Tag Archives: benefits

Lib Dem MPs win concessions ahead of benefits cap vote

Lib Dem MPs, including the party’s deputy leader Simon Hughes, look set to obtain concessions from Iain Duncan Smith to win their support for the Coalition’s controversial welfare bill, which will introduce a benefit cap of a maximum of £26,000. Here’s how The Guardian reports the news:

The government is expected to make a series of concessions in the coming days on it controversial £26,000 household benefits cap to win over wavering Liberal Democrat MPs. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, is expected to agree that a discretionary fund should be established to ease the burden on families

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Opinion: Crisis in our social care system, a personal memoir

There is a crisis in our social care system and it needs addressing as a matter of urgency.

I made a public call for cross party talks on social care following an interview on BBC Radio Berkshire last Autumn.

The interview came about because I started a campaign, ‘Crusading for Carers’, aimed at highlighting the plight of carers.

During that interview I was asked what I’d like politicians to do about the growing crisis in our social care system. I was aware of the Dilnot Report and of the cross party talks that took place prior to the General Election so I called for them to …

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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

Posted in News and Parliament | 61 Comments

The Independent View: The benefits cap policy is based on myths

The benefit cap was announced by George Osborne at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2010. It means families will not be able to receive more than a total of £500 in benefits each week – regardless of local rental values or how many children are in the household. As the crucial votes on the cap take in the House of Lords on Monday, it’s important that the myths on which the cap policy is based are exposed.

Myth 1: The cap is just for out of work claimants of benefits

Ministers fostered the impression that this is about ensuring working families …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 31 Comments

LDVideo: Nick Clegg on the benefits cap – “Work should always pay”

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg appeared on BBC1’s Andrew Marr show this morning, and stuck up for the Coalition policy that there should be a £500 a week benefit cap:

“It surely can’t be fair, can’t be right, that you can be earning more on benefits than someone going out and earning £35,000, which is the equivalent if you were to go out and work.”

You can watch an excerpt below:

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Opinion: the problem of Welfare Reform

Ed Miliband has stirred up some New Year’s controversy, not least amongst his own supporters, with the news that Labour is to speak out more strongly against the perils of so-called “benefit scroungers”. Labour are no doubt concerned at consistent polling evidence suggesting that opposition to benefit cuts are out of step with the views of the public.

In reality, there’s little difference between the positions of the different parties, nor much change in the position of any individual party over the last couple of decades.

Across the mainstream political spectrum, few disagree that handing out state benefits too freely causes …

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14 Liberal Democrat rebels help defeat housing benefit cuts in the House of Lords

Fourteen Liberal Democrat peers, including the former party Chief Whip Archy Kirkwood and the former interim Chief Executive Ben Stoneham, joined a successful rebellion in the House of Lords today. The vote, on part of the Welfare Reform Bill, was over the proposal to cut housing benefit payments from people who have spare bedrooms in their property.

The peers voted to restrict these cuts to people who have two or more spare bedrooms, excluding the controversial category of people with one spare bedroom – which, under the rules as proposed, might in fact not have been that spare. Concerns had also …

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Malcolm Harrington: proposals will be of “considerable benefit” to cancer patients

During the week we ran a post criticising the government’s response regarding cancer patients to the Harrington review. Subsequently Malcolm Harrington, author of the eponymous review, has in a letter to The Guardian given a different view from that given in both the post and the paper’s own coverage of the story:

This issue is an incredibly important and sensitive one for many people. Contrary to your article, I believe the government’s proposals would significantly improve on the current system and would be of considerable benefit to those who face the real personal challenge of a cancer diagnosis and

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Opinion: Government must not force work activities on Cancer patients

The main form of financial support for the long term sick and disabled is the Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Once upon a time, cancer patients undergoing radio or chemotherapy intravenously were placed in the support group of ESA where they received unconditional support. However, those receiving radio or chemotherapy orally were placed in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA where they were forced to attend work related interviews and complete other work related activity or face having part or all of their support withdrawn.

My mother died of cancer. A large part of her treatment consisted of oral chemotherapy. Oral because …

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Opinion: Our Parliamentarians must fight for our benefits policies

It was rather disappointing last week reading Jenny Willot MP’s article on LDV last week about the Harrington report and about the motion on the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) which was unanimously passed at autumn conference.

