After failing to give people any detail before the election about where the deep cuts to vital benefits were coming from, the new Conservative government are now determined to take the most from those who can least afford it.
The cuts they are making are not necessary and do nothing to deal with the causes of the rising benefits bill. You can read my wider thoughts on this here.
Tory ministers are determined to erode and dismantle the advances made by generations of Labour and progressive campaigners, including the significant improvements made under the last Labour government. The cuts they are making will be deeply damaging. Over the next few years we will see higher child poverty and homelessness as a result of these changes, with people on low incomes both in work and out of work suffering.
Last night Labour tried to stop the Welfare Reform and Work Bill with an amendment which opposed this legislation because it will increase poverty. This was a straightforward opposition to those parts of the Bill which will unjustifiably hurt people and families on low incomes, and particularly children. The government defeated us as Labour does not have a majority in the House of Commons even combined with other parties.
Along with other Labour colleagues I then abstained on the so-called ‘second reading’ of the Bill, for the simple reason that there were parts of the Bill which Labour backs – including the commitment to more apprentices, and measures to cut rents for tenants in council and housing association homes.
This abstention clearly does not show any ambivalence, much less support for the brutal Tory welfare cuts, which as set out in the Labour amendment to block the Bill, I and many Labour colleagues completely oppose.