Tag Archives: welfare reform

LibLink: Danny Alexander – The rich are paying more in tax under the Coalition, than under Labour

Over at the Telegraph, Danny Alexander follows up his piece in last week’s Sun on Sunday defending the Coalition’s benefits and tax changes — Bedroom blockers and tax dodgers will pay — but this time in less tabloid terms:

… cleaning up the mess left by Labour involves difficult decisions everyday that impact on people’s lives up and down the country. Few more so than some of the changes to our tax and welfare system that have come in this week. The welfare changes this week are difficult, but right and necessary to ensure that people are always better off

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Danny Alexander rejects George Osborne’s comments on the Philpott case

Danny AlexanderI told you the other night that Sarah Teather had condemned George Osborne’s comments connecting the Philpott case to the welfare system. Some people made comments along the lines that it was only a backbencher, and no Liberal Democrat minister had said such a thing. Well, yesterday, Danny Alexander did. The BBC has the story. Danny said:

George Osborne is clearly right that there needs to be a full debate about the future of our welfare system but the Philpott case is an individual tragedy. Children have died in

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The Liberal Democrat perspective on welfare reform that needs to be heard

On Monday, I wrote about the good things Liberal Democrats are doing in Government and also expressed  concern that nobody was out there giving the Liberal Democrat perspective  in a way that would resonate with and encourage members and activists. I know that some of them felt a bit exposed. They were out there on a day when we were under  media pressure, and nobody was giving them any air cover. It’s a balance, of course. There have been times when we’ve complained that our ministers are out there defending things we  feel uncomfortable with. These things can be …

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – Bedroom blockers and tax dodgers will pay

Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander has published a robust defence of the Coalition’s welfare reforms in The Sun on Sunday. Here’s how it starts:

Last week a young woman came to talk to me about her housing situation. Her frustration was obvious. She was working hard in a low-paid job and was stuck in an overcrowded home with a young family and desperately needed to move to a bigger home. She couldn’t understand why she had to wait so long to get a home that was the right size for her and her family. It’s a story

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Next week in the Lords: 11-14 February

House of LordsIt may only be February, but like schools, half-term is approaching fast (don’t forget, Easter is a bit earlier this year). And with the break starting on Friday, there’s still quite a bit of business to squeeze in. Curiously, there are no oral questions or debates initiated from the Liberal Democrat benches all week, but the agenda isn’t without interest.

On Monday most attention will be focussed on the Second Reading of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill. Baroness Stowell of Beeston has the unenviable task of leading …

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Welfare: right policy, wrong reasons?

Many column inches have been filled with comment over the government’s decision to restrict a number of benefits and tax credits to increases of 1% over the next couple of years.

This piece (£), however, by the FT’s economics editor, Chris Giles, warrants a special mention, not least because it is makes some interesting points that nobody else seems to have done.

Here’s a (fairly lengthy) extract:

In any case, good evidence exists on living standards to assess the merits of restricting benefit uprating. According to the most recent year of data, 2010-11, the crisis has caused real household net incomes around the

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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “Lib Dems are on the side of reasonable welfare reform, not indiscriminate welfare cuts”

Nick Clegg’s latest letter has hit my inbox, this week reflecting on his five years as party leader — and in particular how he believes the Lib Dems are “anchoring this government in the centre ground”. The example he uses is one that is likely to dominate politics in 2013: welfare reform. As Nick points out, the Tories had wanted swingeing cuts: it was the Lib Dems who at least ensured parity between public sector pay and benefits payments, both receiving a below-inflation 1% cash rise.

And if I had a Christmas wish, by the way, it would be this …

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Opinion: Time for Lib Dems to change the debate on welfare

autumn statementOn Friday evening, a page entitled “We’re interested in your views about the fairness of our benefit reforms” popped up on the Conservative party website. It invited people to comment on the decision announced in the Autumn Statement that the Coalition want to limit increases in most welfare benefits by 1% for the next three years.

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Nick Clegg’s speech: Governing Britain from the centre ground: building a stronger economy in a fairer society

 Nick Clegg at rallyNick Clegg gave a keynote speech at the Royal Commonwealth Society on the eve of his 5th anniversary of his election as Liberal Democrat leader. This is what he had to say:

I don’t suppose it’s exactly controversial to suggest that I and my party have changed over that period. Today I will argue that we’ve changed for the better.
Because my purpose here today is to explain, clearly and simply, what the Liberal Democrats offer the people of
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Some positive news on the Work Capability Assessment

One of the most difficult aspects of the welfare reforms for many Liberal Democrat activists to bear was the removal of Employment and Support Allowance after a year from those placed in the Work Related Activity Group. Our anxiety is compounded by what we see as a deeply flawed assessment system which does not take fluctuating conditions seriously. I wrote a critique of the application form earlier this year which explains some of the problems.

The Work Capability Assessment was introduced by Labour in 2008.  The Coalition has improved it under the guidance of Professor Malcolm Harrington, but not to …

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Opinion: Tuition fees – a progressive model for welfare?

Given the proportion of public sector spending it accounts for, in austere times welfare spending has come under the spotlight, with sizeable cuts having already being made.

Looking at who is accessing benefits to ensure those in receipt of them should be is to be welcomed. A blind eye should not, however, be turned to wealthier individuals in receipt of things like winter fuel allowance whilst cuts are made to some of the poorest in our society.

