Only one of four candidates for the Labour leadership voted emphatically against the Tories’ welfare bill on Monday night.
Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham all voted for a Labour motion supporting some provisions in the cuts package and criticising others. They then abstained on vote for the overall bill.
Jeremy Corbyn was alone in voting against the welfare cuts package in its entirety.
“I am voting against the government on the Welfare Bill tonight because I believe it will increase child poverty,” he said.
“We should be proud of the fact the last Labour government took 800,000 children out of poverty – but the approach of this Bill goes in the opposite direction. We cannot stay neutral on that.”
The Department for Work and Pensions’ impact assessment of the welfare cuts included in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill show that more than 330,000 children will lose out from the policy.
Andy Burnham said he was opposed to the bill but that the Labour leadership should vote as a whole. He said he would fight the changes at committee stage and, if he is unable to secure changes to it, argue that the party should vote against it at its third reading.
Liz Kendall said Labour needed to change its position on welfare in order to win the election.
“People said to us 'We don't trust you on the money, we don't trust you on welfare reform',” she said earlier last week.
“If we are going to oppose things we have to put something else in its place because if we carry on making the same arguments we have done over the last five years we will get the same result.”
The main changes proposed by the Government are reducing the household welfare cap from £26,000 to £23,000, abolishing legally binding child poverty targets, cuts to child tax credits, cuts to Employment and Support Allowance, and cuts to housing benefit for young people.
Labour says it supports the benefit cap and cuts to mortgage support but not disability benefit cuts or the repeal of child poverty targets.
A group of rebel MPs backed an alternative motion that wholly opposed the package, however. This was ultimately backed by 48 MPs.Reuse content