North East families demonised, says volunteers’ chief

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THOUSANDS of struggling families in the North East are being “demonised” by the Government as it looks to get tough on welfare.

That’s the opinion of Mike Worthington, chairman of the North East’s voluntary network, who said that unless ministers change their policy and language concerning the benefits system they won’t provide real help.

Mr Worthington, who is also vice-president of the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear, said: “The whole tenor of the discussion in our country of ministers and the national media is very much the language of blame.

“We regularly see the worst off described as wasters, as benefit scroungers, as idle people who are avoiding work.

“What ministers need to realise is that the majority of people living below the poverty line and in need of some of the charity services which are being cut are actually in work. They are in low- paid work, and the Government’s policies need to reflect that rather than simply looking to blame people.”

Mr Worthington also said that charities across the North East are facing serious threats to their existence as the spending cuts continue to have an impact.

“We have been in bad situations before and survived. but certainly this is the worst of my lifetime,” he said.