The debate over welfare reform rages on today after Lord Ashdown opposed the benefit cap of £26,000 a year. The scaremongering has well and truly begun with some critics and commentators warning that thousands will become homeless.
The government should come out and defend its policy to the hilt. £26,000 is ample enough for people to live on benefits. Chuka Umunna yesterday claimed that people who are forced to live underneath this cap will live in poverty. Lets have a look at that claim shall we? The cap was originally decided as it matched the median UK income at the time. The mean average is around £24,000 depending on your sources, and this of course doesn’t take into account regional variations. A person working on the National Minimum Wage can be expected to earn between £11,000 and £12,000 a year, before any taxes. According to http://www.globalrichlist.com/ a person on £26,000 a year would be in the Top 1% of the world’s wealth. So no, people on £26,000 a year would not be in poverty, far from it in fact.
Looking at yesterday’s YouGov Poll, 36% of people believe that the cap should be below £20,000.
The idea that people will become homeless is another shock tactic. I am willing to accept that yes, some people will be forced to move home. But let me clarify that sentence, they will have to MOVE home. Moving home is not the same thing as becoming homeless. Those that will be forced to move, unfortunately should have to move. If the rent is too high then just like any other person who is not receiving £500 off the state, they would have to relocate. If this means that somebody has to move out of Kensington and to outer London then as much of a personal shame to that person/family it is the way it has to be. We should never have paid expensive rents in the first place. Why should regular tax payers subsidise benefit claimants to enjoy such high rent housing?
The benefit cap isn’t about punishing those on benefits. It is about enshrining fairness into our welfare system.