The government should follow Lambeth’s example and tell people about huge benefit cuts

February 8, 2013 12:23 pm

If you found that ten of thousands of your fellow citizens were facing severe cuts in their living standards –surely you’d want to do something to help.

Since the announcement of the changes to the benefits system, Lambeth council has been working very hard to uncover the full extent of the impact on our residents. With up to 1 in 6 local people set to be affected by cuts and noting that the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that “households with children to lose most from tax and benefit changes in coming year” I  thought we had a clear duty to warn residents about the impact of the cuts. 

So we drew up plans for a campaign to tell people what was coming and what they could do to minimise impact on themselves and their families. We designed large advertising posters that have been  placed across the borough, information posters delivered to schools, children’s centres, GP surgeries. We also organised a series of advice events including the first ever Lambeth Family Finance Fair to be held on 9th March 2013 and sent direct mail letters sent to affected residents affected by the various benefit changes.

Eric Pickles has condemned our campaign as ‘political’ despite his government constantly telling us that we are all in it together and that the new council tax benefit scheme is a form of localism. These bullying tactics will not deter us from helping our residents to understand what is happening to them. The facts are.

  • Council Tax Benefit is being scrapped – 20,758 Lambeth households will be hit by the reductions in financial support.  
  • Disability Living Allowance is being abolished – 9,000 people in Lambeth will be affected
  • Housing Benefit criteria is being changed in relation to the number of occupied bedrooms in a property – that affects 4,000 Lambeth households.
  • A new Cap on Housing Benefit is being introduced later in the year – 667 Lambeth households most of them families will be affected. The average shortfall is £94 per week.
  • London has the highest percentage (25.5%) of households receiving Housing Benefit of any region in the country
  • Lambeth has 2nd highest number of Housing Benefit claimants in London and the 4th highest number of council tax benefit claimants
  • Lambeth has the highest number of Job Seekers in London.

It is shameful that Eric Pickles and his Conservative colleagues have tried to pin the label ‘shirkers’ on the thousands of people concerned – despite the fact that most of the people affected are either working, retired or disabled.

Lambeth are running an information campaign to ensure that no one is unaware of the huge benefit cuts that will be in place in only a few weeks time. The government could do the same. 

Lib Peck is Leader of Lambeth Council

  • Martha

    “despite the fact that most of the people affected are either working, retired or disabled.” You need to add to this “or simply people looking for work at a time of very high unemployment”. It implies that those who aren’t working, retired or disabled but just unemployed somehow don’t deserve equal sympathy and it buys into the Tories’ ‘divide and rule’ tactics. Don’t fall into their trap!

  • JC

    Do you think it might be possible that your posters could be doing more than just stating the facts? That they might be putting an opinion (however slight) across? If so, they are political, simple as that. If that is the case, remove the opinion and just present the facts. That should be enough.

Latest

  • Video Watch Labour MPs get drenched for the Ice Bucket Challenge

    Watch Labour MPs get drenched for the Ice Bucket Challenge

    Over recent days, the Ice Bucket Challenge has swept across the internet, taking with it celebrities as diverse as Anna Wintour, Cristiano Ronaldo in his underpants and George W. Bush. Now even Labour MPs have been dragged in to the viral phenomenon. Yesterday, Liverpool West Derby MP Stephen Twigg filmed himself being doused in ice cold water: Twigg kindly nominated his fellow Merseyside MPs Luciana Berger, Steve Rotherham and Ali McGovern to do their bit in raising awareness for the […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Labour’s London bias causes more harm than we realise

    Labour’s London bias causes more harm than we realise

    Yesterday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) election results was yet another confirmation of a London bias in the Labour Party. In his analysis of the results, Mark Ferguson noted that only one of the eight candidates elected lives outside of London and the South. This is by no means a new trend, and I’m not looking to attribute blame (and by no means am I criticising the successful candidates), but we should acknowledge this as a problem. When those who represent […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour lose control of county council after resignation

    Labour lose control of county council after resignation

    Labour appear to have lost control of Nottinghamshire County Council following the resignation of a councillor from the Party. Cllr Ian Campbell last night confirmed on Twitter that he was resigning the party whip, but would continue as an independent. The resignation leaves Labour with 33 seats on the 67-seat council, just shy of an overall majority. It is not yet clear why Campbell has decided to resign – although last week he did announce that he was opposed to the […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The reality behind IDS’s unemployment figures

    The reality behind IDS’s unemployment figures

    Figures released earlier this month by the Office for National Statistics show the number of people unemployed falling by 132,000 to 2.08 million in the three months to the end of June.  At 6.4% this is the lowest since late 2008 and down from 6.5% in May. These figures had the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, rushing into TV studios to claim that the Tories’ long-term economic plan was ‘working’ as people were no longer trapped in unemployment […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland How could Labour tackle inequality in an independent Scotland?

    How could Labour tackle inequality in an independent Scotland?

    Labour has worked to reject a central claim of the pro-independence campaign, that an independent Scotland would be a fairer and more equal country. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has insisted that Alex Salmond doesn’t care enough about social justice to reduce inequality, and Gordon Brown has predicted that SNP policy to lower corporation tax will start a race to the bottom on wages. Despite growing support for independence in working class communities, Labour’s argument seems to resonate. Writing for […]

    Read more →