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Webb was born in West Bromwich to Brian and
Patricia Webb, and attended the
local comprehensive school (Dartmouth High
School), before going on to study Philosophy,
Politics and Economics at Hertford College, Oxford. He then worked at
the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, where he specialised in researching
into poverty, taxes and benefits. In 1995, he became a Professor of Social
Policy at the University of Bath.
At the 1997 General Election Webb was elected as MP for Northavon, just north
of Bristol, overturning a Conservative majority of over 11,000. He increased a
2,137 majority to 9,877 in the 2001 Election and again to 11,033 in the 2005
In 2001, Webb was promoted by Charles Kennedy to lead spokesman for
the Liberal Democrats on Work and Pensions, a portfolio he had worked in since
1999. He continued in this position until being appointed as Liberal Democrat
Health spokesman in 2005. At the end of 2006, he started a new role co-
ordinating the party's manifesto for the next general election. In the first reshuffle
after the leadership election, he was appointed Liberal Democrat Environment,
Energy, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman. Following Gordon Brown's reshuffle
in October 2008, he shadowed Ed Miliband in the newly formed Department for
Energy and Climate Change. On 8 January 2009 Nick Clegg announced his
"General Election Team" and an "economic recovery group" with Webb
appointed as Work and Pensions spokesman.
Webb is also a member of the cross-party Christians in Parliament and vice-
president of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum.
Webb is one of the growing number of MPs to have a blog and a website, and in
2004 his website, which makes use of SMS technology, was commended in
the New Statesman New Media Awards and, in February 2005, led him to win the
inaugural Hansard Society E-Democracy Award. He has also recognised the
emerging potential of online social utility networks by joining MySpace
and Facebook, two of the biggest. He is one of the contributors to the Orange
Book (2004) and is the author of a chapter in The Future of the NHS (2006)
(ISBN 1-85811-369-5) edited by Michelle Tempest.
At the 2010 general election, the constituency of Northavon was split into two
new constituencies. Subsequently, Steve Webb was elected for the
new Thornbury & Yate constituency which covers most of the ground originally
covered by Northavon.
In a letter dated 12 April 2010, Webb said on behalf of the Liberal Democrats:
"We are very clear that all accrued rights should be honoured: a pension promise
made should be a pension promise kept. Therefore we would not make any
changes to pension rights that have already been built up. I have confirmed that I
regard accrued index-linked rights as protected." However, as the Coalition
Minister for Works and Pensions, Webb has championed a change which is
almost certain to reduce the value of millions of fully accrued index-linked
During April 2011, he unveiled his pensions plan, which involved the merging of
the two main pensions.