So now we know what's in store if we get a Conservative government in May. Benefits will continue to be frozen - everything except those for the disabled and the elderly. This includes ESA for the WRAG group and working tax credits. It will affect 10 million people. We're told that this is in the interests of fairness, because wages are static. Now before anyone starts blaming pensioners because we're safe for the moment, just think that you'd be doing exactly what the Tories want you to do - turning your anger on the wrong people. It's not only that pensioners vote in greater numbers than young people (and it's a myth that we most often vote Tory), it's that exempting us deflects the wrath and persuades some people that it's all our fault. It must not be a case of everyone should suffer except the wealthy. And you can be sure that they will come for us after the election.
For young people the prospects are very bleak. You will get work (probably a bogus apprenticeship on £2.73 an hour, or an unpaid "internship") or you will be sentenced to community work. Don't ask where that community work is going to be found, that will be up to the outsourcing companies that get the contracts.
That was just from George Osborne. It left Iain Duncan Smith with a couple of announcements. Universal Credit will be rolled out across the country next year. (Stop laughing.) This morning we learned that the chap in charge of it, Howard Shiplee, has quit. He has been ill for some time. And - the real shocker that has barely been reported by large parts of the media - IDS, without waiting for the election, is trialling the payment of benefits on smart cards, aimed at those with bad habits so they can't spend their money on alcohol or drugs. It's for the good of their families, of course. Apart from the moral issues here, which we've examined before, the practical issues are huge. Not least, there is no way of stopping the trading and selling of these cards to put cash in the claimant's pocket. And it's very clear that this would be the only way of paying benefits under a Tory government. How does this fit with Universal Credit, which encompasses housing benefit? Will a landlord have to accept the card?
Before anyone starts advocating UKIP as an alternative, their welfare policies are equally disgusting.