The article seems to imply that, by accepting the Harrington recommendations, the government is complying with the ESA motion and that a big round of applause is in order. We spotted a problem, passed a motion about it and then our ministers and MPs fixed it. Job done right?

Well, no. Despite that being what the article seems to imply, the situation is far from resolved.

By fully …

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Opinion: Oh, what is the point?

Having followed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and then watched Danny Alexander interviewed on Newsnight on Tuesday I have to say my initial reaction was “oh, what is the point?”. That was a reaction to both substance and process.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, as the IFS analysis demonstrates, hits the poorest hardest and those on middle and higher incomes less hard. Most would call that regressive. I’m sure some bright spark can come up with an argument that if you look at the data from a different direction – on the basis of expenditure not income, for example – then it isn’t …

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Jenny Willott MP writes: Harrington – better assessments, better outcomes

At our Conference in September, the Liberal Democrats unanimously supported a motion calling for changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which accompanies it.

Speaker after speaker stood up to condemn the system left by Labour which subjected sick and disabled people to an ineffective, demeaning assessment process that was not fit for purpose. Many will remember the powerful speech by Shana Pezaro who condemned the WCA process as ‘utterly failing many people’.

The motion welcomed the first annual review of the WCA by Professor Malcolm Harrington, and the progress the Coalition Government has already …

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Laws advises Clegg: oppose Tories’ “arbitrary and vindictive” benefits cuts

The Financial Times this weekend reported what it labelled ‘one of the fiercest and most fascinating political battles of the year’ — a battle which looks set to pitch David Laws and Nick Clegg against George Osborne and the Labour leadership.

The issue concerns the amount by which the Coalition should increase benefits: based on September’s inflation figure, this should be 5.2%. The Tories are pushing for a below-inflation settlement, but Mr Laws — co-editor of The Orange Book, and firmly identified as an economic liberal — is urging the Lib Dems to reject such a move:

Mr Laws, considered

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Opinion: Why you must lobby Parliament over welfare reform

A few weeks ago, our autumn conference passed a motion on the Employment Support Allowance (ESA). This motion was passed near unanimously and party policy is now for us to push for significant changes to the government’s welfare reforms.

The reason behind the new policy is that the government’s changes, as currently formatted, would put two million long term sick and disabled people through a system which treats them like scroungers and cheats rather than vulnerable people in need of support. At present, 11,000 people a day are being put through a deeply flawed assessment process, which gets the decision …

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The Independent View: Coerced, bullied and fighting back: living with Multiple Sclerosis and Welfare Reform

I am a 54 year old woman who has had Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis for around 6 years. It involves increasing pain and loss of mobility and, as there is no remission, only progression, it takes me all of my energies to manage.

After the legion of neurological symptoms forced me to give up work I have had to endure the trauma of an Employment and Support Allowance “medical assessment” by ATOS Healthcare (a French private contractor), I have struggled to attend the mandatory Work Related Activity Group, which was not a safe place in my worsening condition.

I waited months for an appeal and won, but live in fear of the brown Department of Work & Pensions envelope that indicates that the whole sorry process will start again, as appears to be the case for many who win their appeals.

If the Welfare Reform Bill is agreed this week, I face the same stress and anxiety in yet another assessment, to test for an already proven condition, in order to retain high rate mobility Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in its new guise as Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 35 Comments

Conference motion: The way sick and disabled people are treated by the benefit system

At 4.15pm on Saturday 17 September, Lib Dem autumn conference will debate the Liberal Youth sponsored motion on the Employment Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment. This motion deals with the way sick and disabled people are treated by the benefit system and the way in which they are assessed to determine whether they are eligible for benefits or not.

The motion specifically targets the time limiting of support to a maximum one year for any sick or disabled people who have made national insurance contributions in the three years prior to claiming, the appeal system which sees anywhere between …

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Opinion: Political reasons for people to back the ESA motion‏

If any of you are wondering how we can improve our situation in the polls then I’ve got a suggestion for you: back the Liberal Youth sponsored ESA Motion.

Now there are all sorts of compassionate, liberal and financial reasons to back this motion. The current system is unfair, inhumane, inaccurate and expensive. But, putting all that to one side for a moment, there are sound political reasons to back it.

