On 23 January, the House of Lords voted to exempt child benefit payments from a government proposed £26,000 annual cap on household benefits.
The government squash that amendment when the Welfare Bill, which includes the cap, comes back to the House of Commons.
It is important to note that everyone, on all points of the mainstream political spectrum accepts and justifies the “need” for a benefit cap, including, disgracefully, the Labour Party. John Bird, founder of the Big Issue has backed the government — even though this “reform” will make many homeless!
The benefit cap, along with rising rents, and other benefit cuts, will mean 80% of privately rented homes will be unaffordable by 2016. Large areas UK cities will be no-go areas for working-class people. The low paid and jobless will end up in ghettos of poor, cheaper housing. Up to one million people could be made homeless.
The Tories have won the arguments by using populist arguments.
They make a big deal about the cap being in line with “average wages” (how generous!). But “average wages” are not enough to cover the needs of families epecially where there are dependents. The Tories also say “people in work have to make choices about where they can afford to live, so why shouldn’t those on benefits”?
But these arguments make no sense.
If people in work are struggling to pay their rent and bills — and millions are — the answer is not to make life more miserable for others. For everyone move in search of “affordable” private rented homes (as seven million people rely on credit to pay their housing costs, “affordable” is a relative term)?
Why make more people miserable? So those in work can feel marginally better off than the 2.7 million (and rising) who are not?
The answers — and these should form the basis of a labour movement campaign — are things like rent controls, building council homes, no cuts in benefit.