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Tag Archives: Iain Duncan Smith

For a statement initially viewed as “inconsequential” and “one to forget”, the political shockwaves from George Osborne’s mid-March budget continue to reverberate.

The rumblings over the planned £1.3bn-a-year “cut” to disability benefits, specifically Personal Independence Payments, started early. I use inverted commas because the Chancellor actually proposed a reduction in the planned increase in spending on PIPs – made to adults with long-term disabilities that restrict mobility and the completion of daily tasks.

PIPs expenditure is still set to rise, the budget documents show, from £16.2bn this year to £18.2bn in 2019. And the cost of the benefit has anyway already spiralled. As recently as 2013, the Office for Budget Responsibility put the PIPs bill for 2019 at around £14bn. Yet Osborne just allocated over £4bn more for PIPs spending that year in his latest budget.

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Since the Conservative party conference in Manchester, much ink has been spent and airtime filled poring over the speeches of Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Johnson. Among the Westminster cognoscenti, some relatively clear conclusions have emerged.

The Prime Minister is “at the height of his powers”, we read, his speech “shifting his party to the centre-ground, like Blair but from the opposite direction”. The Chancellor is “a safe pair of hands” and “assured”, the political sketch-writers tell us, clearly “the leader-in-waiting”. As for the London Mayor, he remains “good at telling jokes” but “will have to show more than humour if he’s to launch a genuine bid for Number 10”.
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