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Campaign news

Labour must campaign against the Welfare Reform Bill

7th March 2011

MPs will debate Iain Duncan Smith’s Welfare Reform Bill on Wednesday 9 March. Ahead of the debate, the LRC has written to every Labour MP asking them to speak in the debate and oppose the Bill. Our Welfare Reform Bill briefing (which was sent to every Labour MP) sets out why the Bill should be opposed.

The Welfare Reform Bill is being presented to Parliament in the context of a massive £18 billion cuts programme to welfare benefits, as outlined in the June 2010 Emergency Budget and in the Comprehensive Spending Review of October 2010.

David Cameron has said, “we face a choice – make cuts in welfare or cuts elsewhere”. This is a false choice and is a smokescreen to hide the abject failure of this coalition government to have any strategy for growth and job creation. The costs of welfare can most effectively be cut by investing to create jobs. Instead this government is attacking those on benefits, persecuting the sick and disabled with dubious assessments, and cutting the already low level of benefits.

At the same time that the £18 billion of welfare cuts was announced, this government announced a package of measures amounting to a £24 billion tax break for businesses. That is the choice this government of millionaires has made: to feather the nests of the rich, while attacking the poor.

While this government emphasises the cost of benefit fraud (£1.5 billion, DWP statistics), it does little to close the tax gap, estimated by the Tax Justice Network to be over £120 billion.

Download the model motion on welfare and get it passed in your CLP or trade union branch

The letter we sent is copied below, why not write to or email your MP to ask them to show their opposition to the Bill by voting against it on Wednesday.

Dear Labour MP,

We are writing to ask you to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill which is being debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday 9 March.

As you will be aware, the Emergency Budget in June and CSR in October announced a combined total of £18 billion in welfare cuts. Those same announcements included £24 billion in corporate tax breaks over the same period. This Bill is not about supporting people in need, it is concerned with making some of the poorest people in society pay for the economic crisis.

We believe the whole bill is predicated on a myth – that welfare disincentivises seeking employment. The reality is not about ‘perverse incentives’ but lack of jobs. This government is failing to create jobs while cutting hundreds of thousands of public sector posts. There are already 2.5 million unemployed and fewer than 500,000 vacancies, yet the government demonises those out of work.

The attached briefing details our concerns about the Welfare Reform Bill and we urge you to speak in the debate on Wednesday to reject the false, pernicious and dogmatic arguments used to justify this bill.

We urge our Labour MPs to argue for full employment and job creation, increased benefit levels, and for a publicly delivered service that treats people as humans not profit-making opportunities.

Yours sincerely,

Pete Firmin & Andrew Fisher
LRC joint secretaries

For more information on welfare see:

Disabled People Against Cuts briefing
PCS website: welfare campaign
TUC Congress 2010 decisions (motion 16 - Defence of the Welfare State)
John McDonnell’s 2009 Guardian article opposing Purnell’s Welfare Reform Bill


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