Socialist Worker

Poor suffer in chaos of Brown's benefits

The lives of tens of thousands of people are being made a misery by the crisis hitting the government's new tax credit system

Issue No. 1852

SOME OF the poorest families in Britain are still waiting for vital tax credits which make all the difference in enabling them to get by. Many have now been waiting over six weeks for money they were supposed to receive on 6 April. Other benefits like free school meals cannot be claimed until tax credits are processed.

Martin Barnes from the Child Poverty Action Group says, 'We are talking about some of the poorest families in the country, where a couple of days delay can cause worry and hardship.' Many families are totally dependent on the credits to pay for vital household necessities.

Amanda Wilson from Hull has five children including a 13 week old baby. She says, 'All I have done is worry about money. What about lunch money? What if I run out of nappies for the baby? How can I pay the mounting bills?'

George Davidson from Manchester says it is impossible to get through to the government's helpline because lines are jammed. He says, 'It is a nightmare. It doesn't sound like much to some people, but it is worth £28 a week. We haven't got the luxury to wait.'

The mess is a direct result of the way Chancellor Gordon Brown has based the system on means testing, and has made people reapply for benefits through complicated and lengthy forms. The PCS union, which represents civil service workers, has hit out at the chaos.

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Sat 24 May 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1852
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