Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Universal Credit Will Hit Families - Dec 2012

A month ago, a breast cancer survivor awaiting reconstructive surgery contacted me.  She is looking for work, but needs money to live on.

She was effectively advised by the Job Centre she could not claim for any benefit at all.  Nonsense.

After all she has endured, through no fault of her own, she is destitute.

I’ll sort this out, but for every person finding their way to my door, there are many more simply crushed beneath the difficulties they face.

Things are getting worse.  With high unemployment and under-employment, high housing, child care costs, fuel bills and low wages, record numbers of people are receiving food from food banks.

And next year the Government’s “universal credit” will replace most existing benefits.  Not, itself, a bad thing; but there are some important qualifications.

1,100,000 households working full time will lose £1,200 a year.

If you’re hurt or fall ill whilst in work, the benefits you’ve paid in for stop after a year, whether you’re better or not.

The money goes to one person in the family, creating unintended consequences for abused women and their children.  Organisations dealing with domestic violence victims are concerned.

Most people will have to claim online.  Many low income households have no working computer and aren’t on line.  Some have never used the internet.

It will undoubtedly increase indebtedness.

Currently, there are 6.1 million working poor in Britain, a figure set to increase.

George Osborne says we must “tackle (sic) a welfare system which is deeply unfair to working people” and yet it is he who is cutting support for working families.

Poverty for the six million isn’t about unwillingness to work, it’s about low and stagnating wages, short hours, rising prices and complete indifference by an incompetent out of touch Government that keeps making things worse.

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