Jonathan Werran 03 December 2014

Autumn Statement: Welfare cap still fit, OBR confirms

Independent government economic forecasters have confirmed the Coalition remains on target to meeting its welfare cap commitment, chancellor George Osborne told MPs today.

In his Autumn Statement, the Mr Osborne said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), had today reported that ‘the government is on track to meet the welfare cap commitment'.

The OBR is responsible for monitoring compliance with the cap, which for 2015/16 has been set at £119.5bn out of total social security and tax credit spending of £218.8bn.

Under the rules, if the OBR found either Government policies had caused forecast spending to breach the cap, or if forecasting changes had pushed spending 2% above this, the chancellor would be forced to take remedial action or secure parliamentary approval to increase the cap.

The chancellor also announced Universal Credit work allowances would be frozen for another year. This would mean cutting tax credits when overpayments were certain and ending unemployment benefits for migrants with no prospect of work, he explained.

Mr Osborne claimed total welfare spending was now set to be £1bn a year lower than forecast at the Budget and would continue to decrease as a share of our GDP.

However, last month renowned public finance experts the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed Coalition welfare reforms had delivered only £2.5bn real terms savings out of planned £20bn cuts to the benefits bill over the current Parliament

The chancellor also restated his belief in the need to freeze on working age benefits for a further two years to save further billions.

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