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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Tory changes will cause cycle of poverty warn LDs

The Liberal Democrats have demanded a halt to controversial changes to housing benefit that could see more people pushed towards food banks and payday loans and could increase homelessness. The Government’s plans to introduce a further seven day waiting period on top of the 5 weeks or more they already have to wait before claimants can receive their first payments.

The plans to change Universal Credit to support the cost of housing during these early crucial weeks of sickness or unemployment were put to a vote in the House of Lords by Lord German, Liberal Democrat Social Security Spokesperson.

The former Welsh Deputy First Minister argued that housing benefit should be excluded from the Universal Credit (Waiting Days) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 due to be initiated on 3 August 2015. Lord German’s changes are supported by the independent Social Security Advisory Committee who have previously argued that “the Government should reflect further on exempting housing costs by way of mitigation against some of the harshest impacts of the policy.”

Mike German used the debate in the Lords to warn that the new law will lead to more people using food banks, an increased reliance on payday loans. He also said that, by pushing people into rent arrears, the proposals risk making more people homeless.

Mike German said: "This Government has been far too keen to ignore independent advice and recommendations and are happy to bulldoze through with potentially harmful changes at any cost. The Liberal Democrats have consistently raised concerns about this change and will continue to do so from the opposition benches. This is another example the Tory willingness to neglect the needs of people who are sick and disabled, people who are struggling to get into work, young families, students, children from poorer families, and people who find themselves out of work through no fault of their own."

The Lib Dems were successful, the Government were defeated by 11 votes; 135-124.