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Govt wins benefits vote

Govt wins benefits vote
The Government has won today's vote on the controversial Welfare Uprating Bill by a majority of 56.

The Bill was voted through on the second reading despite some Liberal Democrat MPs voting against it. Other Lib Dems, including former leader Charles Kennedy, abstained in the vote.

MPs also rejected a Labour amendment by 328 votes to 262 after five hours of heated debate.

In the run-up to the vote, Iain Duncan Smith and Liam Byrne clashed bitterly over the plans to uprate benefits by just 1%.

The Work and Pensions Secretary claimed Labour's system of tax credits had been a "ridiculous nonsense".

He said the Opposition were "in denial" over the necessity of getting the benefits bill down.

His opposite number Mr Byrne labelled the changes a "strivers' tax" which does "nothing but punish working families" because many benefits claimants are actually in work.

David Miliband also intervened for Labour to slam what he call a "rancid Bill".

A number of Lib Dem MPs were also opposed to the plans, with John Leech, Sarah Teather and David Ward understood to have voted against the Bill.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Leech said: "When you take into consideration changes to housing benefit and council tax benefit, this is just a step too far for me and I think a number of colleagues are concerned about the impact they will have on the poorest around the country.

He added: "I know there at least three of us who voted against the second reading - myself, Sarah Teather and David Ward. And a number of my colleagues either abstained by voting in both lobbies or simply didn't vote at all. I know a lot of my colleagues have concerns about changes to welfare."

Mr Kennedy tweeted tonight that he abstained and was "looking now to work with like-minded Lib Dems to amend the bill in its later stages".

An impact assessment published this afternoon found that 30% of households would be hit by the change, with the average working household losing £3 a week from the changes.

Single parents are also set to lose around £5 a week, making them among the biggest losers from the change.

However, ministers have pointed out that many workers will benefit from the raising of the threshold for paying income tax.

 


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