Osborne's talk of 'skivers' bears scant relation to the truth

By Press Office
December 9, 2012

The following is the full text of the letter to the Observer newspaper (9 December 2012), on the impact of the government's autumn budget statement, from charities, churches, trade unions and NGOs. Ekklesia fully endorses the sentiment and message of this letter.

Last week's autumn statement marks a watershed in our welfare system, breaking the long-standing link between benefits and either earnings or prices. The policies announced are a bitter blow for hundreds of thousands of low-income families struggling to make ends meet in the face of overwhelming austerity.

Economic analysis of the government's announcements shows clearly that the poorest have been hit hardest. Plans to cap increases in benefits and tax credits at a meagre one per cent for the next three years will far outweigh any gains from increasing the personal tax allowance. This will hurt children, leaving a damaging legacy.

While the chancellor paints a picture of so-called "strivers" and "skivers", our organisations see the reality: families scraping by in low-paid work, or being bounced from insecure jobs to benefits and back again.

The truth is that the vast majority of those who rely on benefits and tax credits are either in work, have worked, or will be in work in the near future. They and their families are making their contribution to society and are entitled to genuine security, as Beveridge intended.

As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Beveridge report, which laid the foundations of the welfare state, we risk losing the very safety net that he intended. It is a punitive, unfair policy and must not happen.

Alison Garnham, Child Poverty Action Group

Anne Longfield, chief executive, 4Children;

Ged Nichols, Accord

Dann Kenningham, National Coordination Team, ATD Fourth World

Dr Mary Bousted, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

Anne Marie Carrie, Chief Executive, Barnardo's

Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary, BECTU

Cathy Corcoran OBE, Chief Executive, Cardinal Hume Centre

Lesley Mercer, Director, Employment Relations and Union Services, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Anne Houston, Chief Executive, CHILDREN 1ST

Sean O'Neill, Policy director, Children in Wales

Paola Uccellari, Director, Children's Rights Alliance for England

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive, Children's Society

Niall Cooper, National Coordinator, Church Action on Poverty

Margaret Lynch, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice Scotland

Geraldine Blake, Chief Executive, Community Links

Srabani Sen, Chief Executive, Contact a Family

Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive, Crisis

Billy Hayes, CWU General Secretary

Anand Shukla, Chief Executive, Daycare Trust

Liz Sayce, Chief Executive, Disability Rights UK

Martin Barnes, Chief Executive, DrugScope

Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of the Educational Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS)Institute of Scotland (EIS)

Enver Solomon, Chair of End Child Poverty Coalition

Laura Courtney, Campaign Manager, Every Disabled Child Matters

Helen Dent, Chief Executive, Family Action

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group

Ceri Goddard, Chief Executive, Fawcett Society

Gerri McAndrew, Chief Executive, Frank Buttle Trust

Fiona Weir, Chief Executive, Gingerbread

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive, Grandparents Plus

Rick Henderson, Chief Executive, Homeless Link

Alison Gelder, Director, Housing Justice

Bill Scott, Manager, Inclusion Scotland

Terence Stokes, Chief Executive, Lasa

Les Allamby, Director, Law Centre (Northern Ireland)

Julie Bishop, Director, Law Centres Network

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT

Hilary Emery, Chief Executive, National Children's Bureau

Stewart Wallis, Executive Director, New Economics Foundation

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT

Satwat Rehman, Director, One Parent Families, Scotland

Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive, Oxfam

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union

Steve Gillan, General Secretary, POA - The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional & Secure Psychiatric Workers

Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.