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Conservative conference: All about welfare

If the Lib Dem conference was about tax and Labour was about leadership, the Tory conference is all about welfare.

Advisers get ready to advise. The axing of child benefit for higher rate taxpayers and the introduction of a single, universal benefit is truly radical stuff.

Labour will vigorously oppose the end of universal benefits and will look to build a concensus with some Lib Dems on this as a means to fracture the coalition.

But on welfare reform – there is room for Ed Miliband to back the single welfare to work benefit and signs from Labour advisers they may do so.

For advisers there will be a whole new set of ’state benefits’ to explain to clients as they plan their financial journey. But the new benefits look much, much simpler.

Of course all this comes at a time when the economic pressures make these moves even more difficult to do.

There was a demonstration here in Birmingham yesterday protesting against the cuts, next year it will be even bigger and noisier.

The Government continues to work as the ’Breakneck Coalition’ – with a frenetic reforming pace. The real test of their radicalism comes in the coming two years.

So far the signs are they will hold to their course.

Iain Anderson is director and chief corporate counsel at Cicero Group

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  1. You *can* have a simple benefits system but it has to be generous and allow people to get money they don’t need. If you try to introduce a more tightly controlled system then you will have to cater for the difficult and complex cases and simplicity vanishes.

    I’ve been involved in three major changes to the benefits system in the last 30 years and they were all ‘going to make things simpler’ and ”save money’.

    None of them did.

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