Lib Dem peers help inflict Lords defeat over Coalition’s benefit cap plan

The BBC reports the result of tonight’s defeat for the Coalition in the House of Lords over the controversial government plans to introduce a £500 a week benefit cap:

The government has been defeated in the Lords in a vote on its plans for a £26,000-a-year household benefit cap. Lib Dem, Labour and crossbench peers backed a bishop’s amendment by 252 to 237 that child benefit should not be included in the cap. Critics argued that imposing the same cap on all families, regardless of size, would penalise children. The government said it was “very disappointed” and the vote “clearly flies in the face of public opinion”.

Lib Dem peers split 26 in favour of the amendment (and therefore against the Coalition) and 39 against the amendment (and therefore backing the Coalition position).

Here’s the named vote…

Lib Dem peers who voted for the amendment:

    Allan of Hallam, Lord
    Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, Lord
    Avebury, Lord
    Benjamin, Baroness
    Cotter, Lord
    Doocey, Baroness
    Dykes, Lord
    Greaves, Lord
    Harris of Richmond, Baroness
    Hussain, Lord
    Hussein-Ece, Baroness
    Kirkwood of Kirkhope, Lord
    Macdonald of River Glaven, Lord
    Maclennan of Rogart, Lord
    Miller of Chilthorne Domer, Baroness
    Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, Lord
    Redesdale, Lord
    Roberts of Llandudno, Lord
    Smith of Clifton, Lord
    Taylor of Goss Moor, Lord
    Thomas of Winchester, Baroness
    Tonge, Baroness
    Tyler of Enfield, Baroness
    Tyler, Lord
    Walmsley, Baroness
    Williams of Crosby, Baroness

Lib Dem peers who voted against the amendment:

    Addington, Lord
    Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, Baroness
    Brinton, Baroness
    Burnett, Lord
    Carlile of Berriew, Lord
    Clement-Jones, Lord
    Dholakia, Lord
    Falkner of Margravine, Baroness
    Garden of Frognal, Baroness
    German, Lord
    Goodhart, Lord
    Jolly, Baroness
    Kramer, Baroness
    Lee of Trafford, Lord
    Lester of Herne Hill, Lord
    Loomba, Lord
    Maddock, Baroness
    Marks of Henley-on-Thames, Lord
    McNally, Lord
    Newby, Lord
    Northover, Baroness
    Randerson, Baroness
    Razzall, Lord
    Rennard, Lord
    Rodgers of Quarry Bank, Lord
    Scott of Needham Market, Baroness
    Sharkey, Lord
    Sharp of Guildford, Baroness
    Shipley, Lord
    Shutt of Greetland, Lord
    Stoneham of Droxford, Lord
    Strasburger, Lord
    Taverne, Lord
    Teverson, Lord
    Thomas of Gresford, Lord
    Tope, Lord
    Tordoff, Lord
    Wallace of Saltaire, Lord
    Wallace of Tankerness, Lord

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Barry George 23rd Jan '12 - 8:58pm

    I am pleased to see Lord Ashdown and others votiing to keep families together… If only LIberal Democrat MP’s could show the same moral fibre then this badly thought out policy would be scrapped….

    Unless of course you read the Daily Mail or The Sun … iI which case this is a tragic missed opportunity to kick the poor whilst keeping the votes of the private landlords who are in ALL cases the grateful recipients of the money that in most cases the claimant will never even see.

    62p a day per person (as referred to in a previous article on this site) is clearly too much money for the unemployed to live on … so lets continue to make it sound like they are actually living the life of a king on more than £26000 a year…

    Oh what would we do without the the right wing press creating (yet another) moral panic for us all to get upset about….

    When people start attacking priests for standing up for children then you know that the Conservatives must be in power…

  • C H Ingoldby 23rd Jan '12 - 9:06pm

    The benefits cap is correct on moral grounds.

    When people have a better standard of living as welfare claimants than those who have to work then the social contract is being broken. It is immoral.

    Shame on those who vote against this necessary reform.

  • David Pollard 23rd Jan '12 - 9:13pm

    Barry has put his finger on it. The main beneficiary of housing benefit is the landlord who’s rental income is subsidised by the tax payer. A single divorced mother with 5 children was interviewed and claimed the children would suffer with the cap. No one asked her how much the father of her children was paying for their maintenance. The ‘authorities’ should be putting their efforts into getting the money out of him. The taxpayer liability should be limited.

  • I despair – I voted Lib Dem at the general election (and other elections) and have been unhappy with most of the austerity measures introduced by the Coalition, however the first measure I actually support is this benefit cap and what happens? The dozy Lib Dem peers help defeat the plan! It is blatantly absurd and unfair that people can claim more than the national average wage (after tax) for doing nothing, year after year. Moreover, it is particularly unfair that ordinary hard-working taxpayers are hugely subsidising irresponsible and selfish people who have large families of 5, 6, 7 or more children. The UK is already grossly overpopulated and the last thing we should be doing is encouraging large families. Consequently, of all benefits, the one that should most definitely be cut is child benefit. In the long-term encouraging people to have more children than they can afford (by subsidising with generous benefits) only increases and perpetuates child poverty.

