14 Jul 2010

Going up: grad tax. Going down: IDS?

As mentioned here on Monday, the coalition is sniffing like mad up the graduate tax tree. In a speech tomorrow, Vince Cable will point towards it. It’s a weird feat of Whitehall rearrangements that his department has higher education sitting in and accounting for something like 60 per cent of its spending (bit like a cobra that swallowed a chicken). You can see here some of the arguments against.

Elsewhere in the Whitehall jungle I hear that IDS is having a rough time of it at DWP. The Treasury isn’t buying any of his expensive proposals, carefully worked out in opposition.

He’s baulking at even bigger, straight, old-fashioned cuts to benefits than those already announced. The perpetual conflict between tighter means-testing and disincentives to work is at the heart of all this.

Some Whitehall old hands say IDS is the senior civil servants’ top tip as “minister most likely to walk”…  and this is not a reference to the withdrawal of ministerial cars.

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