Monthly Archives: April 2013

It’s no joke – from today, thousands in Birmingham are worse off

Conservative Party Conference Focuses On The Economy

It may be April Fool’s Day, but for many individuals and families in Birmingham and across the country, there is little to laugh about today as the government’s bedroom tax comes into effect, and heralds a month of swingeing cuts to welfare that will leave many households that are already struggling as much as £900 a year worse off.

The Guardian leads today with a damning report on how this is ‘the day that Britain changes‘. The bedroom tax that Labour has opposed both locally and nationally will leave more than half a million people across Britain living in social housing  more than £700 a year worse off; at least 15,000 of these are Birmingham residents. More than 10% of people living in Hall Green claim housing benefit; they will be hit hard by the changes that the government is implementing today.

It is not just the bedroom tax that comes into effect today, though. Also starting today are restrictions to access to legal aid for thousands of low and middle-income households, and further changes to NHS commissioning. In the next fortnight, Disability Living Allowance will be scrapped to be replaced by Personal Independence Payments, restricting disabled people’s access to essential money; benefit increases will be capped at 1%, well below the rate of inflation; a benefit cap will come into effect, regardless of how much money a recipient might need to live; and the Universal Credit will be implemented. Kerry has already posted an excellent piece on many of these changes. All of this adds up to a fundamental change in the nature of the welfare state, as help becomes more difficult to access for the people who need it most.

To rub salt into the wounds of those who will suffer the most from these changes, from this Saturday the richest people in the country will receive a tax cut. While ordinary families and those who desperately need society’s help are forced to stomach drastic cuts to their resources, those earning over £1 million will be £100,000 a year better off than before. The legacy of this government will be a society divided and more unequal than before; the poor suffering the consequences of its economic failure while the richest laugh all the way to the bank.

Tough decisions have to be made, as we already know in Birmingham after the Council’s budget a few weeks ago, but Labour in power nationally would make things fairer for ordinary people. If in power now, a Labour government would not give millionaires a tax cut and would stop the bedroom tax. Instead, we have a government that allows the wealthiest to gain while the most vulnerable shoulder the pain. It is wrong.

 

N.B. Some information on who receives benefits and how they are usually spent can be found here. If you are a Hall Green resident and are concerned about the benefit changes, please contact one of your councillors or your MP on the links at the top of the page.

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