PM defends benefit changes

Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a staunch defence of the Coalition's controversial benefits shake-up, saying the reforms are "putting fairness back at the heart of Britain".

Labour: Workers 'resentful' over benefit claimants

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has said today that it was understandable that workers felt "resentful" about benefit claimants that do not want a job, after the Prime Minister defended the Coalition's benefits shake-up.

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Mr Harman said it was "not surprising" that people were concerned about the system but claimed the Government's failure to install a proper work programme was letting some people "off the hook".

Ms Harman told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show: "The difficulty is for people who are in work, seeing their standard of living pressurised, understandably, they feel very resentful for people who are not working.

"For people who are looking for a job and can't find a work it's deeply frustrating and then of course the small minority who don't want to work - well they are let off the hook by the fact there isn't a proper work programme", she added.

Chancellor claims support for benefit reforms

Chancellor George Osborne has insisted the public backs controversial Government benefit reforms, after the Prime Minister wrote today that the reforms are "putting fairness back."

Chancellor George Osborne claims support for benefit reforms. Credit: Stefan Wermuth/PA Wire

Mr Osborne, who came in for criticism after he linked the case of child killer Mick Philpott to welfare, insisted he does not "set out to be divisive".

In an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Osborne claimed his views were "in tune with what the great majority of the country think and experience in their everyday lives".

He added: "I think it's striking that despite actually an attempt to get an alternative argument going this week, saying that all these changes to the welfare system over the last week have been unfair, the public don't accept that, the public agree with it."

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Conservative Chair: Public not on Labour's side

The fact is Labour have opposed every single step we've taken to reform welfare to make work pay and cut the deficit.

But today Labour has noticed the public is not on their side so have made this panic announcement which has unravelled within hours. It turns out that even Labour's own advisers think it won't ever work because it would mean even more spending.

Ed Miliband wants more borrowing and more debt, but doesn't want to support measures to make work pay - that's exactly how Labour got us into this mess in the first place.

– Grant Shapps, Conservative Party Chairman

Labour attack 'heartless' and 'hopeless' benefit changes

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne has accused George Osborne and David Cameron of playing "divide and rule" with attacks on people who claim benefits.

"The truth is that, for all their rhetoric about making work pay or supporting strivers, it is working families and those in real need who are footing the bill for the government's catastrophic economic failure," Mr Byrne said in an article in The Observer.

He went on to write:

The government's supposed reforms are not only heartless, but also hopeless. Housing benefit changes cost more than they save, tax credit changes are making families better off on benefits, the work programme has become all programme and no work, and universal credit is descending into universal chaos. Our "one nation" approach to reforming social security is very different. Instead of seeking to divide people, we want to ensure everyone plays their part so we can rebuild Britain together.

– Liam Byrne

PM: 'Lost' benefits system is 'causing resentment'

Writing in The Sun, David Cameron has said the benefits system has "lost its way" and has become a "lifestyle choice for some".

It was designed to bring us together, but is causing resentment. I think the British people are about the most fair and generous people on the planet - but no one wants to work hard every day and see their hard-earned taxes being used to fund things they themselves cannot afford or keep generations dependent on welfare.

So this month we are making some big changes. They are changes that have a simple principle at their heart: we are restoring the fairness that should lie at the very heart of our tax and welfare systems.

We are working our way through everyone on what was called 'Incapacity Benefit', more often known as 'the sick', to see who can actually work, particularly if they are given some help. We now have proper tests to make sure people on benefits are looking for work - and tough penalties, including losing your benefits, if you turn down work you are able to do.

– David Cameron

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'Significant shift' in Labour's approach to welfare

Detailed work is under way on possible policy proposals that would mean benefit payments to those out of work or on low incomes would vary according to their past contributions, according to the Observer. It quotes a Labour party source saying:

The problem at the moment is that you have a person aged 50 who has worked all his life and then becomes unemployed getting much the same as the person next door who has never worked.

It is about linking what you take out to what you have put in.

In an article for the newspaper shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said:

There are lots of people right now who feel they pay an awful lot more in than they ever get back. That should change.

PM says benefit changes 'put fairness back' in Britain

Coalition benefit reforms are "putting fairness back at the heart of Britain", David Cameron insisted in a staunch defence of the controversial shake-up.

Prime Minister David Cameron says benefit changes 'put fairness back.' Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Writing for The Sun, Mr Cameron suggested it was "crazy" that claimants could have a bigger income on benefits than work and argued it is "fair that we all play by the same rules".

He added: "We are putting fairness back at the heart of Britain. We are building a country for those who work hard and want to get on. And we are saying to each and every hardworking person in our country: we are on your side.

"So this month we are making some big changes. They are changes that have a simple principle at their heart: we are restoring the fairness that should lie at the very heart of our tax and welfare systems."