Tag Archives: welfare reform bill

Baroness Dee Doocey writes: Legal Aid and Welfare Reform, spot the problem

As one of the Liberal Democrat peers engaged in the debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill as well as the recent Welfare Reform Bill debates, I am pushing today for a vital amendment which I hope will mitigate the worst aspects of cuts facing the legal aid system– something that is proving to be a controversial issue for the Party.

The coalition agreement committed to reforming legal aid to reduce its costs to the public purse; it did not commit to abolishing it for whole categories of law. Chief amongst these excluded categories in Legal Aid, …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Jenny Willott MP writes… The Welfare Reform Bill – What’s happened on ESA?

Benefits are not an easy subject to get your head around: we have a benefits system with enough acronyms, assessments, taper rates and tax credits to make your head spin. That’s why this Government is finally undertaking a hugely important and long-overdue reform of benefits.

Universal Credit will replace the complicated mix of tax credits, JSA, ESA, Housing Benefit and so on with one simple benefit. And the Universal Credit is why the Welfare Reform Bill is so crucial. It will revolutionise the way we support those who are unemployed, disabled, sick or caring for a loved …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 53 Comments

Opinion: What price democracy in the Lib Dems?

Over the past 21 months I have had many moments when I have felt close to despair about the behaviour of our parliamentarians. Sometimes, like voting in favour of tuition fees, they can rightly point to the Coalition Agreement – endorsed overwhelmingly – as Nick Clegg observed at the time – by a North Korean like Special Conference. Other times, like voting against party policy on Legal Aid and Welfare Reform – there is no such defence. Last night calls into question the fundamental values and principles of our party, not just in terms of flying in the face of …

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Opinion: getting the welfare reforms right

Today an open letter, signed by well over forty of our parliamentary candidates from 2010, will be sent to Nick Clegg. And, on Monday, a meeting, organised by the Social Liberal Forum, will take place in the Palace of Westminster in Committee Room 18 (made infamous by the story about Sir Bob Russell MP allegedly pulling the door off of its hinges).

The subject of both the letter and the meeting will be the recent voting record of our peers on aspects of the Welfare Reform Bill ranging from sickness and disability benefits, to the household benefit cap and child benefits.

The …

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Yesterday in the Lords (part 1): let the banner of rebellion be unfurled…

In a dramatic fifth day of the Report Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill, Liberal Democrat cohesion amongst the Parliamentary Party in the Lords collapsed, with two of the three biggest rebellions in this Parliament ensuing. And, to be honest, it wasn’t difficult to see it coming. However, unexpectedly, only one of them led to a Government defeat.

Amendment 58D, moved by Labour peer, Lord Mackenzie of Luton, was a relatively opportunistic attempt to provide an exemption from the proposed benefit cap for “vulnerable individuals, and individuals and couples …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: What’s happened to democracy in the Liberal Democrats?

What’s happened to democracy in the Liberal Democrats? Is it dead? Or is it just comatose?

The reason I ask this question comes from my own experience of our internal democracy.

When I joined the party at the age of 18, I was impressed by how, unlike any other major party,  ordinary members had a real say. That I, as a member, had a voice equal to anyone else in the party, be it my local councillor or the party leader and that everyone’s vote was equal.

So, last year, when I learned about the shocking plans by the government to drastically cut …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 72 Comments

Lib Dem Peers rebel as Government defeated on Welfare Reform

The Government has suffered a series of defeats in the House of Lords tonight on various aspects of the Welfare Reform Bill.

The House of Lords was discussing amendments relating to the Employment and Support Allowance.

The Guardian reports that 3 Liberal Democrats, Jenny Tonge, Matthew Taylor and Roger Roberts voted for an amendment which protected young people’s right to claim Employment and Support Allowance.

The Government was also defeated on their one year time limit for claiming Contributory ESA. This was increased to two years by the amendment. The Liberal Democrat rebels were Dee Doocey and Jenny Tonge.

The third defeat was …

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Opinion: What price authenticity in our policy making?

As a mental health social worker, I have been trying to keep up with the debate, both within and without the party,  on the progress of the Welfare Reform Bill.

There are many commentators far more expert than I able to say how many different aspects of the legislation accord with party policy, or wider liberal views about the freedom and agency of the individual, or how far it falls short in respect of protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.

This post is not about the detail of that.

I want to pose a question to LDV-reading colleagues as to how …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Lord German writes… A benefits system that works: the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords

As Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Work and Pensions the Welfare Reform Bill has absorbed most of the past year. It is now in the final stages of passage through the House of Lords. There has been some negative press surrounding the Bill, which is clouding aspects that have been long term goals of the Liberal Democrats.

A big first step is being taken towards our long term ambition of merging tax and benefits. Our benefit system is the most complex and cumbersome system in the developed world. It requires an annual book to be published which explains …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 36 Comments

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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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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Jenny Willott MP writes… Protecting a lifeline – Lib Dem success in battle for DLA Mobility Component

With all the headlines and discussion this week about the Autumn Statement and public sector strikes, people would have been forgiven for missing an announcement from the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, that proves once again the Lib Dem influence in Government, and fulfilling yet another Conference motion.

Maria Miller has today announced that the Government is dropping the proposals to remove the Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from people in residential care homes.

The reversal answers the calls our Party made last Spring in Liverpool, where we passed a motion calling for the plan to be dropped. …

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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 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 26 Comments

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

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

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , , , , , and | 2 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, …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments
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    Cathy M, you're right, the third reason why this election is an unsatisfactory way of promoting the Remain cause is because the two main parties...
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    Thanks for posting this, Caron. As you know the Federal Elections are presently underway. Before reading the article, I had already agreed with the other...
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    Jayne Mansfield, To me, the primary problem with Corbyn's approach to Brexit is that it's just too late to consider it. We have already had...
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    Some lines do not scan well. For example, instead of “Demonstrate the strength of the British/Backing all MPs doing right”, why not “Showing the strength...
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    As I say, Caron, good luck with your efforts.