What I want to hear today from the PM

I hope David Cameron will move us on from “cuts” and constant reminders of the deficit crisis inherited from Labour. I think all with ears to hear know the financial inheritance was dire and the country was fast running out of credibility to carry on borrowing. Those that disagree are not about to change their minds.

Today we need to hear that important public services can be maintained and improved, given the extra money to be committed to them. We need to know that the government intends to manage the public sector through a period of slower growth in spending. The government needs to do more, weeding out areas of undesirable and wasteful spending, cutting back their administrative overhead substantially in accordance with their stated plans. It needs to show that the public sector can do more for less and deliver better quality services for the cash available.

Yesterday’s promise of welfare reform from Mr Duncan Smith sounded fine at the high level of intention and vision. The success of the plans will rest with the detail. Most important is how Mr Duncan Smith intends to ensure that people who can work do work, or at least how they can increase their chances of the elusive job offer. The terms on which benefit is offered and witheld are crucial. In the end a series of sensitive and difficult judgements have to be made by officials acting to implement the new policy.

The move to a single benefit paid to people out of work, and in part continuing as an in work top up where needed also sounds fine. It depends on a new universal national computer programme to be devised, and a complete means test bringing together the various means tests around the current benefit system. Again there remains the issue of how it will be set up, paid for, tested and made to work.

The one big cut many of us would like to see is a big reduction in the cost of benefits to the unemployed because many more are back in jobs. Putting in place the two pledges – more money if you get a job, and no money if you turn one down unreasonably – as quickly as possible must be central to making that happen.

The more progress the government makes in cutting the avoidable costs of welfare by promoting jobs, the better. The more reassurance the PM gives to those who need good health facilities, good schools, and access to income because they are disabled or ill, the better. Labour will with certain public sector unions fight a campaign claiming it is cuts all the way and the vulnerable will suffer. Mr Cameron has to show he will not let the vulnerable suffer, whilst at the same time squeezing out the waste and worse from the system.


  1. P H
    October 6, 2010

    We also need something to force, encourage or help the banks to lend (or some government lending scheme that works) to good small businesses. They (nearly all of the banks) are still not doing this and this is preventing businesses taking people on and making investments. The banks after all benefit from the government deposit guarantee and the recent government help. Many of the businesses are still unable to get funding. Even though many on a rational analysis actually a lower lending risk than some of the banks themselves.

    They are not lending enough and even clawing funds back for no reason related to risk and are charging huge fees and margins too. There is no proper competition in the market and it is hold things back hugely.

    1. DominicJ
      October 6, 2010

      "good small businesses"
      Defined how?
      By being a big employer in a marginal seat?

      "There is no proper competition in the market and it is hold things back hugely. "
      Very True, but thats the product of too much regualtion, not to little

      1. P H
        October 6, 2010

        By good I mean low lending risk to the bank and I agree lack of competition in the banking industry is the main problem but given the current dire position some changes in the regulation system to encourage the bank to lend to business is needed.

        For small businesses even a small loan amount might mean a extra job or two is created.

    2. Mark
      October 6, 2010

      "Even though many on a rational analysis actually a lower lending risk than some of the banks themselves."

      That's the problem. Big business doesn't borrow from banks because it knows that banks are themselves risky and it can bypass them. Not so for small business. The solution is to get the banks to write down their dodgy property loans as fast as they can manage so that they have a secure foundation for lending again. Making more dodgy property loans will only make matters worse. Trying to fleece business for profits to convert to bonuses isn't a stable way forward either.

  2. norman
    October 6, 2010

    I was nodding my head agreeing with everything until I read the dreaded words 'national computer programme'.

    Let's hope the lessons of the NHS debacle have been learned although knowing government, where no one ever seems to be accountable, the NHS team will be put in charge of it!

