, including child benefits, and a cap on tax credits, although he insisted yesterday that reforms were focused on those who earned ‘much more’ (that’s up for debate).

Since the election he has voted against reducing the household benefit cap and against freezing the rate of many working-age benefits. His latest contribution on the subject looks like an insistence that freed from the demands of the coalition, he is returning to a more compassionate view of welfare.

But with Osborne now free to pursue a pure Tory agenda, Clegg’s intervention is too late.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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13 Responses to “Nick Clegg slams Osborne’s ‘living wage’”

  1. Phonetoholic

    Who is Nick Clegg?
    Why would we care about what he has to say?
    There is a leadership election going on and dare I say the editorial team of LFF has chosen to position itself, yet again, on the wrong side of history.

  2. Eoireitum

    I’m sick of supporting companies that won’t pay a decent wage and, as Gore Vidal noted – how much money private companies take from the state in a kind of symbiosis. Use my taxes so that the local supermarket owner can pay less that the MW and buy another house to let out….grrrrr

  3. Mick

    Hang on, didn’t I read that cuts will leave families £750 a year worse off? But the extra 70p an hour, extrapolates to over a grand in extra wages per year, per worker.

    You still have something in net. And it’s quite tasty, especially if you’re single.

  4. barry hearth

    Nick Clegg lied to the electorate………..but is he really any different to MOST of the rest?
    JC will hopefully be declared winner tomorrow and then the left will have a place to call home again.
    The right can go play with themselves.

  5. stevep

    The bedroom tax, the disabled victimised, a failing NHS, schools in crisis, Public services crumbling, harsh austerity, all to satisfy a far-right agenda that goes back years, inflicted on us.
    Tax cuts for millionaires with the money saved.
    Yep, that`s real liberal narrative and movement for empowerment!

  6. stevep

    Nick who? Didn`t he once lead a now-defunct party called the LibDems.

  7. Mick

    Ah, Stevep. Nice to see the cliches back again. So the Tories are ‘far right’, are they? Are the BNP now upgraded to some other label?

    You’re not talking about the self same NHS, schools and public services which were already in a sorry state under the last Labour government? The same NHS which Labour in Wales have been slashing to the bone, causing the Welsh ill to use ours?! And the same disabled betrayed by the same ATOS which Labour brought in and the Tories have now dumped?

    The public knew the Tories have the tonic for the nation’s woes – Labour left the economy bare, just ripe for the hurricane of the recession, which still sees an effort to recover from. 330 seats in Parliament, mate. The public are adult enough, unlike Labour, to know when clear up after the party and nurse the hangover.

  8. stevep

    What laughable gibberish.
    If anyone could understand you, a career at the Daily Mail would beckon.

  9. Mick

    Oh, I know. Power’s just as far away from him now as it ever was.

  10. stevep

    I`d wait and see, if I were you, just like everyone else.
    Are you sure all this trolling isn`t keeping you away from the Daily Mail crossword?

  11. James Riddick

    Completely agree!


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  13. DRbilderburg

    lol making a pitch for the Libdems. A warning to them progress are seriously bad news, a parasitic organization concerned only with the levers of power with a terrifying foreign policy agenda

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