Friday, 06 March 2015

Lords abandon new bid for statutory welfare review

A renewed attempt to get an independent review of the impact of the government’s welfare reforms enshrined in law has been abandoned.

Labour peer Baroness Hayter moved an amendment to the Legal Aid Bill last night that would have forced a review of the benefit changes after one year, but withdrew the demand after receiving reassurances from the government.

A similar attempt to get the commitment to a review written into the Welfare Reform Bill was also withdrawn last week during the final debate on that bill.

The Welfare Reform Bill introduces a range of measures designed to cut the cost of benefits, while the Legal Aid Bill will limit the types of housing cases that qualify for legal aid to those involving homelessness or the imminent loss of a home, or disrepair that poses a serious risk to life.

During the debate on the Legal Aid Bill in the House of Lords last night Baroness Hayter argued limiting legal aid would make it ‘impossible’ for some tenants to navigate the new benefits system, and that a review would flag up any problems.

‘It is a way of looking at the interplay of these two changes to our system: the enormous Welfare Reform Bill and all its changes with, potentially, the lack of advice for exactly those who need to manoeuvre their way through that system,’ she said.

Justice minister Lord McNally said such a review was ‘unnecessary’ and would be a ‘broad and cumbersome exercise that would be highly unlikely to offer any real benefit given’.

He did commit to a ‘post-implementation review’ of the legislation, and Baroness Hayter agreed to withdraw the amendment.

The Lords did vote on other amendments, and the government was defeated on moves that would have made it harder to qualify for legal aid by proving an individual has been subject to domestic violence.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Chris

    Taking this government's word on trust - it's not worth the paper its written on, and it will be the nation who pays the cost.

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  • The Condems are forcing £ 18Billion of benefit cuts onto
    poorer communities in the near future,including punishing
    670,000 council tenants TWICE OVER for having extra
    space in their home,which means they are having to face
    meeting a shortfall of £490 million over housing benefit cuts
    and secondly,for this same reason of having extra space
    in their home ,they are having to face a shortfall of
    £500 million over council tax benefit cuts................
    Meaning these people have to find £ 1 Billion p.a themselves.
    Previously,all these people followed the correct procedures
    to obtain a council tenancy, by having their family assessed
    by the local council,and then going onto the waiting lists,
    and then being allocated a suitable home according to their needs.
    If many years later , their family circumstances have changed
    then its not their fault that their home is the wrong size.
    There certainty needs to be independent scrutiny in the future
    over these collassal benefit cuts, which involve devastating
    benefit gaps,whereby people are being denied the basic incomes
    required to meet their subsistance levels of living/ cost of living.

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  • Stephen Gibson

    So the Government doesn't believe in research. Great. Let's just potentially affect millions of people but lets not see what affect this is having after 12 months. You couldn't make it up.

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  • Rick Campbell

    One wonders if it's more a case of implementing the darned thing no matter what damage it causes and then see what damage has been caused and do a bit ("bit" being the operative word) of 'running repairs'.

    One also wonders if millions of pounds have been spent on research to show whether the economy will be better when the impact assessment has been completed so that it can be claimed that the victimisation of the most vulnerable can be justified as being "the cure" of all the ills.

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  • Chris

    Mind you Stephen - if the government does not believe in research why are they spending so much of our money paying for research from their (arms length) research companies, research assistants, special advisors, and all-and-sundry Tzars for everything.

    They could save a fortune if they were more honest in their dictatorial approach, and at least we would all know where we were supposed to kneel.

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