Labour Policy Report Calls For Radical Reform Of Welfare State

This article was written by Toby Helm, political editor, for The Observer on Saturday 14th June 2014

 Plans for a radical overhaul of the welfare state, including a return to the principle that benefits should be linked more closely to contributions, will be part of a major policy report for the Labour party this week.

The Condition of Britain study by the IPPR thinktank, to be launched by Ed Miliband on Thursday, will also contain proposals to devolve large amounts of power and funding out of Whitehall, including the control of housing benefit to councils, in order to stimulate innovative housing policies and more housebuilding.

The project was set up in February 2013 as part of Labour’s policy review to consider how institutions and policies need to respond to today’s needs – including more childcare and better care for the elderly – within the confines of tight budgets and inevitable further cuts.

A key theme is expected to be that early intervention at every stage of life can prevent society having to continue “paying for the costs of failure”.

>  “early intervention at every stage of life” – now isn’t that an ominous phrase ?

The report will argue that a stronger society can be built on the three “pillars” of shared power, contribution (through changes to the national insurance system) and strong institutions. While some proposals, such as a plan to freeze child benefit to fund a network of children’s centres, are likely to be rejected by Miliband, many of its central ideas will be considered by the party’s national policy forum in July.

The report is expected to look at whether benefit payments can be linked more closely to levels of contributions through changes to the national insurance system.

Senior figures believe that Labour must counter the impression that it supports a “something for nothing” benefits system by looking at radical change.

> Oh great – so it’s all about image and trying to appeal to those sectors of the electorate who wouldn’t vote Labour anyway. And once again those at the bottom of the pile will get a kicking… just so Labour look tough, just like the Tories.

Not a single original thought among them, is there ?

Writing on, the chair of the policy review, Jon Cruddas, suggests that such ideas could form a major part of Labour’s manifesto at the 2015 general election.

Looking ahead to the report’s publication, Cruddas says: “It sets out three broad strategies for social renewal: spread power and responsibility to build democracy and strengthen society; foster contribution and reciprocity to re-establish a sense of fairness and justice; and strengthen our shared institutions to help tackle social problems for good. These establish the foundations on which we can build a competitive wealth-creating economy.”

The report will contain proposals for a one-off levy of £450m on Britain’s £180bn consumer credit industry which the IPPR says could create enough affordable lenders to take on Britain’s legal loan sharks.

It says that, as well as a new legal cap on the total cost of credit, Britain needs a new generation of not-for-profit lenders with enough capital to compete with firms like Wonga, Quick Quid and Payday Express.

The IPPR launch will be followed later in the summer by Andrew Adonis’s growth review, which will focus on developing the economic potential of cities. Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester city council, will then publish work by his local government innovation taskforce setting out plans to redistribute power across England and reform public services so that they can be tailored better to meet local needs.

Source –  Welfare News Service,  15 June 2014


    • James

      Oh, boy.

      Does anybody remember when Dame Shirley Porter’s old stomping ground Westminster Council suggested cutting Housing Benefit to obese claimants unless they went to the gym, dieted and got their weight down to a level acceptable to the council?

      Is this the shape of things to come under Labour?

      All those months and months of soul-searching by Cruddas and company and the unelected NuLab IPPR are still calling the shots as far as policy goes. Best forget about 2015 and look to 2020 when the awful Yvette Cooper will be Labour leader the constituency boundaries have been redrawn disadvantaging Labour and Britain is on its way out of the EU.

      There appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

  1. Mike Sivier

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Labour wants Housing Benefit to be run by councils, right after the Conservatives have taken Housing Benefit away from councils… You can tell that something has been going wrong in our system for a considerable number of years, can’t you?

  2. lili

    or one could argue, if they’re so against the idea of ‘something for nothing’ culture, they’d abolish themselves first?

  3. amnesiaclinic

    Why always the rider that everything has to be done within strict budgets and more cuts??? Come on, there is plenty of money! It’s just that it’s going to the rich so it looks as if labour are going to carry on with business as usual.

  4. Sue Marsh

    When this whole strengthened contribution schtick was floated, we immediately asked the obvious question – what about those that can’t contribute through disability, ill health, caring responsibilities etc?

    Believe me, I’ve asked the great and the good. My overall impression is “don’t you worry about that”. But oh I do. We’ve see exactly what a governments that DON’T care can do.

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