We made mistakes on welfare, admits Ed Miliband as he pledges Labour cap on social security spending
'We will tackle the deep, long-term causes of social security spending and tackle the costs of failure like housing benefit'
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 06 June 2013
Ed Miliband admitted today that the previous Labour Government made mistakes on welfare as he pledged to impose a cap on social security spending if the party wins the 2015 election.
Mr Miliband said the Blair and Brown governments should have acted sooner to cut the rising bill for incapacity benefit. He said Labour was right to provide tax credits for low paid workers but admitted:"We didn't do enough to tackle Britain's low wage economy... Our approach for the future needs to make good on what the last Labour Government did not achieve." But he refused to admit that Labour overspending caused today's budget deficit.
In a landmark speech in Newham, London, the Labour leader set out "the choice" between his party and the Conservatives on welfare as he tried to bolster Labour's economic credentials and answer Conservative claims that his "the welfare party."
He said: "We will tackle the deep, long-term causes of social security spending and tackle the costs of failure like housing benefit. They (the Conservatives) will not."
Mr Miliband said David Cameron would describe anyyone looking for work as "a skiver" while Labour would "protect the dignity of work and make work pay."
Mr Miliband argued: "Controlling social security spending and putting decent values at the heart of the system are not conflicting priorities. It is only by reforming social security with the right values that we will be able to control costs."
He said the level of most welfare spending Labour inherited from the Coalition would be his party's starting point and any changes would have to bew fully funded. A three-year cap would allow Labour to plan ahead and bring in "greater discipline, as ministers from across departments will be led to control the big drivers of spending."
Mr Miliband confirmed that Labour would not reverse cuts in child benefit affecting families with one earner on £50,000 a year from this January. "It won't be our biggest priority to overturn," he said.
Mr Miliband promised to switch part of the £24bn-a-year bill for housing benefit to housebuilding by allowing councils to negotiate lower rents for tenants of private landlords. "Any attempt to control housing benefit costs which fails to build more homes is destined to fail," he said.
He urged employers to join Labour in a "national mission" to tackle low wages by paying the living wage rather than the lower national minimum wage.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Tommy Ramone dies: Last surviving founder and drummer seminal punk band The Ramones dies aged 62
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price Palestinian children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...