After yesterday’s journey (despite the gammy leg) to Penrith to do some filming for Newsnight today I am back in Parliament and engaging with the Tory welfare reforms which are really an attack on low income households, whether working or not. This is profoundly depressing and takes me back immediately to the Tory’s demonization of the poor in the 1980’s, despite record levels of unemployment caused predominately by Tory economic policy. Déjà vu again, as they say.
Perhaps the fact that I have lived through it all before is the reason why I am so depressed and worried by the Conservative/ Lib Dem approach. I wish they would put as much effort into rebuilding the economy as they are on attacking the living standards of ordinary families.
In Durham alone 840 families are losing child benefit with over 17,000 households being affected in the North East. More will lose out on Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credit changes. Instead of reducing benefits for hard working families Labour would instead put its efforts into reducing the welfare bill by getting the long term unemployed into work. This would benefit almost 7,000 in the North East alone.
No doubt the Tory/ Lib Dem PR machine will use today’s debate to suggest Labour supports the work shy. Patently this is not true. Labour is calling for a jobs guarantee for the long term unemployed. This would affect 77,860 people across the UK- taking them off the unemployment register and into real jobs.
It is simply immoral to demise the poor whilst cutting taxes for the most well off. A measure of how civilised a society is has to be how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. On this measure Cameron’s government is not doing well in the civilised charts.
We want a society where those who can work do work and those who can’t are given adequate support and are encouraged back to work where they can rather than being put on to the street. Do you agree?