The proposed changes to benefits will affect millions of households throughout the UK. These proposals are an attack on the most vulnerable in society, stripping the neediest of a means of survival. Several voices have raised concerns about the billdue to the situation it will leave many households in.
These changes will push untold hardship on to many currently in receipt of benefits. A cap of £26,000 is to be put on every household, causing families to go further into debt, increasing child poverty and leading to poor educational and health outcomes for children. With the abolition of tax credits, an estimated 400,000 people will lose a benefit designed to help those on the lowest wages.
The change from DLA to PIP is an attack on the most vulnerable. The DWP aims to cut disability allowance by 20% though have refused to comment on how they reached this figure. The bill also proposes to remove all benefits from those in care homes, forcing them to become virtual prisoners. The removal of these benefits could be seen as a possible breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Changes to Housing Benefit coming into force in April this year will lead to thousands of families losing their homes. Cuts in entitlements and the change of age from 25 to 35 for the maximum allowance of Housing Benefit will see many families fall into arrears on their rent and fall deeper into poverty. In the North, up to 12,000 people could be faced with homelessness in the near future thanks to these changes.
Given Northern Ireland’s already high levels of child poverty and dependence on disability allowance the impact that the Welfare Reform Bill will have here will be especially brutal. Several MLAs and councillors have voiced their concerns over the changes to the welfare system. However, the only thing they’ve said they will concretely do is keep payments fortnightly rather than monthly. This is simply not enough. If they were concerned with the interests of ordinary people, the Assembly parties would refuse to cooperate with these cuts and instead help build mass opposition to them.
Now is a time to take a stand against these measures put in place by a government that has time and again attacked the people it supposedly represents – through cuts to public services, attacks on pensions, VAT increases and now the destruction of the welfare system – while at the same time bailing out the financial institutions that caused many of the problems and giving huge tax breaks to multinational corporations.
The public sector strike on November 30 was a powerful demonstration of the power of ordinary people to fight against the cuts. Trade unionists should now demand that industrial action is stepped up and broadened to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill and all the government’s cuts. By drawing in the support of the unemployed, carers, young people and others, this could begin a movement with the power to smash the cuts agenda and make the super-rich pay for their crisis!
To find out more about the socialist alternative to the governments cuts contact the Socialist Party today.