Open letter: why the welfare cap is wrong

By Press Office
April 2, 2014

Last week a range of NGOs, advocacy groups, disability rights campaigners and others (including the Christian political think-tank Ekklesia) signed an open letter promoted by Rick Burgess (Caledfwlch, WOW Petition), John McArdle for Black Triangle and John McInally of the PCS union.

It was hoped that The Guardian would publish it. In the end, they did not. But we believe it to be an important statement of principle which deserves wide circulation - and once again it will be through the digital and social media that the message gets out when 'mainstream' media falls short.

The letter reads as follows:

The welfare state was founded on the principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need". The way to reduce welfare costs is to reduce need.

That means an employment strategy that creates well paid jobs, clamping down on low pay by making the living wage the legal minimum, and restoring trade union rights so workers can improve their jobs and pay.

Instead, under these proposals, we will see further attacks on the welfare of disabled people, the unemployed and poorer pensioners.

Labour said it supports the cap because it can reduce welfare spending fairly. But if so it can do that without supporting the cap. And if a Conservative-led government stays in power it will definitely mean more brutal cuts.

The truth is that the UK spends less on social security than average – less than France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. With half a million people using food banks, poverty up by over a million and homelessness rising too under this coalition, it is clear the last thing anyone should have done is support a welfare cap.

George Osborne went to the European Court to stop bankers bonuses being capped, it is a shame that only backbenchers like John McDonnell seem willing to stand up for the rest of us.

Initially signed by:

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary
John McArdle, Black Triangle Campaign
Linda Burnip & Debbie Jolly, co-founders Disabled People Against Cuts
Francesca Martinez, Actor, Comedian & Writer, co-founder WoWpetition
Rick Burgess, Caledfwlch, co-founder WoWpetition & Bangor People's Assembly
Jane Bence
Wayne Blackburn, East Lancashire People's Assembly
Pat Onions, Pat's Petition
Frances Kelly, CarerWatch
Rosemary O'Neill, Carerwatch
Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network
Robin Horsell, Mental Health Resistance Network
Dr Simon Duffy, Centre for Welfare Reform
Alison Playford, Occupy and 10,000 Cuts & Counting
Jim Elder-Woodward OBE, chair of the UK Co-ordinating Committee of the Campaign for a Fair Society
Simon Barrow, Director, Ekklesia
Ian Macrae, Editor, Disability Now
Colin Hampton, National Unemployed Centres Combine
Liz Crow, Roaring Girl Productions
Dawn Willis
Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts
Jessica Mccarnun, Stephen Lathwell,
Ian Jones, co-founder WoWpetition
Michelle Maher, Laura Stringhetti, WoWpetition
Guy Thornton, NUJ Disabled Members Council
Christopher John Ball, Writer/Photographer DPAC
Susan Archibald, Disability Rights Campaigner
The Atos Stories Collective
Patricia Walker, WoWpetition & online activist
Eleanor Lisney, Sisters of Frida
Kate Belgrave, Journalist
Sam Downie, disabled Journalist \ ITV Studios \ BBC \ Dsoundz Media llc
Ann Galpin, Journalist & equality campaigner
Darren Williams, acting PCS Wales Secretary & Cardiff Labour councillor (personal capacity)
Sarah Spellman, activist
Henry Tam, Question the Powerful
Linda Rogers, NUT Equality Officer, Chair Bangor People's Assembly
Philip Steele, Author, Bangor & Ynys Mon Peace & Justice
Ann Robinson, Save Lifeworks Cambridge
Janine Booth, RMT, TUC Disabled Workers' Committee
Bob Ellard, Disability Researcher
Jan Underwood, UCU Bangor
Andy Greene, Islington DPAC
Anita Bellows, Disability Researcher
Anne Ross, MS Campaigner
Jannie Brightman, Unite Community member & Traveller Solidarity Network
Michelle Kent, Unite Community Cornwall
June Dickson, Black Triangle
Pete Ramand, Radical Independence Campaign
Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland

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.