Welfare Reform Bill plans: Your stories

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The government is promising to "make work pay" as it sets out plans to ensure people in work are better off than the unemployed.

The plans include a "universal credit", sanctions for those turning down jobs and a cap on benefits paid to a single family, but ministers have dropped plans to impose a 10% housing benefit cut for anyone unemployed for more than a year.

BBC News website readers have been sending their stories on how these changes might affect them.

Simon, Reading

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Simon says the Jobcentre is irrelevant to his search for a job

I am a sales director and lost my job in October due to the credit crunch.

I get Jobseeker's Allowance and some help with the mortgage. I will do any job in my field: I can manage accounts and I can sell on my own but I can't get the type of job that I can do and want to do.

The government does not understand the value of money. It is impossible for me to live on £100 per week and support my wife and two children.

I have spent all my savings and all the money I have saved on my children's education. I know that I will get a job as I am a positive professional and will get through it, but I am angry about the cuts.

Take sensible cost measures by all means, some costs are clearly out of control. However, leave those that do not wish to work, they are not worth diverting resources to.

I have to sign on weekly. The Jobcentre operation is an irrelevance to me and my requirements, they are not helping.

Angry? You bet.

I want deep, radical central and local government cuts and re-structuring. I want to see investment in public infrastructure, investment into the private sector and practical help to drive exports.

I want to be helped when I need it, then I will help this miserable, expensive, complacent country when it needs help.

Big society? Get lost - I feel as if I've been left on my own.

Lisa Watkinson, Bradford, West Yorkshire

I claimed benefits for the first time when I was 25 and become a single mother of twin girls. Before that point I had been in constant employment since leaving school.

I spent the first few years with the girls, but finding affordable childcare was a major issue, once this was resolved I returned to work part-time.

I was an office manager prior to having my children but when I started looking for work I was unable to find anything even remotely similar so took a job in a shop.

Luckily I have now found a job managing the office for a small air conditioning company.

It does however infuriate me to see parents on my street who are out of work and live a life of luxury. One family, which has four children, had a new flat screen TV delivered last week as well as booking a holiday to Tenerife!

How is it right that they can live this life of luxury while I am working hard to support myself and my children? I do get working tax credit to top my wage up but I would gladly see it even halved if they chop the benefits that allow the out of work to lord it over the hard working people of this country!

I honestly believe employment is something almost everyone should aim to achieve. Benefits should be there to help you when you need them, but only as a stepping stone to help you get back on your feet not as a way of life.

I for one am actually looking forward to having my benefits cut if it means that the "happily" unemployed are made to tighten their belt too.

Cathy Bartholomew, Surbiton, Surrey

I've worked for many years in welfare benefits. I now have ME and currently get Disability Living Allowance.

My Employment Support Allowance was stopped in November because they say I am fit to work even though I cannot shower, cook or walk. My appeal won't be heard until at least mid-June.

None of these changes address the problem of getting the benefit decision right in the first place, or having a speedy appeal. You have to get the basics right first.

I would love to go to work. But when I contacted the employment agency they told me they had no jobs available which I could do from home.

The current economic climate means that jobs just don't come through.

The proposed changes are just tinkering with the window-dressing, but the shelves are still empty.

Siobhan, Essex

I am a single parent of a two-year-old, my husband and I spilt up when my son was ten-months-old. Up until then I had been in full time employment and never had a day out of work.

I claim income support and housing benefit. I live in a two bedroom flat but have been informed that I will have to pay £80 per month towards my £450 mortgage, which will have to come out of my £65 a week income support.

With the cost of living spiralling out of control, some weeks I can't even afford food.

I have tried to make the best of my worsening situation by returning to college and studying health and social care which means I have to pay a baby sitter so I can attend.

All I hear on the news is how bad it will be for lone parents who are going to suffer with these cuts. Everybody is tarred with the same brush.

How about a bit of support for lone parents who make the best of a bad situation?