COLUMN: Welfare is vital for many

Gloria De Piero  Ashfield MP
Gloria De Piero Ashfield MP

Everyday my office receives emails and phone calls from constituents with disabilities who are desperate for help due to problems claiming benefits.

Sometimes the impact of these Tory benefit cuts is heartbreaking to see and that is definitely so with the case of David from Kirkby.

David is 43 and was born with spina bifida.

He struggles to walk, has a metal rod in his spine which makes sitting and bending uncomfortable and has little dexterity in his hands. He is also incontinent.

David has never had a job, leaving special school aged 18 with no qualifications.

He lives with his parents and has to rely on disability benefits.

Suddenly, the Department of Work and Pensions has decided to stop his ESA and has declared him fit for work, putting him on Jobseekrs’ Allowance.

He has to spend 35 hours a week looking for a job.

David‘s mental health is now suffering under the strain.

I have taken up David’s case and have vowed to continue to fight for him until the Government puts him back on the benefits he obviously needs.

Our welfare system was invented to help vulnerable people in our society like David and it is a disgrace that he is being treated like this.

New unemployment figures for this month show 1,250 people in Ashfield are claiming unemployment benefits. That is 145 lower than June 2016.

But we know that more and more people are on zero hours contracts or in insecure jobs on low pay, particularly in the care and retail sectors.

The rise in prices also means that more and more people are struggling to make ends meet because their pay is not increasing at the same rate. Many of are experiencing real terms pay cuts as wages are still below pre financial crash levels.

The Government needs to act now by scrapping the public sector pay cap and increasing the minimum wage before many more people are plunged into hardship and the economy goes back into recession. Readers of my column will know that access to superfast broadband is one of my priorities.

Residents on part of the Willow Fields estate in Annesley have been trying to get fibre broadband installed for some time. They were told to expect it in June, but this deadline has come and gone.

Now, a fibre cabinet has been installed and we are all hoping this means that connection is imminent.

Residents should let me know if BT Openreach does not connect them soon.