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

8th February, 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.


  • Comment Unions Why we joined the tens of thousands marching in Manchester

    Why we joined the tens of thousands marching in Manchester

    By Cllr Jim McMahon and Cllr Kieran Quinn If you believe the hype, Greater Manchester’s aspiration and politics is all about the “Northern Powerhouse”. As Leaders of two Greater Manchester Councils playing important roles on the GM Combined Authority, we should be at the front and centre of this Tory ideal, keenly setting out our stall to display the “Powerhouse” at conference season. So when the Tory Party Conference descended on Manchester this week you be forgiven for thinking we’d […]

    Read more →
  • News Weekly Survey: Tuition fees, London and Scotland

    Weekly Survey: Tuition fees, London and Scotland

    During the leadership election, Jeremy Corbyn declared that he would want to abolish tuition fees if he becomes Prime Minister. The policy will have to go through Labour’s policy review channels, and his campaign team calculates that it would cost around £10 billion. Do you think that Labour should commit to spending that on scrapping university fees? Zac Goldsmith has now been selected by the Tories to take on Labour’s Sadiq Khan in next year’s Mayor of London contest. What […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Reaching out to micro businesses and self-employed, the Labour Party way

    Reaching out to micro businesses and self-employed, the Labour Party way

    At the moment, it seems one of the big questions is – how Labour are you really? As we couldn’t have experienced more viscerally than since 7 May, the party that we love covers a huge spectrum of people from all walks of live, with their different experiences, perspectives and approaches. And it’s growing by the day. In an age of such frustration at politics, Jeremy Corbyn can take great heart from and credit for that. I would argue that […]

    Read more →
  • News George Osborne “doesn’t live in the real world”

    George Osborne “doesn’t live in the real world”

    George Osborne’s failure to mention the Redcar steel plant, where 1,700 workers are losing their jobs, shows that he “doesn’t live in the real world”, according to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Osborne made a half hour speech at the Conservative conference in Manchester earlier today, with McDonnell slamming the Chancellor’s omission of the job losses from his address. McDonnell is today visiting Redcar with Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle to speak to steelworkers losing their livelihoods. “They want substantive answers […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured So long, Denis

    So long, Denis

    I was once writing a column about leadership and those moments when you really have to be tough and probably end up upsetting people. In my head was a phrase I was sure I had heard Denis Healey use on one occasion – that while “sometimes you may have to be a bastard you must never be a shit”. But as this column was for the FT, there was no way I was going to be allowed just to claim […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends