Thatcherites target the welfare state

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Indy Politics
RADICAL CUTS in the welfare state are to be proposed by the Thatcherite No Turning Back group of Tory MPs.

The group, whose founder members include Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security, believes the rising cost of the welfare state is unsustainable and must be tackled.

The Tory MPs decided at a private meeting at Westminster to make a study of ways of reducing the burden of pensions and social security benefits.

Although some Tory MPs regard the NTB group as having been marginalised with the departure of Baroness Thatcher to the Lords, the issue has widespread support. Other MPs on the 'left' of the party share the Thatcherites' belief that welfare provision cannot be sustained. Ian Taylor, parliamentary private secretary to William Waldegrave, recently advocated taxing pensions.

Many Tory MPs would support taxing of child benefit, which is protected by manifesto commitments. The Prime Minister ordered no cuts in the social security budget in the Autumn Statement, but Mr Lilley is reviewing the long-term future of some benefits.

The NTB group, which hopes to be pushing at an open door, is likely to produce more radical options. In a pamphlet before the election, the group proposed that state benefits should be converted into a private insurance system. It said: 'Our purpose should be to wean people off welfare . . . The benefit structure must cease to be seen as an ever-growing tax- funded and state-managed colossus supporting an entire underclass.'