St Mary Magdalene † St Bartholomew † St Alban †
Sunday7th April 2013
This week, the Government’s benefit reforms have started to take effect. The government was elected to take forward these measures so they will go ahead. Yet I do have an argument with the language used by some newspapers and Government ministers when setting up the debate around Benefit reform.
The language of ‘strivers and shirkers’ or saying that the dreadful recent court of case of Philpotts are somehow a case for reform is unhelpful. The Philpotts are no more a case for Benefit reform than Harold Shipman was a case for reform of Doctor’s terms and conditions. Both cases were despicably acts of evil and should be laid clearly at the feet of individuals who carried out those crimes.
Many of you know that I do a surgery every Saturday morning as a local councillor. Most of the complaints are to do with housing but more recently I have seen a large number of people come to the surgery clutching their letters from Government about the reduction in one benefit or another. Most are very worried about what the future holds. There are a small percentage of the people who when I hear their stories for whom I can summon up very little sympathy. It seems to me they been abusing the welfare system for years. Yet the vast majority of people have got themselves into a pickle and don’t know how to get out their situation. Very few I would describe a ‘shirkers’.
The government is getting lots of advice from the Churches on this matter at the moment. As I am sure they will be reading this article so I thought I would add my words of wisdom! My advice is, bring in the welfare reforms that is your absolute right but cut out the language of demonization of the poorest within our communities.