Apparently ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ doesn’t extend to people in certain professions.
According to a new analysis by The Children’s Society published in The Observer, almost half a million soldiers, teachers and nurses will lose hundreds of pounds every year when the Coalition’s latest benefit cut comes into force.
The cap of one per cent on benefit and tax credits upratings over the next three years means up to 40,000 soldiers will be worse-off: A second lieutenant in the army with three children, earning £470 a week and whose wife does not work will lose £552 per year.
Around 150,000 primary and nursery school teachers will lose out: A couple with two children where the sole earner is a primary school teacher earning £600 per week will lose £424.
But the majority of losers in the professions will be nurses – 300,000 of them. A lone-parent nurse with two children, earning the profession’s average of £530 per week, will lose £424 per year.
For a government that likes to state “We love the NHS”, the Coalition seems to really enjoy attacking nurses and trying to cover it up. By December 13 last year, 7,134 nursing posts had been lost since the Coalition came into power, 943 in the previous month alone. But when the issue was raised in Parliamentary debate, Health Secretary and gynaecological slang-term Jeremy Hunt did his level best to avoid giving a straight response. “The nurse to bed ratio has gone up. The average bed is getting an extra two hours of nursing care, per week, than under Labour.” That didn’t tell us how many nurses had lost their jobs. So we got: “The number of clinical staff in the NHS has gone up and not down. I don’t want to micro-manage every hospital in the country and tell them how many doctors and how many nurses.”
Perhaps there’s some deep-seated childhood trauma affected all the members of the Coalition government, that makes them want to persecute nurses and then try to cover it up? Whatever the case, I’m sure the facts would form the skeleton of a terrific little crime thriller.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the government will be debating an increase of one per cent in benefits this year. With inflation at 2.7 or 3.2 per cent, depending on which system you use, that’s a real-terms cut of two per cent every year for the next three years.
I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that these figures were compiled by The Children’s Society, meaning they relate only to working parents. The one per cent cap on benefit rises will hit single working people as well – we just don’t have the figures for them yet.
The figures make a nonsense of Iain Duncan Smith’s increasingly desperate claims that his policy of cuts and persecution to achieve lower take-up of welfare benefits is fair.
The Tories have now alienated working people and those on benefits. Who’s next, do you think? I reckon pensioners had better prepare for the worst!
Remember last week, when he trotted out a roll of fabricated figures to make it seem that the tax credit system had run out of control under Labour (tax credits are among the benefits to be capped at one per cent)? It turns out that all his figures were wrong, with his claims about fraud – which stands at less than one per cent of total claims – spectacularly inaccurate.
How about the very next day, when he was dribbling about the relative percentage rises in Jobseekers’ Allowance and private sector salaries, claiming that the unemployed were getting a far better deal than workers – only to be rebuffed when we all checked how much this was in real money, found out that workers were still making far more (although not enough – remember many employers pay so little that people working full-time still have to claim state benefits, so that’s a subsidy for private companies, being paid out of our taxes). The amount paid in benefits as a proportion of average wages has stayed the same, as it should. The Work and Pensions Secretary is hell-bent on breaking that link in order to inflict real harm on Britain’s poorest.
Does anybody remember the Tory slogan “Broken Britain”? What they didn’t tell us was that they were the ones who wanted to break us!
And now David Cameron has told the Telegraph he wants to be Prime Minister for another full term, from 2015 to 2020. If he manages that feat, he will no doubt face pressure from some of his own cabinet members to inflict further harm on those receiving benefits.
For example, a group of 70 Tory MPs including Michael Gove and David Willetts have published an agenda of policies that one minister has already – according to the Torygraph – described as a “blueprint” for the party’s next general election manifesto.
It includes plans to lengthen the school day “to help working parents” – how do you like that, all you teachers who are losing benefits this year? You can rest assured that your pay won’t increase to cover the extra hours!
And it calls for benefits to be cut for people who live in the North, and other parts of the country where the cost of living is lower. They love regional pay, don’t they? And they WILL drive it through, no matter how much of the population oppose it!
For a representative selection of citizens’ opinions about this, I suggest you visit the MSN news site’s version of this story where (when I looked last night) the Comment column was unanimously opposed to Cameron continuing. That’s something like 20-odd pages of people demanding that he be ousted at the first opportunity.
It did my heart good to see that.
The sad truth is that none of the above will change the result of the debate and vote on benefits uprating, due to take place in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
As long as the Tories have the support of Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, they have a majority and can vote through any ludicrous and harmful policies they please.
The only thing I can suggest is that you all email your MPs in advance of the debate and put pressure on them to do the right thing – or account for their decision if they vote with the government – especially if you live in the North, or in rural areas!
As ever, you can find your MP’s contact details here: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
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