Labour must distance itself from 'people who want something for nothing', says Andy Burnham

Candidate backs Tories' lower benefit cap

Jon Stone
Friday 29 May 2015 19:28
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Andy Burnham is running for Labour leadership
Andy Burnham is running for Labour leadership

One of the frontrunners to be the next leader of the Labour party has said the party needs to change the perception it is on the side of “people who want something for nothing”.

Andy Burnham also echoed the position of Labour’s interim leadership in backing the Conservatives’ proposal to cut the level of the government’s new benefit cap.

“I was talking about an impression on the doorstep and there is that feeling, some people say, that Labour want to be soft on people who want something for nothing. We’ve got to be honest about that. That is a feeling that’s out there, that was still being replayed at this election,” he said.

Mr Burnham said he would consider using discretionary housing payment to ameliorate poverty thought to be caused by the lower cap.

Labour's support for reducing the cap comes despite earlier warnings from charities and researchers that it was already responsible for increasing homelessness and putting "children on the breadline".

The intervention came at a speech at auditors Ernst & Young in London where Mr Burnham sought to shore up his business credentials.

He also told attendees that Labour should champion what he called “wealth creation”, by which he meant business and entrepreneurship.

The former health secretary is perceived as being the candidate in Labour’s leadership election with the most support from the left wing of the party.

On the same day Caroline Flint, who is running for the deputy leadership of the party, reportedly told The Sun newspaper that some benefit claimants needed a “kick up the backside”.

The winner of Labour’s leadership contest will be announced in September this year. The current candidates are Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, and Mary Creagh.

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