I am involved with a charity called the Powerhouse for women with disabilities. The women come to the centre twice a week by taxi. For some of them these are the only outings that they get. They can't work because they aren't able to. The charity has had its funding cut and are struggling to stay open. One woman asked me if she would still be able to attend craft making sessions. It is heartbreaking.
A report called the Spartacus Report written by sick and disabled people who became more ill through lobbying for reform say that the reform must be responsible and transparent. They don't feel that they have been listened to. They rely on DLA for what some of us would regard as necessities.
Why are we cutting benefits in a time of austerity? There aren't enough jobs. Simple as that. Large parts of the country have job centres that have closed down, shops that are boarded up, training centres which cannot offer proper help because of funding cuts, charities that cannot help disabled people and more job losses to come because of a looming double recession.
I agree that the welfare system needs to be looked at to get people who have become over reliant on it to strive to find work. Work brings independence, aspiration and a feeling of belonging. However, people are losing jobs all the time through no fault of their own. I don't think there are many people who strive to be on benefit. Yes, there are benefit cheats but this week the Government is looking to punish everyone who is on benefit.
Lots of people who are in work have been baying for the blood of benefit claimants saying things like, 'why they should get money for staying at home when we have to go out and work?' I say to these baying people, just think, do you really want to be out of work and sitting at home all day? There is nothing to envy those on benefits. This is the logic that the Government does not understand. By putting a cap of £26,000 the Government is sending out a divisive message that the unemployed are a burden on society and should be punished.
I worry most about the children. According to The Observer 100,000 children will be affected by the benefits cap. The £500 a week cap will push these children into poverty. These children probably already suffer by not being able to eat nutritious food, have proper heating and warm clothes because their parents cannot afford it. They probably live in areas where the schools are under achieving. It is a constant cycle. If they don't get the education how will they grow up to escape poverty? Will the money saved from cuts to benefits go towards rebuilding people's lives. I doubt it.
I call on the Lib Dems to reconsider the Welfare Reform Bill next week. People have been saying that the Lib Dems are propping up a Tory Government. I did not believe this till now. The Tories are riding high in the polls. The Lib Dem party needs to distinguish itself as the party that cares for all classes, not just the squeezed middle. Remember that the squeezed middle may become a benefit claimant through future job losses. Can the Government guarantee that everyone in work now will not lose their jobs? I don't think so.
RETHINK THE WELFARE REFORM BILL.