Pickles leak lays bare consequences of health, welfare and localism bills


Eric Pickles’s leaked warning that government plans to cut welfare payments risk making 40,000 families homeless appears to reflect deep concern in his Department for Communities and Local Government, reports Jos Bell

Eric-fatty-PicklesThe communities secretary’s letter warned that the estimated £270 million annual savings from the plan to cap total household benefits at £500 per week could be wiped out by the cost to local authorities of re-housing families who can no longer afford to pay for their accommodation.

Far from contributing towards the government’s deficit reduction programme, it seems the scheme will potentially generate a long and short term “net cost” to the Exchequer.

To compound matters, it warns that the welfare cuts will put at risk at least 50% of the 56,000 affordable homes due to be built by 2015, as contractors doubt whether they will be able to recoup their costs from tenants; the construction industry is not in a happy place at present, and this will only add to the current jitters.

If the Health and Social Care Bill, the Welfare Reform Bill and the Localism Bill go through Parliament we risk:

• Families needing a home refused and exiled from their communities;

• More patients who need care and treatment – with many refused;

• The disabled who need funds to help in coping with conditions with dignity, and to be as productive as possible, refused help;

• The sick and disabled find keeping a home more difficult and become sicker and more disabled, and in need of more financial support and more medical attention – neither being available.

Was any of this explicit in either of the ruling parties’ manifestoes? It may have been in the small print, but for everyone but the most well informed, it was written in invisible ink. Until the Pickles leak disrupted Cameron’s slick PR machine, the government would have us believe there is no choice.

There is; they’ve made the wrong one.

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