Hutton commits to benefits changes

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Indy Politics

The new Work and Pensions Secretary has vowed to press ahead with the Government's planned overhaul of the benefits system.

John Hutton, who was promoted to the post after the resignation of David Blunkett two weeks ago, said changes to the incapacity benefit system would happen as soon as possible.Many Labour MPs fear the shake-up could include means-testing and the payment of some benefits in the form of vouchers.

In an article in today's Independent, Mr Hutton says: "We should not shy away from considering any measure that better helps and supports those who can work to find a job, while giving better protection and security to those who genuinely cannot work."

He writes: "We promised the British people that we would deliver real improvements to their lives by changing the welfare state and public services; the difficulties of the past week should make us more determined to keep that promise, not less."

The planned Green Paper on welfare reform has provoked Whitehall infighting.

Shortly before Mr Blunkett was forced to resign he is understood to have sent a strongly worded letter to No 10 warning he could not accept demands to toughen proposed legislation.

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