Coffee House

What will the coalition do next?

11 November 2012

We are now closer to the 2015 election than the 2010 one. We also expected by now to have the coalition’s mid-term review, the document that will set out its priorities for the second half of its term in office. But its publication has now been delayed until January. This is because the debates about what new policies to include in it are still going on.

The quad—David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander—met on November 1st to discuss various ideas for it. They were, as I report in the Mail on Sunday, joined by Oliver Letwin and David Laws for this meeting with the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood also present.

Claim your gift

Dominating the meeting was ‘earn or learn’. This is a new approach to 18 to 21 year old that has been developed by the Downing Street brains trust which is designed to deal with the problem of people moving from school onto out of work benefits. Under it, any youngster who isn’t in work, at university or doing an apprenticeship will have to take on a traineeship or see their benefits reduced significantly. These traineeships are meant to prepare people for relatively low-skilled work.

The quad was divided about this idea. Clegg feared it was too harsh and worried that the traineeships would be too quality. But, interestingly, David Laws was persuaded of the merits of this approach.

There were a whole host of other proposals discussed on housing, transport and childcare. I understand that Cameron was in ‘umpire mode’ at this meeting, generally letting discussion play out. But one policy, Oliver Letwin’s suggestion to deregulate, social rents was ruled out completely.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • barbie

    Some talk about reducing housing benefit, well that would mean lots being homeless. But we should also talk about the quailty of housing gaining from this housing benefit. Many are so poor and badly maintained the complaints about them have gone throught the roof. Private sector housing departments, within council services have doubled in size and cost thousands to employ housing officers; all at the taxpayers expense via the council tax. Bad landlords have been the soul causes of this. I suggest landlords should pay a licence fee to be a landlord in he first place, with the property to be rented out inspected before its let. If his property does not meet standards required he could be refused a licence. This would reduce the number of complaints to councils and the costs to taxpayers; the licence fee would help with costs of the service which is met souly via the taxpayers at the moment. Why should taxpayers pay for a service created by bad landlords via the Council tax?
    Of course setting rents would help, and a maximum or lower rent expected, like they did many years ago, that was through the Rachman Brothers, dealings with bad housing and threats and intimidation. It had its merits and stopped things in it’s tracks.
    Today we all know its different, but landlords are greedy and will continue to rack up rents if not curbed. We are getting to a state when rented accommodation will be unafordable, and with the immigrants coming in droves just where will everyone live. Its a potential time bomb waiting to be lit. Either legislate or stop immigration from adding to the problem, this nation cannot have it both ways.

  • Daniel Maris

    Either f*** up or perform a U turn.

    • Span Ows

      Nearly all of the U-turns are media inventions.

      Politician says ABC
      Media says that politician policy will mean XYZ
      Politican says ABC
      Media say ha-ha, look, a u-turn.

  • Colonel Mustard

    For God’s sake this is student common room and Titanic deckchairs stuff. The only policy they need to consider is to how to get wretched politicians and their wretched policies OUT of peoples lives. We are not rats in their bloody lab or consumers falling for their latest marketing scam.


      Thank you Colonel! And if Cameron was a proper politician with any sort of nous for his chosen career, he would already have begun the necessary work of dismantling all the apparatus of socialism, that’s if he was serious, not just about saving money and restoring freedom and morality to the country, but about winning the next election.
      But he’s not. He’s a patsy (is that an abbreviation for apparatchik?) and if the political editor of the Beano had a scintilla of professional curiosity, he’d have let us all know by now who Dave’s puppetmaster is.
      Still, I’m with you on the Cones Hotline thing.

      • TomTom

        Apparatus of Socialism = Chris Patten

  • Rebus

    Traineeships to prepare them for relatively low skilled work? What a marvelous indictment of our schools system.

  • Span Ows

    Well at least one thing they can do is tell everyone what they’ve already done! it is quite clear that almost nobody has a clue as to what the Coalition has done so far. They must find the way to get the message out (it is patently clear that the current UK media, not just the BBC, is not fit for purpose)

    • telemachus

      Well span you have not been paying attention
      They have engineered the second dip of a double dip recession
      They have removed benefits from the sick and disabled
      They have saddled University students with a minimum of £27000 tuition debt
      They have given the rich a 5% tax cut
      They have axed child benefit for millions
      No span those who read the papers sadly have more than a clue as to what the coalition have done

      • Colonel Mustard

        Correction – they have saddled English University students. Don’t forget equality and fairness and a “modern” British identity we can all share and feel confident with.

