Local MP backs campaign giving voice to people supported by benefits

Public support for benefits ‘safety net’.

Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff is supporting a campaign which aims to give a voice to the millions of people who are supported by benefits at some point in their lives.

Polling by the campaign Who Benefits? revealed overwhelming public support for the principle that benefits should be there for people who need them, most of whom are either working, looking for work or unable to work due to illness or disability. 81 percent agree that ‘benefits are an important safety net to support people when they need help’, while two-thirds (64 percent) agree that ‘we all benefit as a society when support from benefits is available for those that need it’.

But despite widespread public support, more than a quarter (27 percent) of those who currently claim benefits say they have hidden this because of what people will think. This rises to half (47 percent) of 16-24 year olds who have been supported by benefits. And more than half (51 percent) of all those who had never been supported by benefits said they would feel embarrassed to claim.

Who Benefits? argues that the overwhelming majority of those on benefits really need the support, yet too often their voices are ignored, misrepresented or at worst they are blamed for their situation. The campaign has been launched by more than 70 charities and community groups brought together by the Children’s Society,CrisisGingerbreadMacmillan Cancer Support and Mind.

The Hall Gren MP said: “I’ve seen first hand that the vast majority of people supported by benefits really need that help. No one should go hungry because they lose their job, or be forced into debt because they are on a very low wage. People from all kinds of backgrounds need help from benefits at some point in their lives. I’d encourage them to support the campaign and share their own stories, so the debate on benefits reflects their experiences.”

Who Benefits? is asking people to share their stories through whobenefits.org.uk.  A thousand people who have been supported by benefits have already shared their stories through the website and through social media with the hashtag #WeAllBenefit.

At a time when families up and down the country are feeling the squeeze, Roger believes that it is more important than ever that society supports those in need. Benefits can lift people from homelessness and enable them to contribute to society, or prevent families from going hungry. They can also help people with mental or physical health problems to stay independent. Forcing people into destitution or homelessness because of factors over which they have no control benefits no one.