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Image: Home of Channel 4’s Benefits Stree
Devastating research reveals that four years of Tory-led war on the poor – and the recent TV series Benefits Street – have taken a terrible toll on the most vulnerable
People on benefits have been beaten up, denied bank accounts and made homeless after being demonised as “scroungers”.
Devastating research reveals that four years of Tory-led war on the poor – and the recent TV series Benefits Street – have taken a terrible toll on the most vulnerable in society.
A YouGov survey shows:
- Up to 212,000 have been physically attacked because they’re on benefits
- 6% say their children have been bullied at school because the family gets state aid
- 16% of claimants have been turned down for a home, and
- 11% have even been shunned by
their own families
Now charities are calling on the Government to change its callous tone and stop trying to create a divisive battle between “workers and shirkers”.
Benefits have been cut again today, as the annual 1% cash terms increase is effectively a cut as it is still below the rate of inflation.
The real terms cut today is due to last year’s introduction by MPs of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill, which aimed to cut £5 billion from the welfare bill.
Work and pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who guided the bill through Parliament, told MPs that the move would be a “fair settlement” for workers and people on benefits.
However, the below-inflation rise means people relying on things like jobseeker’s allowance or housing benefit will feel a continued squeeze. Only disability benefits and the state pension will be protected.
At the time of the bill’s passing, critics warned that the cuts would “punish the poorest”, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown exactly that in this graph.
The IFS calculates that 2.5 million households without anyone in work will lose an average of £215 per year in 2015-16, while seven million households with someone in work will lose an average of £165 per year.
Oxfam’s director of UK poverty, Chris Johnes, said: “Yet again, working-age benefits, which poor families rely upon, are bearing the brunt of the Government’s cuts. The benefits budget seems to be the child constantly picked on, whose unpopularity makes it easy fodder for the axe.
“Already, compared to average earnings, benefits are at their lowest levels since the welfare state was founded. On top of this, inequality will deepen as the proposed changes in the Bill are undoubtedly going to hit poor families hardest.”
This comes after official figures disproved David Cameron’s claim that the number of households without work doubled under the last Labour government.
The prime minister said claims by the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, that recent changes to the benefits system had left many facing hunger and destitution were “simply not true”.
Cameron said the reforms were not just about “making the numbers add up”, but were intended to bring “new hope” to people who had previously been written off by the system.
In the 30 years since 1983 the cost of Housing Benefits quadrupled, and yet the number of claimants has hardly increased. Why is that?
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Excess deaths of welfare claimants, Universal Credit’s IT roll out, the use of Atos to conduct work capability assessments and the Remploy factory closures are among the issues in need of investigation, according to a motion from Labour’s John McDonnell.
The MP for Hayes and Harlington said many people felt “hounded” just for being disabled.
Moving the debate, Mr McDonnell told the Commons: ” We met some of the campaigners this morning. Some of them said these expressions: ‘Do they realise that many of us feel terrorised by what the Government is doing?’
“One disabled campaigner said to me: ‘Can you tell them that they call their programme fulfilling our potential but we feel many us of simply won’t survive this round of cuts. A generation is going to be lost.’
“That’s why the central demand of this petition is very straightforward. Today’s motion is to call in essence for a cumulative impact assessment of all the welfare changes that have been introduced by this Government.
“And the argument they’ve put forward is if politicians and society only knew the full effect of these changes on the lives of disabled people and their families surely they would not let this happen in a civilised society.