Unions and children’s charities yesterday condemned Work and Pensions Secretary Duncan Smith’s offer to raid the Welfare Budget by another £3 billion a year to hand the money over to the Armed Forces and Police.
They also hit out at Chancellor Osborne’s announcement that he is planning another £11.5bn of cuts and that he has already reached agreement with seven government departments to achieve them.
Smith made his offer personally to the Defence and Home Secretaries after they raised concerns about the impact on ‘national security’ of further spending cuts.
Smith said he would fund his offer by restricting housing benefits for the under-25s and put a cap on welfare payments to families with more than two children.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow slammed the move, telling News Line: ‘It doesn’t suprise me from a government that is determined to smash the Welfare State.
‘What we want is properly funded social services and properly funded police and emergency services.’
Tim Nichols, a spokesman for the Child Poverty Action Group told News Line: ‘Families are already facing such deep cuts to basic support that the Institute for Fiscal Studies is warning of a major surge in child poverty.
‘This includes freezes to child benefits and elements of tax credits, as well as a cap to keep increases to tax credits and benefits behind rising prices families face for the next few years.
‘We cannot put the nation’s children at further risk and their wellbeing must be a high priority.’
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison, said: ‘This latest round of government public spending cuts again targets the most vulnerable in our society.
‘It is sickening to see the spectacle of government ministers offering up services to be cut, with no concern for the consequences.
‘There is an alternative to this cruel catalogue of cuts.
‘We need a programme that creates jobs, growth and prosperity to give hope to people and particularly to our young struggling to find work.’
Public and Commercial Services Union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘This government’s brutal assault on our Welfare State and people who are entitled to benefits is an absolute scandal and should face the widest possible opposition from trade unions and the public.’
The departments which are said to have agreed to cuts of between 8% and 10% are: Ministry of Justice, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office and the Northern Ireland Office.