Letter: Hitting the poor

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I was disappointed to see that you had accepted the Government's spin on the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill ("Ministers to take harsh line on single mothers", 10 February).

The Government has been keen to hype up its new Single Gateway procedures, while ignoring the benefit cuts proposed in the Bill. These will affect up to 100,000 claimants per year, and eventually cut over pounds 1bn off benefits.

Widows, sick and disabled people will all lose out. Women are disproportionately affected. More and more people will be forced onto means-tested benefits. Poverty will increase. The gap between the rich and the poor will widen.

Meanwhile, many sick and disabled people desperately want to work. But the main barrier is often employers who fear the employment costs. There is no point in wasting money on interviews for non-existent jobs. Better to spend it on full subsidies for special equipment like large-screen or voice-activated computers for the visually impaired, or to provide flexible arrangements for people with intermittent conditions such as MS, or some mental illnesses.

DAVID RENDEL MP

Liberal Democrat Social Security Spokesperson

House of Commons

London SW1

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