John Major: universal credit could result in backlash like poll tax

Policy could damage Tories as much as community charge did in late 1980s, says former PM

The former Conservative prime minister launched a fierce attack on the flagship benefits scheme, saying it could do as much damage to the Conservative party as the poll tax did in the late 1980s with a potential backlash among voters.

While the former Tory leader said he supported the logic behind the welfare changes, which are to be introduced for 3.95 million more people from July next year, he questioned whether they were workable in practice.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, have also called for the scheme, the most radical changes to welfare since the second world war, to be scrapped.

The work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, has reportedly told the cabinet that tens of thousands of families on benefits could lose up to £200 a month under universal credit.

Major told the BBC: “I don’t oppose the principle of universal credit, [but] I think there is a real danger that it will be introduced too soon and in the wrong circumstances.

“So I do think we need to look very carefully at how it is introduced and when it is introduced and what the circumstances are and the resources there are available to assist its introduction.

“The argument that it is to encourage people to get into work isn’t an argument that runs, to me, on something of that sort.”

He added: “In order to introduce something like universal credit you need to look at those people who in the short term are going to lose, and protect them, or you will run into the sort of problems the Conservative party ran into in the late 1980s.”

The former prime minister, who entered Downing Street in November 1990, nine months after rioting broke out in London over Margaret Thatcher’s doomed poll tax, denied he was predicting civil unrest.

But he said: “If you have people who face that degree of loss, that is not something the majority of the British population would think of as fair, and if people think you have removed yourself from fairness then you are in deep political trouble.”

Iain Duncan Smith, the former work and pensions secretary and the architect of the scheme, claimed it was working well and that thousands of people would find themselves better off in work.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Universal credit … is functioning very well and there are tens of thousands of people out there who find this a better benefit.”

However, he admitted that there was an issue with the policy as a result of £2bn taken out by the government in 2016, a move which prompted his resignation from the cabinet.

“We should direct the money back into universal credit exactly as it was originally planned to be rolled out,” he said. “The reality is that £2bn that was taken out.”

Downing Street has said that nobody moving on to universal credit – which rolls six means-tested benefits and tax credits into one payment – would lose out and that the nationwide rollout would happen gradually to identify difficulties.

 

October 11, 2018

Sources: The Guardian

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    1 October 17, 2018
  • Trump backs Cruz, bashes O’Rourke as a ‘flake’ after feisty debate

    Trump backs Cruz, bashes O’Rourke as a ‘flake’ after feisty debate

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke has parlayed positive press into a $10 million fundraising advantage over Sen. Ted Cruz; Peter Doocy reports from Houston, Texas.</p><p>President Trump renewed his support Wednesday for Ted Cruz, saying the GOP senator &#x201C;has done so much for Texas&#x201D; and bashing opponent&#xA0;Beto O&#x2019;Rourke as a &#x201C;flake&#x201D; after the candidates sparred in a feisty Senate debate.</p><p>&#x201C;Watched the debate last night &amp; Beto O&#x2019;Rourke, who wants higher taxes and far more regulations, is not in the same league with Ted Cruz &amp; what the great people of Texas stand for &amp; want. Ted is strong on Crime, Border &amp; 2nd A, loves our Military, Vets, Low Taxes. Beto is a Flake!&#x201D; Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.</p><p>Minutes later, he added: &#x201C;Ted Cruz has done so much for Texas, including massive cuts in taxes and regulations&#x2014;which has brought Texas to the best numbers in the history of the state. He watches carefully over your 2nd Amendment. O&#x2019;Rourke would blow it all! Ted has long had my Strong Endorsement!&#x201D;</p><p>The president&#x2019;s tweet comes hours after the final, fiery debate between Cruz, R-Texas, and O&#x2019;Rourke, who aggressively went after the incumbent for being &#x201C;all talk and no action&#x201D; in the Senate.</p><p>O&#x2019;Rourke also seized on Trump&#x2019;s 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign trail nickname for Cruz, openly calling him &#x201C;Lyin&#x2019; Ted.&#x201D;</p><p>&#x201C;Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you,&#x201D; O&#x2019;Rourke said Tuesday,&#xA0;after Cruz described O&#x2019;Rourke&#x2019;s voting record on environmental issues.</p><p>&#x201C;He&#x2019;s dishonest. It&#x2019;s why the president called him Lyin&#x2019; Ted, and it&#x2019;s why the nickname stuck, because its true,&#x201D; O&#x2019;Rourke said.</p><p>Cruz fired back, telling O&#x2019;Rourke his universal health care plans didn&#x2019;t make sense even using &#x201C;elementary school math&#x201D; and alluded to his declining odds at the polls.</p><p>The two also sparred over Cruz&#x2019;s role in the 2013 shutdown of the federal government, which he largely spearheaded as a means of opposing the Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare.</p><p>&#x201C;You want to talk about a shutdown?&#x201D; Cruz said. &#x201C;With Congressman O&#x2019;Rourke leading the way, [there&#x2019;ll be] two years of a partisan circus and a witch hunt on the president.&#x201D;</p><p>Cruz&#x2019;s comment was a reference to O&#x2019;Rourke&#x2019;s past comments that he supported impeaching Trump. Cruz noted O&#x2019;Rourke is &#x201C;the only Democratic Senate nominee in the country who has explicitly come out for impeaching President Trump.&#x201D;</p><p>O&#x2019;Rourke is trailing behind Cruz in the latest polls, despite his record-setting $38 million in campaign funds last quarter.</p><p>The president previously endorsed Cruz, and is expected to hold a rally for him at the 8,000 seat NRG Arena in Houston on Monday. Trump seemingly moved past his rivalry with Cruz in 2016, when the GOP primary competitor famously declined to endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 17, 2018

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