COLUMN: Cuts hurt the vulnerable, by Gloria De Piero MP

In my opinion if you are on a low income or rely on the State to help you live a decent standard of life because you are disabled or have other problems, you must dread every April under a Conservative government.

Friday, 7th April 2017, 4:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:39 pm
MP Gloria De Piero

Because April heralds the start of the new financial year and therefore is the time when a raft of cuts that affect the poorest and most vulnerable in our society come in.

In my view The changes this year adversely affect low income families, disabled people, young homeless people, and families who have suffered the loss of a parent.

Meanwhile those with higher incomes will be boosted by new tax cuts.

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Data from the Resolution Foundation shows that 80 per cent of the tax cuts go to better-off households, while 67 per cent of benefit cuts fall on the poorest third of households.

Families will from now on only be able to claim child tax credits or universal credit for their first two children.

Child tax credits exist to help families on low incomes by funding some of the cost of childcare.

As childcare is still so expensive, this will be a big blow to some families.

A shocking 500,000 disabled people will be hit by cuts to the ‘work-related activity’ part of their ESA benefit.

They will lose around £30 a week to bring their money in line with those who receive jobseekers’ allowance, but this move will only push disabled people – who often struggle to get a job because of their disability – nearer the poverty line.

Another vulnerable group that has been hit by the changes is that of families affected by bereavement.

Bereavement benefits are being replaced by Bereavement Support Payment, which will be worth £3,500 plus £350 a month for 18 months for claimants with dependent children.

Under this scheme, 48 per cent of claimants will be worse off by thousands of pounds because there is now an 18-month cut-off whereas before, a family could receive support until the youngest child left full-time education.

With some exceptions, jobseekers aged 18 to 21 will no longer be eligible for housing benefit, putting them at risk of homelessness.

And there has been a reduction in eligibility for Personal Independence Payments, cuts to Universal Credit and the scrapping of the family element of Child Tax Credits.

It is clear in my view that this Government cares little for the people in our society who need help the most, wielding the axe while giving the rich and big businesses tax breaks.

It is a sad state of affairs in my opinion.