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Conservative conference blog: May keeps the focus on cuts

Theresa May has just delivered her speech on solving the welfare habit – but is it more about saving the public purse?

There was the expected re-hash of previous announcements designed to stir up the hardworking party faithful who have been repeatedly told during this conference that under Labour youth unemployment and welfare dependency has reached dizzying and unprecedented levels.

May announced that under a Tory government everyone on incapacity benefit will be re-evaluated (I suspect this will cost a bob or two!) and those that can work will be moved onto the less attractive JSA. The plethora of new deal and employment schemes will be replaced by an integrated back to work programme and employment service agencies will only be paid by results.

This all sounds pretty good but is it really enough to solve Britain’s ballooning welfare budget and employment crisis?

The Tories have had to do a bit of manouvering this week – first they’ve stepped back a bit on their controversial plans to overhaul the regulatory architecture. And now Osborne’s announcement that the retirement age for men will be increased to 66 from 2016 looks as though it was rushed. Theresa May was the latest to haze over the fineprint – the Tories will definitely bring forward the raising of the retirement age but it now remains unclear as to when.

There were many pleasing announcements in her speech and state pensioners will be comforted that the Conservatives remain committed to restoring the earnings link.

It is clear from this year’s conference that the Tories have worked out their guiding principles but there’s still a lot of work to do to thrash out the detail!

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