At the moment the treatment of people with long term illnesses and disabilities is appalling. The media are starting to wake up to the issue, the government is facing a …

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Opinion: Must do better – Why benefit reforms are in need of reform

Over the last week, more and more articles have emerged regarding disability benefit (Employment Support Allowance) and Work Capability Assessments. I say articles – they read like horror stories. People with degenerative conditions being told to get themselves to the Jobcentre. People being asked to come to assessments in rooms that aren’t accessible to the disabled. It makes the blood run cold.

We have failed to show the public that this is not a cost-cutting exercise. They feel that this is purely a convenient way to squeeze a little more out of those already worst affected. Claimants are terrified that …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 73 Comments

Opinion: The cap doesn’t fit, so don’t wear it

This week the £26,000 absolute cap on benefits is back in the news. To many people £26,000 sounds like a lot of money. It is, after all, the average wage. The idea that anyone out of work should get more than the average family appears offensive. That is why this policy plays so well with the public – and make no mistake, it does.

But the claim, repeated by the Department for Work and Pensions, that this policy is needed so that people on benefits do not get more than those on average earnings is a lie. People …

Posted in Op-eds | 77 Comments

Where’s the list of the ten worst benefit administration blunders?

We’ve had in the media the list of the ten worst excuses given by benefit fraudsters. To be fair, the ladder one is particularly fine … yet when you total up the sums, the amount lost in benefit fraud is about the same or less than the amount lost due to administrative mistakes*.

I’m sure the list of the ten worst administrative blunders by civil servants is in the media grid coming up shortly, aren’t you?

* Calculations on this vary depending on precise definitions and data used, but see The FactCheck Blog for an example.

Posted in News | 10 Comments

Independent View: the Broken of Britain campaign against Welfare Reform Bill

Earlier in March The Broken of Britain launched a campaign against the “anti-disability” provisions in the Welfare Reform Bill, the Government’s main plank for a raft of cuts affecting disabled people. Campaigners, politicians and academics are all agreed that parts of the Bill will cause hardship for disabled people.

A disabled person lies on the beach, having fallen from a wheelchair

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , and | 35 Comments

Rolling news from conference: Saturday morning

Richard Kemp summates on motion, asking people also to back both amendments; i.e. cooperation rather confrontation to improve bill. Some MPs vote for amendment 1, some abstain. Amendment overwhelmingly carried. As is amendment 2. Lines 6-15 deleted from motion, amended motion carried. All MPs can spot voted for.

Evan Harris summates on amendment 1. “It is unusual for me to summate on a debate where there have been no speeches against my amendment”. Says government ministers must work hard to change the bill radically. Amendment 1 lays out how it should be improved – and Liberal Democrats in government “should follow …

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Conference preview: two of the coalition’s most controversial policies

Saturday morning in Sheffield this weekend sees the LibDem conference debating two of the areas of coalition which have generated the most controversy: the NHS and the future of the Disability Living Allowance.

The motion on the Disability Living Allowance (F4) has been slightly overtaken by events as the debate within government over the Welfare Reform Bill develops and in fact the plans in this area have in effect been sent back to the drawing board. That makes the motion all the more important, because rather than being simply a chance to cast a verdict on what the government has done, it is a chance to influence what is yet to be decided. The heart of the motion calls for “the Coalition Government to reinstate the Mobility Component or otherwise fund the mobility needs of those who cannot afford to do so themselves”.

Paul BurstowStraight after this debate comes one on the NHS (F5). The choice of Andrew Wiseman, Federal Conference Committee’s chair, to chair this debate is a good sign that this is expected to be one of the liveliest of conference as is the news that two Liberal Democrat MPs have signed an EDM expressing concerns over the policy.

Buried in the middle of the motion are lines 16-17 which says that “Conference welcomes the vision for the NHS set out in the Government’s White Paper”. That may be glossed over as a bit of padding between long lists of less controversial points or it may be the trigger for an all-out row, as also may be the amendment likely to be debated that is coming from ex-MP and doctor Evan Harris and Lib Dem peer Shirley Williams (who made her views clear in “I can’t support the coalition plan for the NHS“).

