The coalition’s ‘clumsy’ plans to introduce a one-for-all benefit cap across the country must be scrapped, insists shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne ahead of Labour’s second day in Manchester.
The government intend to roll out a single benefit to all, however the Labour shadow cabinet member claimed that this benefit would be pushed up by higher living costs in the south.
Byrne urged the government to re-think their plans as it would make ‘much more sense to have a different cap in different parts of the country’.
“In a clumsy and pretty politicised way they’ve tried to set one national cap for the country,” Byrne told BBC Radio 4. “Whereas everybody knows that one cap for the whole of Britain would be pumped up a bit by the very, very high levels of rent and housing benefit that you see in London.
“We’ve said ‘Look come on, think about this carefully, it would make much more sense to have a different cap in different parts of the country and let’s try and take the politics out of that a bit’.
“Let’s get an independent panel of wise experts who can look at this and say what is the right level in different parts of the country, so that no matter where you live, you are better off in work.”
Byrne also called for a dramatic reform of how people are examined to see if they are eligible for Disability Living Allowance.
“The principle of the test is absolutely right, but the truth is that what is happening right now, it’s just ranging of bureaucracy against disabled people, it’s not putting a team behind them to help them get back into work,” he added.
And if Labour regain control of the government following the next general election in three years’ time, Byrne feels that the coalition will leave financial chaos needing to be addressed immediately.
He said: “I work on the assumption that we are going to inherit a dog’s breakfast in 2015.
“Savings are going to have to be made. I think there will be savings that are needed on welfare spending too. Our challenge is how we spend that money differently to support more people in work.”
“I think the truth is that social security today doesn’t enjoy widespread support, but for many people nor does it offer much security and those two things are linked.
“For many people in work, they don’t actually feel they get much out for the pressures that they have to contend with in everyday life, so I think that fractures support and I think that’s why we do have to re-invent social security for modern times and the world of work today.”