Feel the benefits

I welcome coverage of George Osborne’s speech on welfare reform (your report, 3 April), for I see nothing fair about a welfare system that allows someone in receipt of taxpayer-funded benefits to make more per year than the average person gets in work.

I believe the introduction of a benefit cap finally addresses this fundamental unfairness and helps to make work pay.

There has of course also been much criticism of the “bedroom tax”. In reality, what we are seeing is not a tax at all, but a reduction in a taxpayer-funded benefit for working-age claimants living in social housing deemed too large for their needs.

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This same bedroom standard is already applied to those claiming housing benefit to help meet the cost of private housing, yet I haven’t heard a single voice speaking for this group, probably because this wouldn’t fit the political narrative of those 
opposed to the delivery of 
fairness in our welfare system.

(Cllr) Nick Cook

City of Edinburgh Council

Conservative Group

It was an interesting defence of Iain Duncan Smith from Alex Massie (Perspective, 4 April) but if IDS was as attuned to the needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities and the sensitivities involved in the reforming the welfare system as Massie claims, perhaps he would have identified and addressed the 
serious flaws with the bedroom tax before it came into force.

It isn’t compassion or understanding that IDS is demonstrating but a bitterly flawed ideology. Take, for example, Brian Wilson’s article (Perspective, 3 April) which highlighted the fact that 2,000 tenants in the Highlands will be penalised by the bedroom tax when there are just 164 smaller houses available to them.

Many working in Scotland’s third sector agree that reform of the welfare system is necessary but it needs to be the right reforms in the right places – not cuts masquerading as reform. I take Alex Massie’s point on public attitudes to spending on welfare but that’s because so much noise has been made by welfare mythology enthusiasts who have convinced people that 27 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently when in reality the figure is just 0.7 per cent.

In any system, there will be 
exceptions and examples of fraud, as we have seen recently with large corporates and the tax system but despite what the Daily Mail and others might make out with detailed accounts about families with 11 children and a horse living happily on benefits, by far the vast majority of people supported by the welfare system are striving for more but are trapped in a system that creates dependency and works against them.

I agree with Alex that we can’t shirk away from reforming the welfare system but we need to do that by giving people more power and control over their own lives, addressing the failings in our labour market and creating a progressive welfare system.

John Downie

Scottish Council for 
Voluntary Organisations

Mansfield Place


With the thousands of super rich stashing £21 trillion in overseas havens, it’s worth asking the question: “Who’s holding who back, exactly?”

The right wing are yet again trying to paint the recipients of welfare as the great burden holding humanity back, with their “spare” box rooms and reluctance to take non-existent jobs. It’s even suggested benefits lead people to murder.

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The reality is clear: a few thousand are hoarding enough money to end world debt and lift every one of the billions out of the poverty that truly does hold humanity back.

Paul Jordan

Scottish Socialist Party

McNeill Street