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March 09, 2008


Neil Egerton

It should be Principle


Now you're being absurdly ridiculous. Welfare is not an insurance system against hard times when able-bodied people can go from school to pension without doing a day's work

And perpetuate two more generations into the same scam.

Osborne is right.


I don't see why an insurer has to be run by the state.

If welfare is an insurance scheme, it should be privatised, like any other nationalised industry.


it matters who says something as much as what is said. If Alan Johnson said the same it would be worth listening to, but for an old Etonian to complain about throwing money at the oicks is a bit rich.


"..the fact that welfare isn't a handout but rather an insurance scheme": it may have been when LG introduced it but it was abandoned long ago. How could you possibly have failed to notice?



You are right and then you are not. He is a wrong in saying it, but then we cannot expect our politicians to represent all classes (would be nice if they would), it's not his fault either he was born well off.


For a blog which is generally so fantastic, a bizarre post. You hit upon some points worth discussing, then talk for the main part about a completely irrelevant ad hominem.

Your attack is similar to saying that doctors shouldn't diagnose patients because they aren't ill themselves. Why shouldn't Osbourne talk about the issue just because he is privileged in life? Attack his privilege, attack his viewpoints - but don't attack his viewpoints JUST BECAUSE of his privilege!


"How would Osborne's life have turned out if instead he had been the son of a single-parent drug addict who went to a bog-standard comprehensive?" He might have ended up writing for Investors' Chronicle, poor lamb.

Angry Economist

What Georgie doesn't know is that it is much much much more expensive to impart skills on welfare recipients than it is to dole out welfare to them. To skill up and get someone employable with, say, multiple addictions and mental health problems costs and absolute mint. To train a single mum, and help her with child care and support is expensive.

That's why much of welfare exists - its about parking people somewhere where you don't have to deal with their problems - i.e. solve them.

Osborne's rant looks like a sop to the Tory right or 1922 committee members.

I won't be voting for Cameron and Osborne. I just don't trust rich millionaire public schoolboys to reflect what I think about the world. But who else to vote for is a moot point. Gordon Brown is just not doing much for me, and Lib Dem, oh no.


What would George's opinion be on the the Sharpe ratio?


Dipper: "it matters who says something as much as what is said. "

Angry: "I just don't trust rich millionaire public schoolboys to reflect what I think about the world."

To read such comments is to marvel at the human mind. The mentality that judges people entirely by their class background is alive and well.

Why do you pretend to care about facts, policies or the consequences of government policies?

Mark Wadsworth

I don't agree with you on the whole class-warfare angle, but it is indeed true that Osborne betrays a woeful lack of understanding of economics and trots out one sound-bite after another.


Michael Sweeney

'There are people who have a right to claim that welfare recipients are unskilled and a drag upon the economy.' Who are they then? This looks like pure class hatred. Oh dear.


if instead of picking on welfare, Osborne had picked on women, or members of a particular ethnic minority, would everyone still think the criticisms were okay coming from him?

Criticism of a group is a lot more effective if it comes from a member of that group. That's just representational politics, not class hatred.

Bendy Girl

Hi Chris, I'm currently writing a series of posts about how the incapacity (and related benefits) system works from an inside viewpoint. You may find it useful
Bendy Girl

Confused Conservative

George is merely trying to make progress on the issue of benefits reform. In my view the status quo isn’t working, and something should be done.

In the current financial year the government is spending £169 billion on social protection. This is the single largest category of government expenditure, dwarfing Health (£111bn) and Education (£82bn). I’m not saying that we should scrap the welfare state - clearly not, nor that there should be massive cuts. Merely that it is socially and economically prudent to look at ways of getting people off benefits and into work.

In the ‘policy‘ section of the Conservatives website, the party’s views are laid out. That:

- Those recipients of Incapacity Benefit who really cannot work will receive continued support

- Every out of work benefit claimant capable of doing so will be expected to work or prepare for work
- A comprehensive programme of support for jobseekers including training, development, work experience and mentoring
- Welfare-to-work services to be provided by the private and voluntary sector on a payment by results basis

- Rapid assessments for new and existing claimants of out of work benefits

- People who refuse to join a return to work programme will lose the right to claim out of work benefits until they do
- People who refuse to accept reasonable job offers could lose the right to claim out of work benefits for three years
- Time limits for out of work benefits - so people who claim for more than two years out of three will be required to join community work programmes

These proposals are bulked out substantially in the ‘work for welfare green paper.’ I do not see what is unreasonable with this set of policies. It respects those unable to work, while placing limits on the amount of benefits able to be claimed by those who can.

Getting people off benefits and into work, where possible, yields huge benefits, both economic and social. Economic in so far as the reduced cut in benefit spending, increased consumption, increased tax income etc (David Freud’s report indicated that the average saving to the Exchequer of moving someone off out of work benefits is £5,000, even before taking into account any additional tax revenues.)

The current system isn’t working - a combination of tax-credit tapers and the abolition of the 10% starting rate of tax, mean that the marginal tax rates facing those coming off benefits can be huge. James Forsyth over at the CoffeeHouse explains that since Labour came to power, in excess of 1m more people face a marginal tax rate of over 60%. This is absurd.

In Australia for example, the introduction of welfare-to-work programmes based on an efficient payments system combined with tough conditions, produced substantial results. The employment rate for participants in the programme was 10% higher than the control group only after the start.

There is a need for benefits reform. It is obviously wrong to characterise benefits recipients as ‘benefit scrounging scum’, and thankfully the Tories aren’t. The Conservatives are leading the way with policies that can actually work.

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