Monday, 6 July 2015

The first Tory budget for eighteen years could be an assault on welfare and vulnerable people.

On Wednesday Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the first budget prepared by a majority Conservative government for eighteen years.

As part of this budget the government will be announcing a further £12billion in cuts to welfare, with some of the most vulnerable people in society being hit hardest.

£5 billion of those cuts will come from changes to Child Tax Credits, a move that the Resolution Foundation says will place the heaviest burden on the shoulders of the poorest 30% of households.

It is also thought the budget will contain measures to remove Housing Benefit from people under the age of 21 and to make Employment and Support Allowance means-tested.

The budget is also likely to see a reiteration of the election pledge the Conservatives made to end subsidies for onshore wind farms, cutting support for renewable energy at a time when the need for it has never been greater.

As part of his budge the Chancellor will also announce a further cap on the amount people can claim in benefits, which will fall from £26,000 to £23,000 for people living in London and £20,000 for people outside the capital.

This could have a serious impact on single parent families in particular and along with the other benefits cuts and the harsh regime of sanctions imposed on claimants could contribute to a further rise in people experiencing physical and mental health problems and possibly even drive some claimants to suicide.

Fiona Weir, Chief Executive on single parents charity Gingerbread said about the proposed benefits cap:

“Despite government claims that the cap helps people into work, most people affected so far haven’t been able to do so. It can be extremely difficult for single parents with very young children to find a job they can balance with caring for their child, not to mention the money needed to pay nursery fees.'

Speaking about the likely impact of benefits sanctions against single parents who are unable to attend interviews at the Job Centre or take up offers of work because they can't afford childcare Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children's Society said:

'“This is a blunt instrument trying to solve a complex problem. The policy may be targeted at workless adults, but in reality children are seven times more likely than adults to lose out. We estimate that 140,000 children, compared to 60,000 adults, will pay the price as parents have less to spend on food, clothing and rent,"

In a national press statement on the budget a Green Party spokesperson said:

'The Green Party wants to create a Britain that cares. We would invest in our social security system so that everyone's basic needs can be met. We would provide training and support to help people find the job that works for them. We would restore the link between benefits and prices so that benefits rise at the same pace as prices and those needing support aren't plunged into further financial difficulties.'

This budget and those that have preceded it, the spokesperson said had:

'provided an incredible opportunity: to learn the lessons that led to the crash and to reform our economy so that it delivers security, stability, and a decent standard of living for all. Those opportunities have been missed by a government that persists on the same path that led to the crisis despite warnings from campaigns, charities, and financial institutions about the impact that is having on the people of Britain and the future stability of our economy. We need to fashion a new economic system - one that puts the interests of the public first. We would end austerity, implement a Wealth and Robin Hood Tax, and make the minimum wage a Living Wage to create an economy that can support us all.'

North Staffs Green Party Campaigns Coordinator Adam Colclough said there was:

'No doubt that the most disadvantaged people will be be hit hardest by the measures contained this budget and will face even greater challenges as a result.'

This, he said, was 'totally unacceptable', adding that the Green Party had:

'Fought the last election on a manifesto pledging to strengthen public services and to make the benefits system fairer and more supportive.'

Locally the party would, he said:

'Go on fighting the damaging and divisive austerity policies instituted by the government,' adding that they may have been 'sold to the electorate as a necessary measure to balance the nation's books; they are in fact an ideologically driven assault on the welfare state upon which we all depend. You only have to look around you to see the harm that has been done as a result.'

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