Newham charity says welfare reforms are pushing people’s lives into ‘chaos’

At the launch of the report are, left to right, Community Links senior researcher Ellie Roberts, MP

At the launch of the report are, left to right, Community Links senior researcher Ellie Roberts, MP for West Ham Stephen Timms, Bishop of Leicester Rt Rvd. Tim Stevens and Community Links Chief Executive Geraldine Blake - Credit: Archant

A charity is warning that welfare reforms are failing those who are hardest hit and pushing people further away from employment.

Community Links has published Tipping the Balance, a report on the cumulative impact of welfare reforms on the people of the borough.

It comes a year after the Government’s flagship welfare reforms were introduced and follows a month in which many people, including 27 Anglican bishops and other faith leaders, have expressed alarm at their impact. In response, the Government has continued to emphasise that the reforms are intended to get people out of a cycle of dependency and encourage them into work.

However the charity says the new research has found that the complexity and rushed delivery of the reforms and, crucially, their cumulative effect, has had the opposite impact, pushing people’s lives into chaos and away from the positive outcomes they were intended to achieve.

The report finds that those with significant barriers to accessing the labour market—such as chronic illness or severe mental health problems—are often the most severely affected. The charity argues these people face a long journey back to the world of work and need additional support along the way.

Community Links’ Chief Executive Geraldine Blake said: “The chaotic implementation and confusing communication of the welfare reforms has made it almost impossible for some people to make positive adjustments.

“People with existing health conditions and other barriers to the labour market are often being pushed further away from employment. The resulting erosion of resilience poses a real threat to people engaging with Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship policy of Universal Credit. In order for these reforms to have their intended empowering effect, the Government needs to do more to support the vulnerable people affected who need immediate help to overcome entrenched barriers and move closer to employment.”