Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

April is the Cruelest Month - April 2013

I’m sat here typing, a beautiful cat beside me.  As I opened the door last night, she shot through my legs, in search of food.  She’s not chipped and probably a stray.

Pets are being abandoned by families who can no longer feed them.

It’s true – this “April is the cruellest month….”

Worse than the biting wind and snow, this month sees the introduction of tax credit and benefit reforms, leaving low paid families even worse off.

Couples with children, and one parent working, lose £3,995.65 a year, on average:  a staggering amount for families to find!

A single parent not working loses £1,206.50 and one in work loses £1,225.95.  Pensioners lose on average £469.95 per year.

April also sees Council Tax benefit replaced by Council Tax Support.

The Government cut that budget by 10%.  More people will need support, but Government contributions are capped for years ahead.  As more people lose their jobs and need benefits, the Council has to find the money, not the Government.

The 10% cut is paid by our poorest families, who have to find  £200 a year from very low incomes.

Then there’s the Bedroom Tax.  In Newham, 2,132 households have to pay £14 a week, or move to smaller accommodation.  Only 94 unoccupied one- or two-bedroom properties are available.

The economy is flat-lining, with prices rising faster than wages.  Unemployment rose again last month.  No wonder Food Banks are multiplying.  I refer families to them, just so they can eat.  I never, ever had to do that before.

But, it’s not all bad news.  13,000 millionaires get tax cuts worth a whopping £100,000 per year.

The £1bn given to the top few could, instead, prevent many Government  cuts.

Soaring rent and Council Tax arrears mean bailiffs evicting those who can’t pay.  We should be sending the bailiffs knocking on Government’s doors.  They caused the double-dip recession, the flat-lining economy, they made the choice to prioritise the rich over the rest of us and failed to pay down the deficit as they said they would.

April is the cruellest month, unfortunately for many.

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