Public sector wages are frozen; this is not popular but the nurses and teachers I meet in the streets of Northumberland, in their places of work, and at surgeries, can see why we are having to deal with our debts, and have got on with the job. One of the reasons I am so proud of our public sector workers is the way they have coped with these tough times.
Separately, the Coalition have decided to increase welfare benefits by only 1%. That excludes most benefits for the disabled which are rightly protected and the state pension which will rise by 2.5%. The Labour party oppose limit increasing benefits to 1% and want to see higher spending on welfare - just as they have opposed every single attempt to limit public spending. As always, Balls and Co. just want to spend, spend, spend.
I believe that at a time when tough spending choices are being made across the board it is not credible, nor fair, to increase welfare payments by more than 1%.
There is also the broader argument – articulated with intelligence and conviction by Iain Duncan Smith – that the modern welfare system acts as a cage for Britain’s poor, rather than providing them with ladders out of poverty. Anyone who has read the Centre For Social Justice Report knows that there is huge evidence to back this up.
As one commentator put it: Ed Miliband’s decision to fight the Coalition for even more welfare spending is the biggest tactical blunder since General Custer said “I hear the Little Big Horn’s looking good this time of year”.