David Blackburn

Osborne and IDS promise a ‘better deal’ for working families. But a better deal is not necessarily a good deal

As Fraser says, the welfare changes, cuts to legal aid and so forth, which have come into force today, have got a universal thumbs-down in the left-wing press.

I expect that the barrage of negative headlines will please No.10 (you cannot make an omelette etc.). It also has the comfort of knowing that the public is broadly in favour of reform. But the government might be disgruntled at the comparatively muted reaction of the right-wing press.

The Telegraph’s coverage is intriguing. It concentrates on the Tories’ clash with the church over benefit cuts, which was mentioned by Christian Guy in a post yesterday. There is also some coverage of Grant Shapps’s attempt to de-stigmatise the ‘bedroom tax’: he says that his children share a bedroom because its common sense.

But the paper also carries a report titled ‘Middle class workers bear brunt of cuts’. The piece is based on Treasury figures that show, the Telegraph says, welfare and tax changes to have made some middle class families £1,600 a year worse off. This sum is, the paper says, seven times the average household loss (£230) caused by austerity policies.

This piece, which is the latest in a line of such reports published by the Telegraph, contrasts with the headline to George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith’s Telegraph op-ed: ‘We’re fixing the benefits system, and giving a better deal to those in work’.

IDS and Osborne provide a clear defence of the government’s tax and welfare policy, together with a clear pitch for the votes of ‘hard working families’. However, it does not necessarily follow that a better deal is a good deal for hard working families.

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