Yesterday the ConDem government sank to new depths of depravity, cutting welfare payments to poorest sectors of society. The shameless LibDems showed there to be no decency left in the party, without their support these cuts could not be forced through, but it was more important to keep snouts firmly in the ministerial trough. The LibDdems deserve to be totally annihilated at the next General Election. Not that Labour are any better. Spineless Ed Miliband is incapable of anything beyond meaningless sound bites and childish public schoolboy ya-boo. No guarantee from spineless Miliband the cuts would be reversed.
The morning started with Iain Duncan Smith blatantly lying on BBC Radio 4 Today programme claiming the disabled were not seeing their benefits cut. This is simply not true. Their benefits are cut each and every time Atos declares fit for work and disability benefits are lost.
According to Mencap, disability benefits are being cut. Housing benefits for the disabled are also being cut.
He mislead Parliament when he said benefits had risen by 20%, much faster than wages. 20% of a small amount, is an even smaller amount. Unemployment pay has halved in real terms compared with wages over the last decade, a link that was maintained with average wages from when the benefit was introduced, even through the dark years of Margaret Thatcher, but halved in relationship to average wages under Labour.
Caroline Lucas MP (one of the few decent politicians in the House of Commons:
The Prime Minister has also used this 20% figure as ammunition for his ongoing attack on the poor. But what does this really mean in cash terms?
I checked with the House of Commons Library – what it means is that, in 2007, Job Seekers Allowance was £59.15 a week. Five years later, by 2012, it had gone up to £71 a week – an increase of exactly 20%.
Conservative party advisers must have been jumping for joy when they made that calculation. But as they well know, 20% of very little indeed is very little indeed.
In actual money terms, it means that in the past five years, weekly JSA has gone up by approximately £2.50 each year – so simply keeping up with inflation and with the lower CPI measure at that, since the Coalition came in.
The Chancellor points to those on average earnings having seen only a 10% increase compared to the ‘20% increase’ for the unemployed.
But he and the Prime Minister deliberately stick to percentages instead of admitting the reality in cash terms. In fact, for people on average earnings, their weekly take home pay has increased in each of the last five years by around £11.
While this is unacceptably low in itself – thanks in part to the reckless public sector pay freeze – since it is still nearly four and a half times more in hard cash than the £2.50 annual increase for those on JSA, it’s outrageous and disingenuous to suggest that jobseekers are getting more than people in work.
Last night on ITV News we had the unedifying spectacle of working poor being pitted against unemployed, being thick they read the Sun and think as they are told to think. Not seeming to comprehend they too will be on the Dole.
In the last few years, those on benefits who could manage (just) are now struggling, the same period Iain Duncan Smith referred to. The reason they are struggling is that a lower rate of inflation has been used, an inflation rate that does not reflect the steep rise in food and energy, on which the poor pay a larger percentage of their income.
The week before, Iain Duncan Smith claimed £10 billion tax credit fraud. He was vague, he did not say over what period or what the fraud was. If people were paid a living wage, there would be no need for tax credits, which is to subsidise bad employers out of public funds.
The CondDem government delights at deficit. It is their excuse for slash and burn of public services and welfare.
There is no requirement to cut welfare, deal with the tax dodgers.
Nye Bevan’s famed declaration in 1948 that the Tories are “lower than vermin”, we saw this yesterday as the Tories laughed their heads off as they forced the cuts through. If the Tories are lower than vermin, what makes this the LibDems?
- The Welfare Bill: A government of millionaires just made the poor poorer – and laughed as they did it
Save The Children recently revealed a world that most of the commentariat don’t even know – or want to know – exists: of parents choosing between heating their homes and feeding their kids; or skipping their meals to make sure their sons and daughters are nourished.
The independent UK Women’s Budget Group has released analysis showing that the poorest 10% of households will lose 1.9% of their weekly income – and the second poorest will lose 1.6% from the benefits uprating cut. The richest 10% lose nothing.
At the beginning of the week we saw the attack on Child Benefit come into force. As a universal benefit, Child Benefit has been successful – showing how you can give something to everyone to make sure no one is missed out, and then claw back from those who don’t need it via the tax system.
The cuts are not even good economics. Welfare payments pour money into deprived areas, money that gets spent because the recipients are living on the breadline.
The worst has yet to come. The new financial year sees the introduction of Universal Credits. This will be paid monthly, in arrears. For those on benefits (paid fortnightly) living a hand-to-mouth existence, what covers the gap? Currently paid Housing Allowance that covers the rent, often paid direct to the landlord. Universal Credit is meant to cover living and rent. The net result is there will be a shortfall, the choice will now be eat or heat or rent. Homelessness will rocket. Many run out with fortnightly payments, how will they cope when paid monthly? For drug dealers and loan sharks, it will be a bonanza.
It is not only cuts in direct payments, we are seeing cuts to the arts, library closures, community centres closed, grant aid to charities helping the poor and disadvantaged terminated.
Battersea Park Adventure Playground facing closure is but one example of the destruction of the fabric of society that is taking place.
ConDem government has one statistic they can be proud of. In the last year, the number of food banks has doubled.
Before Christmas, food charity FareShare Brighton reported a huge rise in people coming to them for food. They have seen a 23% increase on the food they gave out in 2011 and now deliver to 53 charities, serving almost 4,000 people a week. Across the country, the number of people accessing emergency food aid has exploded. Up to a quarter of a million are now dependent upon food banks.
Tags: Benefit cuts