What happened to the revolution?

25th June, 2012 4:32 pm

It was good to hear the Prime Minister follow Labour’s lead and join the big debate about the future of social security. In this 70th anniversary of the Beveridge Report, we begun posing the big, long term questions about how 70 years on, the welfare state has to change.

But how depressing it was to hear the Prime Minister has learned nothing from the chaos now enveloping the welfare revolution they promised.

At the heart of the Tories promise was a Work Programme and Universal Credit that was supposed to be better than the New Deal and tax credits. Except they’re not.

The Work Programme is sinking fast. Long term unemployment has rocketed up over the last year; one-third of people now on the dole are long-term unemployed. The rate at which people are flowing off benefit and into work has halved in a year. No wonder the government is still insisting on keeping the performance information a secret.

Now we hear of major problems with Universal Credit. On the Today programme, Iain Duncan Smith said the vast IT programme was on time and on budget. Except its not. A newsletter to DWP staff has confirmed its running six months late. And parliamentary questions put down by Labour’s Stephen Timms show the project is already £100 million over budget. IDS doesn’t know what’s going on in his own department.

Massive questions still remain outstanding. No-one knows what’s going to happen to the 20,000 housing benefit staff, currently in local councils, when housing benefit is abolished. DWP doesn’t know whether to include Free School Meals or not. Council Tax Benefit plans, say the IFS, could seriously undermine the project. There’s a word for all this. Chaos.

But what’s holed the Tories plan below the water-line is their disastrous economic plans. Pushing Britain into a double dip recession has pushed unemployment so fast that an eye-watering £9 billion has been added to the benefits bill for dole payments and housing benefit. Dealing with that massive pressure is forcing the Tories to find savings; so instead of redoubling their efforts to get people into work, they’ve decided to just take the money from young people and the disabled: £8 billion will be slashed from disabled people and disabled former workers in this Parliament.

Back in 1942, William Beveridge put three ideas at the heart of his report; full employment, universal help with disability and the job of raising children, and insurance to help with the rainy day. This was a something for something deal where everyone – individual, government and business – did their bit.

These are the first principles the Prime Minister needs to return to. Starting with the most important lesson of all: welfare to work doesn’t work without jobs. Instead, it seems the only principles the Prime Minister cares about is how to placate his slathering back-benches itching for a fight over Lords reform. I’m afraid this big debate needs better motives than that.

Liam Byrne is the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

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  • I can hear the distant sound of  Alan Giles running, desperately, passionately, to his computer.

    Mr Byrne, Alan will be along to remind you of your expenses shortly.

    🙂

    • AlanGiles

      You’ve done the job for me Jon!. Thanks, it never hurts for somebody else to point out dishonesty.  So perhaps I can just remind dear Liam that he has said he agrees with “three quarters” of the governments welfare reform bill, indeed both parties shared the same mistress – David Freud – so he makes himself look a bit fatuous to pretend to be too out of tune with current policy.

      But I would ask both him and the equally smug and self-satisifed Grayling  the simple question – where are all the jobs he wants benefit claimants to take up?

      Also, if we want under 25s to stay with m,um and dad what happens if there is no mum and dad?,  or if the under 25 left home to escape or the under 25 has left home because of abuse.

      The problem with the posturing of Cameron, Grayling, Duncan-Smith – and Byrne – is that they don’t seem to be living in Briatin in 2012, but in cloud cuckoo land.

      • John Dore

        Yawn, its a constant stream of accusing other people of your own failings.

        The only person in cuckoo land is Partridge, stuck on his keyboard all day living in a fantasy world where he is right and the world isn’t. 

        • treborc1

           Or of course it’s you who have little to offer, so come here to get gratification of the love of affair of Tony Blair.

          • AlanGiles

            Dore sure loves his Partridge “joke”. Judging by the number of times each day he says it. He says little else.

          • John Dore

            Given that you, tre-bore and derek have a mission to silence anything outside of your views what do you expect. 

            Keep flagging the comments Partridge.

          • AlanGiles

            Puerile, stupid, crass.

            The man with one joke – and that not very funny. I really would suggest you stop this rubbish, because you sound as if you were still in the playground. 

          • John Dore

            I’ll let the rest of the readership make their own mind up. IMHO 
            Puerile, stupid, crass. pertains to a television character from Norwich.

