Tuesday 8 January 2013

Greens call on MPs to vote against 'mean and miserable' Welfare Bill

Together we shout (We are Spartacus)
As the Commons debate welfare benefits and ex Coalition Sarah Teather wields her new found conscience the Green Party has called upon all MPs to reject the coalition’s Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill. 

The Bill, which has its Second Reading in Parliament today, would raise benefits by 1% per year until April 2015. The current policy sees benefits rise in line with inflation, and so welfare recipients will have a real-terms cut. 

In the debate Caroline Lucas said that this was 'mean and miserable legislation' by a 'mean and miserable' government.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, said::
MPs are being asked whether they are prepared to deliberately, with all of the facts before them, choose to significantly reduce the living standards of millions of their voters.

We can start with the one in five UK workers paid less than a living wage – who either as parents, or as householders, will have been receiving state support to enable them to continue to live. The responsibility should being lying with their employers - if they all paid a living wage the net benefit to the government would be about  £7.5 billion - but the government is showing no inclination to lift the minimum wage to a liveable level, ending the past decades of corporate welfare payments. 

We can also add in the hundreds of thousands of people surviving – not living, but surviving - on the measly sum of £71/week or less in job seekers’ allowance.

And we can add in millions of children. As the Child Poverty Action group says, the Bill can “only increase absolute child poverty, relative child poverty and material deprivation for children”.  Its figures show that having slowly got the rate of child poverty below 20%, the rate is set under this regime to leap back to 25% in a decade.

Not only is the cut immoral, but it is economically illiterate - facing the clear risk of a triple-dip recession, the government is planning to pull millions of pounds out of the pockets of people who, had they received it, would certainly have fed the money back into the economy in buying food, buying energy, and buying services.

The Green Party argues that the only ethical and effective way of reducing social security costs is to create jobs - not slash budgets. 

Natalie said: 
What we need to do in the longer term is change the direction of the British economy – bring manufacturing and food production back to Britain, restore strong, diverse local economies built around small businesses and co-operatives paying decent wages on which their staff can build lives and communities.

That’s a longterm project – but today we can think about the British people – the nurses, the soldiers, the teaching staff, the local government workers, and yes, the unemployed – and say no to the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill.

That’s what Green MP Caroline Lucas will be doing in Westminster today. What’s your MP doing?

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