  3. Mike Stallard
    October 6, 2010

    "The Vulnerable" is turning into a weasel word.
    First of all it means all those layabouts in the North (and South too) who prefer to pull the duvet up when others are going to work. They are onto a really good thing and nothing – but nothing – makes the "working class" crosser than grafting away when the vulnerable are lying in bed.
    Second of all it means Labour's client state – us OAPs, sacred single Mums with unwanted children (I know several – do you?), people who are about to lose their child benefit, all those outreach workers and equality supervisors……
    Third (and I am getting the order right) comes the National Health Service and people who use it (like me). We crowd in to take our rights from the ever generous State. In addition, there are rank upon rank of caring people making a fine living out of their "concern". A very fine living. And others hold onto the sides of the juggernaut just scraping along.
    Then there is the tiny minority (I suspect) of people like my late cousin who really are disabled and who really do need quite a lot of care.
    Muddling all these people up creates a false impression of caring and sharing. Also, of course, it guarantees a lot of votes.
    Meanwhile really important things like education, transport, defence and our constitution take a very back seat. Even the debt seems to have been forgotten. And the EU? And Immigration?????

    1. Bob
      October 6, 2010

      Agree, "The Vulnerable" seems to punctuate everything we hear from politicians nowadays and it's been overdone. It's one of those concepts that the left construct and use as cover for their fabian style onslaught. The Tories seem to have taken view that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

    2. A.Sedgwick
      October 6, 2010

      I agree with your comments, specifcally on the NHS there are too many box tickers, who think that is the job.
      As to Cameron, many of us thought that he was a busted flush long before he lost the election – more waffle and half decisions. This family allowance nonsense is an example how inept and wrongheaded he and his team are – more deckchairs and T………

  4. P H
    October 6, 2010

    He could also say:

    We will move to easy hire and fire for the benefit of all.
    We cap redundancy or unfair dismissal claims at perhaps £4,000 for all cases.
    We will get rid of the rigging of the energy markets to reduce energy costs for all.
    We will burn about 90% of the red tape regulations that serve no purpose.
    We will reinstate my cast iron guarantee on Lisbon treaty.
    We will not invest or encourage silly energy schemes that make no economic sense and cost many more jobs in the productive sector elsewhere.
    We will have a genuine incentive to work for all.
    We will get rid of the 50% income tax, Inheritance tax and we welcome investment and enterprise to our country as this will raise far more tax than my existing tax plans.

    I live in hope rather than expectation!

    1. waramess
      October 6, 2010

      Unfortunately just saying it is no good, they need to believe it as well, which they clearly do not.

      Actually I wonder if they believe in anything.

  5. Andrew Duffin
    October 6, 2010

    A period of "slower growth"? Do "more with less"?

    There is an ideological gulf here. We do not want slower growth, we want shrinkage. We do not want the state to do more at all, whether with less or otherwise: we want it to do less.

    So much of what the State has shoved its nose into recently is stuff that the State should not be doing, either because it should not be done at all, or because someone else can do it far more effectively.

    The issue is not doing things efficiency, but whether they should be done in the first place.

    1. waramess
      October 6, 2010

      Their egos will not allow then to even consider this possibility.

  6. Iain Gill
    October 6, 2010

    large computer programme is the wrong answer, i take it you meant multiple projects = programme as opposed to computer logic which is spelt program, either would be a mistake

    the universal benefits as announded do not need a massive computer programme, and dont let the salesmen from the usual suspect consulancies tell you they do

    for a start as much complexity of possible should be pushed out onto the payroll systems with the public sector just regulating what they private sector will optimise if they are given sensible rules

    IDS changes are actually mainly great simplifications, and should allow much existing expensive complexity to be reduced in the public sector IT systems, this should make them cheaper in very short order, if it doesnt i would be asking very tough questions, although you will have problems the way many of the contracts award fantastically for change

  7. AlteFritz
    October 6, 2010

    The mantra "It's all Labour's fault" is sounding tired. I agree that it is time to be positiive.

  8. waramess
    October 6, 2010

    Maybe you will hear none of this because they really do not know. Maybe something will turn up.

