Urban Echo News 

Stars speak out against Government cuts ahead of Bradford Demo

Award-winning director Ken Loach and Hollywood star Idris Elba are among a string of high-profile figures who’ve criticised the government’s cuts to housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds, ahead of a national demonstration being held in Bradford tomorrow (Saturday).

Ken Loach – whose Bafta-winning film I, Daniel Blake attacks the bureaucratic cruelty of benefit cuts – has thrown his support behind Bradford’s #HouseTheFuture campaign, and has sent a special message to be delivered alongside a string of high-profile speakers at tomorrow’s demonstration, which will take place in Centenary Square.

In his message for the Bradford demonstration, Ken says: “These cuts to housing benefits will make it even harder for many young people to find somewhere to live. More will suffer the instability of homelessness, overcrowding or sofa surfing with friends. And more will be on the streets. The government knows the devastating effect of its policies but carries on regardless. The Tories know they are creating poverty and chaos in people’s lives. Their aim? Drive you to work in the most exploited way possible. Low wages, zero hours, unreliable agency work – a casualised, exploited, vulnerable workforce, where people are afraid to stand up for their rights. That’s Tory Britain.”

This follows comments made by actor Idris Elba, who condemned the government for abolishing housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds who are out of work. Idris said: “We have one of the strongest currencies in the world, why do we have 60,000 women and single mothers’ homeless? The government is trying to take away housing allowances from 18-21-year-olds… No one should be homeless… No one should be hungry.”

Tomorrow’s #HouseTheFuture demonstration in Bradford begins at midday in Centenary Square, and also has the backing of a number of high-profile MPs, including Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, Cat Smith MP.

Cat Smith said: “Cutting housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds is a disgraceful attack on young people and could force thousands into homelessness. The Tories claim that they are building “a country that works for everyone” yet are disadvantaging some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. That is why I am supporting the Bradford campaign against the Government’s welfare cuts, and standing up for the younger generation.”

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain said: The Government’s decision to scrap housing benefit for those between 18 and 21 is a vicious and senseless attack on some of the most vulnerable in Bradford and across the country, and even the Government’s own figures accept that 10,000 young people will face the impact of these cuts, leading to my fears that thousands will be forced onto the streets with nowhere else to turn. At a time when rough sleeping and homelessness are on the rise, we need to be doing more to help keep young people, who form almost 10% of rough sleepers, off the street, supporting those who have had to leave their homes, not casting them out into the night, and I am proud to put my support behind this campaign.”

The Bradford demonstration has been organised by Bradford Labour councillor and campaigner Richard Dunbar. Cllr Dunbar said: “More and more people are supporting our campaign against the government’s unnecessary and unjust cuts to housing benefit. We would urge everyone to join our national demonstration on Saturday and join the growing number of people who are telling the government that their devastating cuts will be challenged every step of the way.”

Confirmed speakers for the #HouseTheFuture demonstration include Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President; Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council; Bill Adams, Yorkshire Regional Secretary of the TUC; and Cath Bacon, Bradford Council’s Anti-Poverty Champion.

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