Church Action on Poverty and the Diocese of Sheffield have published their report on the effects of benefit changes, called Listen Up! Three pages feature the Manor Parish and include quotes from people on the impact of the cuts. They include
“I can’t pay for school trips.”
“There is a very thin line between coping and going under.”
“If you look at the benefits system I feel I want to cry.”
“the changes will cripple those who can’t budget”
At the launch of the report at Victoria Hall in Sheffield, Graham Wroe the Green Party candidate for Manor Castle challenged the Bishops and other church leaders to be more politically active in speaking up for the poor and take a lead from former Bishops such as David Shepard who wrote “Bias to the Poor” and helped develop the “Faith in the City” report in the 1980’s. He said Churches need to be preaching that it is sinful to vote for politicians that are causing people to fall into such poverty they can’t afford food.
Churches in S2 are working hard to improve the provision of food banks, and this work is vital. But even more important is to change the Government policies which cause poverty in the first place. Benefit sanctions (often imposed in a terribly harsh way, presumably to meet targets) are becoming more and more common.
The Green Party of course have a very different approach to benefits than the other parties. We want to see a basic income paid to everyone as of right. The policy would ensure no one lived in fear of losing their home or being unable to feed themselves.
Here is an extract from our Policies for a Sustainable Society, which represents our long term plan for the future.
EC730 A Citizen’s Income sufficient to cover an individual’s basic needs will be introduced, which will replace tax-free allowances and most social security benefits (see EC711). A Citizen’s Income is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work.
EC731 The Citizens’ Income will eliminate the unemployment and poverty traps, as well as acting as a safety net to enable people to choose their own types and patterns of work (See EC400). The Citizens’ Income scheme will thus enable the welfare state to develop towards a welfare community, engaging people in personally satisfying and socially useful work.
EC732 When the Citizens’ Income is introduced it is intended that nobody will be in a position that they will receive less through the scheme than they were entitled to under the previous benefits system. Children will be entitled to a reduced amount which will be payable to a parent or legal guardian. People with disabilities or special needs, and single parents will receive a supplement.
EC733 Initially, the housing benefit system will remain in place alongside the Citizens’ Income and will be extended to cover contributions towards mortgage repayments (see HO602). This will subsequently be reviewed to establish how housing benefit could be incorporated into the Citizen’s Income, taking into account the differences in housing costs between different parts of the country and different types of housing.