Letter: I wish Mr Blair no luck at all in cutting welfare

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Your leading article, "Blair's litmus test as leader" (28 December), suggests that Tony Blair's victorious strategy in the Clause IV campaign should be repeated "in relation to our imperfect welfare system". Elsewhere you predict that Frank Field might replace Harriet Harman as Secretary of State for Social Security.

The New Labour cuts to lone parents and proposed threats to people with disabilities will join the Job Seekers' Allowance, All Means Work Test (Incapacity Benefit) and the Child Support Act as economically violent policies that impoverish real people. The CSA alone took pounds 272m out of welfare recipients pockets in 1995 and was tirelessly championed by Field, then social security select committee chairman under the last government, despite considerable opposition.

Clause IV's abolition merely alienated ineffectual idealists who never realistically expected it to be implemented. But the escalating and undeserved attack on society's most vulnerable is a demeaning fact of daily life for a growing number of the 40 per cent of UK citizens scraping by, well below the official poverty line - insignificant numbers of whom are "fraudsters". Indeed, pounds 4bn in unclaimed benefit suggests that the Government is being more than economical with the truth somewhere. Tax "fraud" - about which nothing is being done - is estimated at being over 10 times that of welfare. And why wasn't the recent pounds 16bn Eurofighter invoice to the public purse means-tested?

I, and many others, do not "wish Mr Blair luck in his prodigious task".

Russell Cavanagh

London E14

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