Tag Archives: welfare reform

Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into Housing "reforms"

If your fingers are not worn to nubs writing letters to MPs, taking part in consultations and generally letting me know how welfare reform is affecting you, then here’s another good cause for your keyboard.

The cross party Work and Pensions Committee are holding an enquiry into how all of the housing changes introduced as part of this government’s welfare “reforms” are affecting people.

Many of you have written to me with heartbreaking stories or farcical stories. PLEASE consider submitting them to this review. It’s an independent, non-partisan committee and if we don’t tell people how we’re affected by these changes, how will they ever know?

It’s so easy to say “Oh, what’s the point? Nothing will change, they won’t listen” but at some point they WILL listen, things WILL change and we will say that we never gave up. Please take just a few more minutes to send in your views.


A Few Bad Men

Anyone who has listened to the utterances of Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform over the last three years as he blunders through the minefield of welfare will no doubt have a personal anti-favourite to quote.

There was “The poor should take more risks as they have the least to lose”

Later, sick and disabled people were shocked to find ourselves referred to as “Stock” like so many cattle.

There was the time he referred to sickness benefits as “An incubator for lifelong idleness”

And more recently of course, he really outdid himself with the suggestion that food banks were only on the rise because people would always grasp at the chance of free food

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Here is a man who really does not like poor people. He doubts their motives, believes they are motivated only by greed and laziness, and bases every policy announcement on the belief that all will cheat if given the chance. In the belief that we are all “feckless” and “idle”, he provides a constant barrage of measures that hurt, judge and restrict. Every pronouncement suggests that people are inherently bad, inherently dishonest.

Lately, I’ve been musing on what this says about Lord Freud himself. This is a man remember, who when faced with losing three significant votes in the House of Lords over welfare reform, tried to hold the votes again when most of the Labour peers had gone home to reverse the decisions. Shabby and dishonest to say the least.

I’m no psychologist, but I’ve heard it said that we judge the world on our own place in it. We dislike in others, what we see in ourselves. Only a cruel, greedy, callous man could surely see so much cruelty and greed in others?

And here is the problem. A problem shared by Iain Duncan-Smith, and even David Cameron himself. You cannot design a compassionate system if you have no compassion for those dependent upon it. You cannot achieve justice and equity if you believe in a fundamentally unfair and unequal society. You cannot empathise with the lives of others if you believe that people are inherently greedy and selfish.

Every time that Lord Fraud opens his mouth, it seems we learn a little more about him, but not so much about society in general.