    October 6, 2010

    Here at Conference we've found heartening support for some of our proposals on this site in recent months from party thinkers both in the fringe meetings and the bars of Birmingham! The Essex Girls they us of similar rections amongst the ladies.

    These include:

    1. The concept of a 'National Service' organised at county level to provide meaningful jobs for the lesser-skilled with the otherwise Benefits costs passed over to Local governement.

    2. The idea of testing a scheme to offer the services of jobseekers to employers of all kinds at no expense to themselves for periods of 3-months to give work experience and the chance to impress for a permanent job at the end of the period. The jobseekers would continue to be paid benefits for the 3-months given a satisfactory attendance and behavour report from the employer.


    October 6, 2010

    3. Rigorous investigation and questioning of the funds being pledged on our behalf for 'greener energy'. The scientific evidence is doubted by more and more delegates to whom we've spoken and , frankly, Britain (and most economies in 2010) simply cannot afford it. Sums of £800 per household per year on top of current domestic energy bills are being estimated to bring costs to around £2,000 pa at a time when most of us still remember with horror the prospect of a bill in the region of £800pa! 2010 Britain has an excellent case to say that we will continue to plough significant resources into R&D but we're calling a halt for now on the building of wind farms while we analyse the results of those already on stream.


    October 6, 2010

    4. At £400m per week the costs of EU membership are very difficult to justify at any time, particularly now and the penultimate straw to many here is the projected 6% increase in the EU budget when the finances of all member states are under such severe pressure. The momentum for referenda in general and one on Britain's continued membership is growing by the day amongst thinking Conservatives we guage.

    More to come from our site host and perhaps ourselves in coming days.
    Now back to the Conference Hall…

  12. adam
    October 6, 2010

    He needs to protect peoples freedom. Starting with keeping honest on ID cards.
    I cant see how Cameron has the power to stop them, so sooner or later we will see them reemerge in a rebranded form.

    Daily Mail says Simon Schama is Gove's advisor on UK history. Cant you guys find a right wing historian. Schama is such a bore.

    Saw you on RT Interview

  13. P H
    October 6, 2010

    Cameron could also perhaps say.

    "We will not organise our energy policy on the basis of 100 year computer climate projections from "so called scientists" who cannot yet predict the weather on a week on Thursday."

    It would be interesting to see the "scientists" assumptions on the next 100 years of future population changes, all future scientific developments, nuclear fusion developments, all technology improvements, wars, volcanic activity and sun spot activity and thousands of other things they would quite clearly need to know very accurately before any sensible guesses of the temperature in 100 years could be made.

    Clearly if they know these things it would be useful for us all to know anyway. If they do not know the temperature projections are just bunk.

    This particularly when they cannot even show that warmer would be worse anyway.

    Even it they could show a. it was getting too hot and b. this was very damaging then removing C02 would probably not be the best way to cool things anyway.

    I trust no one will explode me for stating the obvious.

  14. Peter T
    October 6, 2010

    Benifits have now become a dirty word due, I think, to the fact that the reason for a given benefit has been only considered in isolation. We have seen, therefore, that Benefit A + Benifit B + Benefit C + Benefit D = A sum greater than what the average worker can earn. This is demoralising for the average worker whilst an encouragement to those on benefit not to seek employment. The trouble is that this example of our wefare approach is not unique. The Benefit System must be rethought and simplified.

  15. P H
    October 6, 2010

    Nothing new from Cameron then other than an attack on a, probably innocent, cancer victim in Libya who was denied the right to appeal his conviction.

  16. brian kelly
    October 6, 2010

    I support Cameron and the coalition but what a totally unnecessry fiasco the child benefit statements have been. It has every hallmark of a last minute 'back of the envelope' policy which has virtually ruined any good effects of the conference. I thought this was the one thing the conservatives were not going to do – hasty, ill-thought out announcements to grab the headlines. What was the overriding reason to make this announcement – irrespective of its merit or not? It has left me very disappointed indeed.

  17. P H
    October 6, 2010

    Where is any sense of vision and direction?

