Live updates

Claimant commitment 'strengthens' staff support

Plans to bind jobseekers to a series of commitments before they can claim unemployment benefit have "strengthened" staffs' ability to support those looking for work, according to a minister.

Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said:

With Universal Credit, we are creating a modern and sustainable welfare system that is fit for the 21st century - one that supports people when they need it and helps them become independent.

The Claimant Commitment redefines the relationship between jobseekers and the state. Claimants receive greater support to get into work from their work coach and we expect them to do all they can to find a job as quickly as possible as part of the deal for receiving their benefit.

Staff have told me it has strengthened their ability to support people into work at the earliest opportunity.

– Lord Freud

New jobseeker 'Claimant Commitment' rolled out

A new 'Claimant Commitment' setting out what jobseekers must do to find work in return for benefits have been successfully rolled out across the country.

Claimants will have have to register to look for work if they expect to continue to receive benefits. Credit: PA

The Department for Work and Pensions said the agreements had now been adopted in every UK jobcentre, with jobseekers agreeing to take steps to find work or face having their benefits docked.

Among the measures are registering to look for work through the universal jobmatch service or via a recruitment agency.

Jobseekers who fail to follow through with the commitment risk having their benefits docked.

Advertisement

Welfare reforms gave people 'incentive' to take jobs

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will credit Chancellor George Osborne for helping to create 1.7 million jobs since the election but will add that welfare reforms have also played a part in the current level of employment.

Whilst others have questioned and puzzled over the record employment Britain is now seeing, as the Work and Pensions Secretary I have long believed that the strength of our labour market would both drive Britain's great economic recovery, and increase as a result.

First, this Government created the conditions for growth, and gave businesses the freedom and confidence to create jobs.

Second, we drove a programme of welfare reform where every change was designed to get Britain back to work - giving people previously left to languish out of work the skills and the incentive to take those jobs.

– Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

Govt's welfare reforms helped 'get UK back to work'

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will claim that the Government's package of welfare reforms have helped "get Britain back to work".

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Mr Duncan Smith will say in a speech in London that the strength of the labour market is evidence that benefit reforms are also having an impact by boosting economic activity.

He will also accuse the former Labour government of trapping people in welfare dependency and robbing them of the drive to go to work, while claiming his reforms have given jobless people the incentive to seek and take employment.

Mr Duncan Smith will say that changes to benefits have played a crucial part in "creating a stable economy matched by a strong society where people are ready and capable of work".

A raft of welfare reforms have been implemented in the last year, including the so-called "bedroom tax", the introduction of Personal Independence Payments for disabled people and the imposition of the £500-a-week benefit cap.

Below inflation increases cost parents '£224 by 2015'

New parents will be left £224 out of pocket by 2015 thanks to below-inflation rises to child-friendly benefits, a children's charity chief has said.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, explained:

We strongly support this call for family-friendly benefits to increase in line with prices. This reinforces NCT research, published last month, showing that below-inflation increases to maternity and paternity pay mean new parents will lose out by £224 by 2015.

These changes will hit families' finances hard at a time when they should be focusing on bonding with their new baby.

We call on the Government to show that they value parents by increasing maternity and paternity pay in line with prices.

– Belinda Phipps,

Cuts leave parents 'hundreds of pounds' worse off

Real terms cuts to maternity pay and child benefit have left expecting parents hundreds of pounds worse off, the TUC has claimed.

The 1% increase in child friendly benefits are not enough, the TUC warned. Credit: PA

The planned 1% increase to statutory maternity and paternity pay, adoption pay and child benefit introduced was still a cut, the TUC argued, because it was below the rate of inflation.

This was the fourth successive cut in the value of the benefits, which it claimed had led to new and expectant parents being £450 a year worse off, the union added.

General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "New babies are wonderful - but they can also be expensive, as any parent can attest. That's why it's important we protect the real value of family friendly benefits to give new parents the help they need to buy baby essentials.

"Family friendly benefits have come under stealth attack in every Budget since mid-2010. Successive years of real-terms cuts will leave expectant and new parents up to £450 worse off this year - enough to buy a year's supply of nappies, wipes and babygrows."

Advertisement

Lib Dem president: Clegg backs 'bedroom tax' change

The Liberal Democrats wants to see the so-called 'bedroom tax' changed so that people do not face moving out of their home with nowhere to go, the party's president has told ITV News.

Current policy means social housing tenants who have a spare room face having their housing benefit reduced.

Speaking to Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship, Tim Farron said Nick Clegg shared "the view that this is something that we want to see changed".

Spare room 'can be a lifeline for a disabled person'

Citizens Advice has said an extra room "can be a lifeline" for a disabled person, calling it "as vital as a guide dog or a wheelchair".

Chief executive Gillian Guy said for many people a spare room "is essential to their wellbeing" as it is needed for dialysis equipment or room for a carer.

A group of MPs said disabled people are suffering 'severe financial hardship and distress' as a result of the 'bedroom tax'. Credit: Reuters

Ms Guy said: "Many sick and disabled people have bedrooms which have been adapted to help them to cope with their condition.

"Moving disabled people out of their houses is not only a potential risk to their health, but can cost the individuals affected and councils significant amounts of money if they need to start from scratch in a new home."

Charity says Govt 'risks driving up homelessness'

The head of homeless charity Crisis has said the Government risks forcing poor people out of their homes because of changes to housing benefit such as the 'Bedroom Tax'.

"The Government must listen to this verdict from MPs across the political spectrum and rethink its cuts to Housing Benefit, particularly for those who cannot change their circumstances by working or who are struggling in low paid jobs. Without prompt action, the Government risks driving homelessness still higher."

– Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis
Load more updates