            So long Partridge, I have work to do and its already been a long day. You keep posting, all day and all night.

          • Turdster

            OK, Turkey!

          • Rosario

            The love that dare not speak its name…

          • John Dore

            I’ve come to the conclusion that you are in the employ of somebody in the Tory party. You are paid to make Labour supporters appear completely stupid.

          • treborc

            You do not need any help from me mate, you do a good enough job your self.

    • treborc1

      God is that you Bore or Reid  nope it’s the fake lefty, who could not wait to run to his computer

    • Tory Boy

      Liam is worth every penny… over and under the counter.

  • Losange

    On the bright side, Liam, the Tories have adopted your idea viz regional benefits. We’ve already got a postcode lottery in respect to health and schools so why not have postcode benefits too, eh, and complete the hat trick?

    • Tory Boy

      Liam likes to be helpful to the government of the day be it Labour or Conservative or Coalition. From our side I have to thank Liam for his fecund ideas, tireless input, and unstinting support. He’s a treasure.

  • jonathanmorse

    I wonder how many of the workers Cameron was sitting with at the photo-opportunity prior to his speech could afford their own home without some form of state subsidy? Surely the problem is how expensive housing is, and that all young people are brought up to believe that when they leave school they’ll get a well paid job, a job that they’ll enjoy, and it will pay for them to have a good life including holidays and a path on the housing ladder inevitably leading to a house. Then too many of them find out that the only way to a house is through the benefits system.
     
    We should either tell all our people that if you don’t fit in, aren’t brainy or pretty enough, born to the right parents, went to the right school, became a professional footballer or married one, you won’t get much from our society. Then maybe they won’t be so disappointed when ‘it’ doesn’t happen and so resort to getting pregnant as the only way to getting a house. I don’t believe these people get pregnant, of get a girl pregnant, just to get a house, rather it’s the only way they’ll get a house.
     
    Or we should build many more homes, so many more that prices will fall to the point that ordinary people on ordinary wages can afford them. Of have 50 year mortgages (I believe they have those in Germany) which you can sell on part paid, or encourage people to live in caravans. I’ve never been to the USA, but according to their movies, e.g. the Jodie Foster character in The Accused and The Rockford Files, people, or at least the poor, can live in static caravans or trailers as they call them.
     
    I wonder how many people getting housing benefit are either using it to subsidise their high rents or because when they got the place, when they needed the deposit etc., they had a job even if they don’t now.
     

    • Simon

      There are fifty states in the United States of America and one of the smallest and most insignificant is Idaho, which is about the same size as England. People live in trailer parks in America because it is big enough to hide them away out of sight of the people who live in houses. The United Kingdom isn’t. Hence the problems we’ve been having with Traveller Camps and such like. Just saying.

    • Dave Postles

       ‘people, or at least the poor, can live in static caravans or trailers as they call them.’
      … and they are stigmatized as ‘Trailer Trash’.

  • Mark Myword

    At the heart of Beveridge was the contributory principle and the idea of need. That has gone in reality. Now we have a welfare system under great pressure from three things: expanding expenditure and a sense of entitlement ( ie non contributory), immigration ( ie non contributory), and the general economic climate. Whether on the left or right one has to accept this can not go on. Unless we have some realistic and sensible discussion about welfare, then we will never have a society of compassion with welfare based on genuine need and with some recognition of contribution.

    • Simon

      The contributory principle was based on the idea of full employment which promised everyone the chance to contribute via earnings accrued by work. Unemployment is now structural. Many people will not be able to contribute via earning because enough work doesn’t exist (unemployment) or doesn’t pay high enough wages to enable them to contribute (in work poverty); in the latter case people who are in part-time or low paid work may pay no tax at all and still need top-up benefits from the State, e.g., tax credits and housing benefit, in order to survive. We can’t return to a fully contributory system without work with living wages being available to all citizens unless, of course, we’re willing to simply throw millions of people over the side as David Cameron was implicitly suggesting.  

