A new message from Miliband on welfare

Labour leader suggests he would consider freezing the winter fuel allowance.

Amid Ed Miliband's fraught exchanges with John Humphrys on the Today programme this morning there was a flash of new policy. For the first time, Miliband suggested that Labour would consider freezing (or means-testing?) the winter fuel allowance in order to reduce the £79bn deficit George Osborne will leave. He told Humphrys:

What does that mean in concrete terms? Let me give you an example. We took great pride in increasing the winter fuel allowance when we were in government: it's going to be much harder to do that should we come back to power. Of course, I hope to do it, it's going to be much harder to do it.

Miliband's leadership has been characterised by a strong defence of universal benefits (he believes, as Richard Titmuss put it, that "services for the poor will always be poor services") but there is a growing view in Labour that the winter fuel allowance, in its present form, is indefensible. A campaign urging the wealthy to donate their fuel payments to those in greatest need has raised £500,000, a reminder of how poorly targeted the payment is. Last year 65,000 expats living in Spain, Portugal, Greece and elsewhere received the benefit (set at £200 for the over-60s and £300 for the over-80s) despite their warmer climes.

It will be worth watching to see whether Miliband expands on this point in his speech to London Citizens at 11am. As last week's New Statesman leader argued, a commitment to universalism need not imply unconditional support for all universal benefits.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Nigel Farage's exclusive Brexit plan has just been revealed and it's very telling

The panic is over.

If, a week on from Brexit, you're staring at the bottom of your gin bottle and wondering whether you'll ever afford to go on holiday again, then stop worrying. 

There's a plan.

Social media users have been sharing a link to an exclusive reveal of Nigel Farage's plan for the UK departure from the EU. Users are invited to: "View The Brexit Plan that was but together by the Vote Leave campaign, UKIP and Nigel Farage.

Here it is.

Highlighted policy topics include hot potatoes like UK access to the single market, international trade agreements and the rights of EU nationals working in the UK. You just have to click on the red button.

 

Oh. 

It seems the plan might be permanently out of reach. 

Every time you try to click on the red button with your mouse, you'll discover that it leaps away to another part of the page. So far, we haven't heard of anyone who has managed to catch the elusive button and discover the details of the brilliant plan. 

Other plans that have not been very easy to click on this week include: Boris Johnson's plan to be Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn's plan to lead a unified Labour opposition and David Cameron's plan to win the EU referendum in the first place.

As it turns out, a week after Brexit we are still waiting for a definitive plan. In the meantime, you can read: