16 February 2009
Sir David Freud, the DWP’s top adviser on welfare reform, has deserted the Labour party after being offered a peerage and a place on the front bench by the Conservatives.
Freud’s defection over the weekend is an enormous embarrassment to James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions who brought Freud back in out of the cold after he was sidelined by the previous secretary of state, Peter Hain. Many believe that Freud was not popular with Gordon Brown, who inherited the City banker from Tony Blair.
Freud, who is on record as saying that he believes that only one third of incapacity benefit claimants are genuinely too sick to work, has been reported as believing that Gordon Brown is standing in the way of effective welfare reform.
David Cameron, for the Conservatives, on the other hand claims that he wants full-blooded welfare reforms.
Freud is reported as believing that the private sector should be paid huge bonuses of £62,000 by the taxpayer for every sick and disabled claimant that they move into full-time work. To achieve the government’s target of moving one million people off incapacity benefits could thus cost in the region of 62 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money.