      • Mark Myword

        Of course, the world of Beveridge was different from the world of today (although he did not know full employment would return after the war  – it did not after the Great War). Nevertheless, my point in a nutshell is that we need a new Beveridge. It is not possible to get away from the widespread feeling that welfare has become too generous and should not be given to immigrants – whether that is a generous or realistic feeling it exists. To protect the welfare state,  we must find a new model that people think is fair. If we do not find such a model then we inevitable will find support for the welfare state ebbs away.

        • Simon

          The sentiments you speak of have been exaggerated and inflamed over a period of many years by politicians and the media until, now, it has reached a fever pitch of near hysteria. Gordon Brown began this nonsense when he first became Chancellor in 1997 when he launched the New Deal, which included 13 weeks of “intensive activity” these days known as “workfare”, and said: “I am going to shut down the something for nothing society”. Everybody that came afterwards behaved in the same way while simultaneously failing to improve the lives of welfare claimants because what work there was available to them, even if they secured it, did not pay the living wage necessary to free them from “benefit dependency”.

          This is the dilemma. If you cut benefits without getting those affected into secure well-paid work you generate immense hardship and suffering amongst those groups as a consequence. This is what is actually beginning to happen now under the Coalition: homelessness up; poverty up; ill health up; death up. From the spring of 2013 onwards the situation will rapidly worsen.

          Whether or not the people of Great Britain can be persuaded to accept and tolerate a  significant minority of their peers suffering the tortures of the damned is currently unknown. Cameron and his confederates have begun the softening up process towards achieving this goal and clearly hope that such a state is achievable. This is pretty much the way things are now in America, where the lucky and fortunate step over the bodies of the unlucky and penniless in the streets with scarcely a second thought. Personally I think the British people are better than that and Cameron is on a hiding to nothing.

          • England88

            I hope
            that you’re right about the wiser sentiments of the British people. The assault
            on welfare state has been ongoing and is now intensifying. We do need and
            Labour very much needs to address in systemic way the way welfare, work and
            wider culture of are interacting. The situation of many on low wages that get
            Tax Credits and other benefits only to see them go to private landlords to fund
            rising rents. There is a whole private sector living off state benefits one
            step removed but this is never examined! Labour has a chance to (and it won’t
            be easy) to address this whole issue in a way that it failed as New Labour. It
            will mean making welfare both participatory and accountable but universal. I’m
            not policy wonk but even I can see there are some fundamental areas that if
            invested in as part of a connected project can start to give hope to millions
            struggling. So here is my plan to be kicked around

             

            Housing

            New council
            house building programme to produce at least 150000 homes a year, this
            programme of building should be imbedded within a wider skills and education
            programme (see below) and be local to community it will provide homes to. I’d
            ensure rules on council home being sold off are changed (new builds could not
            be sold off within the first 10 years for example)

            Controlled
            rents (we used to do this and many EU states still do) the private sector has
            and will do very well out of renting but it needs more control in terms of tenants’
            rights and who can be a landlord. Buy to let needs to be looked at in depth.

             

            Education

            Labour
            did much good here but also failed in key areas by not equipping our young
            people for jobs that actually exist in the real world (I’ve got 4 arts graduates
            doing telesales for paper and ink, their degrees of no use whatever to them,
            but the debt will be with them for years). The housing building programme would
            act as the training environment for whole range of skills (all the building
            trades, environmental and urban planning, architectural professions, transport&
            logistics, etc…)

            By
            coordinating both the education and house building programme locally it would
            create a visible positive set of actions addressing a spectrum of age groups
            within a particular community that can be seen very clearly by the community as
            it progresses.

             

            Welfare

            I’m don’t
            know enough to speak about real reforms but I do know that the vast majority of
            people claiming are genuine and fearful of their futures whether old or young.
            Labour must address that fear and must look to renew the sense of community and
            citizenship. Yes the current system does not work but more often in recent
            years welfare has been used to prop up low wages rather than address how to increase
            the wealth of our people. Our society has undergone massive change in work and
            family structures in the last 30 years our welfare system has not kept pace
            Labour needs to prove it can be the party of the 21st century to
            reform it in a humane and liberating way.

             

             

          • AlanGiles

            I agree with most of what you say, but frankly, if Labour want to look cerible on welfare, Liam Byrne has to be replaced as Shadow Secretary.

            He wobbles like a half-set jelly, and it is hard to equate his “anti” remarks now with the gung-ho remarks he was making just months ago.

