The leaking of documents exploring how the Conservatives might cut £12 billion (bn) from welfare spending is timely, as the British people deserve to know if the Conservatives plan to impose major changes if in power after the General Election.
It is estimated the option to restrict Carer’s Allowance to those on Universal Credit would save £1bn, but it will undoubtedly cause grave concern amongst the 94000 unpaid carers in Norfolk, many of whom would be among the 40% of current claimants who might no longer qualify for payment.
Similarly, removing the tax-free status for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance to save £1.5bn will alarm many as over 40,000 people receive DLA in Norfolk, and some 27,000 Attendance Allowance. This might be of particular concern to old age pensioners, who make up about a quarter of the county’s population.
Whilst it may be true that no decisions on cuts have yet been taken, the leak clearly indicates the severity of measures that would have to be adopted to pursue the Conservative target of £12bn in welfare savings. The leak will therefore help voters understand the practical realities that are hidden within the political rhetoric on austerity and the deficit.
Those of us who have wrestled with unprecedented cuts to local government budgets this decade know that the Tory plan to withhold another £13bn from government departments will mean public services simply cannot avoid being damaged, as the diminishing utility of efficiencies forces local authorities to prioritise instead - which means choosing what they will no longer be able to do.
Again, the practical consequences of this harsh austerity would not be felt until after the General Election, but the public should be made aware of what Conservative and Labour plans to cut £30bn from public spending might entail, before they cast their vote on May 7.
How would UKIP provide an alternative solution? By reducing the Foreign Aid budget by £9bn, stopping a net £8bn spend on the EU each year, easing the burden on the NHS by requiring overseas visitors to have private Health Insurance on entry to the UK, scrapping the £50bn HS2 rail project, and reducing the so called ‘Barnett formula‘ so that people in Scotland do not get about a fifth more government funding per person than the English do.
Although the Conservatives will play down the revelations in the leaked documents, they should be a wake up call to the electorate. Politicians will obviously not expose how desperate things will be post-election because they want votes. So the leak gives a valuable insight into how severe the cuts will need to be, how Ministers put power before transparency and how revolutionary measures, like those UKIP proposes, might provide a welcome alternative. Fortunately, this insight has come to light before the election so that the people of Norfolk can vote for change.
UKIP PPC South West Norfolk