Nick Clegg unites with Lords in battle to alter benefit cuts

So reports tomorrow’s Observer:

David Cameron has been lobbied by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, on the need to rewrite the government’s flagship benefit reform to help children suffering as a result.

Clegg proposed a series of changes to the £500-a-week cap, including exempting current claimants, in an attempt to ameliorate some of the worst consequences of the change, which critics claim will make 40,000 families homeless by making their current homes unaffordable.

It is understood Clegg made his appeal during a meeting attended by the chancellor, George Osborne, and Danny Alexander, chief secretary of the Treasury. Cameron asked the Liberal Democrats to return with more details on how the changes could be made.

The significance of the quartet mentioned in the report is that this ‘quad’ meets to settle major points of disagreement between the two coalition parties. For them to be discussing the issue means it isn’t just a passing idea but a point of serious consideration.

You can read the full story here.

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • By this definition of homeless – everyone that has ever moved house in their life has been homeless. I wish we’d made a stand on disabled kids too, rather than trying to prolong a system that lines the pockets of landlords and ensures appalling low value for money for the taxpayer.

  • Strange that he waits until a ‘wheel comes off’ in the Lords before finding a ‘social conscience’.

  • Well done Nick!

  • Tony Greaves 14th Jan '12 - 11:59pm

    Critics here should just be a bit more tolerant of the political processes that take place within the coalition every day of the week. Politics is often the art of knowing what you want and then being able to seize the moment when it arrives.

    Tony Greaves

  • martin sweetland 15th Jan '12 - 11:47am

    @ Tony Greaves .The peers present during the vote on amendments on wednesday did not so much “seize the moment” as drop it like a hot potato. And Lord Freud acted despicably in trying to reverse amendments at the eleventh hour. Most notably , over 60 LibDem peers failed to support the mandate of their own party.

  • I completely disagree with Nick on this one. All that tinkering with the cap would mean is prejudicing those places outside London that already have a much lower cap with much lower working opportunities. Simply perpetuating the prestige of London isn’t the answer to the problems of the UK AS A WHOLE.

    I hope Northern MPs etc will also speak to the `quartet` in just as vociferous terms.

  • It is a bit “11th-hour” for Clegg to be the face of concern about this policy. Lord German has been engaged throughout, Lib Dem MPs were involved in the Commons debate and line by line through the Bill committee… and the cap is only one facet of the problem welfare reform is causing,

    Strip out Universal Credit reforms which people can be genuinely positive about (though they should be appropriately cautious too) – cuts to housing benefit are not reducing spending, mainly because need is linked to jobs/income. Certainly the housing strategy doesn’t prioritise supply enough to nudge a fall in housing costs. So the cuts are not saving money.

    This all feels like it is about headlines than actual concern about the effect on families.

  • Vince…. Posted 15th January 2012 at 2:28 pm …. Lord German has been engaged throughout….

    I agree. A week ago Lord German posted…”As Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Work and Pensions the Welfare Reform Bill has absorbed most of the past year. There has been some negative press surrounding the Bill….This will have a significant impact on child poverty in the UK and an estimated 350,000 children will be lifted from poverty…..In the Lords the Liberal Democrats have been working hard to ensure poorest and most vulnerable are protected, because we understand that we cannot balance the books on the backs of the poorest……..

    I’m a little confused….
    a) If this is as beneficial as Lord German assures us (after all, as co-chair, he should know) why is Nick so concerned?
    b) If Nick is so concerned, as this article suggests, was Lord German so enthusiastic?

  • Tony Dawson 15th Jan '12 - 6:53pm

    If some serious rent controls were introduced alongside this measure, then it might make some sense and not have he harsh impact on families. But, then, we are in coalition with the Big Landlord Party, are we not?

  • Tony Greaves 15th Jan '12 - 10:20pm

    I am not saying everything with this Bill is perfect, very far from it. I think you wil find that the LD peers who are working on this Bill have been working very hard indeed to ameliorate much of the harm it will cause. But that is not always done by public opposition.

    And Lord Freud acted despicably in trying to reverse amendments at the eleventh hour

    It is not my job to defend Lord Freud. But the amendments were not reversed. From what I gather, the government got themselves in a blather over fairly obscure Lords procedures but the good sense of the House prevailed.

    By the way, the party does not “mandate” LD peers, nor can it do so constitutionally – it can advise.

    Tony Greaves

  • Why does he only speak out AFTER the coalition gets a bloody nose in the HoL though?

  • Clegg has to stop policies like this. The one thing he got right in the early days of the coalition, is the ownership of policies. What he failed to understand, is he can’t opt out that position. If the government implements a disgraceful attack on the poor of this nature, then I will blame the Liberal Democrats, because you are government. It isn’t good enough to leak to the press that you were against it, and wash your hands of any policies that might make your voters turn away in disgust. For a start, I suspect that a lot of this is simply theatre, organised with your Tory allies to help out their Lib Dem friends. A leak here, a little fake discord their.

    When I vote, when the public votes, you will be held accountable for everything this government does. Which is very bad news you, because this government’s war on the poorest and weakest in this country is a disgrace. It will be my pleasure to hold my local Lib Dem MP to account. If you don’t want to spend the next election night watching Lib Dem MP after Lib Dem MP loosing their seats, then grow a backbone and get results. Stop the Tories, and go after the rich. Not just hot air about making the rich and the City pay for the mess they made. Actually do it. If you can’t do that in a coalition, then you have to walk away from the coalition,

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