Magazine article Public Finance

Work to Rule

Magazine article Public Finance

Work to Rule

Article excerpt

There might be clear blue water between the Conservatives and Labour on the economy, but on welfare reform there appears to be a strong consensus.

The Tories will argue that this is because the governments white paper stole many of its ideas from the Opposition's green paper of January this year. This, in turn, drew heavily on David Freud's earlier report, originally prepared for Tony Blair.

Gordon Brown, as chancellor, rejected Freud's proposals, famously submitting the City banker to a 45-minute rant. Having moved from Number 11 to Number 10, Brown has had a change of heart and Freud's proposals will now be adopted in full.

The PM accepts that stronger sanctions should be brought to bear on people who claim benefit but are not willing to seek employment The private and third sectors will increasingly be used to find jobs for claimants, while lone parents with children aged one year and above will have to 'prepare for work'.

With Conservative support, the white paper should have no problem making it to the statute book. But is this really the right time to be getting tough on benefits claimants, particularly vulnerable groups like those with mental health problems? …

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