A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Question to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
29/01/2013 09:51:00


Yesterday I asked a question to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the implementation of the Benefit Cap in Croydon. You can read the full debate online.

Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central, Conservative)

As the Secretary of State confirmed, Croydon will be one of the first places where this policy is rolled out. May I thank Lord Freud, who is the Minister responsible for welfare reform, and the housing Minister for meeting me to discuss this? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that his Department will work closely with my local authority to ensure that this important policy is implemented smoothly?

Iain Duncan Smith (Secretary of State, Work and Pensions; Chingford and Woodford Green, Conservative)

I say to my hon. Friend and to all hon. Members and hon. Friends whose areas are affected by the roll-out that we are in deep discussions with all those councils. Jobcentre Plus will be working hugely with each of them, advising, helping and supporting them - in many senses, giving them more support than is necessarily likely to be the case when the national roll-out follows the pilot programmes.

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Readers' Comments

On 29/01/2013 21:09:00 Jim wrote:
My question would be:

Would my right honourable friend join me in condemning people who breed babies whilst already dependant on benefits? Would he agree with me that whilst respectable middle England often put off starting a family because they are feeling the pinch, it can't be right that through their taxation they are required to support the feckless? When can we stop fiddling whilst Rome burns?

On 30/01/2013 20:12:00 Andy L wrote:
On a general point.

The comparison between benefits and wages is very unfair and highly misleading. Unemployment benefit has dramatically fallen in value from just under 21% of average wages in 1979 to 11% now. At 21%, jobseekers allowance would be £135 a week today, instead of just £71.

Capping unemployment benefit at 1% will mean a 71p a week increase, whereas the same increase in the average UK wage equates to an extra £5.01 a week. So it is completely wrong to say “those out of work enjoy bigger increases in their living standards than those who “graft, day and night….”

The cost of living is soaring. The average household weekly food bill increased by 7.3% last year, according to consumer group Which?, and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs economists estimate the average cost of a weekly shop will go up by 4% a year until 2022 at least. Gas and electricity prices have recently risen by up to 9% and rail fares have increased recently by 4%. Taken together with the benefit changes this will only serve to push more people towards the poverty line. Currently it is estimated that 13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK; 1 in every 5 people.

Instead of vilifying the unemployed Mr. Barwell why don’t you offer some positive solutions to help them regain a sense of self worth and dignity? I find the constant attacks on some of the most vulnerable people in society by you and your party absolutely vile. The unemployed are an easy target, which you personally have attacked with some relish recently. I think this is appalling behavior from a constituency MP, allegedly elected to serve the interests of his constituents.

Many of your constituents are unemployed, the vast majority through no fault of their own (via job losses in the public AND private sector). Do they deserve the term “skiver” and attacked with such vitriolic abuse by you and your party? I would have hoped that as a “conscientious” constituency MP you would offer them support in such difficult economic times. Instead you seem to take some sort of perverse pride in targeting the unemployed and using them as convenient scapegoats for the mess this country is in.

In the next few months I face the very real prospect of losing my job. I have been unemployed before and I really wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It is not a lifestyle choice that I would ascribe to. It is a struggle and you lose your sense of dignity and self worth. It is a very demoralizing experience. The prospect of being unemployed again fills me with absolute dread.

So just pause and think Mr. Barwell if, god forgive, you were ever to find yourself unemployed. Don’t believe everything you read in the Daily Mail. Have some humility and try and understand, support and represent your vulnerable constituents and at least try and empathize with the plight that many of them are in. Better still try living on unemployment benefit for 4 to 6 weeks, try and meet your household bills and feed and clothe your family. See how you cope.

As for the comments posted by Jim - they are beneath contempt. He’s been watching too much Jeremy Kyle me thinks.

On 05/02/2013 22:09:00 Jim wrote:
No, Andy, I don't watch Jeremy Kyle. I'm out working and paying taxes. Gavin is a busy man too - probably not much time for the Daily Mail.

It seems you think people who disagree with you are too influenced by media you don't approve of. Perhaps you've been reading the Guardian or watching the BBC too much!




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