Latest Public Sector News


Lords anger at benefits cap

The House of Lords is preparing to debate the Welfare Bill today, with senior figures including former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown threatening to vote down provisions on imposing a cap on the total amount of benefits one family can receive.

Figures out today from the Department for Work & Pensions estimate that 67,000 households, containing 90,000 adults and 220,000 children, will be affected in 2012/13, and 75,000 households in 2014/15.

The DWP says the families affected tend to be out-of-work, larger than usual, and/or in high-rent areas.

The current plan is to set the cap on benefits at £26,000, which many peers, including some bishops, say will force families into poverty in some areas.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has denied that, saying that the changes are intended to encourage people off benefits and into work.

He said in an interview this morning that the opponents of the Bill had their statistics wrong: “I just wish occasionally they would call us to get their figures right. They assume automatically that the state wants to punish people. I didn't come into this job to punish them. I came to help change their lives.”

Enver Solomon, policy director at the Children's Society, said child benefit should not be included in the household benefit cap, and that the cap should be £31,500, not £26,000 – average household income, rather than average net household earnings.

He said the cap “is supposed to impact on unemployed adults but, actually, it’s hitting children…they are the innocent victims of this policy.”

Lord Ashdown said at the weekend: “I have voted with the Government on everything until now. I see my job as ex-leader to support my successor, but I will not support the benefits cap in its present form. This legislation, in its present form, I cannot accept.

“I am president of Unicef, and I think the effect on children across the country of a cap in its present form will be completely unacceptable.”

Deputy PM Nick Clegg accepted there may need to be transitional arrangement, but argued: “The basic principle that that cap should be £500 [per week] so that you can't, on benefits, earn more than if you went out and worked – I think that's got to be a simple principle that most people would subscribe to.”

Paul Waugh of the PoliticsHome website claims that there is anger on the Tory benches at some Lib Dem peers’ plans to vote against the Government. He quoted one Tory peer as telling a group of Lib Dems: “You signed up to this Coalition, you bastards, now bloody well prove it.”

Duncan Smith takes questions in the Commons on the Bill from 2.30pm, with peers beginning their debate in the Lords from around 3pm.

(Image of Lord Ashdown courtesy Margaret Elkins Lang)

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >