Thursday, 05 March 2015

Cable defends ‘immoral’ benefit cap

Vince Cable has defended the coalition government’s £26,000-a-year benefits cap following criticism from a high profile Liberal Democrat colleague.

The business secretary said the measure, which comes into effect in April, is needed.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Mr Cable said the measure was necessary to stop housing benefit ‘escalating out of control’, but said there also needed to be an increase in affordable housing.

The total benefits cap will affect around 56,000 households, which will lose £93 per week on average, according to a Department for Work and Pensions estimate. The measure will save £275 million, the government has claimed.

Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather, former children’s minister, yesterday criticised the benefit cap policy in an interview with the Observer newspaper. She accused the government of attempting to court popularity by unfairly demonising the poor. She said: ‘I think deliberately to stoke up envy and division between people in order to gain popularity at the expense of children’s lives is immoral.’

Readers' comments (81)

  • I've been trying to persuade my lib dem mp to make a principled stand on this issue and not keep quiet but unfortunately I have since established that he has a principled belief in capping income for the poorest like many other lib dems that have shown themselves to be part of the right.

    the important thing is not that Sarah Teather said she was against it - its that she used language of morality which after all is what this comes back to. its simply immoral.

    The lie here however is that it will save money as there is tons of evidence to prove that these changes will end up costing us more.

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  • Patrick Mc Crossan

    But why should people on benefits be guarnteed more income that those who work to pay their way in life.

    Also £26,000 is an amount not taken tax into account so if tax was added the income would be £32,000 approximately.

    Thats a very generous amount and is far from unfairly demonising the poor as claimed by Sarah Teather.

    Seems to be the opposite and many hard working people are being demonised for living on less than benefit recipients.

    People employed have to decide if they can afford accomodation or more children wheras on benefits you still get more money and larger accommodation.

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  • I totally agree with Patrick McCrossan - well said that man!

    The proposed new Gov policy is not demonising anyone,and certainly to poor specifically, it is merely redressing the balance between the workers (who pay the tax to fund those on benefits), and those who either cannot or WILL NOT work. I personally have no issue with the cannot work group, but I do take issue with people who can work but won't.

    We need to use our tax income more wisely and spend more on important services like care for the elderly, Alzheimers care etc...not on unworthy causes like those who simply won't work!

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  • Absolutely Patrick - this is riches - social benefits is a safety net - not a living wage. People just have to learn to do with less.

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  • Trevor Galley

    I agree Patrick, it is above mini9mum wage which many people are on.

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  • Trevor Galley

    Read this from another CIH article
    I just move off JSA and working 16 hours per week at min wage of 99. 04 and I heard from the Council Tax and Housing Benefit Office that I am suppose to pay 38.00 plus of rent and 10.00 of Council tax

    How the hell am I suppose to live on 50ish pounds per week

    What was all this that work pays

    Does anyone know exactly what the law says I need or suppose to live on

    What does this tell you above our Government.

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  • Joe Halewood

    Cable stop being an idiot!

    Last month the DWP released a new estimate to say the OBC will affect 171,000 families in the first year and NOT 56,000. The DWP tripled the number that it will affect in 2013/14. See for full detail and references.

    The same DWP estimate said this figure rises by 102,000 per year so in 2014/15 it will be 273,000 and in 2015/16 it will be 375,000 and so on.

    The average cut DWP informs will be £93pw.

    Crunch the numbers and in the first 5 years the bedroom tax will see £2.75bn cut to HB, the OBC will see a £4.01bn cut to HB, this reveals I have been right all along that the OBC is a bigger risk to social tenants and social landlords than the bedroom tax.

    The bedroom tax is also a finite number of tenants affected whereas the OBC affects more and more tenants each year due to the systemic flaw (ie rents rising faster than the cap figure) So the OBC gets worse every year whereas the bedroom tax does not.

    The article above simply restates the old DWP estimate of 56,000 affected (the July 2012 final estimate) which was superseded last month by the new (final?) estimate of 171,000. Cable has simply got this wrong .

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  • I cant even bear to read Cable's comment beyond the first sentence.
    Firstly along with all the others around him it is a blatant lie that it is necessary. There is nothing, absolutely nothing in existence that can prove the poor must be made to suffer for the sins of the rich.

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  • Daniel Sweeney

    The benefits cap in itself is not immoral. It is however a solution to a problem that has been based on anecdotes about large families living in certain parts of london, with very large HB claims. As such its a classic case of a potentially justified solution to the wrong problem. Its not applicable to all of London, Sheffield, Grimsby Belfast or Aberdeen. Yes there has to be some sort of disincentive to spending your whole life on benefits, but this is clumsy and poorly targetted. Incidentally, if benefits claimants are going to have to subsidise housing costs from 'living benefits' at what point do they become statutorily homeless? Less Oxbridge PPE grads and more social policy types please.

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  • Alpha One

    Paul, I suppose you'd advocate taxing the rich, never mind the fact that the benefits system accounts for FIFTY PERCENT of total government spending, never mind the fact that there are people living on benefits getting more money for popping out kids and not working than many a hard worker will ever hope to receive, and never mind that in every country in the world that has created a more generous benefits system so the level of worklessness amongst the native population has declined. Just look at the US, there if you didn't work you didn't eat until not so long ago. Now 47% of the population are in receipt of one sort of benefit of another, and their unemployment rate is out of control. It's not the immigrants that are arriving in the US that are refusing to work, it's the native population, and then they have the audacity to claim that the immigrants took their jobs - sound familiar to you, of course it does, it described the last 20 years of this country. We talk about jobs for the brits, but they're all too bone idle to get of their backsides and go to work!

    But I digress. Patrick is spot on. If a working person wants to have kids they have to budget for it, they don't just pop out a sprog and expect the state to pay for it.

    £26k a year is more than enough for an average family to live on, but then your average family on benefits is not your average 2.4 children family. It's more like 5-6 kids from different fathers, all of whom have educational difficulties of one kind or another (whether it be behavioural, literacy or numeracy) and are in need of more attention from the state. The state simply doesn't have the funds to do this and so, invevitably, many of these children slip in to delinquency and repeat the pattern of suffering.

    We HAVE to make people understand that work pays, and to take responsibility for themselves, their lives and their own actions. Cutting benefits is the only way we can do this, but the teat and they will have to find a new way to survive.

    I agree that the cut unfairly targets everyone, there are those that need more help, but they will be targetted along with the Frank Gallaghers of this world.

    Herein lies to the problem with this government, implementation. Rather than direct policies where they are needed, they apply a scatter gun approach trying to affect as many people as they possibly can. This policy would work if it targetted the feckless, but it doesn't and so it won't work.

    The principle is sound, but the implementation is rubbish, and because of that, we will see increases in child poverty, increases in crime and delinquency and resentment of the upper classes who are perceived to have gotten away with it all.

    For what's its worth the rich have gotten off very lightly and nothing makes me more angry than watching something like Children in Need and thinking, if everyone of those multi-millionnaires our there who insist on off shoring their finances, paid their fair share we may not need such telethons. I also look at the likes of Girls Aloud, how much money they must have and wonder if they give anything but their time to the show?

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