I appeared on the Daily Politics show on Wednesday, arguing that the Government should think again about cuts to the Housing Benefit system that will lead to 60,000 of the most vulnerable people in the Country being forced to leave their homes.
The cuts are being made to benefits of people aged 25 – 35, the average cut is over £40, and in London nearly £70. Obviously landlords are unlikely to agree to such drastic rent reductions, so people will have to look for shared accommodation. All the evidence suggests that there is nowhere near enough shared accommodation to go round, and being forced to share with strangers is quite often completely unsuitable for the people involved.
Tory Minister Nick Herbert who defended the cuts on the show said some things that, to be charitable, are hard to square with the facts.
He said that vulnerable people would be exempt from the cuts. In fact, the Government has made a relatively small amount of money available, but given that 1 in 5 of the people involved are disabled, and many have mental health issues, many vulnerable people are clearly going to be in the front line.
He also said that the cuts would not increase homelessness. Well everyone else in the field is sure that they will, and it would be astonishing if 60,000 of the poorest people in the Country people could be forced to move, without suitable accommodation being available, and for homelessness not to increase.
Presenter Anita Anand suggested that Labour would have done the same, but of course we wouldn’t. You’d have to be a psychopath to kick 60,000 people out of their homes, and out of all the parties, Labour seems to be the only one that remembers the lessons that Margaret Thatcher learned in the 1980’s. You can’t cut your way out of a recession, just like you can’t burn your way our of a fire, or hose your way out of drowning. You have to plan for growth.
On a happier note, I also helped out at the Sense Drumathon again, and caught up with many of the kids who came last year, as well as making some new friends.
Other drummers who took part included some of the cast of Stomp, the X-Factor star Kieran Gaffney, and a personal hero of mine, the percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.
I hugged Evelyn several times. I don’t think she’ll press charges.
Princess Anne, who is a patron of the charity, sprinkled the event with Royal Pixie Dust, and helped persuade the TV cameras to turn up.
All in all, it was a rollercoaster of a morning, and going back to work in the afternoon seemed quite odd…