LETTERS: Poverty caused by means-testing

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The Independent Online
Sir: Whether or not Michael Meacher really supports the scrapping of the Jobseekers Allowance, the facts about this benefit are not in dispute ("Labour plays down gaffe by Meacher", 20 May).

The Jobseekers Allowance will result in a steep increase in means-testing due to the reduction in the contributory benefit period from 12 to six months. Soon many people will have no incentive to continue in paid employment if their spouse has been out of work for just six months - every pound in earnings will see a reduction in the spouse's benefit. Although the Labour Party claim to be concerned about the growth in people dependent on means-tested benefits they seem reluctant to do anything to change this trend.

Will Labour join the Liberal Democrats in calling for this benefit cut to be reversed, or will they simply stand by and watch as the growth in means-testing gathers speed and a savage new poverty trap develops?

LIZ LYNNE MP

(Rochdale, Lib Dem)

EARL RUSSELL

Liberal Democrat Social Security

Spokesman (House of Lords)

London SW1

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