Friday, 06 March 2015

Clegg defends benefit cap ahead of Lords debate

The deputy prime minister has dismissed claims that families living in London and the South East would be forced to move out of their homes by the benefit cap.

Nick Clegg told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show that he supported the £26,000 benefit cap, but that there was scope to look at ‘transitional arrangement’.

‘It surely can’t be fair, it can’t be right, that you can be earning, if you like, more on benefits than someone going out earning £35,000 which is the equivalent if you were to go out and work,’ he said.

‘This is not going to be some sort of punitive programme of mass homelessness. Of course we won’t allow that to happen.’

The denial comes as the employment minister, Chris Grayling, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics that some families would be forced to find a new home as a result of the reforms.

He said: ‘There certainly will be people who have to move house as a result of this, who have to move to a part of town they can afford to live in, but surely that is right.’

Peers in the House of Lords will discuss an amendment later today that could mean child benefit is excluded from a household’s earnings for the purposes of the cap because it does not form part of the average income figure for all families, which the cap is based on, and would therefore hit families with children harder than those without.

Paddy Ashdown is among those willing to go against his party and fight the reforms, telling Sky News that the proposals were completely ‘unacceptable’.

‘I have voted with the government on everything until now,’ he said. ‘But this legislation, in its present form, I cannot accept.’

Mr Clegg dismissed suggestions that child benefit could be excluded from the cap to help hard-pressed families.

‘If you did that it probably wouldn’t make much sense trying to have a cap at all. I think it is highly unlikely we would do that,’ he said.

The denial comes in the wake of a story in the Observer newspaper which says that a leaked internal Department for Work and Pensions document shows that up to 100,000 children in families on benefits will be pushed into poverty - which is defined as homes where the income is below 60 per cent of the average household income for families of the same size.


Readers' comments (37)

  • Gavin Rider | 23/01/2012 12:14 pm

    "Charmaine - it seems that you are saying that the benefits system is being used to subsidise poor business practice (namely, paying workers too little).

    I fear that is a "chicken and egg" argument that will forever go around in circles."

    I think this replyfrom Gavin to Charmaine summarises the two sides of many of the debates on Inside Housing. One side says there is a dependency culture, whilst the other states that the poor are being demonised and that the majority struggle to survive (whilst we all agree that there is at least a small amount that abuse the system).

    This is where I agree with Charmaine and others and where I think Gavin and the likes are wrong and for two reasons.

    The first is that people on benefits, whether in work or not in this country get less than in most Western countries as we have one of the toughest benefits systems going. There are endless reports about both absolute and relative poverty in the UK and they all state that millions live in poverty because our welfare system is too harsh. These reports are from everyone from the governments own figures, the likes of Unicef, Joseph Rowntree Foundation etc. Therefore if people are already in poverty and struggle to feed themselves and their children we shouldn't take money from if we want to have a civilised society. That is the moral argument.

    Secondly, if we put the moral reasons aside, research shows that if you do not provide people with the basics and make it hard for people to survive it will cost the taxpayer MORE. This is because people’s physical and mental health will rapidly deteriorate. There is lots of evidence for this also. The Marmot review is very good but the Equality Trust have tons of peer reviewed evidence on this.

    Therefore, going back to the Chicken and the Egg argument, surely we should not reduce benefits as this is cruel and will cost the taxpayer more but rather we should make work pay by implementing a living wage which, believe it or not, David Cameron himself once said was an idea “whose time has come” and this will get start to get people off of benefits.

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  • abner arrow

    Someone I know was complaining that when he became unemployed he was offered £60 as benefit for a family of 4 with a mortgage. He has been working non-stop for 30 years and after paying all contributions and tax, this is what he was offered.

    In my view the whole system is wrong, the benefit is not the tax payers money, it is the insurance claim, for those who have worked hard and paid it, for those without enough or no contributions that is what should be classified as a wefare.

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  • "Sexton | 23/01/2012 1:43 pm

    ..for those without enough or no contributions that is what should be classified as a wefare".

    To be pedantic, Baroness Hollins recently reminded us in a speech to the house of Lords on the Welfare Reform Bill that "Until recently, when we introduced a bill like this it would not have been a welfare reform bill, it would have been a social security bill.

    ..the gap between social security and welfare is precisely the gap between entitlement and stigma."

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  • Peter Wicks

    I strongly agree with Rick on this subject...this has become a very sick self centered country and who their tiny minds would believe a word Clegg ever utters...this bill is a social engineering bill by "Wally" Duncan Smith(lost his gun in Northern Ireland and was called a wally by his fellow offices after that).The main aim of the bill is to remove the poor and the under-class from rich upper crust parts of our towns and cities like Westminster and parts of Hampstead Bishops Avenue...commonly known as millionaires road

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  • Joe Halewood

    Gavin - a simple linked question to the 'demonising' debate.

    If IS/JSA is the same rate UK wide, which it is, why is HB which can be three time higher in London than the provinces being included in the overall benefit cap?

    It is self-evident and unambiguous that those living in high rent areas are being disadvantaged by HB inclusion in the overall benefit cap.

    Further, this governments rent inflation plans see council rents to rise by 41% and HA rents by 24% by 2015. Yet OBC will only rise by CPI or 10.2% by that time. This means many more tenants will increasingly fall foul of the cap.

    Moreover, same government anticipates private market rent to rise by 16.75% in this period. The government could (and should) regulate this but are choosing not to and instead are penalising those tenants unfortunate to live in private rented housing which is largely due to shirtage of social housing.

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  • Gavin you have shot your cred down in flames- you actually claimed state benefits funded by hard working taxpayers !!when you had not paid into the system !!!just to ensure your academic training wouldn't go to waste!!-and years later you effectively wish that someone today in your situation then will be forced to rent a bedsit and take any menial minimum wage job going-

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  • The tories have been lifted up into power by the lib dems,
    and are attacking poorer people non stop,with severe
    benefit cuts, which are forcing around 2 / 3 million
    households to have to move home.
    Who else is being forced to move at this time?
    The tories want people to downgrade their accommodation
    into smaller / cheaper units, but all the cheaper homes have
    already been taken up!
    The tories are trying to match people to prices,to make them move
    but in reality there are dreadful shortages.

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