The UK government has announced its plan to roll out a scheme to tackle 'troubled families' to all councils in England. According to the hype, it is aimed at cutting truancy, crime and anti-social behaviour and benefit dependency among 120,000 families who are to blame for significant social problems and who cost the taxpayer billions of pounds a year.
“Gross impiety it is that a nation's pride should be maintained in the face of its poor.” William Penn wrote these words in 1669. We have no means of knowing what his voice might have sounded like when he read them aloud, as he undoubtedly would have done, but when I hear them in my mind's ear, they are spoken with firmness and a touch of anger. They are words we do well to heed in our own time.
Here is the full text of the letter published in the Guardian (17 May 2012) from disability organisations and disabled rights advocates, backed by signatories from charities, NGOs, academics and others (including Ekklesia), on the impact of government cuts hitting disabled people.
Many people across Europe have recoiled from harsh austerity policies, which are badly affecting the poorest in society as well as ordinary families. But the UK government is determined to take the cuts even further. Half a million people will lose disability living allowance, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has proudly announced.
Regular readers of my blog (a small but much appreciated group!) may wonder if I've got a bit obsessed with the Occupy eviction and my forced removal from the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. Looking back now, I realise that my last five blog entries have been about it.
Plans to make even seriously ill or disabled people work without pay, or risk having their benefits cut, have met with wide criticism. There will be no time limits on such work placements, to be introduced when the Welfare Reform Bill has been passed by the UK Parliament.