Noel Whiteside is Professor of Comparative Public Policy at the University of Warwick’s Department of Sociology. Ahead of the Chancellor’s Summer Budget, she said:
“The Conservatives will reveal today how £12 billion of welfare savings are to be made in the summer budget. In spite of reassurances from both Chancellor and Prime Minister that this government supports ‘hard working families’ and will ‘protect the most vulnerable’, this seems pretty unlikely.
“The total welfare budget stands at £220 billion: £95 billion is taken up by pensions and associated benefits for the elderly. This remains ring-fenced. Of the remaining £125 billion, £30 billion goes on tax credits, £26 billion on housing benefits, £22 billion on disability living allowances and £12 billion on child benefit. Many of these are claimed by ‘hard working families’ on low incomes: such households frequently include ‘the most vulnerable’. Benefits to the unemployed (Jobseekers’ Allowance and Income Support) account for a mere £5 billion of the total.
“In short and in spite of the rhetoric, cutting state support for those our Victorian forefathers called the ‘undeserving poor’ will not serve the Chancellor’s purpose.
“A few judicious leaks reveal Mr Osborne’s approach. The annual household benefit cap is being cut from £25k to £20k for all living outside London (which will clear the poor out of the south-east). No housing benefit for the 18-21 Job-Seeker. And why should the tax-payer subsidise retailers whose shareholders profit from the very low wages paid to their staff? Working tax credits are in his line of fire as are, in all probability, child benefit and child tax credits. Higher tax thresholds and more hours of ‘free’ (but not necessarily well funded) child care will encourage mothers to work longer hours to make good losses sustained.
“Meanwhile, at the other end of the income spectrum, the highest rate of income tax (for those earning £150k p.a.) may be removed and inheritance tax on property valued at £1 million abolished
“This promises to be a true blue budget.”
Note to Editors:
Issued by Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.