Updated: Monday, 20th January 2020 @ 2:08pm

Benefits battle lines drawn in Tameside: Labour MP hits back at 'out of touch' Tory councillor in row over hand-out cap

Benefits battle lines drawn in Tameside: Labour MP hits back at 'out of touch' Tory councillor in row over hand-out cap

By Jon Robinson

A Manchester MP has accused a Conservative councillor in his constituency of being ‘out of touch’ after the Government won a crucial vote last night to cap benefit increases for the next three years.

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, hit out Councillor John Bell, leader of the Tameside Council Conservatives, as Labour and the coalition drew battle lines in the wake of the vote.

The Government won the vote on the three-year cap of 1%, on working-age benefits, by 324 to 268 after a heated debate in the House of Commons.

And Cllr Bell, who took to Twitter shortly after the result was announced, said the Labour Party: “Dish out benefits in return for your vote.

“Only Tories support the workers.”

The Labour shadow health minister, whose party voted against the proposal, said: “It frankly shows just how out of touch Cllr Bell is that he doesn’t realise his government will squeeze thousands of Tameside people who rely on tax credits, housing benefits and other assistance.”

Among the benefits set to be capped are jobseeker’s allowance, income support and maternity allowance.

Sick pay, employment and support allowance and elements of housing benefits also face being capped.

Mr Gwynne added that the Tories have handed a £2,000 a week tax cut to millionaires.

He said: “Six people in every ten of those affected by these callous Tory benefit changes are actually in work.”

On Twitter, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The Commons vote to limit benefit rises to 1% while pay is only rising at 1% is fair.

“Labour have the wrong priorities.”

Labour argued today that millions of low-income families are set to be worse off due to this decision by the government.

In the past, benefits have risen in line with inflation, and without any change, were due to go up by 2.2% in April.

Withington’s Liberal Democrat MP, John Leech, voted against the government, along with three other Lib Dems.

He urged ministers to ‘take stock’ and rethink the cap, saying that it was unfair to equate a 1% limit on benefits worth less than £100 a week with a 1% pay rise for people on £25,000 a year.

Cllr Bell said: "In the past five years people on out of work benefits have seen their incomes rise twice as fast as people in work.That cannot be fair when people working have had no increases or even pay cuts.

"Why should the taxpayer pay more to sustain welfare payments while at the same time earning less?"

He added: "Labour have made it quite clear that they are the Party of welfare dependency no matter how much it costs while we are on the side of hard working families."

Picture courtesy of Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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