The Labour Party opposes the policy put forward by the Prime Minister that Housing Benefit should be scrapped for those under 25. Liam Byrne says it shows the Prime Minister is "out of touch." Yet a YouGov poll shows by 53% to 37% that the public back the idea.
I actually suspect the Labour Party are painfully aware that David Cameron is very much in touch with the wishes of the majority of people on this issue. Thus Labour's opposition has been less than heroic. A less muted response has come from the lobby groups – "charities" such as Shelter. They have been making the running in fighting the Government.
Given that Shelter's chief exec Campbell Robb once worked for the Labour Party his views are not a surprise. But (as I have asked before) why is the Department for Communities and Local Government handing over £3 million a year of our money to Shelter? Wouldn't the money be better spent providing more homes? (Something Shelter does not include in its remit.)
Then we also have the lobby group Gingerbread – which is effectively a campaign to keep single parents on welfare and off work. Notionally they acknowledge that many single parents want to work, Yet when it comes to welfare reforms that would reward work Gingerbread fight them all they way – thus betraying the interests of those they claim to represent. Its chief executive Fiona Weir has a CV stuffed full with impeccable agitprop credentials.
So where does Gingerbread get the money for its campaigns against the Government? Some from Labour councils – it lists Manchester, Haringey, Harrow, Islington, Camden and Wigan as well as the Labour-run Welsh Assembly Government. But there is also Conservative-run Lancashire County Council, Lottery money and grants from the Department of Education and the Department of Work and Pensions.
They also get donations from non-taxpayer sources such as Unison and the Joseph Rowntree Trust but altogether Gingerbread gets 56% of its money from the state (even that figure counts the Lottery as private funding.) Gingerbread may do a bit of work that is of practical benefit but their main focus is political. Rather than accept there is a problem they run patronising campaigns telling single parents how "brilliant" they are.
The state pays groups that lobby to make the state bigger. This is something the IEA explores in its paper Sock Puppets. Political campaigning is allowed under the current rules to be classed as "charitable." The National Lottery chip in some more money.
Ministers like Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and Grant Shapps should be challenged as to why they regard it as justified to spend our money in this way.