    Since the General Election the Lib Dems have been a constant source of disappointment, but on this occasion “I agree with Nick”, since I understand that Mr Clegg did argue in favour of the benefit cap, inclusive of child benefit.

  • Mike Barnes 23rd Jan '12 - 9:20pm

    A cap on rents and a national living wage would do far more to help ‘MAKE WORK PAY’ (as IDS keeps screaming is his intention).

  • Further to my previous comment, I would just like to add that, with regard to housing benefit, the introduction of a benefit cap should be accompanied by rent controls to counter unscrupulous and greedy landlords.

    As for David Pollard’s anecdote – “A single divorced mother with 5 children…”. 5 chlldren – enough said! I’m sorry, but these irresponsible people who are destroying our environment by their unfettered selfishness make me angry.

  • Barry George 23rd Jan '12 - 9:29pm


    Moreover, it is particularly unfair that ordinary hard-working taxpayers are hugely subsidising irresponsible and selfish people who have large families of 5, 6, 7 or more children. The UK is already grossly overpopulated and the last thing we should be doing is encouraging large families.

    Are you aware that you are advocating a lurch towards the political beliefs of morally bankrupt, human rights violating 1970′ s China !

    Limiting the amount of children you have based on your income is one thing . The state punishing you for having more than a desired number of children (probably conceived with good intentions at a time when you were working and can support them) is a gross violation of human rights…

    It is the children that will suffer .. not the parents (whether responsible or irresponsible ) and you have no choice about your birth or the employment status of your parents…

  • So even now there is a majority of Lib Dem peers supporting the coalition….

    To put things into perspective one of the peers who voted against the amendment holds the following financial interests – his name isn’t important but has to wonder how in touch some of these people are and why the House of Lords should be thrown into the long grass as soon as possible.


    Arctic Water Resources Ltd (water company)
    Catalyst Fund Management Limited (fund management company)
    Barton Brown Limited (financial services)
    LawAlert Ltd (litigation alert service)
    Edge IPK Ltd (computer services)
    World Wide Pay Ltd (debit card processor)
    Premjet plc (airline)
    Catalyst Investment Group Limited (investment company)
    Square Mile Capital Investments plc (investment company)
    London Mint Development Limited (property holding company)
    Finurba Corporate Finance Ltd
    North Atlantic Mining Ltd
    Weather Lottery plc (charitable lottery company)
    Ardel Holdings Ltd (Guernsey) (formerly Concordia Holdings Ltd (Guernsey)) (holding company)
    Gameday Enterprises (Australia) Ltd (mining company)
    Bridge Hall Holdings plc (stockbroking)

    oh of course not forgetting his other jobs as….

    Partner, RT Associates (corporate finance)
    Consultant, Jubilee Financial Products LLP (financial services)
    Partner, Argonaut Associates (corporate finance)

  • Excellent news – a victory for common sense over Conservative stunt politics.

  • Stephen Donnelly 23rd Jan '12 - 9:45pm

    @Peebee. I do not understand why you think holding a company directorship should disqualify a peer from having an opinion.

  • Barry George 23rd Jan '12 - 9:55pm


    I respectfully read your comments but I am afraid that our moral compasses point in opposite directions. You support this policy because it is “popular” so I assume you also support the “popular” opinion that we should bring back hanging ?

    The state’s obligation is to protect it’s people… People on benefits with children are still people and the state has an obligation.
    I don’t hear you complaining about the £110bn budget we give to the NHS simply because you haven’t needed their services this year…
    Using your logic why should the state pay for the medical care of sick people from the tax returns of the healthy ? People should have taken better care of their health… stopped smoking .. not eaten that bacon sandwich and then we would not need the tax payer to pay for the life style choices of the sick…

    why are you questioning this “state obligation” and not others ?

    I suspect in most cases it is because of the moral panic created by the right wing press and Government…

    Rest assured that our minds will not meet on this subject so it is probably best to not further our discussion but I will if you insist…

  • Severe rent restrictions would be a more effective form of capital taxation than the Mansion Tax. Trouble is that the coalition in favour of such a measure wouldn’t include the Conservatives. or many landlord Labour MPs either?

  • Just because something is “popular” doesn’t make it right. An awful lot of long-standing LibDem values would have to be overturned if the only criteria is that they must be “popular” (as defined by the Sun, Mail etc).

