Anti-cuts protesters staged a city-centre demonstration against changes to housing benefit.

The Brighton Benefits Campaign invited supporters to bring cardboard boxes to the event at the Clock Tower in Brighton city centre yesterday as they claimed loss of benefits for the long-term unemployed and people in council houses will affect up to 12,500 households in Brighton and Hove.

The event was part of a national "day of action" over the issue.

About 30 people, watched by a small number of police officers, gathered at 4.30pm yesterday.

Campaign spokeswoman Pip Tindall said the public is opposed to cuts and supports actions like the student protests which grabbed headlines up and down the country.

She said: "We run stalls outside shops and older people particularly will come up and say it is disgusting, the welfare state is being destroyed, the NHS is being sold off, and they'll say the students have the right idea.

"They know what they are defending. Perhaps people who are younger are not used to the idea of why we have a welfare state at all.

"I work, I am not on benefits, but if affects all of us."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions, which is overseeing the changes, said: “There is an urgent need to reform housing benefit and return fairness to a system that has been allowed to spiral out of control.

“We are determined to drive down private sector rents for housing benefit recipients, whilst delivering value for money for taxpayers in Brighton.

“A third of all properties will still be affordable to people on local housing allowance in Brighton and alongside we have outlined a number of measures including the £130 million in discretionary housing payments that will support the most vulnerable people.

“Our aim is to help those who have been left on benefits for generations and in property that traps them in worklessness.”