Here’s another Tory who should go boil his head: David Freud.
This former Labour advisor on social security – who had previously worked in the city, setting up company share flotations (and if that isn’t a deeply worrying connection, what is?) – crossed the floor to the Conservative Party when he realised Labour wasn’t going to keep power in 2010, and was rewarded with an utterly undeserved peerage.
It is possible that he has done at least as much harm to the unemployed as Unum and Atos, along with an equal amount of harm to those on low wages.
He has written a worthless screed in the Huffington Post, no doubt part of an attempt to soften us all up for a new assault on the workless. We’ll get to his words in a moment. First, let’s look at the current situation, as created by the David Cameron government that Freud serves.
Under the current government, real wages have fallen in 36 out of 37 months – the only month when they didn’t fall was April 2013, when millionaires had their tax cut and bank bonuses rocketed. You can be assured that ordinary wages continued to plummet.
This has been led, of course, by the social insecurity policies adopted by Freud. The plan has always been to make life extremely difficult for the unemployed, ensuring they will chase work wherever they can find it – no matter how poorly-paid. This is why zero-hours contracts have gained the prevalence they have, which would be unacceptable in a civilised society.
It also means that company bosses can push wages down, even if prices are rising and people are facing a cost of living crisis – because they can always say there are plenty of unemployed people willing to take a complaining worker’s place.
And prices are rising. Inflation has been above the current two per cent target throughout Cameron’s administration, meaning that, in 2011, 70 per cent of people saw their real wages fall as pay packets failed to keep up with inflation. Families were an average of £891 worse-off in the current financial year because of tax rises and cuts to tax credits and benefits introduced since 2010 – negating the much-touted £600 that was given back when the Coalition raised the threshold for tax payment.
The government has blamed high inflation on “rising global prices” but this is nonsense – inflation in other G7 countries has been lower than in the UK, disproving the claim.
Wages after inflation are forecast to be £1,520 lower in 2015 than in 2010, meaning that working people, on average, will have lost a total of £6,660 in real terms under the Coalition government of David Cameron.
It is against this background that David Freud has written, in the Huffington Post, about what he seems to think are his government’s successes in forcing unemployed people to chase your jobs, thereby keeping your wages low. They can’t go after other jobs, you see – this government hasn’t lifted a finger to create any!
“The benefit cap is now in place across the country,” he began. “This means that benefit claims are limited to a fair level, a maximum of the average working household earnings of £500 a week.” Instantly, he is distorting the truth. The income of an average household earning that much would be topped-up with benefits totalling a further £105 or thereabouts. The benefit cap is, therefore, intrinsically unfair.
“The taxpayer who funds the welfare state has the assurance that someone in receipt of benefits no longer has an income that’s beyond the reach of the average working family.” A flat-out lie. The average benefit recipient never received more than an average working family. As a rule, benefits totalled one-sixth of wages and the one per cent limit on benefit uprating over the next three years – no matter what inflation does – means a huge drop in real terms during that period.
“The benefit cap has removed the barrier some people faced getting into work.” Another lie. The barrier that was stopping people getting into work was a lack of jobs that paid enough for people to cover their costs. Freud and his government want you to compete for jobs that put you into debt at a s-l-I-g-h-t-l-y slower rate than if you were unemployed.
“I must be clear, the old system failed people. If benefits provide an income well above wages, sticking to receiving state support over going out to work is too easy a decision to make.” A false premise. Benefits never provided an income well above wages – except for people in extraordinary circumstances (and those people had stopped receiving such income before the benefit cap was imposed). It’s lie after lie with this man.
“Our reforms put getting into work at the top of the agenda.” No – they set working class people against each other, scrabbling for jobs that pay marginally more than benefits while employers compete in a race to the bottom, to see who can get away with paying the least.
“Universal Credit will make sure it pays to work and the benefit cap ensures a lifestyle on benefits is not a lifestyle beyond the reach of the average household.” Universal Credit is, as we all now know, a money pit into which Iain Duncan Smith has poured hundreds of millions of pounds and received nothing in return. The average household will soon endure a lifestyle – in work – that is almost indistinguishable from one on benefits, as wages continue to fall.
“That is why alongside putting the cap in place, we made sure that people who get a job and are eligible for working tax credits are exempt.” But hasn’t this government made working tax credits harder to claim?
“We have ensured that households who should be exempt, such as people claiming disability benefits as well as war widows and widowers, have not been affected.” What about sick and disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, which is not classed as a disability benefit even though it is paid to people with disabilities? They have been dying in their thousands as a result of Freud’s policies.
Yes, this man’s ideas kill.
David Freud’s middle initial is ‘A’. Someone recently pointed out that initialising ‘David A Freud, Tory’ gives you the acronym ‘DAFT’.
You’d have to be daft to believe him.