On April 1, the largest ever welfare cuts came into force in Britain. As a result, millions who already live on the breadline are to be driven further into destitution.
For the next three years, most welfare benefits will be limited to just a 1 percent rise a year—well below the expected inflation rate and equivalent to a 4 percent cut in real terms. Other benefits have been frozen including Child Benefit and the Working Tax Credit available to low-paid workers. Over nine million families will lose an average of £165 a year.
The cuts include a new “bedroom” tax on local council and housing association tenants, who receive Housing Benefit to help with their rents. Those deemed to have a “spare” bedroom will lose 14 percent of their benefit and those with two bedrooms 25 percent. As many as 660,000 people—a third of the total—will lose an average of £14 a week, or be forced out their homes.
Responsibility for administering Council Tax benefit, payable to those having difficulties with paying the tax levied by councils for local services, is being transferred from the Department for Work and Pensions to local authorities this month. It is accompanied by a 10 percent cut in funding on top of the 25 percent cut in real terms that councils have suffered in the last two years. It is estimated that over half of the nearly six million families receiving this benefit be will worse off.
In addition, on April 15, four London boroughs—Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey (the latter two Labour Party controlled)—will begin imposing the government’s “benefit cap”. For a couple or lone parent, regardless of the number of children, the total of all benefits they can claim will be a maximum of £500 a week. Councils in London, where rents are very high, have already begun a policy of social cleansing by relocating families to poorer areas of the country. An estimated 80,000 households will be made homeless by the measure.
The Personal Independence Payment is taking affect for people of working age to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA). One fifth of current DLA claimants are expected to lose their benefits, under the stricter eligibility tests.
At the end of the month, Universal Credit, an amalgamated benefit payment, will be introduced over a four year period, replacing many of the previously mentioned benefits and leading to further cuts.
dailyalternative | alternative news – Demise of Britain’s Welfare State: Largest ever Welfare Cuts