The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) is warning that cutting the benefits bill by £12 billion will lead to “radical changes” to housing benefits and “big cuts to disability benefits”, amongst others. They have challenged chancellor George Osborne to explain where the cuts will be made.
Not easy to find
In an interview for the BBC today, Paul Johnston of the IFS pointed out that:
“The chancellor has been saying for nearly two years now that he wants to find £12 billion of welfare cuts by 2017.
“He’s told us maybe where he’ll find £2 billion of that £12 billion. If he really wants us to take seriously the idea that other spending will be protected, he needs to tell us something about where the additional £10 billion of welfare cuts will come from.
“They will not be easy to find.”
Johnston explained that a freeze on working age benefits, which would itself cause increasing hardship for working age claimants, would go nowhere near saving enough cash.
“He has told us he wants to freeze working age benefits. That will save up to about £2 billion. That’s something he has told us. It’s the other £10 billion we know nothing about.
“It’s of course possible to cut benefits by £10 billion or £12 billion, if that’s what you really want to do.
“But you need to recognise especially if you’re protecting pensioners which the conservatives have said they want to do, this will involve radical changes to, for example, the housing benefit system, big cuts to child benefit, big cuts to disability benefits.
“These are the big benefits. If you want to save £10 billion you have to find radical things to do to those big parts of the benefits system.”
For claimants, especially those who are sick and disabled, the result of the next election could well have a dramatic effect on the quality of their lives for decades to come.