Row over '20% rise' in benefits

Many "working-age benefits" have risen by 20% in the last five years, higher than the 12% rise in private sector pay, the Work and Pensions Secretary said. But Labour says Jobseeker's Allowance has risen by less than earnings over the past decade.

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Govt is seeking public support for cutting the welfare bill

by - Former Political Correspondent

The battle lines have been drawn as the Government tries to cut the welfare bill.

Today, both the Department for Work and Pensions and Labour were bandying around figures to try to prove that people were either getting a better deal on benefits, or in work.

It comes just days before a crucial vote aimed at capping working-age benefits by 1% over the next few years - that would amount to a cut in real terms.

The problem for the Government is that recent polls show they may not have the public on their side. Could that be why the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has published these figures?

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Clegg: 'Labour must show how they’d pay for benefits'

Nick Clegg questioned Labour's criticism of Ian Duncan Smith. Credit: PA

Writing in the Times, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Labour has not been clear about how benefits increases would be funded:

"Labour admit they wouldn’t reverse every coalition cut. They should tell us which they would keep, which they would lose and where they would find the money instead.

"They say they’ll vote against limiting the planned rise in benefits to 1 per cent.

"That means they believe welfare claimants should see a bigger rise than the 1 per cent that public sector workers will get on their wages — which they support.

"So Labour must show how they’d pay for it. Would they cut hospital budgets? Schools? Defence?"

Read: Row over '20 per cent rise' in working age benefits

Jobseeker benefit hikes 'less than average pay rises'

Labour has promised to fight welfare cuts and produced its own analysis suggesting that Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) had risen by less than earnings over the past decade.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said longer-term figures showed JSA had risen by 32 per cent since 2002/3 while average earnings rose 36 per cent over that time.

Iain Duncan Smith has given the green light to a £14 billion cut to tax credits that's pushing millions of working families into poverty and now means thousands of part-time workers are better off on benefits.

– Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne

Row over '20 per cent rise' in working age benefits

The row over welfare cuts hit a new low as the Tories and Labour traded figures ahead of a Commons vote on plans to impose a real-terms benefits cut.

Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary, said the numbers showed "many working-age benefits" had risen by 20 per cent since 2007, outstripping a 12 per cent rise in private sector pay.

In defending the squeeze announced by Chancellor George Osborne last month, he said the increases cost the taxpayer £6.3 billion.