Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the media have paid little attention to the plan in this week’s budget to impose £12 billion of unspecified cuts on the benefits bill. The fact that it could be a matter of life or death to claimants is not something that most of the press are troubled by.
The New Statesman is reporting that the planned freeze of working age benefits for two years would save just £3 billion of the £12 billion in cuts. Even if the freeze were to extend to the whole five years of the next parliament it would create only £6.9 billion in cuts.
They also point out that limiting child benefit to three children per family will save only £300 million.
As well as covering the Institute for Fiscal Studies demand for more details on benefits cuts, the Guardian points out that attempts to cut the benefits bill in the last five years have not always been successful. They argue that “A cut in tax credit entitlements has done little more than put a brake on their inexorable rise” and that housing benefit “is likely to rise in line with escalating rents”.
In addition, “pensioners are in line for an inflation-busting rise of 2.5% in the state pension next month” and, with inflation likely to stay low, they are likely to get “another above-inflation rise next year”.
While the cost of jobseeker’s allowance may fall if employment continues to rise “it accounts for only a tiny fraction of welfare spending” allowance.
There's also an excellent Guardian graphic which shows what a huge hole Osborne's cuts will blow in working age benefits.
Meanwhile the Independent finds that voters are unlikely to be told what cuts to benefits the tories are planning as “David Gauke, a Treasury minister, told the BBC the Tories would set out the details after the election”.