Welfare Reform Bill — no going back to Dickensian days
Next Vigils & Lobbies: 1pm-3pm, MONDAY 23 JAN, WEDNESDAY 25 JAN, TUESDAY 31 JAN.
* Defend Child Benefit for all * Oppose all benefit caps and sanctions
*Cap greedy landlords, not low-income people!
Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
Meet opposite Parliament – Lords’ entrance
Old Palace Yard, Abingdon St SW1 – Westminster tube
We have had two very successful vigils attended by over 30 people – people with disabilities, single mothers, claimants and other activists. The Royal College of Nursing joined the vigil last Tuesday. Alex Callaghan, who leads their policy work on the social determinants of health, had photos taken for Nursing Times.
- Monday 23 January, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds plans to raise his amendment to keep Child Benefit out of the benefit cap which will be taken from the poorest families. See SMSD & Global Women’s Strike press release: http://globalwomenstrike.net/content/press-release-child-benefit-all-%E2%80%93-mothers-earn-it-children-need-it
Baroness Hollis and Lord Ramsbotham will raise amendments proposed by Zacchaeus 2000, protecting people forced to repay overpayments made in error, and consideration of claimants’ circumstances before sanctions.
- Wednesday 25 January, last day of Report stage.
- Tuesday 31st January, 3rd reading of the Bill where it will be passed or not as a whole by Lords.
Government defeats so far:
- no cut to Housing Benefit for having a spare room.
- to keep benefit entitlement for young people who are severely disabled, so they have financial independence coming into adulthood;
- increasing to two years the one-year time limit on National Insurance-based sickness benefit for people who are recovering;
- entitlement for terminally-ill people – the government wanted to force people who have longer than six months to live, to attend work-focussed interviews to get benefit.
Please join us again, and publicise it on Facebook, Twitter and email lists. If you can’t come, you can ring and write to the Lords (0207 219 3000, fax 020 7219 5979). More info and email addresses are here.
Morning Star reports from 17 January Vigil
Guardian video and report – watch here.
BBC interview with Baroness Meacher explaining the three votes
The Commissioner for Children says the Bill contravenes the UN Convention
THINGS YOU CAN DO
Come and raise your concerns on the Vigils ♦ Bring placards with your organisation’s name and issues you are concerned about ♦ Lobby the Lords – support amendments to keep Child Benefit out of the benefit cap, extend concessions for women fleeing domestic violence, ensure immediate benefit payments for people coming out of prison, and Zacchaeus 2000 amendments to protect claimants from unliveable benefit repayments, sanctions and bailiffs ♦ Lobby your MP; contact them to make an appointment or write to them about your personal situation – find your MP here. If you are unable to come on the day, ring them or write, for Lords’ addresses see here; and sign the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust e-petition against the benefit caps here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
Rev Paul Nicolson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000.
Welfare Reform Bill
The Ramsbotham and Hollins amendments.
On Monday the 23rd January Peers will consider two amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill which are vital to the mental wellbeing of the poorest citizens of the UK because they provide safeguards against the damage done to mental health when debts are enforced against poverty incomes. The Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mind, the major Christian Churches, CAB and Liberty are among the 20 NGOs supporting;
- Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment 62A, which will ensure that jobcentre and local authority officials do not punish welfare claimants with sanctions and penalties, nor enforce overpayments made in error by officials, when they know there is good reason not to, by requiring officials to examine the facts and circumstances of each case, and
- Baroness Hollins’s amendment 62ZC, which will retain the current legal prohibition on enforcing overpayments of welfare against claimants which are made in error by officials.
Both amendments were proposed by Zacchaeus 2000, a Christian Trust that works with vulnerable and impoverished debtors.
The Rev Paul Nicolson, Chair Zacchaeus 2000, comments.
“The Department of Work and Pensions has been advised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists that poverty is trigger factor for poor mental health, a factor in maintaining poor health and part of the experience of those with poor mental health.
We know from our experience of serving welfare claimants in debt to the State how seriously depressed they are: it hurts their families too.
Welfare incomes are already set at poverty levels to act as an incentive to look for work; but the Welfare Reform Bill, coupled with cuts and caps on one hand and rising prices of food and fuel on the other, is creating debts without the necessary safeguards for welfare claimants or poor people in work.
The Centre for Mental Health has shown that mental health problems already cost the economy in England £105 billion in 2010/11; the Bill will increase that cost”.
Please sign our e-petition on
Stop the housing benefit and universal credit caps.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
34 Grosvenor Gardens
0207 259 0801
0207 259 0701 fax
0208 376 5455 home
07961 177889 mobile