Hard Times: Welfare Reform Bill and more cuts

Our community reporter Spring Heeled Jack has written a series of short articles which we will share over the next few weeks.

Here is the latest installment of Hard Times.

Welfare Reform Bill 2012

The newly elected Conservative and Liberal Democrat administration focused on the Welfare Reform Bill, which went through the political process in the House of Commons.

It took from 2010 until 2012 for the bill to become an Act of Parliament and to finally be regarded as the definitive law on welfare reform.

However, the House of Lords (revising chamber) tried on five separate occasions to mitigate the worse details in the bill, which affected some of the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.

Unfortunately, many Labour MPs then decided to vote in favour of the Welfare Reform Bill at Westminster and this course of action led to many disputes within their local constituency parties who were totally opposed to cuts affecting the poorest people in society.

Clergy Complaints

The church leaders then became involved in this issue, clearly expressing their concerns about the forthcoming changes and the cuts affecting ordinary people in need of essential state support at a difficult time in their lives.

Members of the clergy were interviewed many times on television, on radio and in the print newspapers, expressing their views about the removal of the safety net for many benefit claimants.

In addition, church leaders wrote into the mainstream national newspapers such as the Guardian and The Independent to clearly explain details of the impact of welfare cuts on disabled people, lone parents, working poor people and unemployed claimants.

Department for Work and Pensions Cuts

Iain Duncan Smith was appointed minister for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in May 2010.

He was assisted by Lord Freud who looked at many ways of cutting benefits across the entire department.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne also looked to introduce and force through immediate swinging cuts in the DWP to an initial extent of £22 billion.

The coalition administration of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats managed to gather enough support to win several votes in the House of Commons to force through the benefit cuts.

Many trade unionists, traditional Labour supporters and voters were dismayed at the level of the cuts, which were accompanied by conditions.

Failure for benefit claimants to comply meant sanctions, leading to benefit payments being stopped often without good reason.

There was a public outcry from media commentators, with disabled organisations complaining amongst others about the benefit changes and the harsh regime that was now in place.

Article submitted by Spring Heeled Jack.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the Digital Sentinel.

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