Government overhaul of welfare system begins

Today sees the start of a raft of changes to the welfare benefits system. The controversial changes include:

  • The under-occupancy penalty, dubbed a 'bedroom tax' by opponents and a 'spare-room subsidy' by ministers comes into being today. Around 660,000 families will lose an average £14 housing benefit a week in a move ministers hope will save £500 million a year.
  • Council tax benefit is also replaced today by a new system run by local authorities but with 10% less funding.
  • Working-age benefits and tax credits will rise by a below-inflation 1 percent from April 6 - the start of a three-year cap that represents a real-terms cut.
  • From April 8 disability living allowance (DLA) begins to be replaced by the personal independence payment (PIP), which charities say will remove support from many in real need.

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Benefit critics 'talk rubbish'

The Chancellor George Osborne has hit out at critics of the Government's benefits reform, accusing them of talking "ill-informed rubbish".