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Tim and Sam: I agree with all of this although you should make a clerarer distinction between measures to help low income workers and measures to tackle extreme poverty.

Good point UM.

There's lots of overlap but you make a very fair point.

Talking of the party picking up ideas from various sources, what about all the (good) ideas emanating from ConHome?

"Lord Forsyth - followed by today's Sun and Telegraph - urged the party to focus on raising the threshold for paying income tax".

Some of us (Tony Makara, Mark Wadsworth et al) have been proposing that one for ages now.

Nearly two years ago we spoke out against irresponsible lenders and for months we have been trying to get the shadow treasury team to focus on demolishing once and for all Brown's favourite "fake facts" i.e. the real rate of inflation and the fact that interest rates and unemployment are not the lowest in Europe.

I agree that I think we have missed an opportunity here to take a more high profile lead.

It really infuriated me to hear in the media saying that it was "Labour rebels" that were holding Gordon Brown to account on this matter.

I blog on three main topics, it seems - the failed Labour government, the NHS (which is obviously my interest as a doctor), and poverty/dependency and social breakdown - the area I see as the most important issue facing Britain today.

We need to be seen to be the party of the working poor and the party that will help those trapped on benefits.

Many aspects of this appear to be a horrible extension of current Labour-style low-level-meddling and expansion of the role for 'social-worker' types.
We took significant stick over 'Section 28'; I kind of hoped we'd learned our lesson on such value-judgemental-nastiness but ideas like "relationship education" sound worryingly dirigiste [who is to say what are 'valid' relationships?] and any "enforce greater competition in doorstep lending" will inevitably come with a slew of expensive overseeing/enforcing quangocracy.

The best way to "empower service-users" is through tax-cuts to let people keep more of their own money to spend as they see fit, not for the government to give tax-monies to charities to spend on behalf of their 'clients'.

These policies are win-win. Especially like the relationship education one, it's one of the few things the state can effectively do to help marriages.

"contracting of welfare-to-work services to local employment consortia."

It would also be good to see the job-matching that Gordon Brown promised but never delivered. Those struggling on JSA could be put on a placement with an employer where they work for a set period, say, two to four weeks, while drawing benefit. Then if the person proves reliable the employer should be expected to offer the person a job which they in turn would be expected to take. I'm sure business would be happy to take people on if it meant they could boast that they were helping a vital government back-to-work programme. Where possible those offering placement work-trials and resulting employment should be rewarded by way of tax relief. Also those on JSA wishing to learn a certificated skill like hairdressing or plumbing, should be allowed to train while drawing benefit, this would involve attending college or a training placement everyday, being unemployed would become being in training. There should be no policy of 'Standstill' after a given period of unemployment, there must be options available.

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