Letter published by The Times 2/12/12

7 December 2012



Sir, Both the coalition Government and the Opposition are failing their poorest fellow citizens in two ways. They are allowing the myth to continue that the 2.5 million unemployed people in the UK are scroungers living the life of Riley, while dependent on generous benefits supplied by the taxpayer. But the vast majority long for work and do not need to be coerced by destitution to apply for a job. Second, the political parties are not explaining the arithmetic of poverty.

An unemployed couple with two children has benefits of £258 a week to cover food, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities. When the housing benefit is capped then the unpaid rent has to come out of that £258, for both the short-term and long-term unemployed. Add the overall benefit cap and 20 per cent of the council tax from 2013 and the cumulative effect can be a reduction of up to £108 a week or higher, depending on the rent, for many such families.

Freezing their annual increase at 1 per cent a year for three years, while the prices of food and fuel escalate, increases the risks of unmanageable debts and adds to the existing damage a poverty income does to the health of the families and the education of their children.

The Rev Paul Nicolson
London N17

Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road,
London N17 0BF
0208 3765455
07961 177889
also at http://www.z2k.org
also at http://www.prohousingalliance.com