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11 February 2011

In a keynote speech on welfare reform that will dismay many claimants, Liam Byrne, the new shadow work and pensions secretary supported making contributory ESA time limited and  gave guarded support to overhauling disability living allowance. 

Byrne also told the Insitute for Public Policy Research that Labour supports the introduction of the universal credit and the new work programme which will pay thousands of pounds to private sector companies for each sick and disabled claimant they push into low wage and insecure work.

The shadow minister told his audience that:

“I don’t think a one year cut off to contributory ESA is right – that could hit people recovering from cancer.

“But a two year limit could work . . .”

It seems that, in Byrne’s world, everyone who stops work because of cancer will have fully recovered within two years. And how a two year limit will not ‘hit’ claimants with permanent health conditions or disabilities Byrne did not trouble to explain.

On the subject of disability living allowance Byrne stated that:

“A carefully designed new gateway for DLA could make sense.”

Although he did go on to add:

“But reform driven by a top-down cuts target risks denying support for those in search of a more independent life.”

His support for other coalition ‘reforms’ was wholehearted:

“. . .  we will support the principles of Universal Credit because it advances the revolution we pioneered with tax credits, to make sure work pays.

“It’s why we will support the principles new Work Programme which advances the revolution of the Flexible New Deal.”

Byrne did manage to object to some of the coalition’s plans, however, speaking out against housing benefit cuts and DLA mobility cuts:

“Cutting Housing Benefit by 10% cut [sic] if you’ve been out of work for a year is not compassionate; it’s not supportive; it’s a punishment and I call on the government to think again.

“It’s not compassionate to cut mobility money for those in residential care.”

You can read Byrne’s full, depressing, speech here
 

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