I WAS at first pleased to see a letter about poverty from a reader in Painswick (Ralph Kember in your January 18 issue) and thought to myself it was good that there were some people in that rather expensive area who weren’t selfish Tory voters. That is, of course, until I actually read it!
His letter was prompted by that of Cllr Skeena Rathor (SNJ Jan 4) who raised the awful scandal of the extreme poverty, here in our very midst. However, it was about people on lower incomes being hit by a single error made by SDC (presumably by an employee and which is currently being investigated with the aim of preventing a recurrence).
So this was by no means an intentional policy of the Labour-led council, which he attacked.
I am actually dismayed that the SNJ chose to print it in their usually excellent and informative letters page, instead of one that may have indicated what people could do to help.
There is however absolutely no defence to the horrendous policies the Tory Government have implemented over the last six years. One of the latest, heartless, Tory policies will come into effect this April.
This will hit the sick and disabled, many of whom were previously some of the the Tories’ supposedly favoured “hard working people” but who have been unlucky enough to be hit by accident or illness and now find themselves unable to work and earn a living.
They will in future have to survive on the same amount as Job Seekers’ Allowance (a sum of approx £72 per week), which was originally designed as short-term payments for fit and healthy people who were temporarily out of work.
This is not a sufficient sum for sick people to live on long term so, as they will not be able to afford sufficient food or heat their homes adequately, they are likely to become even sicker, and their recovery will be delayed if not rendered permanently unattainable.
The reason for this change of policy is the mistaken belief that disabled and chronically ill people, including cancer patients, need the “incentive” of having their benefit cut to get a job.
But as a parliamentary review by crossbench peers and disability charities (based on evidence from ESA recipients, charities, local authorities and health organisations) has indicated, cutting benefit will reduce their ability to take steps into work.
So, it will have the opposite effect and even put more strain on our already over-stretched NHS (that’s yet another disaster this government has created, that I’m also tempted to write about, but which will have to wait for another time).