1) Ed Miliband makes a controversial speech on social security spending.
On Thursday 6th June, Labour leader Ed Miliband gave a speech on his party’s new plans for social security spending in the UK. In a U-turn on previous policy, Ed Miliband said that he would not reverse the removal of child benefits from homes earning over £50,000 and also showed support to some of the benefit caps.
The changes brought attacks from Prime Minister David Cameron who branded the Labour leader ‘weak’ and ‘confused’ on his benefits policies.
Other reforms in the speech included aims to ‘start investing in homes again, not paying for failure‘, and a limit on the length of time those well enough to work can remain unemployed:
‘For every young man and woman who has been out of work for more than a year, we would say to every business in the country, we will pay the wages for 25 hours a week, on at least the minimum wage.
Fully funded by a tax on bankers’ bonuses.’
For those over 25, this would be imposed after two years of unemployment.
The speech has had a mixed reaction from both supporters and opposition, with some agreeing that certain cuts on welfare need to be made and some feeling the Labour leader has played into providing the ‘tough’ stance on benefits and welfare, instead of defending it.
2) ‘Legal revolt’ against cuts to legal aid
Leading barristers and lawyers submitted strong concerns over the proposals for legal aid cuts that aim to see savings of £220m. 4th June stood as the deadline for consultations on the “Transforming Legal Aid” policies, and proposals have been met with severe condemnation from those inside the Bar.
The policies would see huge changes including competitive tendering from contractors who must bid at least 17.5% lower than the current standard rate. The opportunity has seen interest from companies such as supermarket giant Tesco, and haulage and logistics company Eddie Stobart. Lawyers fear the new system will drive down the quality of service in the justice system, as well as see many public law firms close under financial pressure.
Some took to the streets outside the Ministry of Justice to protest on 4th June.
Due to strong opposition to the reforms, the Justice Select Committee will hold an inquiry beginning on 11th June.
3) New report predicts Britain will face a “colossal” bill for child poverty by the end of the decade
The Child Poverty Action Group, who commissioned the report, said that 1 in 4 children (around 3.4m) in Britain will live in relative poverty by 2020, costing the country £35bn.
The report claims that reductions in public spending now will force bigger costs in the future, as more and more families and children face destitution in the wake of cuts.
Alison Garnham from the Child Poverty Action Group branded the cuts a ‘false economy’ and fears the spending review at the end of this month will bring yet more poverty to the country’s children. Instead, Garnham says the review should be seen as “an opportunity to change course and prioritise families with children once again.”
The DWP have enforced their commitment to ending child poverty despite missing their target to halve it in 2010, and admitted there were “far too many children being left behind.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that child poverty rates will rise 6% between 2010/11 – 2020/2021, undoing the reductions made under the Labour government in 2000/1-2010/11.
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass