No Benefit Cuts!

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Campaigners outside the House of Lords yesterday
Campaigners outside the House of Lords yesterday

campaigners lobbied the House of Lords yesterday demanding ‘no going back to Dickensian days’.

They also chanted ‘Defend Child Benefit for all’, ‘Oppose all benefit caps and sanctions’ and ‘Cap greedy landlords, not low-income people!’

The lobby took place as peers were voting on amendments to the government’s Welfare Reform Bill’s proposed cap on benefits of £500 a week for families and £350 a week for single adults without children.

Lead organiser for the single Mother’s Self Defence organisation, Kim Sparrow, said: ‘We are opposed to the whole of the Welfare Reform Bill (WRB). This is our third vigil.’

Kate Miller said: ‘They have already started to process people, to show people are fit for work even if they are not.

‘If you can pick up a pencil or sit for ten minutes then they think you are fit to work with computers.

‘Already four people with mental disabilities have committed suicide because of worries. It’s disgusting and outrageous.’

Sparrow added: ‘We have letters from people who have made it clear how much they will suffer.

‘The leaders of the unions should be up in arms and should absolutely defend benefits . So many people on low wages have to collect benefits.

‘We are disappointed that more trade unions have not come down here to be visible’.

A TUC spokesman told News Line yesterday: ‘We are not putting out a statement.’

A Unison spokeswoman said: ‘We are working behind the scenes on Welfare Reform. A lot of our members will be affected but we are not putting out a statement today.’

Meanwhile, the Children’s Society has warned that a cap on benefits could make more than 80,000 children homeless and push many thousands more into poverty.

Enver Solomon, director of policy at the Children’s Society, said the cap ‘will be devastating, punishing children for decisions they have no control over.’

Homeless charity Shelter yesterday responded angrily to comments on the morning Today programme from Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: ‘The Secretary of State said that, according to Shelter, a family where children share a bedroom would be defined as homeless. This is simply not true.

‘Shelter uses the same definition of homelessness as the government, as set out in the Housing Act 1996, passed by the last Conservative government.

‘We are disappointed that these comments are creating unnecessary confusion and deflecting from the real issues we should be focusing on today, namely the significant impacts these proposals will have on the lives of those in the 67,000 affected households.

‘According to the government’s original impact assessment published last February, the expected effects of this policy include households falling into rent arrears, resulting in some households having to move and others presenting as homeless to their local authority.’

Labour’s shadow employment minister Stephen Timms told the BBC: ‘We think that the cap is a good idea, we think the principle is right.

‘But we are very worried about the way the government is going to introduce it, which we think is going to lead to a large number of people losing their homes and having to be rehoused by their local council, ending up costing more.’