THE GOVERNMENT has suffered a further defeat over its welfare reform proposals after peers backed a move to exclude child benefits from the £26,000 annual cap on benefits paid to families.
The House of Lords voted by 252 to 237 last night in favour of the amendment introduced by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, and backed by Labour.
The vote came after a Labour-led call to exempt people considered at risk of homelessness from the cap was rejected by 250 votes to 222.
Bishop Packer argued that imposing the cap on all households regardless of their size, would, in effect, penalise children.
“It cannot be right for the cap to be the same for a childless couple as for a couple with children. Child benefit is the most appropriate way to right this unfairness,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pension said following the debate they were “very disappointed” by the decision.
“If you take child benefit out of the cap – it will simply become ineffective, failing the very principles of our reforms, which is to bring fairness back into our welfare system while ensuring that support goes to those who need it,” he said.
It is the fifth defeat for the government after peers voted down on other parts of the government’s flagship welfare reform bill earlier this month. However the decision is likely to be overturned when the legislation returns to the Commons.