Saturday, 05 September 2015

Clegg backs moves to cut benefits for rioters

The deputy prime minister has backed moves to withdraw benefits from rioters despite concern from his Liberal Democrat colleagues.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Nick Clegg said there is already ‘conditionality’ in the benefits system that could be extended to cover rioters.

‘We are going to take our time to look at this, but of course you need to be proportional, of course you need to be careful, or course you don’t want to create unintended consequences where actually the taxpayer ends up giving more, or we create more social problems of problems of law and order,’ he said.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith raised the prospect of benefit cuts for rioters in an interview with the BBC on Monday. ‘What we’re looking at is, for criminal charges, should we take the benefit? And the answer is “yes”, how would we do that, off individuals who got swept up in criminal behaviour?,’ he said.

Several Liberal Democrat MPs have spoken up against the plans, and expressed concern about moves to make it easier to evict social tenants who have been involved in riots. Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, told the Guardian: ‘Frankly, this all smacks of headline grabbing by Conservatives, not calm, rational policy making.’

At the press conference yesterday Mr Clegg announced the government will introduce community payback schemes in riot-hit areas.

He said ‘riot payback schemes’ will be set up in areas damaged by the unrest last week. ‘You will see people in visible orange clothing making up the damage done, repairing and improving the neighbourhoods affected,’ he said.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles and prime minister David Cameron are expected to announce a multi-million pound fund to help communities affected by the riots on a visit to Tottenham today.

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