Press Release: Medway Greens Respond to Welfare Assault

Medway Greens were at the public meeting organised by Medway Against the Cuts (MAC) as the full tirade of assault due to be inflicted on Medway residents was revealed.

During the meeting, held at the Sunlight Centre in Gillingham, presentations delivered by representatives of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) highlighted the full effect of the changes due to come into effect this week, as a result of the Welfare Reform Bill which came into operation on 1st April.

Trish Marchant, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator commented:

“The devastating effects will hit local people and families who are already struggling. Medway has the highest level of debt in Kent and the South East, with the CAB being contacted by 36,000 people a year, 12.5% of the local population. Seventy families a week are in the process of having their homes repossessed. For each repossession, people are allowed only five minutes to try and persuade the magistrate to let them keep their homes.”

Amongst the various changes, local authority housing tenants are due to be affected by the bedroom tax which, because of a lack of available small homes, means that people are likely to be hit by a 14% cut in their housing benefit for having one “spare bedroom”, a 25% cut for having two. Larger families will be affected by having their benefits capped. People on low incomes will be affected by the 1% rise in benefits, a cut in real terms. Those who have previously received 100% rebates in Council Tax, due to their low levels of income, will now have to pay 25% of the Council Tax bill.

Trish Marchant continued:

“All these extra amounts are a lot for people to find, especially when they are already struggling. There has been little thought of how these cuts might affect children. It was chilling to learn that the most shoplifted item at present is baby milk”.

Trish added:

“We are already in the position where food vouchers are being issued from 70 places in Medway, up from a handful just a few years ago, to people who can’t even afford to eat. It is frightening to imagine what these additional assaults on income will do to local people. Many will end up having to resort to loan sharks, and payday loan companies, making the already appalling debt burden even worse. At least in Medway we have the alternative of the Medway Credit Union in Chatham which gives local people a fighting chance to save and borrow”.

In addition to these changes, there are those which specifically affect ill and disabled people including the reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which is to be replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This new allowance will be more difficult to access leaving many people unable to pay for the extra costs of having a disability. Furthermore, whereas there has been a recent change that allows families with disabled children exemption from paying the bedroom tax, as a result of their additional space needs, this is not automatic. It has to be fought for on a case by case basis.

Trish commented:

“All of these factors are an added assault on families with disabled children and adults both in work and unable to work because of illness and disability. This is often on top of the worry caused by being subjected to poorly thought out assessments by the private company Atos. It certainly can’t be good for people who are already unwell or restricted to have to go through all this additional stress”.

Trish continued:

“And yet none of this needs to happen. Rather than claiming back from those who caused the problem in the first place, the rich and greedy bankers, the government are attempting to force the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society to pay, people who don’t even have the means to pay. The welfare bill is large but the vast majority is paid to pensioners and none of us would like to see that taken away. The remainder is a catch all that is the bedrock of our hard won welfare state. We should think hard before we let it get demolished by this short term government of rich and vested interests. The Green Party believes that people should have their basic needs met as a matter of right. We also believe in an equal society. A fairer distribution of resources would provide benefits for all.”

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2 Comments to “Press Release: Medway Greens Respond to Welfare Assault”

  1. This is such a frustrating post to read, i have lived in Medway my whole life and have seen the level of unemployment rise as well as home owner decrease. Equal rights in society obviously an idealistic, view however at the same time it is blatantly obvious that Medway seems to be getting gradually worse, i mean look at the level of crime increase over the last few year? The area is looking messier year by year, i think it may be time to relocate my entire family!

    • Daryl i completely Agree, My Ex-wife and kids still live there and i really think although it has its positives, they are majorly outweighed by the negatives i really don’t want to move the kids from there home while there at school, desperate times call for desperate measures!

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