According to a report in today’s Times, budget smallprint will abolish the £780 per year surplus housing benefit allowance. That’s £15 per week that could be withdrawn from the pockets of the worse off in the middle of a recession.
With the economy not yet recovered, these plans will hit the poorest the hardest and ignore calls from Labour supporters for more supportive housing benefit reform. Indeed, dropping the surplus benefit allowance may leave the poorest in society – the 300,000 people who benefit from the measure – facing a 20% cut in income.
Frank Field says scrapping the benefit at this time is “crazy” and that he would table a Commons motion to block the plans.
And I’ve already had a number of emails from concerned supporters today saying:
“Labour cannot afford to stick yet more fingers up to its core vote.”
“the last thing we need is another 10p tax-esque malarchy, kicking Labour’s core vote in the teeth.”
“with the recession still affecting people, this doesn’t chime well with the message of real help now.”
We all appreciate the need to tighten the national belt. But these plans are a false start. We cannot afford to distance ourselves further from the very people we were elected to help.
These plans have to be dropped, or the government and the leadership will face a new backlash, just a few weeks before party conference.