It was sensible of Ed Miliband to tackle the prime minister over unemployment at prime minister’s questions today. No matter what the coalition says about falling interest rates, if people keep losing their jobs, the government’s robust position in the polls (if not quite a lead) is not going to last very long.
Miliband has tried to recreate a narrative from the 1980s: that the callous Tories don’t care about people losing their jobs. It’s not quite working yet, partially because voters still believe the government is clearing up Labour’s economic mess and partially because the 1980s are a fading memory. At one point, the Labour leader even had to explain who he meant by one reference to Lord Young, the former Tory employment minister, who is back working at Number 10. Read more
The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out in a BBC interview – attacking the IDS plans to make long-term unemployed work for their dole money:
I’ve got a lot of worries about that. I don’t immediately think it’s fair. Read more
The Office of Budget Responsibility faces a big credibility test today. Chris Giles, the FT’s economics editor, has an agenda-setting story that raises doubts over its very purpose and independence. It is far more significant than any speculation over Sir Alan Budd’s departure.
Through persistent questioning, Chris uncovered that the OBR tweaked its Budget forecasts at the last-minute to erase around 175,000 public sector job losses by 2014/15. Read more
There are some real little horrors buried in the fine print of this Budget.
Just take the measure to cut housing benefit by 10 per cent for anyone on the dole for more than a year. Read more