Thursday, 02 April 2015

Welfare cash card bill axed as parliament ends

Legislation that would have limited how welfare claimants can spend their benefits has fallen by the wayside as the parliamentary session ended.

The end of the parliamentary year last week means bills that have not yet been passed will mostly be scrapped, including Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke’s Welfare Cash Card Bill.

This would have introduced a payment card for benefit claimants that would only allow them to spend the money on permitted items, such as food and clothing. Mr Shelbrooke wanted to ban the purchase of ‘non-essential, desirable and often damaging’ – or NEDD – items, such as ‘cigarettes, alcohol, Sky television and gambling’.

Other private members’ bills that have been axed include two that attempted to improve the private rented sector.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn had sought to bring in legislation to introduce five-year tenancies, tougher enforcement of environmental standards, rent regulation, and a ban on ‘discrimination’ against tenants on benefits.

Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders had introduced a bill to consolidate housing regulations across the social and private rented sectors with the aim of removing ‘imbalances’ and creating a stronger framework for investment.

Labour and Co-operative MP Gareth Thomas’ housing market reform bill has also not made it into the next parliamentary session. This would have placed restrictions on who properties bought under the right-to-buy can be sold on to in high-value areas, and required government agencies to do more to promote the benefits of co-operative housing.

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