Archive for 21 Feb ’13

Social Security Benefits Cap

On 21 January the ConDem Government pushed through a mean spirited 1% cap on working-age benefit rises. The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill was passed through the House of Commons by 305 votes to 246. The 1% cap will affect a large number of Social Security Benefits currently being received. These include:

  • Employment Support Allowance,
  • Income support,
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance,
  • Some elements of Housing Benefit,
  • Maternity, Paternity and Adoption pay
  • Child Tax Credits.

Disability benefits and Carer’s Allowance will continue to increase in line with inflation. This move is simply playing politics and designed to wrong foot the Labour Party. I am proud that Labour stood up to this and voted against the cut. The majority of people affected are in low paying jobs – these benefits help them to maintain a quality of life which the ConDem Government is now attacking.

The 1% cap is being imposed alongside other caps in Social Security Benefits which will come into effect in April this year. An assessment published by the Government suggests that as a result of this cap 114,000 families will see their benefits reduced. 20% of these will see their benefits reduced by more than £150 a week (£7,800 a year) with the average reduction being £93 per week (£4,836 per year).

With families already struggling this is another kick in the teeth from an uncaring and out of touch Government.

The ConDem Government thinks that families will respond by starting work, reducing their non-rent expenditure, making up any shortfall in housing benefit using a proportion of their other income or moving to cheaper accommodation or area.

The full Impact Assessment for the benefits cap can be found here.

ConDem Government policies harm hard working families in East Herts

Unnamed critics of me who write to the local Mercury newspaper will often adopt a very typical Tory approach. The will voice support for policies that make hard working families poorer and more vulnerable and then demonise them for it. Have my critics ever had to choose between eating and putting the heating on or missing a meal so a child can eat?

The money spent by the Labour Government was to stop the banking system from collapsing. It is the current Government who have nationalised this debt and are unfairly imposing cuts to pay it off instead of getting the economy moving again. The Labour Government invested significantly in the NHS, our schools, 14,000 extra police officers in England and Wales, delivered 2,200 Sure Start Centres who provide crucial support to many young families, introduced the minimum wage and many other measures to strengthen society. I am proud of this record.

I am also sorry to disappoint my critics. I work full time locally in a non-political job as does my partner who is a nurse. Our two teenage children grew up in Hertford and are prospering as a result. As well as politics I am active in CHIPS, a local charity which organises playschemes for children with special needs living in East Herts and Broxbourne. I was at the same public school as Mark Prisk MP (he was in the year above) albeit I was there on a scholarship.

It is because I love where I live, and I am fearful of the negative impact of ConDem Government on East Herts and the rest of our society, that I will continue to speak out against their economically incompetent and ideologically blinkered policies.

Tories never let facts get in the way of a good rant

Tories never lets facts get in the way of a good rant and trying to score political points. When Labour left office in 2010; the UK economy was growing again after shrinking following the impact of the global financial crisis started in the USA.

Government policies since 2010 have caused growth to stall and debts to increase, not decrease as David Cameron and others like to claim. Just over a week ago the national debt hit £1,111 Billion and it is heading towards £1,400 Billion. This isn’t paying down Britain’s debt, its increasing it so that our children and their children are left with the legacy of the ConDem Government’s economic incompetence. Not that this will worry David Cameron and others, their only concern now is Tory Party political advantage in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

Labour did not do enough to regulate banking and paid too much attention to bankers. But this was in an era when the consensus was on light touch regulation and the Tory Opposition were calling for even less intervention.

I come back to the point, at a time of national financial hardship, when the Government tells us that we are all in this together, it is wrong – just wrong – to give a tax cut worth £3 Billion to millionaires while hundreds of thousands of people go hungry and rely on handouts from foodbanks.

Tackle extreme poverty worldwide, but don’t create more poverty at home

While David Cameron says – correctly for once – that the UN must aim to eradicate extreme poverty across Africa and the rest of the World, his Government’s policies are driving more and more people into poverty in the UK. The Trussell Trust, the charity providing food banks across the country, says that since April 2012 it has fed 240,000 people and demand is growing. Typical Tory – say one progressive thing while your policies have the reverse effect.