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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 November 2005, 11:28 GMT
No benefit 'cuts agenda' - Hutton
John Hutton
Mr Hutton has promised to continue "a radical reform agenda"
The government's proposed changes to incapacity benefit are not part of a "cuts agenda", new Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton has said.

Mr Hutton was appointed on Wednesday, after David Blunkett's resignation.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four, Mr Hutton denied reports his predecessor had been under pressure to cut benefit payments.

"The whole focus of these reforms is about supporting and encouraging people who want to get back into work to do it more quickly," he said.

"This is not a cuts agenda: we've made that absolutely clear.

"But in my constituency, for example, there are over 6,000 people on incapacity benefit and I know they want to get back into work and the system doesn't help them do it.

"So look, that is absolutely going to be the focus of this reform."

'Radical reform'

Taking up the job of work and pensions secretary on Wednesday, Mr Hutton said he would take forward a "radical reform agenda" on welfare. He also paid tribute to outgoing secretary Mr Blunkett as "a tremendous servant of the British people".

Mr Blunkett resigned after breaking the ministerial code of conduct over paid work he took while out of the Cabinet.

Mr Hutton had been in the Cabinet as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster since the election.

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