Jan 212012

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!


called by

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust


Meet opposite Parliament – Lords’ entrance

Old Palace Yard, Abingdon St SW1 – Westminster tube

All welcome


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


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.


Press coverage:

Morning Star reports from 17 January Vigil

Guardian video and report – watch here.

Guardian blog

 BBC interview with Baroness Meacher explaining the three votes

The Commissioner for Children says the Bill contravenes the UN Convention

The Londonist report



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.

More info:

smsd@allwomencount.net  0207 482 2496  PaulNicolson@z2k.org  07961177889



PRESS NOTICE.                                                                          



Rev Paul  Nicolson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000.

020 83765455

07961 177889


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;  

  1. 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
  2. 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

London SW1


0207 259 0801

0207 259 0701 fax

0208 376 5455 home

07961 177889 mobile









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  One Response to “Welfare Reform Bill Next Vigils & Lobbies: 1pm-3pm, MONDAY 23 JAN, WEDNESDAY 25 JAN, TUESDAY 31 JAN.”

  1. Whilst covering up tax breaks worth billions to Goldman Sachs you tell us there is no money for disabled? No money for soldiers who lost limbs fighting in the middle east in a war that lasted longer than WW2? Your pursuit of greed and elitism is beyond disgusting. With the advent of the internet and social networking mankind should be socially evolving not regressing to a medieval era of corporate serfdom and almost Spartan treatment of the old and infirm. I hope this cowardly and short sighted policy making is just a trend much like the post empirical trends at the turn of the last century. I also hope this trend ends before it leads to such global turmoil as WW1.

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