Osborne plans another raid on child benefit

Child benefit set to be abolished for over-16s as welfare is squeezed again.

Despite the trouble it caused the coalition the first time round, it looks like George Osborne is planning another raid on child benefit. Everything we've heard suggests that the benefit will be abolished for all children over 16 - a political gift for Labour. Unlike the earlier cuts, this will hit families across the income scale, not least the poorest, to whom child benefit is disproportionately valuable. And Cameron's earlier defence - that it is wrong to tax the poor to fund middle-class welfare - will be irrelevant in this case.

Conversely, it appears that the coalition is now not planning to cut the Winter Fuel Allowance, something that will make it harder to justify the child benefit cuts. An all-out assault on universal benefits would at least be intellectually coherent. Meanwhile, a story in today's FT is very revealing about Osborne's overall strategy: to squeeze welfare in order to limit departmental cuts.

It notes:

Osborne has even been trying to match Labour's plan to cut unprotected departmental spending by 20 per cent, compared with his original plan of 25 per cent. His aides admit this is "optimistic", while Labour scoffs, saying it could only be achieved by financial sophistry on a grand scale, including changing baselines and adding contingency reserves.

There's no chance of Osborne achieving average cuts of 20 per cent but don't be surprised if he still trumps lower-than-expected cuts in defence, education and other areas.

As for Labour, we'll learn more about their defict strategy - likely to involve something close to a 50:50 split between spending cuts and tax rises - when Alan Johnson gives his first speech as shadow chancellor in the City at around 11am today. Check back for more analysis and reaction soon after he does.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland