No 10 warns on welfare cost
Downing Street has warned that changes sought by peers to the Welfare Reform Bill could cost £1.6bn, and says the Government may invoke the rarely-used device of financial privilege to force through the legislation.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I think privilege would have some impact on some of these amendments..because they involve significant amounts of money. It's about the authority of the Commons over issues that relate to money.
"The amendments, which include increasing the time limit from one year to two years would cost £1.6bn over five years. If we don't save that money from these reforms to the welfare system, then we would have to find that money elsewhere. We need to take some tough decisions on welfare and we need to follow through on those."
The Pensions Minister Chris Grayling said cutting welfare was a "tough decision" but asked if it was right that "we should be saying to people on low incomes, pay your taxes to give" to those with greater wealth. He argued those who would lose welfare payments were people "who have got thousands of pounds of savings in the bank, who have got other income coming into their household".
Writing exclusively for PoliticsHome, Labour's shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne claimed ministers had "tried to ram through proposals that cross the line of basic British decency". Pointing to the spiralling costs of the benefits bill, Mr Byrne said: "It is that spiralling bill that is now leading the government to make gigantic savings elsewhere - and the government has chosen to punish those who need help the most."