      • HooksLaw

        A report commissioned by Labour recommended the student loans. The coalition amended it to make poorer students pay less than under Labour.
        Labour left the nation massively in unaffordable debt.

        No recession was ‘engineered’, Labours temporary pre election boom stimulus ended. Coalition cuts had not even started

        The rich in fact face a number of tax rises. People like Jimmy Carr show we need a rational income tax system.

        Disability benefits are being widely fiddled and misused. Labours 2010 manifesto said (albeit in weasel words)
        ‘More people with disabilities and health conditions will be helped to
        move into work from Incapacity Benefit and Employment Support Allowance,as we extend the use of our tough-but-fair work capability test.’

        Child benefits are being cut from the better off. By the end of Labours spending spree 9 families out of 10 were in receipt of means tested benefits.
        Labours 2010 manifesto said
        ‘Our goal is to make responsibility the cornerstone of our welfare state.
        Housing Benefit will be reformed to ensure that we do not subsidise
        people to live in the private sector on rents that other ordinary
        working families could not afford. And we will continue to crack down on
        those who try to cheat the benefit system.’

        Labours 2010 manifesto also said that would cut the deficit by half. If you are anything to go by, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.

        • Dimoto

          It’s not really surprising that that list of “promises” and “good intentions”, closely resembles that of the government. Don’t forget that Brown-Balls spent their entire three years copying Tory ideas – good ones, bad ones and indifferent ones.

          • telemachus

            Difference is they cared
            They saved the Western Banking system after Lehman and they brought us back from recession to growth.
            They had economic competence

            • Span Ows

              Well I was just about to rip all your points to pieces (as none of them are valid: Col mustard and Hooks law have started to rebut them) when here you write “saved the Western Banking system” revealing yourself as a troll or a Labour lackie…or both.

            • TomTom

              So explain how they SAVED the Western Banking System dimwit ! Lehman went bankrupt because of UK Bankruptcy Law – Paulson being a dimwit like you didn’t know that UK Bankruptcy Law was different from that in the UK and did not expect London to file. He simply had no idea that Lehman trades over London had swept the cash from UK accounts on Friday to the US leaving London illiquid with the bulk of the Derivatives Book in London and Barclays could not buy Lehman because the UK could not underwrite Lehman’s Deriovatives Positions in ondon with taxpayer funds and Paulson would not use US Government funds because as a Goldman boy he loathed Lehman for the LTCM affair in 1998. So don’t say Brown saved the Banking System – he DESTROYED the 6th SAFEST bank in the world – LLOYDS and wiped out Shareholders by violating Monopolies Laws and putting out False Prospectuses on Llods and HBOS HIDING a £60 BILLION loan from the Bank of England propping up HBOS – repaid secretly by Lloyds after taking poison Kool-Aid from HBOS WITHOUT shareholders being informed.

              • TomTom

                UK Bankruptcy Law was different from that in the USA….and without Cash the UK operations could not trade whilst insolvent….only HBOS could do that !

            • Colonel Mustard

              Come on telly, what say to TomTom (below)? Let’s have a detailed account of how “they saved the Western Banking system” etc., rather than just the soundbite. Let’s have some substance and argument for a change instead of pie-eyed propaganda.

              As with Lindsay it is impossible to expect you to understand that what you choose to believe (and peddle) and the true facts are usually mutually exclusive.

        • Colonel Mustard

          But they got away with it all. All of this has been laid at the Tories door and they have done absolutely nothing to correct the perception. Labour are polling above the Tories. The Tories are, as usual, utterly incapable of communicating truth to the public whilst Labour lies are all over them. Instead of tackling that with determination and resolve Dave is more concerned about gay marriage, breakfast TV and what’s happening in Syria.

