Among the many tributes to Philip Gould, former New Labour pollster, is that from David Miliband, who writes on his blog that he:
brought a dose of focus group reality to Labour’s other-worldly musings about the state and future of the country
Gould, despite his popularity, was divisive within the Labour party: the left resented the reliance placed on opinion polls by its leadership. But he also had an independent strategic mind which was admired by senior colleagues: “He was our own Karl Rove, no one else really came close,” one senior Labour MP told us today. Read more
UPDATE: I have now added in housing benefit – apologies for the omission, and thanks to Paul Treloar for pointing it out.
The brains over at the Treasury are currently trying to work out if there is a way to cut billions of pounds of public spending by freezing benefits in a way that would also be palatable to most voters. As we reported last week, it looks like pensions will be exempted from any freeze to avoid accusations of punishing older people. But what else is up for grabs, and how much could be saved?
Here is a table of each of the most significant benefits paid out by DWP and how much each one costs. I’ve done one column for how much was spent last year, one for how much is forecast to be spent next year, factoring in various policy changes, and one for how much they would cost next year if there were no spending cuts and they were allowed to rise with 5.2 per cent inflation. Read more