UK minister warns of more welfare cuts

2012-10-08 12:02
George Osborne. (File, AFP)

George Osborne. (File, AFP)

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London - British finance minister George Osborne on Monday warned the government was to clamp down on welfare claimants, shortly before he was expected to outline more spending cuts during his party conference speech.

In an article for Monday's Daily Mail, Chancellor Osborne and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith stressed it was "no longer OK to opt out of a life of work".

The pair hinted that jobless parents and unemployed youths could be about to see their entitlements reviewed.

"Is it right that school leavers should be able to move directly from school to a life on housing benefit without finding a job first?" they asked.

"Is it right that people in work have to consider the full financial costs of having another child while those who are out of work don't?"

Osborne was due to make his speech to the conference in Birmingham later on Monday and was expected to announce plans for another £10bn of cuts to the welfare system, according to reports.

Mansion tax

The reductions are in addition to the £18bn in welfare cuts that are already planned by 2015.

The Liberal Democrats, the coalition government's junior partners, are opposed to further welfare cuts unless new wealth taxes are also introduced.

But Osborne was likely to say he will veto their plans for a "mansion tax", threatening further unrest within the shaky coalition.

A YouGov poll published in The Sunday Times showed that the Conservatives would be 14% behind Labour if an immediate election were called.

The conference is being billed as make-or-break for struggling Prime Minister David Cameron, with potential replacements waiting in the wings.

Another poll in The Observer newspaper found that 35% of Tory voters would want London Mayor Boris Johnson as leader if Cameron stepped down, while 20% said they would back Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Cameron on Sunday threatened to veto the new European Union budget in a show of tough talking as his party opened its annual conference.

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