THE Welfare Reform Bill will ‘undoubtedly’ cause great harm to children and the poorest families in the country, the Children’s Society warned yesterday.
The charity was responding to Work and Pensions Secretary Duncan Smith’s appearance in an early morning TV interview in which he said last week’s government defeats in the House of Lords would be overturned in the House of Commons this week.
Children’s Society Director of Policy, Enver Solomon, told News Line: ‘Our concern is about the government policy on children.
‘In terms of the cap on out of work benefits, the DWP’s own analysis has shown that it could force 100,000 children into poverty.’
Interviewed on the BBC Andrew Marr Show, Duncan Smith insisted that despite government defeats in the House of Lords, Child Benefit would be included in the bill’s planned £26,000 ‘benefits cap’ and would also include the introduction of charges for the use of the Child Support Agency.
Regarding the poor, Duncan Smith said: ‘People on benefits should be starting to change their lives, to contribute rather than take.’
However, in the same interview, Duncan Smith declined to intervene in the row over RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester’s million-pound bonus, saying any such government intervention would cause ‘chaos’.
Dismissing Marr’s suggestion that the government was targeting the poor while taking a soft approach to the rich, Duncan Smith said: ‘You can’t interfere and tell them what to do. And if we did not like that, the only option would be to get rid of the board.
‘If you do that, imagine what would happen in the banking sector, and imagine what would happen to RBS. You would have chaos.’
In fact, it emerged yesterday that Hester could get eight times as much in future and receive an £8 million bonus under a long-term ‘incentive plan’ that gives him of 375 per cent of his annual £1.2 million salary, along with other share plans in place.
An ICM poll of 2,000 adults yesterday revealed that only one per cent agreed that senior bosses were worth their pay.
• Oxford Circus was completely blocked on Saturday as protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts, Disabled People’s Direct Action Network and UK Uncut demonstrated against the Welfare Reform Bill.
Twenty wheelchair users chained themselves together in the middle of Regent Street using handcuffs, causing a backlog of traffic as they were joined by about 200 more people.
Protesters said under the Welfare Reform Bill 500,000 families stand to lose their homes, while others will become ‘imprisoned in them’.
Nearly half a million people would lose their Disability Living Allowance, including disabled children.
People with terminal illnesses would be forced into work and 3.2 million will be put through demanding tests that have already pushed some to take their own lives.