Socialist Worker

The Tories’ new welfare bill attacks children, single parents and the poor

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2463

The Tories have no mandate for their cuts. People on the protest against austerity last month in London.

The Tories have no mandate for their cuts. People on the protest against austerity last month in London. (Pic: Guy Smallman)

One of the Tories’ most vicious attacks on the poor and the working class passed its second reading in parliament on Monday of this week. 

Most Labour MPs merely abstained on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill that steals £12 billion more from the people the Tories have spent five years robbing.

Almost half a million sick and disabled people will lose £30 a week meant to support them finding work. This “saves” just £640 million a year.

Pushing down the benefit cap will raise less than half as much—a tenth the estimated cost of doing up parliament. But it will hit 330,000 children according to the Tories’ own figures.

Documents show 126,000 families will lose £63 a week. 

Over half are single mothers and their children.

Tory millionaire axeman Iain Duncan Smith argued that people who don’t work shouldn’t get more money than anyone who does. 


This crass attempt to stir up division is nonsense.

Any worker earning less than the benefit cap—just £20,000 for a family outside London, or £13,400 for a single person—would be on benefits themselves.

These attacks on the poorest aren’t about tackling an imagined bloated welfare bill. 

They’re about using scapegoating, stigma and fear to discipline the working class.

Other cuts will hit far more people. A four-year freeze on most working age benefits and tax credits will cost 13 million families an average of £260 a year. More than half of them are in work. 

And a massive attack on tax credits is going straight for working class children. One particularly vicious blow denies the benefit to any child with the misfortune to have been born third.

The bill allows for “exceptional circumstances”. But other than twins or triplets, the only exception mentioned is rape—which a woman would somehow have to prove to Duncan Smith’s officials.

The bill comes with a lot of waffle about reaching “full employment”. But it doesn’t define what full employment is, other than saying that it’s definitely not what it sounds like. 

The explanatory notes point out that “zero unemployment is not desirable, as it would allow employees to demand higher pay”.

It also deletes the legal requirement to reduce child poverty by 2020—so the Tories are free to make children poorer.

Councils are being bribed to put more households in intrusive “troubled families” interventions.

The Tories are already trying to cover up the human cost of their last round of benefit cuts. 

Their new bill could see a whole generation growing up hungry.

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