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The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has launched a campaign calling on the Government to ignore stereotypes and recognise the “perfectly ordinary” families who rely on benefits.
The organisation believes the ongoing debate about benefits is failing families, so, as part of ‘People Like Us’, it wrote an open letter to party leaders urging them to see the real people who make claims, rather than “dangerously misleading stereotypes”.
CPAG also invited politicians to watch a five minute film entitled ‘It Could Be You’, where three parents talk about their different experiences of claiming benefits. One of those parents is Maureen, who receives a disability allowance. In the clip she says: “If you’d asked me 20 years ago, did I think I was going to be impeded by having a disability so therefore not able to work full time, not able to support my child, that to me would have been horrific. I wanted to get back to work because, apart from anything else, I wanted to show an example to my daughter, and the fact that I have a disability shouldn’t mean that I can’t work but there are things that I cannot do.”
‘People Like Us’ focuses on a YouGov survey, which found that 69 per cent of people think the Government fails to understand the concerns of people on low incomes. The study also revealed that the majority of the British public believe the benefits system would not provide them with the support they would need if their circumstances changed, for example the birth of a child or losing a job.
Commenting on the campaign, which was launched yesterday, CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: “The shocking truth about ‘Benefits Britain’ is that people receiving benefits are just like us. Perfectly ordinary UK families rely on benefits and tax credits to provide an income to live on or to top up low pay, but our political debate lets them down.
“Politician seem very happy to talk about fraud and reinforce dangerously misleading stereotypes about people not wanting to work but seem to go missing when it comes to doing something about the benefits system letting down ordinary people who have to rely on it when they lose their jobs, have a disability or become ill, or are in low paid work.
“The new campaign we’re launching, is about the desperate need for a benefits debate that’s based on the needs of ordinary families. It’s only from a sensible debate, not politicians pushing ridiculous stereotype, that we will actually get the policies that promote jobs, tackle low pay, promote affordable housing and childcare and help families with the added costs of children.”