Welfare changes will see thousands moved off incapacity benefits with few job opportunities for them, research claims. Peter Hain MP has raised concerns over the impact it will have on Neath constituents on incapacity benefits claiming it would lead to ‘hard times with few employment opportunities’.
The report “Tackling Worklessness In Wales” by Professor Steve Fothergill and Christina Beatty suggests changes to the welfare system will see 60,000 people in Wales moved off incapacity benefits with half of those with no job to go to.
Neath Port Talbot has the third highest rate of Working Age Benefit Claimants in Wales with 21.9% of the working age population in the authority claiming benefits. Only Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent have a higher rate in Wales. In the Neath constituency there are over six thousand claiming incapacity benefits with over five thousand one hundred of those claiming for over a year.
Mr Hain said, “This is a very worrying report highlighting the problems of getting people back into work. Last month’s figures showed there were eleven people chasing every vacancy in Neath – that is the reality facing the unemployed. Getting people off benefits is one thing but if there are no jobs for them to go into then they are facing a very unsure financial future.”
The report suggests that in Wales changes to the Welfare system would result in “widespread financial hardship rather than a reduction in worklessness” and the private sector “has a mountain to climb to deliver new jobs on the scale that is needed.”
Neath MP Peter Hain has hit out at Tory Secretary of State Cheryl Gillan over the massive cuts planned to benefits of those with disabilities in Wales affecting thousands in his own constituency. Mr Hain also revealed the numbers of DLA claimants of working age and the level of cuts for each of the 40 Parliamentary constituencies in Wales.
Figures obtained by Labour revealed the numbers of DLA claimants of working age in Neath stands at 4,250 with the average amount claimed amounting to £69.79 per week. A 20% reduction would see the average amount would fall by £13.96 to just £55.83 per week leaving recipients on average £727.77 a year worse off. A total of £3,093,023 per year cut in DLA for Neath.
During a heated Welsh Questions exchange in the Commons chamber, Mr Hain challenged Ms Gillan to tell the House what loss of income her Government’s swinging DLA cuts of 20% might mean for the average claimant in Wales and how many would be effect.
When Ms Gillan failed to answer, Mr Hain told the House:
“Calculations backed by figures from the House of Commons Library suggest the average reduction would be £14 per week for 125,000 Disability Allowance claimants in Wales, a total cut of £90 million pounds per year, or over £700 each.
“Has she any idea how much suffering this will cause, with VAT, food, fuel and petrol prices sky high? The truth is that under this Government rich bankers are coining it whilst the most vulnerable and needy are punished. When will she stand up for people with disabilities in Wales?”
Local MP Peter Hain met with campaigners from Age UK Cymru who were lobbying Parliament to highlight proposals in the Pension Bill that will result in unacceptable delays to Women’s pensions.
Following the meeting Mr Hain said “The goal posts keep being moved for these women many of whom have planned for a comfortable not lavish retirement but are now facing a massive upheaval without enough time to prepare as the Government tries to rush through yet another ill-considered reform. It’s causing these women worry and tension at a time when they should be looking forward to their retirement.”
Recently release figures showed that one thousand women in the Neath constituency would face a delay in accessing their state pension as the Government attempts to speed up the equalisation of state pension age.
Hundreds of thousands of women across the UK born between 1953 and 1954 will be dramatically affected by changes to the state pension age which could see them have to wait an extra two years before they can receive it. Government plans to accelerate the equalisation of state pension age will affect a thousand women in the Neath constituency, figures from the House of Commons Library suggest.
Neath MP Peter Hain has called the proposals a “travesty” as women who have worked hard all their lives and planned for retirement in the next few years are forced to adapt their plans with insufficient time to prepare.
Mr Hain said, “These plans are unfair and target women who are coming to the end of their working lives. They have planned for retirement and now those plans are dramatically affected as they face a longer wait to access their state pension, leaving them feeling they have been robbed.”
Across the UK 300,000 women born between 6 December 1953 and 5 October 1954, will have to wait an extra 18 months, and an unlucky 33,000 born between 6 March 1954 and 5 April 1954 will have to wait an extra 2 years, before being entitled to their state pension.
Thousands of families across Wales will be hit by changes to Child Benefits that are set to take effect in jut twenty months. From January 2013 Child benefit will be withdrawn from families with a higher rate taxpayer.
Peter Hain MP for Neath and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales has described the changes as “unfair” as a loophole will see families of two earners with a combined income of £80,000 receive the benefit but a single earner family on £44,000 lose it.
Official figures from the House of Commons Library say that approximately 37,500 families in Wales will be affected by the changes with an average loss per affected household in Wales of £1,623 per annum, though the actual figure will depend on the number of eligible children in the Household. The clawback would deliver savings of around £61 million in 2013-14, £62 million in 2014-15, and £63 million in 2015-16.
Peter Hain said, “This is another ideological Tory cut attacking families. The callous way they have chosen to introduce the changes will see a lone parent or single earner couples earning just above the higher rate threshold, currently £43,875, lose their child benefit, while dual earner couples both earning just under the threshold would continue to receive it.
“This is a shameful attack on hard working families in Wales, who are being forced to bear the brunt of the government cuts.”
Single parents over the threshold will be particularly badly affected as they would have to pay for childcare out of their reduced income, whilst those who have a parent at home would not have this problem.
There are 9,195 families in Neath in receipt of Child Benefits.