Today's House of Commons debates - Wednesday 17 December 2014
Version: Uncorrected | Updated 21:31
[11th Allotted Day]
Housing Benefit (Abolition of Social Sector Size Criteria)
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo):
Before I call Rachel Reeves to move the motion, I can inform the House that the Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.
Rachel Reeves (Leeds West) (Lab):
I beg to move,
That this House believes that the housing benefit social sector size criteria, otherwise known as the bedroom tax, should be abolished with immediate effect.
Today, Members of this House have a chance and a choice: a chance to put right one of the worst injustices we have seen under this unfair, out-of-touch Government; and a choice to make about where they stand on the question of how we treat some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society. In just a few hours, we could vote to abolish and repeal the bedroom tax, an extraordinarily cruel and unfair policy that has hit half a million low-income households, two thirds of them including a disabled member and two fifths of them including children, with a charge of more than £14 a week, on average, which most cannot afford to pay, simply because they have been allocated by a council or a housing association a home that the Government now decide has too many rooms.
One week before Christmas we have a chance to bring hope and relief to hundreds of thousands of people who are struggling to stay in their home, pay the bills and put food on the table by scrapping this cruel and punitive tax on bedrooms, which is yet another example of Tory welfare waste.
After much admirable input to the debate by Labour,and much ludicrous counter the motion distraction, obfuscation and downright disregard for human suffering, the Conservatives coupled with the Liberal Democrats , amongst which MUCH abhorence of this policy has recently been stated, probably as popularist soundbite, Voted AGAINST the motion.
I ask that if you wish you explore all statements from Hansard on this motion debate. Housing Benefit (size regulations) Debate.
I think i shouldnt tell you how to make your minds up. You will, if you look, see abhorrent disregard for welfare of those suffering the consequences .
Moving on , the next motion is following. .
Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood) (Lab):
I beg to move,
That this House notes that the number of people using food banks, according to the Trussell Trust, has increased from 41,000 in 2009-10 to 913,000 in 2013-14, of whom one third are children; recognises that over the last four years prices have risen faster than wages; further notes that low pay and failings in the operation of the social security system continue to be the main triggers for food bank use; and calls on the Government to bring forward measures to reduce dependency on food banks and tackle the cost of living crisis, including to get a grip on delays and administrative problems in the benefits system, and introduce a freeze in energy prices, a national water affordability scheme, measures to end abuses of zero hours contracts, incentives for companies to pay a living wage, an increase in the minimum wage to £8 an hour by the end of the next Parliament, a guaranteed job for all young people who are out of work for more than a year and 25 hours-a-week free childcare for all working parents of three and four year olds.
I welcome the Minister for Civil Society to his place in what is, I think, his first debate from the Front Bench, but I note that the Environment Secretary is not taking part in this debate. She transferred a question about food poisoning away from her Department just this week. She does not want to talk about food aid today, but she is—[Hon. Members: “Welcome!”] I would like to welcome the Environment Secretary to her place. She transferred a question about food poisoning away from her Department last week. This week she does not want to take part in a debate about food aid, yet hers is the lead Department. I just wonder what part of food policy she thinks she is responsible for.
Since the last Opposition-day debate on food banks a year ago, things have worsened. Over the past six months, there has been a 38% increase in the number of people seeking food aid from the Trussell Trust’s 420 food banks. The Trussell Trust expects the full-year numbers to be over 1 million. The report of the all-party parliamentary inquiry into hunger in the UK, entitled “Feeding Britain”, published last week, said that 4 million people are at risk of going hungry, 3.5 million adults cannot afford to eat properly, and half a million children live in families that cannot afford to feed them.
Nobody would choose to go to a food bank if they had any other option. Let us be clear about that. Research conducted by Oxfam, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Church of England and the Trussell Trust and published in November, entitled “Emergency Use Only”, indicates the truth of what many of us who have visited our local food banks have seen. People are acutely embarrassed to have to go to a food bank. They feel ashamed to have to accept such help, but the research is clear: people turn to food banks as a last resort, when all other coping strategies have failed.
The Trussell Trust says that 45% of people who visit the food banks that it operates do so because of problems with the social security system, a third because of delays to determining their benefit claims, and the rest because of benefit changes and sanctions, often unfairly applied, which have left them with no money.
I would ask you to consider my own MP's input to this debate:
Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab):
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming) talked about Members of this House who have been around for some time. Well, I have been around for some time and I have never known a situation like this.
Last Saturday, I attended a Christmas lunch for pensioners at the Trinity House community centre in my constituency. It was a lovely occasion, but I did ask myself what kind of lunch some of the people would have been having if they had not been there. I went to a school and the head teacher told me that the meal provided for children there was the only proper meal they had all day; I had to ask myself what happens during holiday periods.
I went to the New Covenant church for a carol service last Sunday in another part of my constituency. I had a chat with the pastor and I was told of the things that were done at that church. He told me about its food programme and its food bank. He told me that the church has volunteers who work there and in the community but cannot find jobs when they have left the volunteer period.
That night, I went home and saw on television a commercial that said, “Help Unilever and Oxfam fight hunger in the UK”. I found it utterly shaming that a commercial such as that had been made, where people were saying that there was so much hunger in this country that action against it had to be organised. Despite the damage done by this Government, this is one of the richest countries in the world, and it is utterly humiliating that people should have to go to food banks to get a meal.
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has yet had a chance to visit the excellent FoodCycle Manchester. I am a patron of the organisation and was at FoodCycle Bristol on Sunday. It uses food waste—surplus food—to provide meals for people who cannot afford them. For the 60 or so people I met there on Sunday, it was probably the only nutritious cooked meal they were going to get that week. I urge him to visit.
Sir Gerald Kaufman:
My hon. Friend has got it right, because one sees this again and again. Why? It is because of poverty. The figures show that in my constituency 42% of children live in poverty. Mine is the 10th worst constituency for that in the whole UK. The city of Manchester is fourth in Britain for poverty, and that is according to the Department for Education’s own definition. Children are said to be living in relative poverty if their household’s income is less than 60% of the median national income.
Manchester is a target for this Government. They have taken away more Government funding from my city than from anywhere else in the country, whereas in other parts of the country, such as Surrey, they are actually increasing the amount of Government funding. It is a cynical political trick. They know that they cannot win seats in Manchester, so why make life comfortable for people there? By contrast, in Surrey they do have some hope of winning constituencies. It is a political manoeuvre and my constituents suffer because of it.
The Government’s policy can be summed up:
“For whosoever hath, to him shall be given…but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”
Benefit sanctions are spoken of again and again. Heaven knows I have a case load, as the Secretary of State knows from his correspondence with me, but people should not look for benefits other than those to which they are entitled by family circumstances. They should be able to have jobs. In Manchester, we have the Manchester living wage, but it does not prevail. If people do not have incomes or jobs they cannot buy food. It is terrible that we have in this country—a progressive western European country—hunger that is categorised by Unilever and Oxfam. The people who provide food banks are fine, decent people. They are good people—valuable people—but we should not need them.
Read the whole debate if you wish.
I was particularly impressed with Maria Eagle and her clearly researched and well held views . Her speeches taken in whole actually stands for people before profit, and that highlights just how bad this govts actions have continued to be. Sir Gerald Kaufman was spot on, and i will leave you to disparage those that werent for the people.
The whole foodbanks debate is linked here FOODBANKS DEBATE
Not much intros/ comment from me on this blog piece. Its your mind. I present considerations on both these emotive subjects. Read into it or not. Its completely your choice.