Cuts: And where is our MP?

Letters from the Fenland Citizen, fenlandcitizen.co.uk, @FenlandCit on Twitter
Letters from the Fenland Citizen, fenlandcitizen.co.uk, @FenlandCit on Twitter

Having read your article on impending cuts to services across the county it has come to my notice that our MP Steven Barclay is nowhere to be seen.

Before the election you couldn’t turn a page without seeing a picture of him pressing the flesh and popping up all over the place. Now he is nowhere to be seen!!

I even e-mailed him over two weeks ago concerning the Government’s position on Student Loans (they are thinking of increasing the interest on a Student Loan, putting students even greater in debt) and I’ve not even received an acknowledgement, let alone a reply.

Oh well, I guess come the next round of elections, like Arnie, he’ll be back. Or am I being too cynical?

Mike Groves,

Doddington.

housing crisis

Taxation is the problem

So extreme has the housing crisis become that scarcely anyone would claim to be unmoved by the condition of those at the bottom.

The 40% rise in homelessness over the past five years, the 2,500 families trapped in bed-and-breakfast lodgings, the slim chance for most young today of ever buying a home, and the ridiculous rents they must pay – these are lamented almost everywhere. But when you start to discuss the underlying reasons, sympathy soon gives way to anger and denial. The continued sale of council houses and the government’s broken promise to replace them rightly ignite public fury.

So does the recent deal with housing associations, which further reduces the homes available to the poor – but the major cause of the housing crisis? We just don’t want to know, and it’s not hard to see why.

The major cause is a spectacular failure to tax those who own property. We have a surplus of housing – more per head than we have ever had. But its distribution is terrible.

Government figures reveal 5% of homes in England and Wales meet the official definition of overcrowded, but 69% meet the official definition of under-occupied (possessing at least one spare bedroom).

Of these, half (8.1m) had two or more spare bedrooms. This is, in theory, a free country, and I’m not proposing those who have more than they need should be forced to move. But in the midst of an acute crisis, you would expect fiscal policies to help match supply to demand. Current taxes do the opposite. So we all play Marie Antoinette, proposing only to “let them build more”, while stoutly ignoring the injustice that underlies this crisis. Other people, and the countryside, must pay for our peculiar fixation with the property-based, rent-based economy.

J White,

Wisbech.

macmillan cancer support

Financial help

Macmillan Cancer Support is highlighting the extra financial burden that many people with cancer face, due to extra costs as a result of treatment and/or a loss of income.

We are also warning that potential changes to the benefits system could leave many without a financial lifeline.

Nationally, more people with cancer than ever before (over 85,000) depended on us to understand and access the government benefits and tax credits system, including getting help to fill in complex and often time-consuming forms, as well as tribunal representation from our local benefits advice services.

The growing number of people with cancer turning to us with money worries is a stark reminder of the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis when, on average, their income halves and their outgoings rocket. As numbers surge, the support that organisations like Macmillan provide are becoming even more urgent and important, but we cannot do it alone.

Every sector has a duty to protect people with cancer from further financial turmoil. Yet the Government, through its Welfare Reform and Work Bill, is proposing to reduce the benefits of people with cancer who are currently unable to return to work because they’re not well enough by around £30 a week. Macmillan is calling on the Government to remove the proposed cut as we believe it will risk pushing the most vulnerable over the edge financially. People can find more at our ‘Put the Fair into Welfare’ campaign site at http://bit.ly/1Oad8NU.

Macmillan offers financial and benefits advice to anyone affected by cancer. To speak to one of our welfare or financial experts, call us free on 0808 808 00 00, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Or visit http://bit.ly/1LdKXtG.

Rukshana Kapasi,

Senior Development 
Manager for the East of 
England,

Macmillan Cancer Support.