Benefit cap exceptions being considered, minister says
Published: 13th Jun 2011 10:22:34
George Osborne's plan to put an upper limit on the amount benefits families can claim in a year will not apply to all, a minister has indicated.
When he announced the £26,000 cap last year, Mr Osborne said it would cover all households "unless they have disabilities to cope with".
But welfare reform minister Lord Freud told the BBC the government was looking at other "protections" for people in "exceptional circumstances".
No 10 said the policy was unchanged.
About 50,000 families were expected to be affected by the cap, planned for 2013, and were likely to lose an average of £93 a week.
At the 2010 Conservative Party conference, Mr Osborne told delegates that "no family should get more from living on benefits than the average family gets from going out to work".
The government said the cap would apply to the total received from jobseekers' allowance, income support, employment support allowance, housing benefit, council tax benefit, child benefit and child tax credit, as well as carer's allowance and industrial injuries disablement benefit.
But Mr Osborne said all households with a disability living allowance claimant would be exempt.
A number of charities criticised the plan, as did London Mayor Boris Johnson, who warned it could lead to the "Kosovo-style social cleansing" by forcing poorer families out of the capital.
The benefit cap will restore fairness to the taxpayer”
Speaking to the BBC's Politics Show on Sunday, Conservative peer Lord Freud indicated that the government was investigating ways of reducing the impact of the policy on certain families.
"We have got quite a lot of protections in this cap," he said.
"Firstly of course, if you are in work, you are not affected. Secondly if you're a disabled person or there's a disabled person in the household, you're not affected. If you're a war widow or a widower, you're not affected.
"We're also looking currently at exceptional circumstances which some people may find themselves in and we're going to be putting out arrangements for that later in the year."
Asked what form the arrangements could take, Lord Freud replied: "Wherever we think that there's something happening that is undesirable and we're looking very carefully at how to draw up those protections."
The government insisted the cap would encourage "responsibility" about the number of children people choose to have, but a number of Liberal Democrats were known to oppose the policy.
Jenny Willott, co-chair of the Lib Dem backbench committee on welfare reform, told the BBC: "We do need to make sure that those larger families where there are exceptional circumstances, they get the benefits that they need, rather than it being capped too low so they don't have enough to be able to pay for the daily costs of living, or even to pay the costs of their housing."
The Centre for Social Justice, a think tank set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, has also criticised the cap, warning that it could bring hardship to families.
But asked about a possible watering down, Mr Duncan Smith said: "The policy is unchanged. The £26,000 benefits cap remains."
He added: "The benefit cap will restore fairness to the taxpayer and fairness to those who do the right thing on benefits."
A spokesman for Number 10 spokesman also said the policy was "unchanged".
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Benefit cap exceptions being considered, minister says [Online] (Updated 13th Jun 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/161583/Benefit-cap-exceptions-being-considered-minister-says [Accessed 20th Apr 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com