We’ve become used to 13 year old Maelo Manning, who blogs as libdemchild, not only writing about her views, but actually taking action. Just last month, she spent a cold Saturday afternoon at the Indian High Commission conducting a vigil for the woman who died as the result of being gang raped.
Like me, Maelo is unhappy about the Welfare Uprating Bill which imposes a cut in income on people who are least able to cope with it. It’s been cloaked in the guise of fairness, a similar rise to earnings, but benefits don’t buy much, certainly not even the basics in food, heat and clothing. When they don’t go as far, the implications are serious. People are left cold and hungry. The nurses and teachers who apparently find it unfair that people on benefits get a bigger percentage rise than they do are not likely to actually suffer that much.
The Welfare Uprating Bill clears its final stages in the Commons today. And it will pass, unless, as Maelo puts it, “the ghost of William Beveridge descends on Parliament.” I hope those Liberal Democrats who voted against it at Second Reading, Sarah Teather, Julian Huppert, John Leech and David Ward, will do so again and will take some more with them. For the record, I don’t see the point in formally abstaining, Mr Kennedy.
Maelo wants us to keep our blinds closed as a symbol of our opposition to the move. She tells us why here:
I know from experience that if your neighbour has their blinds closed it does not mean that they are on welfare and lazy. My neighbour works night shifts and when I go to school in the morning his blinds are closed. Ironically, the family on benefits who live on the other side have their blinds up quite early. Please click on this link for more options on why blinds could be closed. How can blinds define the deserving from the undeserving and the strivers from the skivers? I detest the fact that an ordinary household item like blinds is being used to demonise people on welfare.
She goes on to explain the suffering this will cause to children:
It is children and the disabled who will suffer from this politics of cruelty. According to The Children’s Society, 11.6 million children will be affected by the 1% cap. As a specific example, a couple with two children, one earner who is a primary school teacher earning £600 per week will lose £424 a year by 2015. The Child Poverty Action Group states that the Up-Rating Bill will push 200, 000 more children into poverty. Accumulatively, the welfare cuts will push 1 MILLION more children into poverty by 2020.
Her idea is symbolic, but symbols can be very powerful. My blinds are staying shut today – and not just to stop me seeing the snow falling.