Not a good week for thousands of low income families across the country. I wrote in the Manchester Evening News on Monday of this week, April Fools Day, about two of the sweeping changes in the benefit system that came into force this week, the scrapping of Council Tax Benefit and the introduction of the bedroom tax for families in receipt of housing benefit who are supposedly under-occupying their property, i.e. have a spare bedroom.
There are more changes yet to come, most significantly the introduction of Universal Credit, although the date for that seems to be receding fast as Government come up against all the technical difficulties in making such a change. Opinion polls suggest benefit reform, benefit cuts are popular. Certainly benefit reform is long overdue and I have argued the need with a number of Works and Pensions Ministers over the past decade. We do need a progressive benefits system that does support people into work, but that's not what we are getting with these changes. All we will get is something that makes already poor families even poorer, something that sucks money out of our poorest neighbourhoods with a consequence that there will be even fewer jobs around in those neighbourhoods. The publicity around these changes have thrown up the question of whether or not you can live on �53 pw. I don't think I could.
#AskTheLeader. I will be doing another Twitter Q and A at #AskTheLeader next Monday, 8th April between 6 and 7pm