A website encouraging people affected by welfare reform to tell their own stories has been set up 'to counter the benefit myth-making of George Osborne.'
Housing Justice launched the campaign on Friday at www.tellmystory.org.uk to "draw attention to the human cost of the welfare cuts" according to Alastair Murray, deputy director of the Christian Charity.
Speaking to the Huffington post UK, Murray said "We felt that the government line suggesting that people who are on benefits are staying in bed all day and living the high life is simply untrue and unfair.
"The benefit safety net is there for people who are in need, and many people draw on that support reluctantly. Any ordinary person can be afflicted by a set of circumstances which couldn't be avoided.
"We wanted to draw the human picture of the welfare reforms, allowing people to tell their own stories as a powerful tool to counter this myth-making by the government. Amid these cuts George Osborne fans the flames of division describing those in need of welfare “sleeping off a life on benefits.”
The welfare system is currently undergoing some of the biggest reforms for over 60 years, with changes and reassessment happening across the board.
More than two million people are currently being reassessed as part of a government drive to encourage people off benefits and back to work, while changes are also being made to housing benefit and child support.
George Osborne is 'fanning the flames of division', says Murray
Mr Murray said welfare cuts are damaging communities and having "impoverishing" effects on people who are already poor.
He told the Huffington Post UK:"It's not the poorest people who have propagated this crisis. It's simply not fair. These cuts are damaging people who are already struggling to survive."
A story on the website captures the desperation of one mother.
"I received a letter a few days back notifying me that as of April I would be responsible for paying a portion of my Council tax bill. Letters like these make me panic and I broke down in tears and grabbed a pen and paper to review my outgoing and incomings once again to see if any corners could be cut. I finally accepted that my food bill for my daughter and I would have to be reduced to £40 a fortnight in order to make these payments. I don’t know how I will cope. We struggle as it is. I’ve started selling off some unnecessary items of furniture and clothes on eBay to try and make a bit of cash to put aside for this. But sometimes as a women, there’s nothing left to sell if you get my drift...the thought has crossed my mind.”
Visitors to the site are invited to tell their story with three questions with an emphasis on the positive contribution they have made to their community. The first question reads "Many have a negative stereotype of people receiving benefits. We believe this is unfair and untrue. If you agree, please use yourself as an example to explain why. What are some ways in which you have been a positive influence to others or this country?"
The second and third questions invite visitors to explain why they claim benefits and what they think of the caps to be imposed.
Alison Gelder, Director of Housing Justice said in a statement: "This campaign aims to give a voice to those who need welfare. It is a scandal that the poor are still being blamed for the mistakes of the rich.”
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