300,000 people have had their benefits suddenly stopped by sanctions in the last 12 months, many of whom have been plunged into poverty, unable to heat their homes or even eat.
On today’s National Day of Action Against Sanctions, Ruth Patrick highlights the reality of welfare reform as laid out in her new book, For whose benefit? The truth is that our punitive welfare reform agenda leaves people further away rather than closer to the paid labour market.
“While Cameron and Osborne may no longer be in charge, their welfare reform agenda continues apace. This month sees the implementation of another wave of reforms, which will further weaken Britain’s social security system.
Over recent years, politicians have robustly defended successive rounds of welfare reform. They argue that reform is needed to end supposed cultures of ‘welfare dependency’ and prevent people from being able to ‘choose’ benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice’. In making their case, politicians draw upon simplistic but powerful demarcations between ‘hard working families’ and ‘welfare dependants’, and suggest that welfare reform will help those on out-of-work benefits join the ranks of the hard working majority.
“Our long-term economic plan for Britain is not just about doing what we can afford, it is also about doing what is right. Nowhere is that more true than in welfare. For me the moral case for welfare reform is every bit as important as making the numbers add up: building a country where people aren’t trapped in a cycle of dependency but are able to get on, stand on their own two feet and build a better life for themselves and their family.”
But does Cameron’s moral case stand up? And has welfare reform actually helped people make transitions from ‘welfare’ and into work?