Benefits Cap Provokes Lib Dem Split

A major figure in the Liberal Democrats is leading a major rift within the party over plans to implement a cap on benefit payments.

Paddy Ashdown is leading the inter-party rebellion against the cuts, which would see a maximum level of claimable household benefits set at the average take-home wage of £26,000.

An alliance of bishops, senior Liberal Democrats and independent peers have joined the former Lib Dem leader's campaign to derail the Government's welfare reforms.

Speaking over the weekend, Mr Ashdown said: "I [have] voted with the Government on everything until now.

"I see it as my job as an ex-leader to support my successor but I will not support the benefit cap in its present form."

The legislation is currently in the House of Lords and could be amended to remove the clause on benefit caps.

Ian Duncan Smith has defended the plan, saying on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday morning that the plans would not provoke a rise in either child or adult poverty.

"Our department does not believe that you can directly apportion poverty to this particular measure," he said.

"At £26,000 a year, it's very difficult to believe that families will be plunged into poverty."


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