Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Tuesday, 14 June 2011 09:38 UK

Welfare Reform Bill part one

Labour has berated the coalition for "failing" to reach a decision on important parts of their welfare reform plans, describing ministers as "beginners" in government.

As MPs debated the Welfare Reform Bill at report stage on 13 June 2011, shadow employment minister Stephen Timms told MPs that it was "astonishing" how many policy gaps remained.

He argued that the government had been unable to deliver on its pledge to create a simpler system in which it would always pay to be in work.

"Nowhere is that clearer than on childcare support", he said.

Mr Timms went on: "With beginners' enthusiasm they boasted that universal credit was going to solve all the problems in the benefits system."

But he added: "We still have not got a clue what the government's policy is because ministers have not been able to work a policy out."

Employment Minister Chris Grayling dismissed the claims.

He said parents would be expected to return to work only once their children reached school age, while single parents of primary school-aged children would only be required to do a job that fits in with school hours.

The bill simplifies the welfare system by introducing a single universal credit to replace all existing benefits from 2013.

This will be paid to people both in and out of work, replacing child tax credit, working tax credit, housing benefit and income support, among others.

An estimated 2.7 million households will receive higher payments under the new system, while about 1.7 million may be paid less.

The bill also introduces tougher sanctions for those who refuse work and replaces the disability living allowance with a new personal independence payment.

The majority of the bill applies to England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has its own social security legislation although there is a long-standing policy of parity in this area.

Watch part two of the debate.


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