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Government rejects housing benefit climbdown talk

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The government has dismissed talk of a climbdown over capping housing benefit today despite warnings that the policy will “cleanse” poor people from major cities.

Sources close to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he was “absolutely determined” to push through tough reforms.

The coalition has announced plans that would limit housing benefit at around £400 a week for a four-bedroom home, and cut payouts by 10% when people have been on jobseeker’s allowance for more than a year.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes is among those who have criticised the “draconian” proposals, saying ministers will have to “negotiate” to get parliamentary approval.

Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant told MPs yesterday that the cuts would lead to “cleansing” of the poor from areas with high rents, while some Conservative backbenchers with urban constituencies have also expressed concerns.

But the government source said the changes would go ahead as billed. “We are absolutely committed to these reforms. Housing benefit has got completely out of control,” the source added.

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