The gap between what the amendment calls for and what Liberal Democrats in government have been pressing for is not that large, however – and some have already expressed the view that the amendment may be a good route to getting more changes made to the health plans. That will provide a pointed choice for those promoting the amendment – whether to try to bring about change through aggressive antagonism or through emollient persuasion? And is modifying the government plans or setting out what a Liberal Democrat majority government would do their top priority?

The full text of both motions are in the Spring Conference Agenda and Directory embedded below.

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference Agenda and Directory 2011

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What the think tanks are saying: The IFS on the Universal Credit

The Welfare Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament on the 17th February. It involves the biggest changes to the welfare system in at least 20 years, probably a lot longer. It includes the Universal Credit, intended to significantly reduce the poverty trap, by making it clearer to those on benefits that they would be better off in work.

A month ago, the IFS published “Universal Credit: much to welcome, but impact on incentives mixed”. Well worth reading. Here is a brief overview of what they say:

  • benefits will remain the same as under the present system

Posted in What do the academics say? | Also tagged , , and | 22 Comments

Welfare Reform Bill published today

The Government’s Welfare Reform Bill is being published today and its measures are mostly as previously trailed. The big policy in it is the Universal Credit – a major simplification to a horrendously complicated benefits system – and a very Liberal Democrat policy.

Because of the heavy previous trailing of the Welfare Reform Bill’s measures there are no major surprises in what it proposes but there are three respects in which it shows the outcome of the at times very lively debate within government – mostly, though not always, Liberal Democrat versus Conservative – about its contents. In that respect, …

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Stephen Lloyd MP writes… This government is working

The last six months as the new Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne have been more of a rollercoaster than I could ever have imagined they would be! I’ve been pretty much just as flat out, albeit in a different way, as an MP as I was during the 6 months frenetic run up to the General Election.

Much has gone on as you’ll all be aware but the two things I’d like to write about today show the upside of being in Government and the upside of having the privilege of influence all MPs enjoy.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 32 Comments

Capping total benefit entitlements – right or wrong?

Alongside the widely publicised lopping of child benefits for higher-rate taxpayers, George Osborne has also announced plans for a cap on how much any one non-working family can get from the State.

The maximum will be set at £26,000 and starts in 2013. It’s likely to affect larger families, particularly those put into private rented accomodation by their local authority.

This capping seems to be pretty much impossible to do with the system as it is right now. There’s a host of different benefits and credits, all administered by different people and, in some cases, totally different tiers of government. …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 142 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 27 May 2010

Detail of the art deco crown of the Chrysler Building, New YorkGood morning, and welcome to Daily View on the day which sees New York’s Chrysler Building celebrate its 80th birthday. Completed in 1930, it was the tallest building in the world for all of 11 months, before being replaced by the Empire State Building. After 9/11, it is once again the second tallest building in New York.

Also celebrating birthdays today are the chef Jamie Oliver (who is currently applying for planning permission to build a restaurant in Nottingham I will probably never be able to afford to eat in); West Wing actor Richard Schiff and the Lib Dem MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron. Some have speculated he might be in the running to replace Vince Cable as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats; he tweeted last night that as Vince Cable’s PPS, he got to hear the “Stalin to Mr Bean” gag in rehearsal. Tim is 40 today.

2 Big Stories

Coalition government sets out radical welfare reforms

So says the Guardian headline, anyway, but the article is light on detail if heavy on mood music. A lot of people will be watching anxiously for the detail.

Duncan Smith says he is to propose to the Treasury a radical scheme that includes simplification of the complex benefits system designed to make it financially worthwhile for unemployed people to work, including in part-time jobs.

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    We need to get behind Ed Davey and our other MPs and also with other like minded MPs from other parties, to achieve the best...
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    We should remember that there are small numbers of powerful people in The Media & in other Parties who do care about what we do,...
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    It sounds a lot like you think we should lie low for a year, Paul Barker? I get the logic, slow build - but that...
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    @Glenn The water inquestion is not just poisonous but likely to give you burns if you touch it. That hasnt stopped idiots swimming in it...
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    @John Marriott - thanks, and I did see it. I haven't been out of the house at all for 2 weeks now, and I'm beginning...
  • User AvatarBarry Lofty 30th Mar - 2:18pm
    Hear Hear Phil Wainewright do we really need all this controversy during this present crisis?