Letter: A history of benefit-cutting

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The Independent Online
Sir: The author of your profile of Peter Lilley refers to the security bestowed by the Social Security Secretary's 'suburban, middle- class family background', and goes on to say that social security is 'an area of social policy that has survived the past 13 years largely untouched' (Profile, 15 August).

The juxtaposition of the two opinions is ironic. Only someone completely out of touch with poor people's struggle for survival in modern Britain could have failed to notice the succession of benefits made harder to obtain, subjected to cash limits or simply abolished since 1979. If the Conservatives do introduce even stricter requirements on claimants' availability for work, and cut unemployment benefit entitlement, this will be nothing new. The trend has a long history, largely ignored by the press.

Yours faithfully,

BRIAN WILLIAMS

Lecturer in Social Work

University of Sheffield

Sheffield

15 August

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