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Starmer stands his ground amid party anger in two-child benefit cap row

19 Jul 2023 2 minute read
Labour leader Keir Starmer. Photo Danny Lawson PA Images

Sir Keir Starmer is standing firm amid an internal Labour row sparked by his decision to maintain the two-child benefit cap.

Some Labour MPs have expressed concern and anger after the party leader confirmed he would retain the policy, which has been blamed for pushing families into poverty.

The Labour leader faced jibes from Rishi Sunak and Tory MPs, as well as Scottish National Party Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, during Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons over his position.

The policy, introduced by Tory former chancellor George Osborne during his austerity drive in 2013, prevents parents claiming universal credit for any third or subsequent child.

Scrapping the cap would lift around 270,000 households with children out of poverty at an estimated cost of £1.4 billion in the first year.

But Sir Keir has emphasised that the difficult economic situation means tough economic choices for an incoming Labour government, defending the decision during an appearance alongside former prime minister Sir Tony Blair at the Future of Britain conference on Tuesday.

The leader’s spokesman on Wednesday defended the position and said that no shadow Cabinet ministers had threatened to resign over the issue.

Unfunded spending commitments 

He said: “What we have set out is our position, which is that we are not going to be making unfunded spending commitments. Obviously on all questions of tax and spending, we will set out fully costed plans closer to the election.

“We are not going to be in a position where we are advocating changes in policy that we cannot say how we can pay for it. That applies to any number of issues.”

The spokesman declined to say whether it was an “aspiration” to reverse the policy or whether, if fiscal circumstances changed, removing the cap might be possible.

He said that Sir Keir’s view on the policy has not changed.

“The position in terms of the views on it haven’t changed throughout the period. The question is what is the responsible thing to do when it comes to setting out the manifesto that we are going to have at the next election,” he said.

“That is rooted in not making any unfunded spending commitments on welfare or anything else.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
8 months ago

So all Rishi Sunack needs is to get rid of the policy to ensure a huge poll bounce…I shan’t hold my breath. …or ever vote Tory.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
8 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

But voting labour clearly wont change anything either Cathy – under Sir Keir they are embracing tory austerity.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
8 months ago

Er think that headline should read ‘Keir Starmer’s labour to continue with tory austerity’. Keep it up Sir Keir – youre doing wonders for support for plaid cymru 😉.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

But is Plaid capitalising on that, or as usual, completely missing the party?

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
8 months ago

Where is the source of this ignorant stupidity and mendacious cruelty lie? There are several candidates – the Bank of England (despite https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy, which describes the process of money creation), Treasury (full of nonsense no doubt), Sunak (of course), Starmer himself (does he not have research staff?), Reeves (bit part), Powell (ditto)? Not forgetting the contribution of Liam Byrne (2010). Yes, all of those… For those who seek a more enlightened view of reality, try this… https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2023/07/18/labour-claims-there-is-no-money-left/ I agree with Murphy – these people and institutions are not fit to be in charge of the economy. Meanwhile, Labour is doing… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
8 months ago

So it’s looks like Starmer is just a watered down Tory after all. I know Corbyn was radical but Starmer is the other extreme – nothing new at all. It’ll be the same old story at Westminster even after the next GE. We can do far far better as a independent country.

Last edited 8 months ago by Steve Duggan
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

In actuality none of the policies offered by Corbyn was ‘radical’ in any real sense as they were all mainstream policies that any half-decent social democrat would have promoted. It’s just that the Tory press and those currently in running the Labour party wanted to promote this idea that Corbyn was an out of control loony lefty. That’s not to say that I agreed with everything that JC uttered, or indeed utters. I think he is naïvely out of touch when it comes to Ukraine, but it has to be recognised, ( which I think few considered when the Corbyn… Read more »

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