‘HAMMER BLOW TO FAMILIES’ – TUC condemns benefit cuts

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THE Trades Union Congress yesterday condemned cuts to housing benefit and other vital support, as sweeping changes to the Welfare State began to take effect.

‘We are deeply concerned that with wages trailing behind the cost of living it is another hammer blow for hard-pressed families across the country,’ a TUC spokesman told News Line.

Speaking about coalition government plans for private companies to deal with the unemployed, the TUC’s spokesman added: ‘The way to get people back into work is to secure growth, not outsource job schemes to the private sector.

‘We have a lot of concerns about the plans for the unemployed outlined today by the government.’

GMB national officer Paul Maloney said the attack on the social security system was ‘an attack by the multi-millionaire cabinet on the people who are already suffering.’

He added: ‘When you have never been in society you can never understand society, and that’s where I place Clegg and Cameron.’

Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: ‘Rising unemployment means that more and more people are going to need support for their housing costs in the months ahead.

‘The changes being introduced today are going to make it even harder for them stay in their homes.

‘Unfortunately, more devastating changes to housing benefit lie ahead that by the government’s own admission will lead to an increase in evictions and homelessness.

‘There is still time for the government to think again about the impact of these changes on people who, however briefly, need a housing safety net to keep a roof over their head.’

Family Action Chief Executive Helen Dent said: ‘Cuts to local housing allowance for new claimants which come in on 1st April will cause misery for many families.

‘They will undermine the government’s child poverty strategy and undermine Nick Clegg’s social mobility agenda even before they are launched next week.

‘A stable home is one of the key building blocks for ending child poverty and good progress in school for children and the government are attacking the life chances of a generation of the poorest children.’

Family Action said the government’s ‘slash and burn approach to welfare’ would also hit disabled children.

The charity warned that the government’s new Universal Credit, which is currently being discussed at Committee Stage in parliament, will ‘halve support for disabled children’ compared to that currently available through the disability element of Child Tax Credit.

Some could lose over £20,000 over the course of their childhood, the charity said.

The PCS, the union representing staff in Job Centres, said the government’s ‘back to work’ scheme would in fact add ‘hundreds more to the unemployment figures as at least one provider has already issued redundancy notices.’