Have the Tories promised not to make any further benefits cuts or not?
George Osborne said today that he stood by the statement made by new work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb yesterday that they would not seek further savings from the welfare budget.
Below, we detail three key quotes from Stephen Crabb, as published by the Guardian, for you to make your own mind up about whether this amounts to an undertaking not to make further benefits cuts.
Key quote one
“After discussing this issue over the weekend with the prime minister and the chancellor we have no further plans to make welfare savings beyond the very substantial savings legislated for by parliament two weeks ago.”
Key quote two
Asked to clarify whether he is categorically ruling out further welfare cuts, he replies:
“[Labour] are trying to tease out a commitment from this side of the chamber that there will never, ever, ever be any other changes to welfare spending ever again. Well, that would be absurd, wouldn’t it? We know that there needs to carry on being reform. The commitment that I’m making today, based on conversations with the chancellor of the exchequer and the prime minister over the weekend, is that we are not going ahead with those proposed PIP cuts, we won’t be seeking alternative offsetting savings and as a government we are not seeking further savings from the welfare budget.”
Key quote three
Labour’s Helen Goodman asks Crabb if his comment about not seeking further savings from the welfare budget means he is ruling out changing the rates as which benefits are paid, or changing the eligibility criteria.
Crabb says that would amount to a cut. And that is not something the government is looking at, he says.
What we think
Our own opinion, here at Benefits and Work, is that the Tories have left themselves an awful lot of wriggle room.
They have said they won’t go ahead with the proposed cuts to PIP.
They have said they will make up the resulting shortfall in the budget from somewhere other than the benefits budget.
And they have said that they are not currently seeking further savings from the welfare budget.
But that absolutely doesn’t mean that they won’t seek savings in the future if, for example, the economic situation worsens or they feel that the courts are wrongly interpreting PIP regulations.
So, be prepared for more cuts eventually – just different ones and at a later date than originally planned.