    As a parent in one of those “hard-working families” Mr Clegg is referring to, I agree with the principle of the benefits cap but I don’t believe it should include child benefit. Whatever the fault of the parents, we should not be punishing their children or encouraging family break-up.

    Congratulations to those LibDem peers who rebelled (including Lord Greaves).

  • Barry George 23rd Jan '12 - 10:39pm


    “remove disincentives to work and to provide fairness for taxpayers. …..there’s a chance you’ll be redeemed from being perceived as cynically disingenuous. ”

    You holding the belief that I am “cynically disingenuous” is something I can comfortably live with…

    I see you made no effort to answer any of my questions….

    Why not close the NHS as it will “remove disincentives to living a healthy lifestyle and to provide fairness for taxpayers ?”

    I would like to add an opinion of what sort of moral values a person would have if they hold the views that you do regarding the welfare of innocent children… but I won’t

  • Andrew: People are better off in work than out of work under the current system almost with exception – you can still get HB on an income of £26k in outer London. There is already an incentive to work.

  • Well, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I can say bravo – at least to nearly half the Lib Dem peers who voted – for taking (I hope) effective action against a blatantly unfair measure.

    In particular – bravo, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, and bravo, Baroness Williams of Crosby!

  • the external costs of irresponsibility and bad choices should be internalised to be met by those making them

    Most kids don’t get to choose their parents.

    the state only does what individuals cannot reasonably do for themselves,

    Like set up a realistically priced nursery system to enable parents to get back to work sooner? I bet that a) you have no kids of your own, b) you’ve never looked after a baby or toddler for more than an hour or so, c) you have no idea how much it costs to send a baby or toddler to nursery full time d) you have no idea when free nursery provision kicks in e) how limited that provision is in terms of hours and school holidays f) how much it costs to keep a growing kid in clothes and shoes etc etc

    In your world it appears that all the single parents out there are the author of their own misfortunes, so we should take it out on their kids.

  • Barry George 24th Jan '12 - 12:49am


    Because everyone experiences illness, they have no control over it

    Where as everyone has control over their employment status ? Please…..

    Anyone can experience unemployment. It has happened to me in the past.

    Where are the jobs Andrew ?

    You want to “remove disincentives” from gaining employment by removing child benefit from the poor !

    George Orwell would have loved your creative use of language to turn a sickening attack on defenceless children into a positive step to guide people back into non existent jobs..

    Doubleplusgood Andrew

  • “Why is it the state’s obligation, and by extension the obligation of taxpayers (50%of whom on a lower income than those impacted by a cap), to keep the parents and children in families where they themselves have no taken responsibility?”

    I think you just need to sort out your own thinking on this.

    The first question you need to ask yourself is whether the state should provide a reasonable subsistence income for people who are unable to provide for themselves. (The answer given to that question by Liberals has generally been “Yes” at least since the time of Asquith, so I hope I can assume your answer is also “Yes”.)

    If you agree with that proposition, then you can consider whether the state is spending more on that than you’re happy with. From what you’ve written above, I assume your answer is “No”.

    If you think too much is being spent on benefits, then you need to think rationally about how that spending could fairly be reduced. In particular, you need to ask yourself whether imposing an arbitrary cap on £26,000 on total benefits per household would be fair.

    In thinking about that, you may find it useful particularly to focus on whether it is fair to impose that cap regardless of the size of the family. So that, for example, a large family paying £400 a week for accommodation, will end up having to survive on £100 a week, while a smaller family, paying only £300 a week, will have £200 a week to live on.

    Finally, if you still feel completely satisfied with that – presumably on the basis that the parents of large families have been irresponsible, and deserve everything they have coming to them – you need to explain the moral basis for the children of those parents being punished. And you may like to link that up with the Liberal Democrats’ often-declared objectives of protecting the most vulnerable and fighting against child poverty.

  • Oh, and – perhaps the most important thing of all – if after all that you believe in this benefit cap, and if you feel the party is with you in this, WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU HAVE THE HONESTY TO SAY SO IN 2010 WHEN YOU WERE ASKING FOR OUR VOTES?

  • The demonisation of the weakest in our society continues…..

    ‘Sun’…”how unfair it is to workers who slog all day to keep layabouts in beer and pizza”
    ‘Mail’…”An insult to every working family”

    A ‘typical’ example is used….. “A family with 10 children” to show ‘system abuse’

    These ‘reforms’ are ideological…The system does need reforming but ‘blaming families for recieving money they never see’ isn’t the way. Capping rents would benefit not just the state (by reducing HB to the unemployed) but those in work (how’s that for an incentive to work).

    On the day when it was announced that the “governments back to work schemes” are producing about half of the promised results the answer is to still blame the unemployed for being ‘feckless scroungers’. Public reaction to the ongoing ‘crusade’ in the Tory controlled press shows that, as Lenin said, “A lie told often enough becomes truth”.

