The British government’s new benefit cuts that will hit working-age people could be “devastating” and dramatically increase poverty, says leading British anti-poverty charity Oxfam.
Chancellor George Osborne is leading a plan for real-terms cut in working-age benefits under the recently-published welfare Benefits Up-Rating Bill that will be launched for debate in the House of Commons on January 8, 2013.
Osborne has announced that the Treasury will increase working-age benefits by just one percent for the next three years that will keep claimants at the mercy of a much higher inflation.
“This Bill will effectively mean a permanent reduction of benefits, which could be devastating at a time when a proper safety net is desperately needed by millions of the most vulnerable people in Britain,” said Oxfam UK poverty director Chris Johnes.
“Benefits are already at their lowest levels relative to average incomes since the welfare state was founded and it’s highly likely that this regressive change could lead to an increase in poverty, especially for those people who are already facing a perfect storm of cuts to public services and rising prices.”
Johnes said the government should rather hunt tax-dodgers and make them “contribute their fair share” so that “an already-struggling welfare system” is protected.
The move was also harshly criticized by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the umbrella group that represents some 6.5 million British workers.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the bill is a “naked attack on hard-working families” who should pay the price for the government’s economic failure.