Due to lack of time, we didn’t get to debate my motion on the Benefit Cap during January’s council meeting. It was passed in a quick vote, which was excellent news, though the Tory councillors didn’t support it.
I’d like to just put down some of the points I had hoped to make in the debate.
I had noticed in the last fortnight the government has announced tens of billions of spending on arms, submarines, jets and aircraft carriers.
Which really raised the question “What kind of society do we want to live in?”
The Tory vision where we have people going hungry and cold in our country, and shameful levels of child poverty.
Or a progressive vision where nobody is left behind, where those with greatest need receive the most help.
The government’s benefit cap policy is a cynical, populist move which will mostly hit large families, many with members struggling in low-paid work.
In Brighton & Hove we estimate, on the latest data, that 300 families will be so badly hit by this that they will most likely be made homeless. The Department for Work and Pensions confirm that councils will be responsible for housing these families at a cost of £1.1m a year to our city council. The coalition cabinet has agreed that new burdens on councils must be funded.
Yet we hear silence from government when we ask how this will be funded… there will be no saving to the public purse from this awful policy. Councils, already with squeeze budgets, will be left to pick up the pieces.
The result will be hurt, heartache and homelessness for struggling families.
I strongly oppose this cap and hope sense will be seen in time. Failing that it is unacceptable for yet another cost to be thrown on councils whilst government cynically claim they are saving money off the backs of the poorest through this policy.
In every sense – financial, policy and moral – this cap offers nothing good for our city.