Friday, 5 November 2010

The debate about Housing Benefits

I understand there is to be a debate in Westminster about housing benefits next week. I have written to all Scottish MPs not about the specifics of the debate but about the principles that I would want to see behind the debate. Welfare benefits are intended to alleviate poverty. A mark of any society is how it cares for the vulnerable. It is not possible for any society to guarantee equality of outcomes for all; it is however possible to achieve equality of opportunities. Any proposals for welfare reform which place barriers upon the ability of individuals and families to survive with dignity when they are in a vulnerable position undermine us as a society.

We are concerned about the apparent stigmatisation of those in receipt of benefits that is  emerging through a political discourse that associates error and fraud in immediate proximity to each other. I am concerned that this is being done deliberately and that the incidence of what are extreme cases is being used as a cover for reforms that harm those in need whose care is our moral duty as a society.


  1. This government is forever announcing sanctions directed at the weakest in society, reducing job opportunities for those out of work, increasing fear of loss of jobs among the employed, worrying those on fixed incomes about viable futures. The lack of detail in announcements probably makes people worry more than they need, and also makes government seem more hard-hearted and feckless than they are. Nevertheless, I do believe that, towards those who need the help of the State at this time, this government is cruel.

  2. The Coalition government seems to want to hide behind the use of the term 'fairness', but there is nothing fair about putting people out of work, cutting their benefits after twelve months, and then threatening to pay a reduced rental payment to a ruthless landlord; one who might well decide to force them out of their accommodation once he realises that they have no job.


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