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Bevan Foundation Director Victoria Winckler has responded to a Western Mail survey which shows that more than two out of three people in Wales are against government welfare cuts. An online poll conducted by WalesOnline found 68% of respondents had a negative view of welfare reform and 64% would rather see them reversed rather than the coalition government go ahead with an additional £10bn cut to the budget.
Around a fifth of people who responded to the survey said their benefits have reduced since the recession, with another 9% saying they had to start claiming benefits. While a third of respondents said they could meet their outgoings comfortably, 27% said they were struggling and having to make big lifestyle adjustments and 13% say they are at breaking point.
Of the government benefit changes, the freeze on child benefit since April 2010 has hit the most people, while 24% of respondents said they had been affected by the reassessment of incapacity benefit claims and 19% by the reduction of the Local Housing Allowance rate.
Dr Victoria Winckler said: “Despite the attempts to paint claimants as scroungers the vast majority of people who get a benefit get it because they are in low-paid jobs, have high housing costs because of the shortage of rented accommodation or are affected by illness or disability – either as a carer or themselves.
“Their benefits are their lifeline, and the combination of cuts to benefits and rising costs – especially basics like food and energy – are hitting people very hard indeed. This isn’t about people cutting back on luxuries but people making really tough decisions about how to manage to feed and clothe themselves and keep warm.”