Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Time to stop squeezing family incomes

pic with Usdaw member Janette Parker 

I have joined forces with Usdaw, the shop workers union, to call on the Coalition Government to stop squeezing family incomes by continuing to cut the help they get through tax credits and other benefits.

Just days before the Budget, at a time when many hard working families are already concerned about how difficult it is to manage their finances, Usdaw arranged to take some of their members, who are being hit the hardest by the Government’s shake up of the welfare state to Parliament, to meet MPs.

John Hannett, General Secretary of Usdaw said, “Since coming to power the Coalition Government’s austerity measures have already taken hundreds of pounds out of the pockets of hard working families."

”Our members tell us, that despite working hard, it is getting more and more difficult to pay the bills, put food on the table and clothe their children”

“We are concerned that things are only going to get worse - as the Government’s flawed bedroom tax comes into force and further changes to tax credits later this year, hit almost 3 million families who will lose on average - £137 each month.”

“Next week's Budget is the Government’s chance to prove that it cares about children and families. It is time for this Government to do a U turn – stop cutting family incomes and start to support hard working families.”

I was pleased to join members of Usdaw at their recent event. Trade unions like Usdaw have an important job to do - speaking up for their members. More than one in every four children are already growing up in poverty and of those children 62%, has at least one person in their home who is employed.

Families in Wigan and around the country are getting squeezed tighter and tighter – it’s time for the Coalition Government to stop cutting and start listening to hard pressed families.

I met with Usdaw member Janette Parker who lives with her husband.  Janette works part time in a local supermarket.  Her husband was the family’s main income earner until two years ago when a long term debilitating illness forced him to give up work.  Janette is his main carer.  They live in a three bedroom house which they rent from their local housing association.  Their home has been especially adapted to assist with her husband’s declining mobility.  The couple’s son recently left home and because there are no smaller properties for rent in their local area they will be hit by the bedroom tax and forced to find an extra £1144 each year, in rent to cover the loss of housing benefit.

Janette said, "For the first time in our lives, due to my husband’s ill health we have asked for help with our rent.  But rather than helping us this Government wants to punish us by forcing us to find over £1000 in rent each year because they have determined our home has too many bedrooms. Rather than help they would rather we move away from the community in which we have always lived and worked, away from our friends and family who help me to care for my husband which saves the Government tens of thousands of pounds each year in care costs.”

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