Open Letter to Mark Reckless, my local MP

Dear Mark

I am writing to support today’s Hardest Hit march.

The package of cuts being enacted by the Coalition affect housing, disability, sickness and welfare reform. In short this means that many of the most vulnerable members of our society are being targeted. Disabled people have higher costs than other people because of the additional requirements they have, whether it be for a special diet, clothing or communication and interpretation needs. In this regard I would draw your attention to the report written in 2004, entitled 'Disabled People's Cost of Living', which highlighted the fact that:

"The weekly income of disabled people who are solely dependent on benefits is approximately £200 below the amount required for them to ensure an acceptable, equitable quality of life. Unmet weekly costs for disabled people who work 20 hours per week at the minimum wage are up to £189 (for those with high-medium needs."

Yet despite the daily struggle faced by the disabled community they are now facing huge cuts to Disability Living Allowance, Housing Benefits and other equally important forms of help that they need to get by.

Most economists say that the deficit reduction package is too hard, too fast. Indeed in the ten largest consolidations of debt since the late 1970s (and Britain would count among
them), the average pace of deficit cutting was 1.9% a year. Based on that estimate we would take 6 years to eliminate our deficit. Yet these other examples of deficit cutting countries have cut during better economic times, rendering the comparisons with countries like Canada and Sweden mute. Robert Skidelsky of the Financial Times wrote:

“This will extract 5 per cent out of a shrunken economy. It is the most audacious axecutting exercise in almost a century, double the size of the cuts in the 1930s, equalled only by the 1921 Geddes Axe, which cut government spending by 11 per cent in two years.”

However an economic/political decision has been made, irrelevent of who agrees. My question to you is, if you think these rapid cuts are necessary, why do they have to be targeted at the worst off in society?

Cuts in housing benefit will mean a third of England will become unaffordable for low-income households within a decade. Crisis have recently published a national survey saying that the cuts could put an additional 88,000 people into homelessness!

Despite a fraud rate of just 1 per cent, 500,000 people who currently rely on sickness benefits are being targeted. Parts of the media have been harrassing the disabled community for a long time, labelling all as 'benefit scroungers'. But what is the Government doing to counter these perceptions?

Cutting disability benefits and removing key services that the disabled community use will result in life becoming much tougher for thousands of families with vulnerable relatives. Disabled people, their friends and families have a lot to fear. And it is driving many to despair. Already there have been suicides. Up to 10,000 people are expected to march today, and many thousands more want to go but simply aren't able, which must I believe highlight the widespread nature of our concerns.

I, as well as many others, am opposing these cuts today because I care about the old, the sick, the disabled, the vulnerable and the needy. I would appreciate it if you could reflect on what I have written and consider calling for more compassion in government.

Yours sincerely,

Frances Coppola


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