        • TomTom

          Actually it was a cooked deal between Major and Blair in 1997 NOT to have Student Loans in the Election but to get Dearing the retired Civil Servant to store the Tuition Fees Scheme until after the election. The Policy was AGREED by both parties in 1997…..Major needed it to pay for Polytechnics as Universities with Mandatory Grants and Blair justified it as “widening access” to get it through The Commons

      • TomTom

        Doube Dip Recession is academic twaddle like counting angels in pinheads. We are in a DEPRESSION and will be for years to come. This is the New Paradigm and 2007 is The Golden Age. Get used to it.

    • TomTom

      They could create a Ministry of Propaganda and issue YouTube Bulletins…….but what could they possibly say that anyone would believe ?

      • Span Ows

        LOL…very true!

  • 2trueblue

    Youth unemployment is a huge issue and ensuring that a habit of turning up to do something is a move forward. Considering we have just seen the US election which happens after 4yrs makes one realise that halfway through our parliament is not enough time to make a judgement on progress to tackle what is an unprecedented time we are going through.
    If the other side think that they have the answers let us have them. Frankly we have seen what quality and talent Liebore have to offer over the past weeks and it makes one weep. Even Harman could not give a single affirmation about Watson today, and did not do her job. It has suited the leaders of Liebore to do nothing in the storm and that says everything.

    • Vulture

      That picture just about sums up the Coalition of clowns: there’s Dave clutching at what should be his chin if such an organ existed; and Clegg spouting his inanities. And then there’s Letwin, the man who allowed a burglar to use his loo; and Laws who should be in clink for breaking them…with such a wealth of talent, and intelligence running our lives, how can we possibly fail?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Depressing isn’t it. When you realise those holding the most important positions in the land are clueless and grasping at straws. That they are treating the country like a schoolboy’s chemistry kit. Cones hotline, Dave, cones hotline!

  • Tom Paine

    Deregulating social rents is precisely the wrong way round. Getting the housing benefit budget down ought to be the priority (deregulation would only raise it). The housing benefit budget is now bigger than the entire higher education budget and all sorts of rules about tracking average rents etc mean that it inflates automatically. Given that most of this goes not to recipients, or even to local authorities to invest in new social housing, but straight into the pockets of private landlords, this is an outrage, a scandal of the worst kind. Why does no MP have the guts to take this on as an issue?

    • 2trueblue

      And the issue distorts the housing market, as ‘Buy to let’ owners get allowances for their mortgages. This enables them to create competition at all levels of the market.

    • John Moss

      Actually, most of it goes to public landlords as it is the source of all the rent paid by pensioners in social homes with no other income and anybody unemployed. Raising “social” rents (General Needs” to give it its correct title) to Housing Benefit (Local Housing Allowance) levels would cost about £3bn extra in Housing Benefit, but would mean capital support to social landlords could cease entirely as they would have surplus income to capitalise with which to build new homes.

      • TomTom

        Make it so Housing Benefit is recaptured from tax relief on BTL housing so the Owner is not double-dipping on the taxpayer for Capital + Running Costs

  • TomTom

    With that idiot Gen. David Richards talking about military intervenention in Syria I would like these idiots brought to heel. It is time British Governments were brought under control…….there is something weird about living in this Oligarchy where They decide to inflict yet more lunacies on the public. Since the 1970s Government has ceased to be under control and is renegade

    • HooksLaw

      ‘ contingency plans in place for a “very
      limited” response in the case of a worsening humanitarian situation’

      • TomTom

        Yes as John Reid said of Afghanistan in 2006 when they went to Helmand: troops would leave “without a single shot being fired.” By 2008, 4
        million bullets had been fired by the British armed forces

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Yes, but a single shot had NOT been fired.

          So they kept their word. Just ask the lawyers.

  • Heartless etc.,

    [Caption] ‘just what the f*ck are you wittering on about?’


    ‘Oh Nicky – I agree with you so completely it hurts’

    Apols – all you people who take this pair of clowns seriously – if at at all.

    • dalai guevara

      Oh heartless, you need to take them seriously, they run shop now. And once they are voted out (given they will not do the honourable thing and agree that they no longer get on), then what awaits us? I am beginning to pack my bags, Plan B and all that…

Can't find your Web ID? Click here