Green Party Media Release:
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s plans for a two year benefits freeze will once again penalise the most vulnerable in our society, says the Green Party, the only Westminster party committed to transforming the economy so that it works for the common good, not just the 1%.
“It is obvious our current economic model, as inexplicably praised by the Chancellor today, has failed. Tackling the deficit by ruthlessly targeting the poor and vulnerable is not what constitutes an economic recovery.
“We should acknowledge that we are a wealthy economy that can afford to pay decent benefits to everyone who needs them, as a decent, humane society should. That must be paid for by rich individuals and multinational companies paying their way – something that this government has notably failed to enforce.”
Responding to news that a future Conservative government would freeze working-age benefits and make further public spending cuts of £25bn, Molly Scott Cato MEP said:
“Public debt is greater now than when the Tories came to office, demonstrating that public spending and welfare cuts have failed spectacularly in tackling the deficit. The truth is, austerity provides an excuse to punish the poorest in society, which is not only morally indefensible, it is also a false economy.
“Policies like the bedroom tax just push more people into the private rented sector which then costs the public more in housing benefit. Likewise, the increasing levels of poverty and inequality under the Coalition government impact on health and so pile more costs onto the health service. Greens believe in positive alternatives to austerity that would tackle the misery of poverty and address inequality; policies such as a citizens income, rent controls and a massive home insulation programme.”
Since the May 22 European elections, the Green Party has announced a string of progressive economic policies, which would deliver real change for the common good.
The Green Party’s 2015 General Election manifesto will include a Wealth Tax, and plans to deliver a £10 minimum wage for all by 2020, a Living Wage for all immediately, and a People’s Constitutional Convention to deliver meaningful constitutional and electoral reform.
The latest YouGov results for the Sunday Times have the Greens and Liberal Democrats both at 6% in voting intention.
Source – Welfare News Service, 29 Sept 2014
Several North East MPs will either defy a party whip or not be at the House of Commons when Labour is told to vote in line with the coalition for a new cap on how much can be spent on state benefits.
Ed Miliband has told his MPs to back a Budget plan to cap welfare at £119bn, ending a situation in which benefit spending is increased to match the number of claimants.
While party leader Mr Miliband is keen to avoid looking soft on welfare, across the North East, MPs have called for the party to proudly stand up for low income families.
Easington MP Grahame Morris said he will not be voting for the cap. He told The Journal: “I cannot vote for the welfare cap. By implication it plays to the Tory strategy of divide and rule demonising those on benefits as the undeserving poor.
“It conveniently ignores the fact that two thirds of the welfare budget goes on pensions that people have contributed to during their working lives. Another substantial slice goes on supporting those in work on low wages.
“Once again Labour must differentiate its position from the Tories. It is shameful of the Tories to seek to set the working poor against the disabled. There are better, fairer ways to limit benefit spending for example by limiting the £20bn taxpayer spend on housing benefits which goes to private landlords through the introduction of rent controls.”
Gateshead MP Ian Mearns said he will not be in the Commons for the vote as a result of select committee business, but would not have voted for the cap.
He said: “Inherent in this is a further reduction in real terms of benefits over time. If the economy has another significant downturn this limits the capacity of the state to respond to genuine hardship.
“And let’s not forget that only about 3% of the benefits bill is for jobseekers’ allowance, the biggest single pot is for pensions.”
And Blaydon MP Dave Anderson also hit out at the plan. He said: “The welfare cap is just another piece of the Coalitions jigsaw to make the poor, the weak and the disabled pay for the failures of big business and global capitalism.
“This vote comes in the same week that Lloyds have been exposed as continuing to exploit customers over the disgraceful PPI misselling scandal. It is these rogues and many others like them who should be carrying the can for economic failure and not the most vulnerable in our country.”
It is thought other MPs will not be in Parliament for the vote, avoiding the need to rebel. Some 20 MPs nationally are thought to be ready to vote against the cap.
Labour has said that since much of the cap on spending does not include benefits linked to increased unemployment, it is happy to accept the changes.
The party has hit back at claims that there is little to differentiate its economic policy from the coalition, insisting a future Labour government would “make different choices”.
> It’s what the present Labour opposition is doing right now that really matters. And it doesn’t seem to be doing very much at all, apart from trying to make out it’ll be tougher on the poor than the current bunch.
Does ‘Red Ed’ really think that’s the way to win votes ? If he does, he’s going to be disapointed.
Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves, said Labour would support the Government when voting on the welfare cap, but insisted the party would also “take tough decisions” over future spending if in office after the General Election.
Source – Newcastle Journal, March 26 2014