Benefit cuts no laughing matter

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy
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WIGAN’s MP led a powerful attack on the Government’s benefits cuts.

And she earned plaudits from her own party after a withering intervention in the Commons during heated exchanges with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith as he moved the controversial Welfare Bill.

Shadow Children’s Minister Lisa Nandy invoked the example of how the changes will hit more than 8,500 homes across the boroughs with working families...along with the 3,500 job seekers, including those who lost their jobs with the closure of Wigan Remploy.

Earlier, to howls of support from the Labour benches in Parliament, she rounded on the apparent grinning faces on the Government Benches, including the Prime Minister, saying they should “ stop laughing” and attempting to gloss over the “appalling consequences for the poorest in our society.

While the reduction in spending power from families affected would have a “devastating effect” on small businesses in the Wigan economy.

She also highlighted the difference between life for struggling low income families and MPs pointing out that minimum wage for a Parliamentarian involved in this at times highly-emotional debate, was £65,0000.

So there was no place in the Commons for those attempting to “demonise” the people who need most support from Government.

Ms Nandy said that the lengthiest of debates still wouldn’t give her enough time to do justice to her concerns about the “appalling, grinding impact of this miserable piece of legislation.”

Or the 40 per cent of children across Greater Manchester who “already go to school hungry.”

She said: “It is bad enough that, as food banks spring up across the country, the impact of the Bill will be felt by the children I represent.

“It is worse that the Government believe it is appropriate to label them and their families as shirkers and scroungers—to play the politics of division while at the same time failing to explain how jobseeker’s allowance claimants gaining 72p per week and millionaires gaining more than £2,000 per week could possibly be fair in anyone’s book.

“In the past few days, it has become absolutely clear that the case for the Bill is based on a series of what I can only politely describe as false premises: that it is on the side of people in work, when, as the Resolution Foundation pointed out, two-thirds of the people who will be hit are in work; and that there is a culture of worklessness, which the Joseph Rowntree Foundation roundly disproved in its recent research.”

She pointed out that 57 per cent of children living in poverty actually have one parent who is in work...so it was “dreadful,” she claimed, that Government completely discounted the fact.

Government insistence that there were two distinct groups – the working poor and the nonworking poor – was false because in reality, “most of the people we are talking about are moving in and out of work at an alarming rate.”

Ms Nandy said: “Many of the people I represent work part-time on zero-hours contracts and they are agency workers and they are in insecure employment.

The Wigan MP said that the Coalition were fond of repeating over and over again the “myth”“ that the welfare bill was too way high .But there was a “big difference,” she said, between attacking the evil of unemployment and attacking the unemployed.

She said: “We have also heard the myth over and over again that we can bring down the welfare bill by cutting benefits to the poorest.

“We know that is not true, as does the Office for Budget Responsibility.