Peter Hoskin

The IDS plan approaches consensus status

The IDS plan approaches consensus status
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Plenty of attention for Nick Clegg's listening, reading and smoking habits this morning, as well as his appearance on the Andrew Marr show. But it is another of Marr's guests who has made perhaps the most important intervention of the day: the shadow work and pensions secretary, Douglas Alexander. Here's how the Beeb website reports it:

"Mr Alexander also said he backed 'in principle' the coalition's plan to replace all out-of-work benefits with a single 'universal credit' payment.

He said such a move was 'sensible' but he would be 'scrutinising' the government 'very carefully' over its £2bn start-up costs."

battle over universal benefits

In terms of the eternal game of politics, this leaves Labour arguing the toss over specific benefit cuts and the pace of welfare reform. It may not make for clear-cut dividing lines, but we should welcome Alexander's words today – and especially so if he means them. The more support the universal credit receives, the more progress can be made against poverty and welfare dependency.