Saturday, 4 October 2014

F11: Reforming the Welfare System-Sunday 9.25am

Mover: Kelly-Marie Blundell and Summation: James Sandbach. 
Both who have done a great job in seeking much needed reforms. 

I am not at conference but have written this post in support of this motion. Please vote in support of this debate and show people who are living on the poverty line or below it that Lib Dems do care. 

In the Liberal Democrat constitution it states that ‘ we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger…’ What do these words tell you? It tells me that the spirit of Liberalism is about caring for those who are unable to care for themselves. A helping hand is the hand of Liberalism. We are in government yet we see thousands unable to care for themselves. They live in poverty. Their needs and well being are not adequately and constructively taken into account by the political masters at Westminster.

I call upon Liberal Democrats to attend the ‘Reforming the Welfare System’ debate scheduled for Sunday 5 October at 9.30am. Please vote in support of this motion because as a party we cannot be blind to the hardship of those who live on or below the poverty line and who have to rely on the Welfare State for assistance.

According to the http://www.cpag.org.uk/ Child Poverty Action Group 3.5 million children live in poverty in the UK. That’s 27% of UK children. I don’t think that this is an acceptable fact. Ian Duncan Smith sees cutting benefits as akin to William Wilberforce’s mission to free people from the slavery of benefits. He wants to give people from ‘chaotic lives security through hard work to end the benefits trap’. He hasn’t even be able to deliver on Universal Credit, a system that has suffered from poor management and waste costs, yet alone liberate people on benefits. Would it not have been better to have spent the millions wasted to date on devising a system of benefits that recognises the causes of poverty?

At least 66% of children growing up in poverty stricken homes have at least one working parent. Work does not always pay because the wages of the lower income group are sacrificed at the altar of the higher business profit margins. These 66% of children are caught in a poverty cycle. They aren’t being participatory members of society because the system of wages prevents them from being able to do so. Where is the so-called benefits trap?

Why are people on benefits punished through the system of sanctions? ESA was brought in in 2008 to replace incapacity benefit. In the first three months of 2014 there were15,955 sanctions, compared with 3,574 for the same period in 2013. Can all these people be benefit cheats? Common sense will tell you that a high surge in numbers means that the system is not working.

Read this story, for instance, which was published on Mumsnet: “You get a job interview. It’s the same time as your job centre appointment, so you reschedule the job centre. You attend your rearranged appointment and then get a letter saying your benefits will be stopped because going to a job interview isn’t a good enough reason to miss an appointment”.

There are many testimonies on the internet from those who have suffered from benefit sanctions and the common thread running through their stories is that the sanction system does not take into account the dynamics of real life. People are sanctioned because they missed an appointment through ill-health or having to go to hospital for a medical that they have been waiting months for.

Fellow Liberal Democrats, we can no longer stand by and watch a generation of children fall by the way because of some ideological belief that the welfare system enables laziness, cheating or sloth. We cannot tolerate a political system that does not recognise the causes of poverty but is quick to stamp on what it sees as a ‘benefit culture that breeds scroungers’. Enough of the stigmatization. It is time to tackle the causes and effects of poverty.

The Liberal Democrats should vote for this motion which calls for a truly Liberal approach to the reform of the Welfare system. It will show that we are the party that stands up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. 
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