Leading Conservatives must be delighted with the success of their benefit cap in getting single mothers and people with large families out of London – as depicted in the BBC Panorama special, Don’t Cap My Benefits, yesterday evening. (Thursday)
The change means that nobody in the UK is allowed to receive more than £26,000 in benefits per year. The government has claimed this is the same as the average family income, but readers of Vox Political will know that this is a flimsy lie and average family income is in fact more than £5,000 per year higher, at £31K+. The reason benefits weren’t pegged at that level is that far fewer people would be affected by it. Make no mistake – this measure was enacted to shift people from the capital.
The film shows the effects of the change on a number of families in Brent, one of London’s worst-hit boroughs, during a period of just six months. Some of them were forced to move away from their lifelong homes to other cities, with one person being threatened with deportation to Manchester. Even people with jobs were forced to go, by council workers whose attitude bordered on the offensively hostile.
Partway through, Vox Political received this comment: “I am watching Panorama, about the benefit cap. It is heart-breaking, mothers are being split up from small children, a single mother who is volunteering at a children’s centre – a good tenant, according to her landlord – is evicted, she has gone from a house to a B&B and the council woman said, ”At least you’re not on the street”. What hope is there?”
Very little, it seems.
The strongest message the documentary gave was that the benefit cap targets minorities and drives them out of London to areas, most commonly in the Midlands or the North, where people are already suffering similar social deprivation. Perhaps the Tories who dreamed up this idea believe the axiom that ‘Misery loves company’.
Of the families or individuals featured in the film, only one was of British ethnic origin – and she was painted as a troublemaker by her landlord. Some were people who had immigrated into the UK (many years ago – so let’s not have any anti-immigration propaganda levelled at them); some were black. All had children – including some who had many more than the average (there were seven in one family). Some were single mothers. Some were in work, but were told that the amount they were earning could not keep them housed in London and they had to go. Some said they were in work but were doubted by housing officers who forced them out anyway (only to discover later that they were telling the truth, and move them back into Brent, possibly at great expense to the taxpayer).
Perhaps we were supposed to look down on these individuals. Were we supposed to believe they had brought these troubles on themselves because they had too many children without considering the cost, or because they had split up from the fathers of their children, or because their jobs paid too little or their rent was too high?
That’s not what this documentary showed at all.
It showed the intentionally vicious effects of a government policy specifically designed to inflict suffering, in order to remove these unwanted social dregs (as Cabinet ministers no doubt see them) and make London more available as a playground for the rich. It is a policy that goes back (as many do) to Thatcherism.
Thatcherism relied on a massive increase in unemployment, the lowering of wages and the increase of housing prices to undermine the self-confidence of working-class communities – and succeeded on a massive scale. But these were the economics of “planned misery”, in the phrase of Rodolfo Walsh, according to The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain, a new report – strongly recommended.
The article states: “As the relative value of benefits fell, and as wage rates for increasingly insecure and feminised, unskilled work were held down, the poorest were becoming poorer and increasingly ‘socially excluded’, blamed, and stigmatised for policy outcomes that the government had in fact fully anticipated.”
It continues: “All of this generated – and was designed to generate – sharply increased inequalities of income and wealth across Britain and a dramatic increase in poverty… Thatcher’s governments wilfully engineered an economic catastrophe across large parts of Britain and sowed the seeds… of a subsequent collapse – which ironically has provided the highly spurious legitimation for a new generation of ‘uber-Thatcherites’ in the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government to go where Thatcher herself had hesitated to tread – a complete dismantling of the welfare state.”
In other words, this government’s answer to poverty is to remove the safety net – and that is what we saw in the Panorama film.
The answer to the problems it depicted isn’t to ship poor people off to the deprived North! The answer is a cap on rents, so they don’t become so high that people can’t pay them. It’s a living wage, to ensure that working people don’t need to claim state benefits – as someone else recently said, how can any industry consider itself ‘private’ if its employees need funding from the state to survive?
Otherwise, as a commenter on the BBC’s Question Time said, a little later in the evening, there will be nobody left in London to provide services such as education, for all the rich kids the Tories and Tory Democrats are no doubt already inviting in.
What do you think?
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
Vox Political exposes the prejudice in government policy
… but we need YOUR help to do so.
This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions.
Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going.
