Tory minister backtracks on benefits remark

Minister suggested Britain's benefits system sometimes shows 'inhuman inflexibility'

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Indy Politics

A Conservative minister has been forced to recant after suggesting Britain’s benefits system sometimes shows “inhuman inflexibility” and leads to some claimants unjustly having their welfare payments stopped.

Minister of State for Skills Nick Boles made the remarks after being told of a constituent who had his benefits stopped when he stayed overnight in hospital because his new-born baby was in intensive care.

Mr Boles was visiting a charity in his Grantham constituency when a local newspaper reported him as saying that the sanctions “are a worry, and do need to be looked at”. He added: “With some of these cases it seems to me that there is an inhuman inflexibility.”

But when his comments were made public Mr Boles said he strongly supported the use of sanctions “in principle and in practice”.

The incident highlights the pressure on politicians in the run-up to the election to maintain their party line in case their comments are exploited as “gaffes”.

Downing Street said David Cameron had “full confidence” in the minister.

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