D-day for benefits claimants as unions go for the jugular

 

David Cameron’s government is the “nastiest” in British history, the leader of the TUC claimed today, as the country’s poorest families brace themselves for sweeping benefit cuts which take effect this month.

Frances O’Grady ratcheted up the political rhetoric against the Coalition with an attack on the “ideological” and  “right-wing” policies of austerity. Her comments follow increasingly vociferous criticism of the Government’s welfare reforms by churches, charities and the Labour Party.

From tomorrow, people in social housing with a spare room lose a proportion of housing benefit – 14 per cent for those with one room and 25 per cent for those with more, costing families an average of £14 a week. In addition to this much-criticised “bedroom tax”, changes to housing benefit, council tax benefit and disability living allowance could cost poorer households up to £25 a week. A cap on benefits of £500 a week for any one household could cost a family £93 a week, according to an analysis by the Child Poverty Action Group.

Meanwhile, new figures indicate that the “bedroom tax” may fail in its stated aim of encouraging people in larger council homes to downsize to smaller properties. Labour said Freedom of Information responses showed local councils had one and two-bedroom properties to house only one in 20 of those families with spare rooms.

Responses from 37 authorities across Britain revealed 96,041 households faced losing benefit but there were only 3,688 smaller homes available. The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said: “These shocking new figures reveal the big lie behind this Government’s cruel bedroom tax.”

The Government hopes it will encourage some of the 660,000 people affected to move and thus free up accommodation, as well as save the taxpayer £500m.

The National Housing Federation says the reform will fail to solve overcrowding and could increase the welfare bill with tenants moving into the more expensive private sector. Islington council in north London has pledged not to evict its tenants who run up arrears because of the bedroom tax as it says there is no accommodation for them to move into and the alternative of moving them to the private sector will cost more.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Families already struggling with rising living costs face another body blow as a potentially devastating package of benefit cuts is introduced. Spending cuts that increase child poverty will cost society more in the long run. The Government is on course to leave behind the worst child poverty record of any government for a generation.”

Ms O’Grady, speaking at the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers’ conference in Bournemouth, said: “[The Government] is cutting its way into a triple-dip recession, shrinking public services we all rely on and attacking benefits with the low-paid, women and children hit the hardest. This is the most ideological, right-wing and plain nastiest government Britain has ever seen.”

She said the crisis was not caused “by teachers having gold-plated pensions or because teachers sit around the staff room awarding each other obscene bonuses, living the life of Riley and putting down bets with other people’s money”.

“It was a crisis caused by the greed of bankers, by growing inequality and falling living standards propped up by unsustainable debt and by too much economic power being concentrated in the hands of too few,” she added.

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant

£60 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently recruiting for...

English Teacher Thetford Secondary

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: An Academy based in Thetfor...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently recruiting for ...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Needs Teaching Assistants...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past