Labour admits benefit cuts are needed

A Labour Party spokesperson has outlined the need to 'reinvent social security for modern times', and said the party intends to make savings in the benefits budget if it returns to power in 2015.


Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, made his remarks to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Key quotes

  • 'The truth is that the social security today doesn't enjoy widespread support, but for many people nor does it offer much security.'
  • 'The world of work has changed very radically since social security was set up back in the 1940s and for many people in work they don't actually feel they get much out for the pressures they have to contend with in everyday life... that's why we do have to reinvent social security for modern times and the world today.'
  • 'Savings are going to have to be made [in public spending] and I think there will be savings that are needed on welfare spending too... our challenge is how we spend that money differently to support people in work.'

Byrne signalled that an incoming Labour government in 2015 would 'look closely' at the balance between universal and targeted benefits. He also said Labour supported in principle the idea of a cap on the total amount of benefits received by working-age households – arguing only that the cap should be varied between different parts of the country.

Source: Interview with Liam Byrne MP (Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary), BBC 2 October 2012
LinksBBC report (audio) | Guardian report | New Statesman report | Telegraph report