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How Can Osborne Take Pride in the Damage He's Doing?

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Delivering his autumn statement, George Osborne declared he was "proud" of the changes his government is making to the state pension. Really?

As a thank you for a lifetime's contribution to our society, those pensioners with no independent wealth to fall back on, are facing their retirement living in poverty.

As energy companies ratchet up prices again, it is not overstating it to say that this winter, thousands of older people will die simply because they cannot afford to heat their homes.

Is the millionaire Osborne - who has never had a proper job or worried about paying his bills - really proud of this?

Not content with condemning this generation of pensioners to poverty, his gift to younger people is that they face having to work until they drop before being entitled to a state pension.

It is a myth that we can't afford decent pensions and the claim that we're living longer is a red herring. Almost two thirds of us will not reach our 68th birthday free from a disability if current trends continue, research based on census data says.

Increasing the pension age wilfully glosses over stark inequalities in our society that mean only the very wealthiest escape having their healthy lives shortened by social factors, such as employment, education and housing conditions.

This is such a crucial issue, we believe the policy is discriminatory and the government needs to carry out an urgent review of its impact.

Elsewhere in our social security system, Osborne confirmed spending will be arbitrarily capped at the start of each parliament. And he let the cat out of the bag when he declared this move was designed to spend "less on welfare", which in reality means more people homeless, more living in poverty, more children going to school malnourished.

Instead of developing a welfare state that supports people when they need it, while ensuring there are enough jobs paying decent wages families can live on, the Tories want to hack it back as a matter of political principle.

Look no further than the car crash that is universal credit, the government's flagship welfare policy which we learned this morning - in an announcement sneaked out under the cover of the autumn statement - will not be fully up and running by 2017 as Iain Duncan Smith has consistently promised.

This surely does not surprise anyone. While simplifying our benefits system might be a laudable enough aim, overhauling it on the back of the lie that people are choosing a life on benefits or in low paid jobs is nothing more than ideological zealotry.

We have previously challenged Duncan Smith to prove that anyone can be better off on benefits and asked whether IDS stands for Iain's Dodgy Stats, given his now famed propensity for telling the odd porkie. Ed Balls suggested in his autumn statement response that it means "In Deep Shambles". I'm sure there are other choice phrases people could come up with.

So Osborne might well bask in the glow of an anaemic economic recovery that is only benefiting the rich anyway. But people across the country whose wages are falling further and further behind living costs, and who are forced to turn to the legal loan sharks and foodbanks in increasing numbers, are left wondering why.

Osborne may take pride in the fact that this is happening in the seventh richest country in the world. I think it's a shocking indictment of a government that has clearly abandoned any pretence that it has anything other than the interests of a narrow elite at heart.

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