Labour seek to ‘cut’ incapacity benefit in Scotland

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Labour will try to cut the costs of incapacity benefit if they win the next general election.

 

The admission came yesterday from Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy….

 

 

Labour will try to cut the Scottish costs of incapacity benefit if they win the next general election.

 

The admission came yesterday from Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy who was speaking on a BBC Scotland webcast.  Mr Murphy had been pressed to give examples of public spending areas that Labour might target for cuts by the BBC’s political correspondent Brian Taylor.

 

Mr Murphy said:

“In Scotland someone on incapacity benefit is on average on that benefit for about eight years, that’s a benefit cost of about £60,000.

 

“We have a quarter of a million people in Scotland on that benefit and that’s just far too many.

 

“That would be an enormous saving, particularly in the west of Scotland.”

 

Mr Murphy also stressed the Labour party’s support for the renewal of Trident arguing that Iran and North Korea were not ‘civilised nations’  and implied that families in Scotland would be under threat from these countries without nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

 

However the threat of cuts is expected to feature prominently in the forthcoming election campaign and the SNP’s insistence that they will refuse to support any plans that include cuts to the Scottish block grant have already led to a review by the Conservative party.

 

Labour though have consistently refused to say whether they would cut Scottish funding should they win the UK election – widely expected to be called by Gordon Brown next week.  This week official figures revealed that Scotland faces her first real terms funding cut from Westminster in a decade.

 

Labour’s strategy in Scotland is to try to marginalise the SNP and portray the election as a straight fight between themselves or the Tory party.

 

The SNP are fighting on a ‘More Nats Less Cuts’ platform that argues the only way to resist savage cuts from Westminster is to vote for your ‘local champions’ of the SNP.

 

They argue that Labour and Tory are effectively the political equivalent of ‘Tweedledee and Tweedledum’ with both planning savage cuts to Scottish funding and public services in Scotland.  Chancellor Alistair Darling has admitted that Labour are planning spending cuts “tougher and deeper” than those implemented by the Conservatives in the 1980s.