“Welfare reforms will penalise the vulnerable and divide society” warns Unite

Britain’s largest union, Unite, today (Wednesday, 1 February) urged MPs to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill, warning that it will hit low paid working people, push over 200,000 thousand children into poverty and leave some families with as little as 62p per person per day to live on.

The move comes as MPs consider amendments made by the House of Lords to the Bill, including the controversial cap on benefits. In a briefing to MPs, the union warns that the household benefit cap will result in:

  •     30,150 households losing £50 a week
  •     17,420 households losing £50 – £100 a week
  •     8,040 households losing £100 – £150 a week
  •     11.390 households losing more than £150 a week

The union heavily criticised the reforms, saying that they were based damaging and divisive stereotypes and would enshrine the concept of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving poor.’

Unite is also warning that housing benefit cuts will force many low waged working people out of their homes and to relocate to more affordable areas. This will put strains on public services as they cope with the fluctuations, and even cause problems for those sectors that rely on an inner city workforce, such as retail and catering, but also public services which employ some of the lowest waged workers in the country.

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “The government should be seeking to improve the living standards of those on low incomes and benefits, not stigmatising people and peddling the concept of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving poor’.

“The real enemy is not the perceived ‘workshy’ but the growing dole queues across the country and flat lining growth. Singling out some of the most vulnerable, as salaries at top continue to soar and big corporations avoid and evade billions in tax, will divide society.”


For more information please contact Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.

Notes to Editors:
The Unite briefing can be found at http://www.unitetheunion.org/pdf/002-Unite-welfare-bill-briefing-v01.pdf