The government fought off a fresh challenge to its controversial Welfare Reform bill on 17th January, when peers rejected a proposal to delay the full introduction of slashed new disability payments after ministers offered concessions.As the cabinet hardened its tactics by agreeing to overturn a series of defeats in the House of Lords last week, a cross-party group of peers failed to introduce a pilot scheme before a new regime for disability allowances can be fully introduced.
Peers voted by 229 to 213, a government majority of 16, to reject an amendment tabled by Lady Grey-Thompson, one of Britain’s most successful disabled athletes, after the government warned her plan would cost £1.4bn. The government is planning to replace the working age disability living allowance (DLA) with a new personal independent payment (PIP) which will involve a more rigorous assessment system. The government aims to cut costs by 20%.
Lord Freud, the welfare reform minister, promised to test the operational processes of the new payment system. He said the government would hold two biennial independent reviews in the first four years of the new PIP system. The failure to amend the bill is likely to embolden the cabinet which agreed at its weekly meeting on Monday to overturn the triple defeat it suffered last week, when peers rejected plans on proposed benefit cuts in the welfare reform bill. Only two Liberal Democrat peers have now rebelled.
18th January 2012