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Jan '12 - 9:11am

    “The benefit cap is a popular and necessary measure to ensure disincentives to work are reduced, a life on unemployment is discouraged as an option, and so that taxpayers are never asked to subsidise the perks of those not working that they themselves, going out to work each day, could not afford.”

    The cap is completely irrelevant to work incentives — the existence of in-work benefits means that any family that could get as much as £26k a year in benefits will carry on getting benefits until their income is way above average levels. (Some people say that proves the system is out of control, but they’re conveniently forgetting that we’re talking about a very small minority of families to whom this applies.)

    Your reference to “the life on unemployment” holds no water, either. As already noted, there are already incentives to work under the benefit system (and UC will improve that); and this cap, applying from day 1 of any claim to benefits, is in no way targeted at long-term unemployment. The “life on unemployment” problem (in so far as it really is a problem outside the pages of the Daily Mail) is better tackled through the system of administration of unemployment benefits than by attempting to starve out all benefit claimants with large families. (The cap, of course, does nothing to force idle singletons or childless couples — or even families living in cheap accommodation — back into work anyway. It’s a terribly selective solution.)

    You refer to the taxpayer subsidising the “perks” of those on benefits. This makes sense only if you think children are a “perk”. Unlike you, it seems, I’ve raised children. They’re many things, but certainly not a perk.

    “I’ve been unemployed for a maximum of six weeks and applied for at least five jobs each day on the one time that occurred. Because I took my education seriously I’ll never be out of work for long.”

    Ah, one of those. “I’ve worked hard and I don’t need welfare, so anyone who needs welfare can’t have worked hard.” … I suggest you google “flawed syllogism”. (And while you’re about it, perhaps the difference between ‘popular’ and ‘populist’, which is what this policy really is.)

  • Cllr Keith Legg 24th Jan '12 - 9:31am

    In all the often intemperate ranting about this, the people who have been forgotten in all this are children.

    Part of the problem with this cap is it will force families to move areas to find housing they can afford. Not, perhaps, a big deal for single people, but it’s a huge deal for families with children, be it 1 or 10. Changing school at any time is difficult for kids and can sometimes be traumatic; changing school because they’ve been forced to even more so.

    It breaks the continuity in a child’s education – the trust and relationships which will have been built up with teachers and friends will be broken, and will take time to re-establish at the new school. Forcing kids to move at around the age of 16 or 17, when they start sitting certificated exams, is highly disruptive and will likely lead to poorer attainment than would have otherwise been the case.

    I’m glad so many of our peers saw this and voted for the amendment. They had the courage to speak out for children – let’s hope some more of our MPs develop a backbone and stop blowing the dogwhistle on this.

  • I think there’s a fairly big reason why the cap has been designed to hit families with children – because “large families” is dog-whistle code for “immigrants.”

  • “So that, for example, a large family paying £400 a week for accommodation, will end up having to survive on £100 a week, while a smaller family, paying only £300 a week, will have £200 a week to live on.”

    We can argue about the thresholds for this and whether there should be a “phase in” period, but that sort of situation is one that thousands of families with one or more people in work have to face. One good reason for a top level cap on benefits is that when people in work (and paying taxes to support the benefits system) see stories of people on benefits of £30k, £35k and upwards it produces resentment and starts to erode majority support for the welfare system.

    BTW the £26k figure is broadly in line with the Rowntree research on a minimum income for a basic but acceptable standard of living which gave a figure in 2010 of £474 per week (£24,600pa) for a family with two kids.

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Jan '12 - 10:21am

    Hywel: “One good reason for a top level cap on benefits is that when people in work (and paying taxes to support the benefits system) see stories of people on benefits of £30k, £35k and upwards it produces resentment and starts to erode majority support for the welfare system.”

    No, that’s a very very bad reason! Let’s try an analogy: a government proposes to abolish the criminal standard of guilt (“beyond reasonable doubt”) and replace it with the civil standard (“balance of probability”). One might then say:
    “One good reason for getting rid of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ is that when people see stories of people being acquitted who were probably guilty it produces resentment and starts to erode majority support for the justice system.” — which it does, probably. But it doesn’t justify injustice.

  • The genius of the Tories is that they have managed to turn a financial crisis into a welfare crisis. The tragedy of the Lib Dems is that they have been the nursemaids to the Tory genius. Thank God for those Liberal Democrats who turned a deaf ear to Tory lies and at last found the back bone to rebel.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 24th Jan '12 - 10:42am

    A small number of LibDem peers voted for the Labour amendment, but not for the bishops’. Some did the opposite. It would be interesting to hear some of their reasons for supporting one amendment but not the other.

    How many LibDem peers are there? How many of them failed to vote on either amendment?

    Were these “rebellions” carefully managed to ensure that the Labour amendment was defeated, but not too heavily while the bishops’ amendment was passed but, again, not by to large a majority?