            An ardent supporter of the Freud welfare reforms when Purnell dragged them through in 2009, he looks a bit shifty now. A bad idea is a bad idea, whatever the colour of the rosette, and you feel Byrne is the archtypal politician who says what is expedient to his career, rather than what he believes (if he actually believes anything at all).

            TBH I wouldn’t trust Byrne in this department any more than I trust Grayling and Smith

  • treborc1

    http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html

    Here is a good solid Labour news paper, it’s not Tory

    This one is from 2009 and see labour bragging that the back to work the Tories wanted to bring in, is in fact labour.

    Ah the good old days.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/toryconference

  • treborc1

    http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html

    Here is a good solid Labour news paper, it’s not Tory

    This one is from 2009 and see labour bragging that the back to work the Tories wanted to bring in, is in fact labour.

    Ah the good old days.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/toryconference

  • Dave Postles

    ‘What happened to the Revolution?’
    It resembles 18th Brumaire, according to Marx after Engels (Engels made the suggestion in a letter to Marx): history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy (New Labour), the second time as farce (Cameron and Smith).

  • Jeremy_Preece

    Hi Liam
    With the greatest of respect I am certainly very aware of the awful behaviour of the Tories, and much of what you say is not news to me. What I would like to see is some concrete proposals along the lines of “this is what Labour would do”. Or am I being too optomistic?

    • treborc

      I would say if your expecting any response labour will be checking the comments section of the daily mail before responding.

      • Jeremy_Preece

        I’m just glad that you are not cynical treborc

        • treborc

          I do not know tired really of all this nonsense we see within labour, the fact is people do not mind governments going after cheats I cannot stand them myself , but the WCA  test for sickness and  disability is a mess.

          It was not the Tories who did this it was labour

  • The contributory principle cuts both ways. Are we creating contexts where the young or the unskilled or the sick can contribute ? Is it acceptable that the not insignificant cost of welfare bills is subsidising punitive employers or buy to let landlords ?  Cameron and others in the political elite are not so forthcoming on these issues. 

  • I do not think Singapore is exactly a Tory stronghold. I do not think Sweden is a model of Tory Capitalism.
    Both of them have Welfare States where the private sector is encouraged to take a very full part, profit making and all.
    I have been bored stiff by the howls of protest about Free Schools. What I have never heard – and would really like to – is the reasoning behind why Profit is a bad word.
    Could someone spell it out for me please.
    Please!!!!!!!

    • LaurenceB

      Singapore is not a good example to use to bolster your argument because there exists atrocious endemic third world poverty on the island.

      http://yoursdp.org/index.php/truth-about/106-poverty-in-singapore

      • Have you been?

        • LaurenceB

          Actually, yes. About seven times over a period of twelve years during which nothing much changed as far as I could see. Singapore is like a Communist State set in aspic that instantly flipped its poles and became Capitalist while retaining everything bad connected with one party states, conformity and thraldom. Armies of the poor appear during the evening and night to sweep and clean and polish and shine before disappearing into the woodwork during the day like rats into a sewer. Singapore reminded me more than anything of a nightmarish version of Disney World: kind of high-tech and phoney where you can be legally beaten with a rod for dropping litter on a pavement. 

          Check it out for yourself.

          But dress tidily and get a haircut beforehand or they may mistake you for a hippy or similar and not let you in!

          • We saw a different place, I think. The CCP immigrants, remember, are coming from a strongly Socialist environment and they arrive dirt poor. I was staying with Malays.

    • Simon

      David Cameron’s old alma mater the very expensive and exclusive, Eton College, is a registered charity; it puzzles me therefore why any state school should be run by the private sector as a profit making concern. Surely every penny of income that any school generates or receives should be ploughed back into providing a better education for its pupils rather than lining the pockets of businessmen?

      • I know the CEO, the CEO Sweden, the Director of Studies and the CEO UK of IES and am on Christian name terms with all of them. What they do is to start up new schools with the proceeds. In no way are they typical Tory scroungers and swindlers, I can assure you!
        Allow me to remind you that a lot of Labour, DfE, Lib Dem and Conservative hypocrites – I mean hypocrites – send their children to posh public schools.

  • LaurenceB

    I wish the Labour Party had a better Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions than Liam Byrne.

  • AlanGiles
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