PARENTS from Bradford are to speak at a national conference in the city, to challenge welfare cuts they say are making poverty worse for many people.

Hope Rising Action Group is a group of parents and activists from across the city who have first-hand experience of poverty and the effect of recent welfare changes.

Members will give a keynote address at City Hall on Monday at the Large Families, Poverty and Welfare Reform conference, organised by Bradford District Anti-Poverty Co-ordination Group, The Children's Society and The University of Liverpool.

The benefits cap limits the amount of welfare families can receive, to a maximum of £20,000 a year outside London. Families with more than two children have been particularly affected, and High Court Judge Mr Justice Collins warned in June that it was unlawful and was causing “real damage” to single-parent families. The Government launched its appeal against that ruling two weeks ago.

Local speakers at next Monday’s event will include Louise, a mother of four children.

She said: “My partner was on ESA then was failed in his assessment, and we lost £200 a fortnight. I am on Jobseeker’s Allowance but we have had no money for five weeks so we’ve been relying on foodbanks and borrowing from family and friends.

“Politicians need to understand that we are not lazy people. I would love to go to work, but I cannot because who would then look after my partner?

“The cap has really affected us. We get 50p a week housing benefit so need to find £98.96 a week in rent, from nowhere.”

Another parent, who declined to be named, said: “I lost about £50 to £60 a week through the benefit cap, plus £13 a week in bedroom tax. During the day, I have got used to not eating and not putting the heating on if I can avoid it. I just do it for the kids to make sure the kids have heat and are eating.

“The cap is such a big thing. I think national politicians need to come down and spend some time with us and really understand our lives.”

Local councillor Bev Mullaney said: "Never in my 30 years of working within my community have I seen such deprivation among the poorest people in our society. I am witnessing on a daily basis children going hungry."

Hope Rising launched in February and meets each Thursday in the Lower Grange Community Centre in Allerton. The group is keen to hear from more Bradford people who are experiencing poverty as a result of welfare changes. People can phone 07783 946300.

One of the organisers, Dr Ruth Patrick from the University of Liverpool, said: “It is so important to hear firsthand the impacts of poverty and welfare reform on parents and their families. Hope Rising Action Group are doing incredibly powerful and important work in raising awareness of the consequences of punitive welfare reforms, and we are privileged to have them as keynote speakers at the conference.”

Monday’s conference will also include contributions from people with first-hand experience of poverty in Leeds, London and Salford, as well as researchers.