  • Nick (not Clegg) 24th Jan '12 - 10:45am

    Whoops: missed an “o”: “to” in my last sentence above should be “too”!

  • “BTW the £26k figure is broadly in line with the Rowntree research on a minimum income for a basic but acceptable standard of living which gave a figure in 2010 of £474 per week (£24,600pa) for a family with two kids.”

    The trouble is that on the government’s figures 69% of the households that will be affected contain more than two children. So a we’re talking about going below “basic but acceptable” in those cases. And if they live in an area with above-average housing costs, then they’ll be pushed even further below that level.

  • This measure is not about saving money. It’s about populism to win votes for Tories. The potential saving is about one-tenth of one percent of the total welfare bill.

    Furthermore, the Civil Service have warned that this small saving is likely to be outweighed by new costs. At the moment, for example, if you lose a low paid temporary job in central London, the state pays you short term benefits until you find another job. Under the cap, you may instead be forced to move somewhere cheaper where there are no jobs, so you will go on living on benefits until kingdom come.

    So, some questions for our brave moralists. I concede that there are moral arguments for discouraging people from living on benefits. How important are they? Important enough to justify imposing measures which (like the prison system, I suppose) actually cost the ordinary taxpayer more money than they save? Important enough to justify measures which, while making life difficult for benefit claimants, also make it more likely that they will continue to be claimants? Important enough to justify clobbering people, such as those thrown out of work through serious illness, who cannot possibly be blamed for their predicament? Important enough to hit the children so as to hurt their parents? What sort of moralism are we talking about here?

  • Nick (not Clegg) 24th Jan '12 - 1:33pm

    May I request some of you to change the subject slightly?

    Most of the contributions above are about the pros and cons of having a cap: with both sides claiming to have “morality” in support of their view.

    But, from what I saw of yesterday’s debate and of the tv studio discussions thereof, it appeared that most speakers were in favour of a cap and that there was not a lot of argument about the level at which it should be set. Most of those who supported one or other or both of the amendments seemed to be not so much wedded to the wording of the amendments as to using them as vehicles, in the absence of any assurances from the government on the point, for getting the measure returned to the H of C for more consideration about “transitional arrangements” to ameliorate the possible effects upon a number of families (mainly in London where there is a shortage of affordable accommodation) who may be uprooted from their homes if these measures are implemented in their present form.

    So, given that the supporters of the second amendment have got what they want and that the measure is to be returned to the Hof C, and given that Cameron and IDS are determined to push the measure through, what stance would those of you who support the coalition like the LibDems to take when the measure returns to the floor of the Hof C?

  • James Sandbach 24th Jan '12 - 2:33pm

    A cap sounds fair and unarguable in principle – but that’s been the problem with the welfare reform bill to date, it all takes place from lofty heights in westminster driven by intellectual principles far removed from welfare users experience, when the real questions and the really difficult issues arise in how the policy applies in practice and what it means for those affected – in this context it’s quite clear that a benefit or tax credit dependent large family with several young children in london inner city multi-bedroom housing and where the breadwinner is unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own (eg poor health or injury) , their rent has escalated massively year on year, options for dowinsizing or getting into social housing are limited to non-existent, and childcare costs increasing year on year alongside utility bills etc, could be pushed into very serious poverty and debt due to the way the cap works…the children and the family relationship suffer etc.

    I’m delighted the Peers rebelled on this – we can’t wax lyrical about wanting to reduce child poverty if cheerleading for Government legislation likely to increase it on the Government’s own indicies..that’s just rank hypocrisy.

    The Welfare Refom Bill deserves challenging scrutiny from our MPs are Peers, with our votes on a clause by clause basis never being taken for granted by Ministers – not because the principles of the reforms are wrong, but policymakers need to understand their practical impact and ensure that the changes are implemented carefully to minimise disruption of low household income families (the move to Universal Credit is the biggest cgange to the system since Berveridge – how DWP manage this, especially the IT, will be crucial), maximise support and incentives to improve skills and employment etc, and protect those least able to fend for themselves like the long-term disabled (again why revisiting the issues around ESA time limits etc is so important..)…there will be high price to pay for getting any of this wrong – so it’s not good enough that Ministers’ responses to these concerns are to intransigently stick to the scipt, stick to the mantra, get the Bill through unchanged at all cost..

    I hope our Peers will take an equally robust approach on the Legal Aid Bill which similarly exposes those at the low-income bottom dealing with difficult welfare, debt, family and housing problems to not getting the sort help that is needed…

  • Tony Greaves 24th Jan '12 - 2:57pm

    ‘Sun’…”how unfair it is to workers who slog all day to keep layabouts in beer and pizza”

    They seem to have missed out the words “Sun-reading” before “layabouts”!

