Jeremy Corbyn's frontbenchers rebel over leader's opposition to the benefit cap

'It is not the current policy of the Labour party to oppose the principle of a cap'

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Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet have contradicted him over his outright opposition to the benefit cap.

Jeremy Corbyn’s own shadow cabinet ministers have contradicted him over his outright opposition to the benefit cap.

Mr Corbyn is opposed to the measure, which has been blamed for hitting hundreds of thousands of children, increasing food poverty, and causing a surge in homelessness.

The new leader told the TUC conference yesterday he wanted to “remove the whole idea of the benefit cap altogether" but Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said Labour party policy was to oppose the lowering of the cap to £23,000 but not the previous £26,000 limit.

But two shadow ministers have now told the media that the party is not against the benefit cap as a whole, only its further reduction.

Kate Green, the shadow minister for women and equalities, piled the pressure on Mr Corbyn, echoing Mr Smith’s comments by saying Labour “supports the principle” of the cap –  directly challenging the language used by her leader yesterday.

“I don’t think it is any secret that Jeremy and other London MPs in particular are against the cap because they have seen it having a particularly harsh affect in London where housing costs are very high,” she told the Today programme.

"The present policy position of the party, decided collectively by the party - and that is the way we make policy in the party; Jeremy is very respectful of that collective approach - is that we accept the principle of the cap but it is not currently before Parliament to have a vote to remove it altogether."

“It is not the current policy of the Labour party [to oppose the principle of a cap] but it is clearly something that Jeremy feels very strongly about.”

 “No, our policy is to review that aspect of it and our policy is further to see whether we need to shift this right across the whole debate. I think that is a massive shift. We don’t have a vote on that right now.”

Asked whether the party’s policy was now to oppose the benefit cap altogether, as Mr Corbyn said it was yesterday, Mr Smith told Newsnight last night: “No, our policy is to review that aspect of it and our policy is further to see whether we need to shift this right across the whole debate. I think that is a massive shift. We don’t have a vote on that right now.”

There is significant research to suggest the policy has a very negative impact on children.

The Children’s Society says over 140,000 children are hit by the cap compared to only 60,000 adults while children are more than seven times more likely to lose out from its effects.

Last year Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring cited the benefit cap amongst other policies that were “blowing massive holes in the safety net which is supposed to stop people falling further into poverty”.

The Department for Work and Pensions disputes charities' claims. It says people impacted by the cap are significantly more likely to enter work and that this trend did not exist before the cap was in place.

According to departmental research, 62 per cent of those affected by the cap did not do any more to find work, while 38 per cent said they did.

The Conservative manifesto said the party’s welfare policies would create “a welfare system that is fair to those who need it, and fair to those who pay for it too: stopping benefit cheats and ending welfare abuse”.

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