30 Mar 2013

Welfare reforms won’t cut Britain’s benefit bill

Iain Duncan Smith admits that controversial welfare reforms due to come in next week will not be enough to cut Britain’s benefit bill

The work and pensions secretary has told the Daily Telegraph that the the country is not cutting welfare – explaining that people on benefits will see cash increases in every year of this Parliament.

However, homeless charity Crisis warned that welfare cuts coming into effect next week will heap misery on the UK’s poorest families.

Mr Duncan Smith has defended government reforms citing the work of the Irish government coping with their beleaguered bailed-out economy.

“If you listen to what I am saying, you will understand the reality is that this country is not cutting welfare, it is managing the growth at a lower level,” he said.

“Across the UK – contrary to the headlines – all those on benefits will still see cash increases in every year of this parliament.

“In the face of the global financial crisis and the country’s plummeting GDP, Ireland’s leaders have had to implement difficult public spending cuts.

“Doing so has hit benefit recipients hard with social welfare cuts of around £680m for the year 2010, and £780m for the year 2011.

Shelter has claimed that queues at food banks are will increase and homelessness is expected will rise as millions of homes will are hit by welfare reforms.

Low-paid workers, the unemployed and disabled people are expected to bear the brunt of the cuts, according to Crisis as changes include cutting housing benefit for social housing tenants deemed to have a spare bedroom.

Bedroom tax fears

The so-called “bedroom tax” will hit 660,000 households with an average loss of £14 per week, Crisis has claimed. Council tax benefit will be replaced by a new system run by English local authorities with 10 per cent less funding.

Pensioners are protected but this is expected to place a bigger burden on poor working age adults.

Crisis outlined “serious concerns” about the replacement of disability living allowance with a personal independence payment claiming the new assessment process may exclude people who need support.

A DWP spokesman said: “The benefits system this government inherited was broken, trapping the very people it was designed to help into cycles of worklessness and welfare dependency.

“Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the universal credit simplifying the complex myriad of benefits and making three million people better off.

“And by next year, we will have taken two million of the lowest earners out of paying tax altogether.”