Hammering the poor is no Credit to anyone – certainly not Universal

According to The Guardian, nearly half a million disabled people and their families could lose so much money under the new Universal Credit system that they could end up homeless.

The information comes from a report by a commission headed by Paralympian Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson and, yet again, shows that Tory criticism of the current benefits system as being “too complicated” is a sign that they do not understand the complexities of life for those of us who rely on the system to top-up our incomes.

From my reading of the article, the report does not take into account disabled people who are found ‘fit for work’ under the Atos assessment regime, nor does it consider the effects of the Localism Act on their Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

I wonder if this means the predicted increase in child poverty is now out of date and will have to be revised upwards again.

Citizens Advice, the Children’s Society and Disability Rights UK have already called for more cash to be provided for disadvantaged families. A forlorn hope. The point of this benefit (if we dare dignify it with that name) is that it is supposed to be universal, after all.

The government says the report is “highly selective” and could lead to “irresponsible scaremongering”. Of course, it is easy to say that now. The results of all this tinkering with the benefits system won’t be known for some time to come – and, if this report is to be believed, by then it will be too late to reverse the damage for hundreds of thousands of families.

Will it even do any good? Experience suggests not. All the Coalition’s tinkering has managed to achieve in two years is misery for the poor. National borrowing is on the rise.

And there are still questions to be answered about the way the new system works. What will count as earnings? will there be concessions for mothers on maternity leave? How will childcare costs be incorporated into the Universal Credit? What about extra costs for people with disabilities, and who will receive this support? What support will be available for carers? What about support for pensioners with children? How will housing costs be assessed? Will financial support for council tax be included in or separate from UC?

What about people who are trying to start up their own business – something the government is supposed to be supporting? Depending on how UC is administered, the amount of money they receive could be the difference between being able to set up in business – or not.

And, if too many people find they can’t, that could be the difference between economic revival – and not.

8 thoughts on “Hammering the poor is no Credit to anyone – certainly not Universal

  1. william

    Think about this…. most disabled people are not actually disabled. Some use it as an excuse to be lazy. I personally know a ‘disabled’ lady who is unable to walk properly, she has a disabled buggy and a car paid for by motability yet she can run across the road. I think disability should be looked at more closely and the genuine disabled people should be looked after while the spongers should be hammered.

    1. Mike Sivier

      William, I admire your bravery, coming onto THIS site and saying something like that.
      For the record, the official figures suggest you are completely wrong when you say “most disabled people are not actually disabled” – only 0.4 per cent of those who claim Employment and Support Allowance or Disability Living Allowance are trying to defraud the system. The other 99.6 per cent are genuine, according to official government figures.
      We’ve all heard stories about people who can allegedly do things they shouldn’t be able to – these are the exceptions, not the rule. Also, many disability conditions are fluctuating. My girlfriend is able to move relatively freely on some days; mostly she is in pain all the time and sometimes she is in so much pain that she cannot move without my help, and even that causes her great pain (and is heartbreaking to witness).
      And what about the many documented cases in which people have died due to the stress of going through the Atos/DWP work capability assessment regime, which (as you know, I’m sure) is rigged against the claimant – the assessors have quotas to fill and are expected to mark around 87 per cent of the people they see as going into the ‘work-related activity’ group or as ‘fit for work’. Many of these people, after receiving this treatment, have suffered terminal health-related events; their bodies simply couldn’t cope with the stress. To me, that suggests that the assessors were absolutely wrong about their fitness to work and that the decision led to the deaths of these claimants. The relevant statistic (revealed by me this week in another article on this site) is that more people die every six weeks, after being marked as ‘fit for work’ or put in the ‘work-related activity’ group, than have died in Afghanistan since the UK military operation began there in 2002. That’s an official average figure of 73 per week.
      I do agree that disability should be examined more closely, although my opinion is that the genuine disabled should receive far BETTER care than at present. Another problem with the current system is that the spongers AREN’T being hammered – the repressive assessment regime attacks ALL claimants indiscriminately.

      1. Mike Sivier

        I should add that I know many readers may feel tempted to attack William for his views. After all, they are opinions that some of us are fighting to change. I would request that, if you do decide to respond, you remember to state your case in a civilised manner. This is an emotive subject and you may feel very angry about what William says, but the only way to change anybody’s mind is through reasoned discussion supported by fact.

  2. Wendy MacKenzie

    William’s comment just goes to show what a brilliant job this government and their press lackeys have done in demonising the sick and disabled. Herr Goebbels must be SO proud!

  3. Jayne Linney

    Unfortunately there are so many people who feel like William, they often ‘know’ someone who is disabled but can also appear to do ‘regular’ things. Often the problem is they have fluctuating conditions.

    People need to stop judging everyone by their own standards and ask themselves would anyone really ‘pretend’ to be disabled for £90 a week???

  4. william

    £90 a week plus a car with tax and insurance paid, not to mention a few quid in the partners’ pocket as a carer. oh i forgot about the free holidays they get as a carer, just need to put some juice in the free car!
    wendy it has nothing to do with what the government have said, i pay no attention at all to anything the government say cos as far back as i can remember to thatchers’ time its all been rubbish. what i have said is just general observation around me all over the uk.
    when i saw this post on the certain persons’ facebook page all i could think was about time too!

    1. Wendy MacKenzie

      William – I suggest then, that you spend some time actually living in our shoes. An income of less than £250.00 per week and energy bills that amount to £53.00 per week, then a proportion of the rent to pay because the Housing Benefit no longer covers all of it – not to mention the Council Tax which we will now have to find. We must run a car because we cannot manage without one but we don’t qualify for motability. This winter it will be ‘heat or eat’ for many of us. Yes – it’s a wonderful life!

      Then there are the people – like you – who say “Well SHE doesn’t look disabled!” So what does a person with Bipolar 2 and Borderline Personality Disorder look like, William? If you can tell me, I’ll make an effort to fit your sterotype!

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