Welfare reforms on hold

10 Sep 98
Fundamental changes to welfare reform are likely to be deferred again because of a backlog of legislation that is to be included in the Queen's speech later this year.

11 September 1998

Draft proposals introducing compulsory savings for second pensions and restricting entitlement to incapacity benefit are likely to be postponed until after the next election. Social security secretary Alastair Darling has ruled out any changes in the coming year because he considers the decisions involved are too big to be rushed.

The tight parliamentary timetable makes it increasingly likely that the local government and transport bills will be shelved until the next parliamentary session. Constitutional bills on London, Wales and Scotland will also dominate the agenda, putting further pressure on the legislative timetable.

But officials from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions have emphasised that a lot of the measures set out in the local government and transport white papers can be implemented without legislation.

The Department of Social Security, which is allocated two legislative slots in the Queen's speech, is expected to push through the transfer of the Contributions Agency to Inland Revenue control and the reform of the Child Support Agency.

On the pensions issue, a spokeswoman commented: 'The green paper on pensions will be published at the end of the year and we will not be making any further comments until then.'

The log jam has been caused by the government's decision to push ahead with reform of the Lords. Debate over the abolition of voting rights for hereditary peers is likely to last for months.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott, speaking on Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday, denied that proposals in his transport white paper had been shelved. He refused to speculate on what would be in the Queen's speech. The cabinet was due to meet on September 10 to decide the contents of the speech.


Did you enjoy this article?