Labour wants benefit cap to be set locally
Labour has called for the proposed total benefits cap to be set locally rather than at the national limit of £26,000.
Liam Byrne, shadow work and pensions secretary, told the BBC yesterday that the cap on benefits for working age households would work better if it differed in different parts of the country.
He said: ‘If you want to send a signal that you are better off in work than on benefits, wouldn’t it make much more sense to have localised caps in different parts of the country because we know there are different levels of housing benefit in different parts of the country?’
Mr Byrne said Labour backs the principle of having a cap despite the party’s peers voting last week to exclude child benefit from the cap. Labour peers also supported an amendment last week to exclude individuals from the cap if councils consider they would be threatened with homelessness as a result.
The party’s stance was slammed by prime minister David Cameron as ‘hypocritical’ as a result.
The Welfare Reform Bill returns to the House of Commons for debate on Wednesday following six defeats in the Lords.
The government has made it clear it intends to try to overturn all the amendments. It was defeated on plans to include child benefit in the cap and on proposals for a ‘bedroom tax’ for underoccupying social tenants. It has also lost three votes relating to Employment and Support Allowance and over plans to charge single parents to use the Child Support Agency.
The Chartered Institute of Housing, in an analysis published today, warns that the benefits cap, the under-occupation measures, as well as restrictions to local housing allowance are all likely to lead to increased demand for limited affordable accommodation.
Grainia Long, interim chief executive at the CIH, said: ‘Government should take a wider view of welfare benefit cuts, because alternative accommodation is simply not available to help all those who will be affected by them.’