Benefit changes in UK ‘social atrocity’

The UK government’s changes to the benefits system have been described as a “social atrocity” by a Welsh government minister, who resembled the changes to neo-Thatcherite reforms “at its foulest”.

The Welsh Housing Minister Huw Lewis launched a blistering attack on the coalition’s reforms being imposed on the benefits system, calling them “social atrocity”.

Lewis warned of an impending crisis in Wales in terms of housing, with planned changes to entitlement to benefits having a “destructive, destabilising effect” on entire communities in deprived areas.

He said the “Welsh government was unable to intervene or provide alternative accommodation if tens of thousands of families faced the prospect of leaving their homes, because the UK government has “its hand on our throats” and was “strangling” public spending”.

“You’ve got a perfect storm here. This really is neo-Thatcherite politics at its foulest. People need to understand that this is in many ways a reprise of the 1980s that we’re being faced with”, said Lewis.

“In some aspects it’s actually worse and even more nefarious than the 1980s”, he added.

“The welfare bill in the 1980s actually grew because of the consequences of the deflationary economics of the Thatcher government.

“We’ve got a government now that is deflationary in terms of its economic politics and is also axing the welfare bill simultaneously. That’s something that not even Thatcher attempted.

“The combination of those two things is that we are heading, to my mind, towards a social atrocity that is being perpetrated on people that are struggling to get by”, the Welsh government minister pointed out.

Lewis – who is responsible for both housing and regeneration in Wales – launched a stinging attack on the effect of coalition policies in Wales.

He said a “huge swathe” of people across Wales would come under pressure to afford day-to-day living costs, adding that tens of thousands could face leaving their homes or cutting back on food or heating in a bid to make ends meet.

MOL/HE