British Labour MP Michael Meacher has slammed Prime Minister David Cameron’s new welfare crackdown, depriving hundreds of thousands of young people of their housing benefits and forcing them to live with their parents.
Moreover, the Independent
reported that in an upcoming speech on welfare, Cameron is to announce measures such as abolishing most of the £1.8 billion in housing benefits paid to 380,000 individuals under the age of 25 and forcing a hard core of unemployed to do community work after two years or lose all their benefits.
This comes as former British Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws says the government should cut even further into public spending despite the already huge pressure the austerity measures have inflicted on the people.
Press TV has interviewed Zita Holbourne, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, from London, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Why don’t you tell us how bad a picture this is? What FareShare has presented in its findings is a pretty bleak picture of people who are in need of basic necessity such as food?
Hello. Yes, it’s atrocious that people can’t even put food on their table and feed their families. In the Western world and in a country like the UK, they shouldn’t be happening in any shape or form.
The government shouldn’t be attacking the poorest to meet the deficit. There’s a 120 billion loss this year for tax evasion, tax avoidance and uncollected taxes which would meet two-thirds of the deficit but this government intents on attacking the poorest, taking away benefits, not generating jobs so people are unemployed for longer and therefore continue to live in poverty.
What’s alarming though is of course when you talk about benefits that is attributed to low income people in the UK and of course the ones who are unemployed, but this is slowly creeping up into the middle class of which there is some trend into those rising numbers. There should be alarm bells going off here but of course we see these cuts that are taking place across the board when it comes to decisions made by the UK government?
Yeah, all the government is concerned about lining the pockets of their rich friends. They’re privatizing huge areas of the public sector. They’re cutting jobs. They’re [freezing] pay of public sector workers and they’re talking about introducing regional pay which would drive people in different regions into even deeper poverty.
It is hitting certain middle income owners as well as the poorest people now. It’s driving people below the poverty line effectively.
I’m a public sector worker and I’m a representative in public international services union and our members are really struggling to make ends meet. They’re working full time and they’ve got income coming in; you’d expect that they’d be able to put food on the table for their families and that’s not the case. People are having to make real decisions about whether they can pay a bill this week, pay for their electricity or whether they don’t buy groceries for their family.
It’s not just about food, is it? There are reports such as the one that came out, I believe it was Times Online
along with some other publications that said about 1600 people actually died last year during the winter because they couldn’t pay their electricity bill, the heating bills, which shows obviously the dire situation that people there in the UK are.
That’s right, we’ve had an extreme winter, fuel prices are rising all the time, salaries are going down to help you meet that gap. In addition, the public sector workers, we’ve just had imposed on us additional contributions to our pension.
At the same time, many workers have left their working tax credit so they’re down on their salary 100 pounds plus per month; and that 100 pounds, when you live in poverty and struggling to make ends meet, is a difference between paying for bills or paying for your groceries. That 100 pounds actually makes a lot of difference in salary.