Boom in benefits help pleas

MP Gordon Marsden with supporters highlighting the impact of government cuts.
MP Gordon Marsden with supporters highlighting the impact of government cuts.
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More and more vulnerable people in Blackpool are struggling financially because of changes to the benefits system, the resort’s Labour MP warned today.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said an analysis of his casework showed around a third (34 per cent) of issues now being dealt with by his office on behalf of constituents were related to benefits, compared to 13 per cent in 2011.

Mr Marsden said many of the inquiries related to Employment Support Allowance which people suffering a disability are entitled to.

He said: “Since 2010 the Government has undertaken a host of structural changes to social security along with the introduction of ATOS in assessing disabled people for their benefits.

“The findings of my casework report show a major hike in the number of residents seeking help in order to receive their benefits.

“Here in Blackpool we have above average numbers of residents with disabilities.

“It is those residents that are coming to my office after being told they are no longer entitled to the funds that allow them to maintain a decent standard of living.”

Mr Marsden said the analysis covered hundreds of cases spanning 2011 to June 2013.

He added: “There is also a strong link with the changes made to social security by the Tory-led Government since 2010.

“We need to ensure vulnerable and disabled residents are protected as more cuts and social security changes are made by this most heartless of governments.”

Blackpool Against The Cuts backed up the findings.

Chairman Ken Cridland said more and more people were coming under pressure.

He added: “We are not at all surprised by this report as we are picking up the same message from people visiting the stall we have in town most Saturdays.

“We have had people in tears, people who are crying and in despair.

“We try to provide them with as much practical advice as we can, as well as being a campaigning organisation.”

No apology for benefit reforms

Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys Paul Maynard said Government changes were making the welfare system fairer.

He said: “At a time when we are engaged in a sustained period of reforming the welfare system after years of Labour inactivity, I make no apology if MPs are seeing their case loads increase or change in nature.

“Given that people sometimes find their benefit or their eligibility changing, it is no surprise many seek assistance from their MP in understanding what is happening and ensuring it is accurate.

“But it does not follow that as a result such changes are wrong in principle merely because they alter an MP’s workload, and these changes have widespread popular support.

“As a Government, we want to ensure we have a welfare system which is fair to those who rely on it, but also fair on those who fund it, and that work always pays.”

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