Latest Public Sector News

01.03.12

Welfare Reform Bill passed

The Welfare Reform Bill has passed through the House of Lords, despite criticisms that it would negatively affect disabled people’s independence.

The Bill will introduce an annual cap on benefits for any family at £26,000, the median average income.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “These reforms will change lives for the better, giving people the help they need, while backing individual responsibility so that they can escape poverty, not be trapped in it.

“It’s a fair principle: a family out of work on benefits shouldn’t be paid more than the average family in work.”

“We want money to go to people who need it, not subsidising the consequences of our broken society. By reforming welfare we will get people into fulfilling jobs – not abandon them to poverty and dependency – save billions of pounds of taxpayers' money and make sure those who really need help get it.”

Families on benefits with spare rooms will also lose some of their benefits due to the planned ‘spare bedroom tax’. Peers had defeated the planned reforms seven times when the legislation was first considered, resulting in political ‘ping-pong’ between the two houses, before agreement was finally reached.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “This bill reforms every part of our welfare system and I look forward to implementing the changes our country badly needs. The Universal Credit will mean that work will pay for the first time, helping to lift people out of worklessness and the endless cycle of benefits.”

However the Commons Human Rights Committee has published a report detailing concerns with the need to protect and promote independent living.

The report states: “The right to independent living does not exist as a freestanding right inUKlaw. Although it is protected and promoted to some extent by a matrix of rights, the committee believes that this is not enough.

“It argues that the Government and other interested parties should immediately assess the need for, and feasibility of, legislation to establish independent living as a freestanding right.”

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