Holidays over. Parliament beckons. I hope you, like me, had some very happy times with family and friends. Back now to reality; and I’m a little apprehensive for what 2013 holds.
My feeling of doom and gloom is compounded by flu, which I always seem to get this time of year. It’s not helped by the Welfare Uprating Bill being the first thing we debate. Whatever the Tories says, Welfare Benefits are not payments to those, and only those, unwilling to work. Despite the name, this Bill will cut pay for low income families. 60% of those affected are in work.
This Government’s benefit cuts are pushing millions of working families into poverty. Thousands of part-time workers will be worse off in work, than on benefits. Osbourne’s policies are socially and economically illiterate.
A single parent contacted me, just one of those affected by the Housing Benefit cap. She’s working hard to set up her own business and build a future for herself and her children. The Government’s benefit cap could mean she loses her home. It’s demoralising, struggling to establish a business, whilst facing the threat of homelessness.
I’ll try to help. I hope she succeeds, but 2013 will devastate many low income families. Council tax benefits disappear. A "spare" council house bedroom loses you benefit. Universal Credit replaces most working-age benefits, leaving 1.7million working families worse off.
My last New Year column was a little gloomy. I had the flu then, too, but the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and our golden Olympic summer kept us cheerful throughout 2012. This year, the Government can’t rely on big distractions.
Try as they might, they can’t hide the truth. They're cutting taxes for millionaires, while millions are struggling to make ends meet. This is an out-of-touch Government making the wrong choices and standing up for the wrong people.