    Anything at all that might just encourage someone to say "yes we will and invest here and take on more staff and have our head office here lets go for it."


    1. simon
      October 7, 2010

      There is vision and real change going on though I agree not enough in areas which will encourage real employment and pay for our future :-

      – production of a proper set of national accounts according to accounting principals which govern companies with all the hidden off balance sheet stuff PPFI , state and public pensions commitments etc .

      – Ian Duncan Smith and Frank Field will oversea a revolution in the benefits and taxation system , simplification , incentivisation to work , general depoliticisation .

      …. a second and possibly last chance to "think the unthinkable" .

      The natural progression will be for them to come up with a proper once and for all solution for pensions for everyone . A solution for the benefit of the country not the financial services industry and where the next generation does not bear the risk of shortfall .
      One that will enable old age benefits to be scrapped and the means testing they embodied to be scrapped with it so people are no longer disincentivised from saving further .

  18. Acorn
    October 6, 2010

    JR, after being diverted for some months elsewhere, I have come back to find you have been converted to lobby fodder. I understand the fact that you are now part of the government, so the whips will have given you your instructions not to rock the boat.

    Your prose above would be great for doorstep pre-election banter, but you are not setting me on fire with Redwood type ideas. When I post a comment, I usually quote a source link that may be of a commercial nature; are these now banned. I see my last post had a link to a "Solvency II" (ARP LLC), which has now disappeared on my browser? Tell me the rules else I'm not playing.

    Reply: I delete all links which I cannot open easily and satisfy myself quickly that they are not going to cause trouble for the site – I also put on a disclaimer that I cannot be held responsible for the contents of other sites.
    I have no instructions from the Whips not to rock the boat and would not accept such instructions. I write as I see it, and have shown my independence of the Coalition government on a number of important issues. I used to delete offensive and potentially libellous material about Labour when they were in government as well.

  19. Martin
    October 6, 2010

    Mr Duncan-Smith benefits reforms are overdue. Replacing a complex system and a cap are no bad thing.

    The one thing that bothers me about much of the present government's thinking is the assumption that there are millions of extra vacancies out there.
    The government is busy adding to the available Labour force by raising the retirement age and tougher benefits rules. Great in a boom when there is a Labour shortage.

    But in a recession? Shouldn't getting young people into real jobs be our priority rather than keeping 65 year olds in work?

  20. Socrato
    October 7, 2010

    I thought DC made a good speech. He clearly addressed the issues that probably matter to most people. Clearly deficit reduction must be the number one priority. With all the transfer of powers away from the state to people, local authorities, neighbourhoods etc we should be able to make even larger savings. Even the NHS which is though of a sacred must achieve more with less. This is done by decreasing managerial / administation and increasing frontline nurses/doctors etc. This needs to be addressed. The aim should be to provide a similar service for a much lower cost. It is certainly possible in my view. Many generic drugs could be bought in India for example for much lower prices. Paracetamol cost only 10p for a box retail when I was there. Indeed, we should also encourage a vibrant private/public diagnostic industry – with drop in centres offering reasonably priced services for those on the go. This would have the effect of lessening pressure on the NHS, providing those who can pay a little more the flexibility they probably require more than someone who say is at home all day for whatever reason. People will complain of course – but they also need to realise that peoples overall health will improve as problems are caught earlier and secondly hospital staff can concentrate on servicing the most needy. This way we could say reduce some facilities in the NHS – perhaps sell those assets and free up some money to reduce the deficit further.

    Regarding energy – we most desperately need to move away from Oil. Even from imported Gas (which by the way is increasing in price to households whilst the wholesale price has been crashing) – a proper enquiry needs to undertaken into energy price fixing in the UK. It seems all rises are passed on but price declines are rarely passed on. This is an easy way for the government to show the people that they do understand their plight and to try to capture back some of these monopolistic/oligopolistic profits. and put that money into the hands of those who need it most. Companies must also learn they need to act responsibly.