    There was no fixing of who voted for what. Everyone made up their own minds, often after discussion with peers (sic) but no organisation. Paddy’s actions probably gave some usually very “loyal” peers the confidence to rebel.

    There were some who voted with the government on the first and abstained on the second, otyherws who abstained on the first and voted for the second amendment. And so on.

    But the second amendment was as much about child benefit and the principles and effects of that, as about the cap. The government wants to abolish it for one group of people, and only one group. I think that is what produced the size of the rebellion.

    Tony Greaves

  • @Malcolm

    That’s a good point and good analogy. I’d argue that there are situations where criminal justice legislation has been altered to improve public confidence (double jeopardy, bad character evidence, changes to sentencing). However they are introduced with safeguards to prevent injustice (which I’m suggesting a benefit cap should have – particularly a phase in period). Your extreme example is instructive as to how things good get when confidence is really lost.

    Remember, Beveridge identified 4 great evils that he proposed tackling, disease, squalour, idleness and want. Idleness is a harsh term as the number of people who actively choose a life on benefits is pretty limited. However I do think that people unemployed for a significant period of time become “institutionalised” to that way of living and adapt their lifestyle to fit. Certainly, looking back now, that was my experience from the early 90s.

  • Stuart Mitchell 24th Jan '12 - 7:44pm

    Andrew Tennant: “I’ve been unemployed for a maximum of six weeks and applied for at least five jobs each day on the one time that occurred. Because I took my education seriously I’ll never be out of work for long.”

    Thus spake the ghost of Norman Tebbit – “most of the b***ers don’t want to work”. Have you ever looked beyond your cosy personal experience at the latest unemployment figures?

    “I’m taking responsibility for my life, I resent paying for those that don’t to have the privileges I deny myself until I can afford them.”

    Many single mothers once THOUGHT they were living “responsible” lives, only to have the rug pulled from under their feet by wayward husbands and partners. But never mind that.

    The bishops – quite apart from being a superb advertisment for the House of Lords as we know it – have appreciated a point that the pro-cap Tebbits have not, which is that children are not to blame for the irresponsibility / bad luck (delete as appropriate) of their parents.

  • Barry George 24th Jan '12 - 9:36pm

    my single mother got out and worked every day of my childhood

    Same here .. wasn’t life easier when we had close to full employment….

    Of course now you have hundreds of people applying for every job and if every single vacancy in the UK was filled tomorrow the number of unemployed would still be counted in the millions.

    In today’s market it maybe would have been better if your mother never worked. I do not doubt that there is at least 1 person out of the 99 that didn’t get the job that needed it more than your parent did…

    To treat the 99 who didn’t get the job as “scroungers” is of course morally sickening. To cap their benefit by magically including the money that goes straight to their landlord as income is insane. But to exclude child benefit so that some people will have to feed / clothe and support their children on 62 pence a day and then to sell that idea as a positive attempt to remove disincentives to work is morally bankrupt.

    You were fortunate Andrew … It sounds like you had a good upbringing and you repeatedly refer to the benefits of your education…

    I have no doubt that the majority of the unemployed would jump at the chance to swap their life with yours. But even if everyone was educated to a similar level to yourself , there simply is not enough available jobs for people to take…

    The NOS predicts that 25 percent of over 25 year old unemployed will find employment. The other 75 percent will not get a job because there are no jobs for them to take…

    My daughters partner applied for nearly 4000 jobs before she was fortunate enough to get one..

    Please show some humanity and cease supporting the removal of child benefit from the poor under this misguided belief that they are somehow helping people back in to jobs that aren’t there…

    I am very pleased to read that your mother took good care of you and that you worked hard to gain an education. You were very lucky to be born in that family…

    Sadly children are born every day into families much less secure than yours and you do not get to choose your parents.
    Why are you so insistent that the children of these parents should be made to suffer ?

    or more fairly ,

    Why are you willing to allow the children of these parents to suffer as a fair price to pay for the sins of (in the main) a lack of employment opportunities and (in the minority) people who are workshy ?

    It is strange that what you consider to be moral is what I consider to be sickening and a point of view that reeks of narcissism with an unconscious belief that employed people are somehow better and/or more important people than the unemployed … sorry I meant “scroungers”

    Be grateful for the wise choices your mother and you made. Show some compassion to children that were less fortunate than you.

  • Barry George 24th Jan '12 - 9:51pm


    Rational unemployed parents facing a benefit cap would:
    1) Move to cheap housing to maximise the discretionary spending for the needs of their family

    ok …. HOW ?????

    1 months advance rent .. one months deposite .. contract fee’s ….moving fees …

    Unless you are about to suggest that you are personallly willing to provide the thousands of pounds required to move I suggest you supply your reasoning on how the unemployed person on 60 quid a week is supposed to move ?

    Absurd logic….

