Liam Byrne, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has delivered a speech accusing the government department run by Iain Duncan Smith of being in chaos and going over budget.Speaking to Chance UK, a charity that provides early intervention mentors for troubled children, Liam Byrne said that the government's promises to bring welfare spending down has been a failure that would cost the taxpayer a 'staggering Â£1.4 billion by the end of this parliament'.
The Conservatives have hit back rubbishing Mr Byrne's speech and laying out their responses to his claims saying that Liam Byrne has been bounced into this and hasn’t done his research. Also that his figures are nonsense and that his speech had unravelled within minutes of him giving it. It’s no wonder experts are queuing up to criticise it was the Conservative response.
Byrne could have used this speech to get behind Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to fix the welfare system, instead he has shown this is the same old welfare party the Conservatives went on, adding that Labour have not changed and still won’t stand up for hardworking people who do the right thing.
The Conservative responses to Liam Byrne's claims:
* CLAIM: ‘Universal Credit – additional costs of implementation. Â£300 million in 2015-16’.
REALITY: This does not reflect ‘extra’ costs. It’s complete nonsense to characterise this as evidence of ‘chaos’. The Treasury hadn’t previously announced the budget for Universal Credit for that year, but obviously the Department for Work and Pensions needs money for implementation for each year between now and 2017.
* CLAIM: ‘Bedroom Tax – Additional costs of implementation. Â£102.5 million in 2013-15’.
REALITY: This ‘cost’ is actually the Discretionary Housing Payments given to local authorities to help manage this reform – which will save the taxpayer Â£500 million a year. Bizarrely, Labour have previously called for more money for Discretionary Housing Payments – yet more evidence they are all over the place on welfare.
* CLAIM: ‘Work Capability Assessment Reform – Tribunal costs from poor decisions by Atos. Â£287 million over this parliament’.
REALITY: Employment and Support Allowance and the WCA system were introduced in 2008 by the previous Labour government. Byrne is in effect attacking Labour’s incompetence. Since 2010 we have made substantial improvements – the percentage of people entitled to Employment and Support Allowance is now at its highest level with over half of people completing a WCA eligible for the benefit.
* CLAIM: ‘Waste – Escalating cost of fraud and error. Â£140 million over the years 2010-11 and 2011-12’.
REALITY: This is a long-standing issue. When Labour were in power, fraud and error in the benefits system totalled Â£30 billion (DWP, Fraud and error in the Benefit system: April 2008 to March 2009, p.17; Hansard, 11 May 2009, Col. 573 WA). That’s why we are introducing Universal Credit, which will do more to end fraud and error in the system.
* CLAIM: ‘Youth Contract – Cost of higher Jobseeker’s Allowance payments as a result of the Youth Contract’s failure to get young people into work. Â£457 million in 2014-15’
REALITY: To say that an unused Wage Incentive equates to additional JSA spend is ludicrous – claimants of all ages, but particularly young people, move in and out of work. For a variety of reasons some of these jobs will not be Wage Incentive eligible and that is not a bad thing. For some young people the Wage Incentive will not be necessary – work experience or additional adviser support funded by the Youth Contract will be what helps them move into sustainable work.
A spokesperson for Iain Duncan Smith said –
"This is a last ditch attempt by Liam Byrne to keep his job in the Shadow Cabinet. Nothing more. His talk of wasted money is frankly laughable when you consider Labour have voted against Â£83billion worth of savings to the welfare budget.
"Labour is panicking – after a summer of discontent, here is yet another disastrous speech, void of any ideas. Same old Labour is in the wrong place on welfare. They want people on benefits to make more money than the average hard working family earns. They want unlimited amounts of benefits to be a basic human right. Labour have even gone as far as to ban the word 'welfare' in the hopes we all forget they are The Welfare Party. The taxpayer supports what we're doing on welfare. Ed Miliband has got it wrong yet again."