    Similarly, our transport costs are way too high. It is that which is hurting our competitiveness as well. Rail in particular seems utterly ludicrous. London underground too. These need to come down and solutions to efficiency and capital investment weaknesses found. Again, this government needs to put more money into the pockets of the common people – so they can spend it and keep small business alive. Large scale projects I think can wait until the finances improve. More coordination of existing infrastructure is required. As activity levels slow – pressure on existing networks will likely decrease. So we need to concentrate on keeping things running efficiently at lower prices for the common man. This seems very feasible to me – especially when looking at the inflated salaries of unionised workforce in UK. The key to keeping activity rates high and subsequently velocity of money is to give the common man back more in his pocket and lowering the amount of (unfair imo) 'rent' businesses in protected sectors seem compelled to require. Ultimately that money has less velocity than money in the hand of the common man. .

    In terms of reducing the actual debt level and the criminal waste of money draining from the economy every year – more radical tax policies should be developed such as a tax holiday for 'x' years for upfront payments. Im sure some incentive structure could be concocted to make it attractive – perhaps tied to the asset/inheritance side of the equation. With the stock of debt at such high levels and the risk of volatility still ever present in credit markets – the prospect of some kind of wealth tax is always present in more distressed scenarios. (undesirable though that is). Anything to get the stock of debt down saves interest payments and lowers overall cost of financing. A one off programme say over the life of this parliament might be able to pull in some cash quickly. With interest rates so low now, it might be attractive. We need to not only reduce the pace of increase of debt accumulation (flow) we need to drastically reduce the stock of debt and subsequent interest payments.

    1. yudansha
      October 7, 2010

      He didn't mention uncontrolled mass immigration. This is without doubt single biggest issue for most people.

  21. M.W.
    October 7, 2010

    Would someone be able to help me with the following train of inquiry?

    I earn £18k a year in a retail job. I rent a small flat with my girlfriend, who receives about £12k as a Phd student. We aren't married, because her family is of a particular religion, whilst mine is not. We don't have children. We don't claim any kind of benefit or tax break whatsoever.

    How much, comparatively, could we be "earning" via handouts, if we stayed at home and produced a child a year?

    1. electro-kevin
      October 7, 2010

      It depends where you are living, however, I can confirm from the other side of my family (it's happened to two of them now) that in the county of Lincolnshire a fully furnished house would be on offer to you from around age of 18 if you are single with a three-year-old child. Also you would be able to stand as guarantor for an equally unemployable relative's loans on account of the income you'd be recieving from the state (yes. this really has just happened.)

      I don't need to get my information from the tabloid press. I've seen it with my own eyes.

      If you want an idea of how much you'd be entitled to why not read this month's edition of the magazine Closer in which one delightful young mother of five children (different fathers) brags about her £39k income, two foreign holidays per year, boob enhancement operations and fully kitted home replete with new laptops and a PS3 for each of the kids.

      This is all way beyond the hopes and dreams of my wife and I. Not that we've ever expected to be living such an existence. But to see the undeserving being gifted such things from our taxes is utterly gut churning.

      1. Stuart Fairney
        October 8, 2010

        I wholly sympathise. Do not expect Cameron & Clegg to do a damn thing about it (save for an awful lot of soundbites and hand wringing).

        If you want change you have to vote for it and change won't come from any of the three major parties.

  22. P H
    October 7, 2010

    You get your rent/council tax and about £150PW. Probably about the same as you get now if you take off tax NI the costs of you both going to work. You could even get two rents if you lived apart so have a holiday home too!

    And you have more time to shop, cook and do other tasks more efficiently for yourself.

    Good plan go for it that is clearly what the government want you to do.

  23. Bazman
    October 7, 2010

    Maybe all benefits could be spent on educating people to the standards, morals and mores of the middle classes. A sort of Norman Tebbit cricket test could then be enforced to get any money from the state without expensive and intrusive means testing to find out who are the deserving poor, or at least who are the chaps and the Gels.

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