  • Barry George 24th Jan '12 - 9:51pm

    sorry about bad formatting

  • Barry George 24th Jan '12 - 10:28pm


    And spelling

    Pedantic as well I see 🙂

    Pick any of the following:

    OK i will pick all of them ….

    1) Savings from uncapped benefits

    LOL .. you think you can save whilst on benefits… if you have excess income it is taken away from you by the council in the form of reduced rent payments and increased council tax payments… The government sets a limit on how much money a person needs to live on and the council makes sure that is all you actually get to live on . The government does not assign benefits for savings. It is impossible

    2) Savngs from work I see you make typos too 🙂

    if you are fortunate enough to earn anything above the minimum wage and you are able to save then you are currently forced to live on your savings first before you claim benefits. Although low paid workers are barely able to get by .. so forget about savings

    3) Hardship loan

    LOL …. there is no hardship loan to help you move … you can get them for furniture or a new fridge but it clearly states that moving costs are not provided by hardship loans

    4) Council support

    The council offer zero support in helping you move .. they do not loan deposits , rent advances , contract fees or moving fees… sorry the council just tell you to get lost

    5) Central government support

    You’re kidding right ? You think central Government provides any support at all to help the poor move !!!! the law stands that if you are homeless then you have to “prove” that you would suffer considerably more hardship than the average person who is homelesss to get help … so no money there either..

    6) Friends

    Friends … really ….. like excuse me Mike but can I borrow £3000 to move .. my benefits have been capped so there is no way I can pay you back but you know … as a friend ? ….

    7) Family

    See above …. though friends and family are your two best options …. assuming you have wealthy friends and family …. sadly most people don’t

    8) Charity

    Care to name a charity that loans the full deposit / month advance and moving fees to unemployed people ? I can’t think of any…

    9) Housing associations

    Same rules as councils … in fact the council will try to fob you off to a housing association who also won’t touch you unless you can pay in advance

    10) Furnished let

    Eh ? furnished , unfurnished … full of cats … makes no difference .. you need the month advance the deposit and the moving fees and contract fees

    11) Employer loan

    Does not apply … they don’t have a job !

    12) Getting a job

    I assume that last one was either sarcasm or just plain stupid … They are trying to get a job … thats the whole point…

    Now that’s 12 suggestions .. none of which work …. I would love you to keep trying though … Maybe you do have a solution to the how to move problem…

    But zero out of 12 so far Andrew…

  • There is a fundamental dichotomy here.

    The welfare system as envisaged by Beveridge was designed to offer a helping hand to those who sufered misfortune through no fault of their own.

    The problem with this is that the safety net catches those who fall having slipped, but it also acts as a trampoline for those who chuck themselves off through carelessness or because it would be fun and they know the net is there to catch them.

    I have sympathy with those who say that children should not suffer because of the acts of their parents. But I also have sympathy with those who argue that the current system provides no incentive for people to act responsibly and is grossly unfair to those who do.

    I have two children; I could have chosen to have more, but I made the decision not to based on the fact that I knew were my financial situation to worsen I would not be able to afford to give my children the sort of opportunities and lifestyle that I felt they should have.

    Clearly it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the more children you have, the greater risk there is to your ability to support them should you lose your income.

    So – the question I would ask many of the contirbutors to this thread, is why should those on low incomes who do act responsibly in the fashion outlined above subsidies those who fail to?

  • Barry George 24th Jan '12 - 11:15pm


    So – the question I would ask many of the contirbutors to this thread, is why should those on low incomes who do act responsibly in the fashion outlined above subsidies those who fail to?

    A fair question … But the concern is not for those who act irresponsibly .. It is for the Innocent children of those who may have acted irresponsibly…

    If you said that people who had more children than they could responsibly afford were to be forced to pick up litter. I would think it a bit odd but I certainly wouldn’t be here on LDV debating it. I have much better things to do.

    But this thread is about removing “child benefit” from parents … The money is for the child .. not the parent …

    You do not choose your parents. You cannot refuse to be born to someone who is irresponsible or mentally ill .

    Our members of Parliament claim more than £26k in benefits themselves by investing in their pension .. surely they will have to cap themselves 🙂

    So my question back to you is … Why punish the innocent child ? “child benefit” says it all .. it is for the “benefit” of the “child” not the parent … whether responsible or irresponsible

  • “Why should those on low incomes who do act responsibly in … (not having more than 2 children) … subsidise those who fail to?”

    Well, the vast majority of those with 4 children will continue to receive 4 child benefit payments. The only people who don’t will be those who also live in a high housing cost area (quite probably because it is where they worked or can reasonably hope to find work), have also lost their jobs, and/or have qualified for other benefits e.g. disability. Why would you want to withdraw “subsidies” only from those people with all these extra problems, and not from those who happen to live somewhere cheaper, have not been chucked out of work, and/or do not have a disability?

