A sickening welfare reform


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The Independent Online

When asked to step aside by David Cameron in the reshuffle earlier this month, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith simply refused, citing the important work of welfare reform he had set in motion and wished to see through. This was sour news for IDS's critics, among whose number is John Harris of the Guardian.

"To be blunt," says Harris,  these welfare reforms are "a war on the poor largely waged by the very rich, and shame on the Labour party and the wider Labour movement for not making nearly enough noise about it."

"One statistic makes all coalition claims of a meaningful social conscience look risible. Figures published by the National Housing Federation show that, between 2011 and 2012, the number of homeless families forced to live in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation increased by 44%. Between January and March last year there were 2,750 families making do with life at its most threadbare and impossible; over the same period this year, the number rose to 3,960."

A further statistic to compound this grim picture: over the last three years homelessness has risen by 26%. Harris argues this should see the end of any wishy-washy Coalition talk of the "imperative to help those at the very bottom".