The government is pushing ahead with plans to cut £12bn from the welfare budget despite growing political opposition and widespread anti-austerity protests.
The plans are expected to include capping benefits at £23,000 a year for each family and making cuts to housing benefits and tax credits. The exact details will be revealed in next month’s Budget.
David Cameron has justified the cuts by warning that Britain must stop the “merry-go-round” of benefits dependency, says the Daily Telegraph. He is promising to transform Britain “from a low wage, high tax, high welfare society to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare society”.
Chancellor George Osborne and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith have also defended their plans, insisting that it will take ten years of cuts to the welfare state to “return the system to sanity”.
Writing in The Sunday Times, the two Cabinet ministers said: “This government was elected with a mandate to implement further savings from the £220bn welfare budget.”
Their comments followed a weekend of anti-austerity protests across the country, with up to 250,000 demonstrators taking to the streets from London to Glasgow to speak out against the proposed cuts.
“We’re here to say austerity isn’t working,” said Green MP Caroline Lucas at the protest in London. “We’re here to say that it wasn’t people on jobseeker’s allowance that brought down the banks.”
The government has also been criticised for failing to specify where exactly these extensive savings will be made. “Those on the receiving end of the proposed cuts have a right to know where the axe will fall,” says The Independent editorial.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham accused the Chancellor of “frightening” people by “waving around this idea of huge cuts, drastic cuts, without spelling out where they are going to come from.”
The labour leadership frontrunner has vowed to oppose any attempt to reduce benefits for disabled people or tax credits for those on low incomes, reports The Guardian.