    The cap is a political stunt. It penalises a few people, enough people to let the tabloids write their horror stories. It won’t save money, and it won’t affect most benefit claimants. Whether they are “scroungers”, “victims”, “losers”, or “inadequates”. Or whether they are “choose whichever demeaning stereotype you fancy applying to dehumanised people you don’t know and don’t want to”.

  • “So – the question I would ask many of the contirbutors to this thread, is why should those on low incomes who do act responsibly in the fashion outlined above subsidies those who fail to?”

    People on low incomes don’t subsidise anyone. They don’t pay enough tax and are very likely to be in receipt of housing benefit and child benefit etc themselves. The more honest question is whether the comfortably off should pay to provide a decent if frugal standard of living to children of poor parents irrespective of whether those parents are responsible or not. Even if you don’t find the moral argument compelling I think we should for reasons of enlightened self interest.

  • AndrewR – thanks, that’s an interesting answer.

    “People on low incomes don’t subsidise anyone. They don’t pay enough tax and are very likely to be in receipt of housing benefit and child benefit etc themselves. The more honest question is whether the comfortably off should pay to provide a decent if frugal standard of living to children of poor parents irrespective of whether those parents are responsible or not. Even if you don’t find the moral argument compelling I think we should for reasons of enlightened self interest.”

    I suppose you could translate this to say “better off we pay the proles enough to stop them revolting, because if they do social cohesion breaks down and we, the well off, will suffer”.

    To counter that, I would add that the social contract depends upon a perception that everyone is being treated fairly. We can see that in the response to fat-cattery. However, it also holds that many people on low incomes who work hard, struggle to do their best for their children and don’t rely on excessive benefits must find it galling when they see examples (who often live in the same communities, lets not forget) of people who flout all the rules and yet end up receiving far bigger handouts.

    This, to my mind, is a far bigger challenge to social cohesion because 1) those to whom this applies are far larger in number than the better off and 2) it sows the seeds of undermining faith in the whole process of support for the needy.

    I agree that the proposed cap is a crude mechanism and has been badly handled, but there is a feeling that something needs to be done to change the system that provdes perverse incentives to act irresponsibly and against basic tennets of self-reliance.

  • Stuart Mitchell 25th Jan '12 - 6:20pm

    @Andrew Tennant
    Once again you offer the argument from cosy personal experience.

    You and your mum did all right for yourselves, ergo, any single mum who fails to make a terrific success of her life can only have herself to blame. Life isn’t like that.

    The best way to reduce the number of people on benefits – apologies for stating the obvious – is to increase the number of jobs available. This has been shown to work time and again. At a time when unemployment is increasing faster than we can count, it is illogical to think that people who “don’t want to work” represent any kind of problem. It’s the people who DO want to work we should be worrying about – many of them being the women (predominantly part-time) who have statistically borne a disporoprtionately large share of the brunt of the public sector job cuts.

  • Barry George 25th Jan '12 - 7:36pm


    Thanks for the links. Shame they are of no relevance.

    The link is for people that need help with

    Care grants (to help you if you are coming out of hospital),
    Or buying furniture…
    The loans available are for up to £1000 (not enough to move) and nowhere does it say that you can get these loans for the purpose of moving house. The reason it does not say you can get a loan for the purpose of moving house is because you can’t !

    I have helped people in the past apply for such loans and they are ALWAYS declined if they are required to move home.

    Shelter is a wonderful organisation. I have had many dealings with them. Sadly they offer no direct help in funding and they only advise that you may be able to get “4 weeks” rent out of the council. As stated you cannot get a loan for the deposit , the moving fees and the contract fees from the council… All of which have to be paid in advance . Then of course you have to pass a credit check and in 9 out of 10 properties you will be refused the tenancy if you are unemployed.

    You have clearly never had to apply for a crisis loan or you would not be making any such claim that help is available…

    If you have a link (from shelter or that disproves my claim that no help will be provided for Moving costs , Deposits and contract fees then please produce one and I will retract my claim…

    Otherwise you are merely throwing out irrelevant (.gov) smoke screens to deflect from reality…

  • Stuart Mitchell 26th Jan '12 - 10:45am

    “I know several families personally that have something between these amounts, some built up from the benefits system rather than prior work.”

    You may be on to something here. Since you seem to have quite detailed knowledge of these families’ financial arrangements, perhaps you could give a numerical example of how it’s possible for a family in Britain today to accumulate such savings from benefits. How much benefits do they get? How much do they spend? Any mortgages/debts/credit agreements? If such a thing is possible, I’ll cheerily concede that we must be paying too much in benefits.

    “in fact I’ve never had the need to hire a van.”

    Good for you, but the huge number of van hire and removal firms in the Yellow Pages tends to indicate that not everybody is so lucky.

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