Osborne trains sights on welfare budget

George Osborne presents his Budget on Wednesday
George Osborne presents his Budget on Wednesday
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A BIGGER than expected cut to the cap on welfare benefits and a curb on tax credits are set to be at the heart of Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday.

Mr Osborne yesterday insisted he had found the £12 billion of welfare cuts he promised during the General Election campaign.

He was already due to cut the annual cap on what a family can receive in benefits from £26,000 to £23,000 but is now expected to go further.

In a further effort to reduce the welfare bill, the BBC will in future have to fund the free TV licences given to pensioners at a cost of around £650 million.

The BBC is likely to get the freedom to charge for services such as the iPlayer but will also be expected to make savings.

The Chancellor yesterday suggested the broadcaster could save money by reducing its online activities.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, he said: “You wouldn’t want the BBC to completely crowd out national newspapers.

“If you look at the BBC website it is a good product but it is becoming a bit more imperial in its ambitions.”

Changes will also be made to the rules governing the rents paid by those in social housing.Local authority and housing association tenants on incomes of £40,000 or more in London and £30,000 in the rest of England will be told that from 2017 they will have to pay a market, or near market, rent in a move saving taxpayers £250 million.

The Liberal Democrats claimed Wednesday’s Budget would show the Conservatives’ true colours after being freed from the constraints of coalition.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake said: “For five years we won battle after battle to stop the Tories pushing through ideological cuts and it was worth it to ensure a fairer society. But now, freed from Liberal Democrat shackles, George Osborne and his band could merrily take the axe to benefits for those who need the most help.”