These were not people living in Kensington mansions as the establishment press have claimed. Often it was those in expensive but low quality emergency accommodation, or who lived in areas where rents have soared out of reach. Few would have believed even a decade ago that people on low incomes living in places like Tottenham or Lewisham would be priced not just out of London but soon the entire South East. The reason for this has nothing to be with high Housing Benefits but an out of control housing market combined with a chronic shortage of social housing. Yet the government has chosen to punish the poorest children for this market failure by forcing them to move – sometime 100s of miles – away from their schools, friends and wider families.
Very soon things are set to get even worse with a new, lower Benefit Cap on the way. Mass social cleansing of the poor will no longer just be a phenomena in the south of England, but will reach out into cities across the UK. This is the end of a functioning safety net for huge swathes of people. Lose your job, and you will probably now lose your home and have to move hundreds of miles away, to an area of high unemployment where rents are low. Which of course will keep the workers in line – the real intention of this and other welfare reforms.
There is no clear evidence that people have found work due to the Benefit Cap as Iain Duncan Smith repeatedly claims. And what of those who have. Imagine the horrifying insecurity of a parent in low paid work, desperately clinging onto a their job knowing that if they get sacked they and their children face homelessness. People working in sectors known to be exploitative like cleaning and care work. The end of adequate social security in the cities is a recipe for employer exploitation and abuse. And doesn’t this government just know that.
One group who cannot simply just find a job to escape the cap are full time carers who are also affected. This group are required by law to provide care for 35 hours a week or they face losing the pittance of Carer’s Allowance – just £62.10. Only those caring for their partner or a disabled child are exempt from the cap.
Two people hit by the cap are currently challenging this nasty policy in the courts, arguing that it is unlawful and unfairly impacts on carers and those they care for. The High Court has ordered an urgent judicial review, rejecting the DWP’s argument that the claim should be dismissed. A hearing takes place tomorrow and a vigil has been called outside the court to support the carers. Meet at 9.30am on Wed 21 October outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand (off Kingsway) London WC2A 2LL (Temple tube).
The vigil has been called by Winvisible and is supported by Disabled People Against Cuts, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Taxpayers Against Poverty and many more. Further details are on facebook. Please spread the word.
For background on the case visit: http://www.scottishlegal.com/2015/06/01/legal-challenge-to-benefit-caps-impact-on-disabled-people-and-carers/
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