Sign & circulate petition to Scrap the Benefit Cap

Benefitcap2OctWAR_2Launch of petition to Scrap the Benefit Cap, which traps women and children in violent relationships, in support of legal challenge to be heard in early 2014

Women Against Rape (WAR) and others are launching a petition asking the public to support women and children impoverished by the Benefit Cap after escaping violent relationships. A legal challenge on behalf of affected families will be heard in the Court of Appeal in early 2014.

Solicitor Rebekah Carrier describes the Cap as ‘catastrophic, cruel and arbitrary’, one third of women have suffered domestic violence, approximately every week two women are killed by partners or ex-partners, in England and Wales.

The Benefit Cap limits a family’s total benefit to £500 per week, including rent and Child Benefit. Extortionate rents, including for some refuges and hostels, leave mothers and children with little or no income to live on.

A test case is being fought in court on behalf of families impoverished by the Benefit Cap after escaping violence. So far, there is no exemption from the Cap for victims of violence.

Many victims of violence are unable to get a job immediately or to move to a cheaper area – they need to stay close to friends and relatives for support, and time to recover and to reassure distressed children. Continue reading

Growth of food banks shows why there must be no welfare cap

Article by Natalie Bennet, Green Party leader

Food bank use in south east England, the region known for its wealth and relative prosperity, is up over 60% this year and thousands of families face the prospect of relying on emergency food handouts this Christmas. A decade ago, food banks were almost unheard of in this area but there are now 59 across the region.

We know this thanks to a report from Green MEP Keith Taylor, who’s released Hungry Christmas, a report into the spread of food banks in his region. The report is published ahead of a debate on food banks in Parliament on Thursday, which came after the public demonstrated its understanding of the issue, with more than 100,000 people signing a petition on the subject within four days, possibly a record for the official government site. A group of public health experts have concluded that the rate of food poverty in Britain should be classed as a medical emergency.

At this year’s Green Party conference we heard from the brilliant Jack Monroe, known for the blog A Girl Called Jack; her story is not unusual. She went from a well-paying job working for the Fire Brigade to being a mother living on benefits that didn’t cover the bills. She had tried and tried to balance work and childcare but was stymied at every turn. Jack’s story hasd a happy ending. Not everyone’s does. Few can expect that – what stretches ahead of them are years and, unless our economy is transformed, decades of endless, grinding struggle for the basics of life. Continue reading

Green MEP reports more people rely on Foodbanks

A new report by one of the Green MEP Keith Taylor has revealed that South East England has seen a huge increases in food bank use, despite being the 2nd wealthiest part of the UK after London.

The report, by the Green Party’s Member of the European Parliament, reveals that food bank use in South East England is up over 60% this year and that thousands of families will face the prospect of relying on emergency food handouts this Christmas. A decade ago food banks were almost unheard of in South East England but there are now 59 across the region.

The report is published ahead of a debate on Food Banks in Parliament on Thursday. It shows that food banks are spreading out from the poorest parts of the country to areas previously though of as ‘well off’.

With spending pressures mounting at Christmas, and wages stagnating, more families than ever are expected to use food banks over the festive period.

The report, which shows an explosion in the number of Food Banks in the last few years, details the reasons people are forced to seek emergency food handouts. 33% of people needing handouts are facing benefits delays, while 19% cite benefits changes as their reason for visiting the food banks and 18.5% point to low incomes as their reason for needing help.

Keith Taylor, the Green Party MEP who authored the report, said “Food banks are a lifeline to those in need and, sadly, one of Britain’s booming industries. Across the South East demand for emergency food is soaring while people’s wages stagnate and the cost of living shoots up.

This report reveals a shameful side of the British economy that the government is trying to hide. In the sixth largest economy in the world no-one should be relying on emergency food handouts at Christmas, it’s a national disgrace.”

Keith Taylor went on to call on the Government to release a report on food banks that they’ve been accused of ‘suppressing’. Continue reading