Regional benefit cuts next!

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UNISON has condemned calls by a right wing ‘think tank’ for benefit cuts for all claimants living outside of London, and for child benefits only to be paid for a maximum of four children per family.

Policy Exchange has written a report urging that the current benefits cap of £26,000 a year should be reduced by 10% for people living outside London and the South East, to £23,400.

The right-wing outfit also says that child benefit should be capped at four children and that payments should be progressively reduced after the first child.

It claims that cutting benefit payments for those living outside London and the South East could save the government £100 million a year and that if this was combined with a four child benefit cap, it would lead to government savings of £1 billion by 2020.

The benefits cap encompasses income from all the main welfare benefits including jobseeker’s allowance, income support, employment and support allowance, universal credit, housing benefit, child benefit and child tax credit.

Policy Exchange, which has close links to the Tory Party, will publish its report later this month and the Tories are being urged to make the proposals part of their manifesto for the General Election in 2015. Labour is reportedly also considering similar suggestions.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the Tory government crackdown on benefits is slashing unemployment and curbing immigration levels.

He said that more stringent medical checks for disability benefit, have helped to drive a fall in the unemployment rate to 6.5 per cent from 7.8 per cent a year ago and called for a further toughening of policies in the run-up to next year’s general election.

A Unison spokeswoman told News Line yesterday: ‘When they talk about the regionalisation of benefits it is just another expression for cuts.

‘Benefits would be regionalised down, they will be cuts, it’s not going to benefit anybody. This is just one more example of the Tories trying to make the poorest and most vulnerable people in society pay for the greed and incompetence of the banking system. The sooner the Tories are kicked out of office the better.’

She denied that the Policy Exchange regional benefits cap proposals are also being considered by the Labour Party.

She insisted: ‘It’s not being considered by Labour. Anybody who is involved in the Labour Party will make sure that it is not considered by Labour.’