It is right that Liberal Democrats have distanced ourselves from Cameron’s musings that everyone under 25 should not be able to rely on support from …

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Liberal Democrats reject Steve Hilton’s £25 billion welfare cuts call

David Cameron’s adviser Steve Hilton heads off for a sabbatical in California, where he will be learning more about governance.

However, he is  reported in several newspapers to have left a wee parting present, a paper calling for a further £25 billion cut in welfare spending. He wants to see people, particularly single parents, encouraged into full time rather than part time work. No mention is made of how the resulting child care costs would be met, of course. Maybe he hadn’t thought of that.

The Times (£) reported that these plans had not been shared with the Liberal Democrats but, …

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Liberal Democrat MPs fight for blind people hit by welfare changes

The Independent reports that Liberal Democrat MPs are trying to change the new assessment process for the Personal Independence Payments  which will replace Disability Living Allowance. They believe that they may lead to blind people being denied the help that they need. This is a measure introduced by the Welfare Reform Act. The MPs are concerned that the new assessment process focuses on mobility  and does not sufficiently take into account the ways in which being blind or partially sighted can affect everyday life.

People who have sight loss need the extra help to, for example, help with cleaning, ironing …

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Lib Dem spring conference: a quick guide to the highlights

The traditional pre-conference rally at Liberal Democrat conferences seems more lively and informal than the main set piece speeches during conference, so expect even more football references than usual from Party President Tim Farron this evening when he speaks in Gateshead.

Nick Clegg’s speech rally speech will feature an attempt to set a different message for the party, looking much more positively to the future:

We’re in Government, and it is a better Government for it. Fairer, freer and greener.

Lower taxes for working people. Fairer chances for our children. And the beginnings of a new, green economy that benefits everyone in

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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, …

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LibLink: what to look out for at Lib Dem Spring Conference

The Voice’s Mark Pack has a post over at Total Politics, discussing the issues likely to dominate the upcoming Lib Dem Spring Conference in Gateshead.

The first thing to note, says Mark, is that some of the most contentious political issues of recent weeks such as the reforms to the NHS and to the welfare system don’t appear on the conference agenda as it was drawn up some time ago:

There is a slot for emergency and topical issues to cover this eventuality, but with only time for one motion, not all of the controversies can be aired. Unless a

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Opinion: Jenny Willott is wrong on the Welfare Reform Bill

On Sunday Jenny Willott wrote an article on LDV explaining the reasons behing Lib Dem MPs voting to reject the Lords amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill. However, I’m afraid that, as someone who has been campaigning on this for several months, I am not satisfied with her explanation and think that there are several flaws in her justifications.

For example, to put what Jenny said another way, 4 in 10 people affected by the time limit will lose ESA completely. That’ll be 280,000 people with long term illness or disability that prevents them from working. Those who lose it …

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The Independent View: Lib Dems crucial in preventing further welfare reform injustice

Child maintenance is a life-line for many single parent families, whose children are twice as likely to live in poverty as those of couple families. The Government’s proposals to attach charges to access the Child Support Agency will see vulnerable families with no option but to seek state help to gain maintenance pushed further into financial distress – with their children ultimately footing the bill.

After a week of turmoil in the House of Lords where crossbench alliances have proven crucial, this evening attention will turn to the Government’s child maintenance proposals – and the possibility of another government defeat of the …

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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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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: Under Occupation – The Catch 22 of the Welfare Reform Bill

Most of the measures in the Welfare Reform Bill are extremely sensible. Designed to streamline a byzantine system where fraud was far too easy and anomalies like benefit recipients living in million pound mansions too common (though not as common as the Daily Mail would have you believe!).

During the passage of the Bill, the Liberal Democrats have managed to curb some of the worst excesses of our coalition partners. For example, we got rid of the idea that people on Job Seekers Allowance for more than a year would lose 10% of their housing benefit. It is measures like this …

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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: 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

PMQs: Listen very carefully, I shall wave this shroud only five times

Someone must have told Ed Miliband that he shouldn’t flit around, butterfly-like, between subjects at Prime Minister’s Questions. He did that last week and got a caning for it. So this week he was doggedly persistent – monomaniac even – on just one subject. Indeed, just one question. He repeated the same words over and over and over and over again. The impression was that he had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it worked and he ostensibly wrong-footed David Cameron.

Ed Miliband said that the government’s welfare reform plans would make 7,000 cancer sufferers worse off by up …

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In other news… Son of mansion tax, Tory councillor switches to Lib Dems and more

Nick Clegg has been telling the Financial Times how he would like to see taxes introduced for the most expensive properties as part of any removal of the temporary 50p top rate of income tax. Son of Mansion Tax here we come…

Jonathan Calder reports on the latest goings on in the lively world of Leicester politics, including Conservative Councillor Nigel Porter resigning from his party and deciding to fight his ward for the Liberal Democrats in May’s elections.

The Yes to Fairer Votes campaign has published details of its donors and challenged the No campaign to show the

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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

Disability Living Allowance and NHS motions: the aftermath

There’s a common theme to the party’s official reactions to both the Disability Living Allowance (Mobility Component) and health reform motions being passed at conference today. That is to welcome the party staking out its own views on the issues, even where they clearly contradict those of Conservative ministers, and for two reasons.

First, it more clearly sets out where the coalition partners disagree on policy. As having a relaxed, adult approach to admitting in public that people in government don’t always agree on everything is something I’ve talked about in the past, this is certainly good to see – and …

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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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