Party seeking regional benefits cap to ‘ensure fairness’

LABOUR wants to introduce a regional benefits cap to replace the Government’s new nationwide system and ensure that “no matter where you live, you are better off in work”.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said yesterday it was right to introduce a limit on how much people can claim in benefits but that it should be adapted to fit in with the local cost of living.

Mr Byrne criticised the Government’s approach and called for an independent panel of experts to ensure the system is 
as fair in London as it is in the North.

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“They’ve, in a clumsy and pretty politicised way, tried to set one national cap for the country – 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,” he said.

“We’ve said ‘it would make much more sense to have a different cap in different parts of the country – 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.”

Mr Byrne also called for “fast and fundamental reform” of the test to see if individuals are eligible for Disability Living Allowance. He said: “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.”

Mr Byrne said more needed to be done to help young people into work, with new investment in childcare and better organisation in getting disabled people back into employment.