The personal impact of Osborne's war on welfare
Housing Justice is supporting a new website that tells the human story behind the welfare cuts and austerity.
The website – www.tellmystory.org.uk – features the personal experiences of people dealing with the reality of cuts to their welfare and how they are coping with the changes.
It aims to show how changes are hurting the unemployed, underemployed, sick and disabled people.
The personal finances of the vulnerable will take a further knock in April when the benefit cap, bedroom tax and cut to council tax benefit come into place.
Housing Justice has hit out at suggestions by Chancellor George Osborne and sections of the media that people on welfare are scroungers.
It says this "scapegoating" is creating "an unreal picture of how most claimants live".
"The rhetoric of strivers and skivers must stop," the charity said.
The 'MyStory' campaign is giving people on benefits a chance to share their reality with others who might be tempted to label them as scroungers.
The website is an online wall of faces, with a story to go with each image. The claimant can remain anonymous by choosing a stock photo but Housing Justice is urging those who want to share their story to upload their own images so that the public can see directly the situations of those in need.
This is an excerpt from one person's story posted on the website:
"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 woman, there's nothing left to sell if you get my drift...the thought has crossed my mind."
Alison Gelder, Director of Housing Justice says: "The churches' role is to stand in solidarity with those in need. Jesus repeatedly stood with those who were stigmatised by the authorities of his day. 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."