You can make a one-off donation here:
Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book,
Strong Words and Hard Times
in either print or eBook format here:
And from London this immoral practice will spill out to the Cotswolds, Home Counties and beyond – in the ever increasing search for personal wealth. Wonder where the LA officers will end up Nottingham??
Reblogged this on chunkyfunkymunky.
Well,we know how to get these maggots out and that is to vote them out and then have them arrested for crimes against the people.As a people we cannot allow large numbers of the British people who are impoverished on the notion that a benefit cap is in the best interest of the British people’s tax money to be pushed into the corner.
Nobody voted in the last election for that,nobody wanted a wholesale butchery of the welfare state which had taken years to put together. They voted for a crackdown on fraud,nothing else. They also voted for bankers to be held to account for the downright fraud they committed,which has never happened.This vile government have not actually cracked down on fraud because its so minute that the saving is pathetic but they have hit the poor,the low paid,the disabled,the ill and family but managed to shine a light on a certain section of this country who are the next vile intake to the Tory party..Thankfully,these reptiles are not the majority and after the next election these anti democratic people need to be put under control or thrown out of the UK. If you think this is harsh then yes it is but no worse than driving the poorest into poverty and homelessness. What goes around comes around.
The only maggots I saw on Panorama last night were the lazy bastards that were complaining that their benefits were being capped at £500, considering most have not done a days work in their lives! I know elderly people, some World War 2 veterans that have to live on £500 pounds a month!
These would be the lazy bastards with jobs, would they?
Well from what I watched on Panorama last night the only ethical course we can take as a country is to ban the Conservative Party from being in government altogether. They inflict misery, destroy people’s lives, and the only people who benefit from their policies are the idle, irresponsible rich who get fat off of the proceeds of corporate welfare.
Be a true patriot – ban the Tory Party! You know it makes sense.
(And yes, I am being serious!)
maybe we should disband government in its present form altogether and put a new and up to date system in place, real shame guy fakes never succeeded but with hindsight maybe then is now !
sorry computer decided it wasnt going to type W in above post
I am not rich, nor am I idle, but I get so annoyed that people have children without the consideration of how they would work to look after them, expecting us, the tax payer to find this money. Take responsibility for your own family, do not expect to be sitting at home whilst others are working 50 hours a week to support this. A benefit cap is exactly what is needed and a limit to benefits being given without working should be implemented.
Who is working 50 hours a week to pay for someone else’s children? Certainly you aren’t, though that’s the impression the Establishment want to give. You’re working to support the bankers in their lavish lifestyles, royalty, and to keep landowners owning their land. I understand the suggestion is you can’t afford to pay for spare bedrooms people don’t need but if people should have the misfortune to find themselves owning land, well, they’ll be milking the taxpayer for the upkeep for the rest of their lives. Children grow up and get jobs, hopefully. Land doesn’t. If you’re worried about working to support parasites, pick the important ones to get upset about.
Reblogged this on Same Difference and commented:
There were no disabled parents or children shown in the programme. However, I grew up in Brent and have many disabled friends who lived there. I have to wonder- how many disabled adults, or parents of disabled children, will be moved from their homes as a result of this policy? If a disabled person has to move council, they often lose vital services or have them cut. It would change, and negatively affect, their lives very significantly.
There was children shown in the programme, one mother was explaining that she had been separated from her small child, and the little girl was shown.
I think samedifference1 meant disabled children.
Yes I meant none of the children shown in the programme were disabled.
If a disabled person has to move council, they often lose vital services or have them cut. It would change, and negatively affect, their lives very significantly.
think this says a lot, and if you know it the dam torys certainly know it and how to use it against you
Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
Excellent post which really nails the appalling social cleansing going on in London. It is the landlords who receive outrageous rents for properties often very poorly maintained and crazy that wages cannot pay for rent or put food on the table.
Shaun Gardner posted this comment on Facebook: “One of the housing officers stated at one point that it wasn’t his fault and that he didn’t make these rules.
“No, you are just ‘following orders’
“Seriously though, who will drive your buses, nurse your hospitals, empty your bins and teach your kids?
“Once London becomes your private playground you will be truly welcome to it.
“It was horrendous viewing and the tidal wave of racist comments on twitter clearly demonstrates how base your support is.”
Indans and Koreans imported under Mode 4 immigration. Look it up. Instead of sending work abroad to cheap workers, under Mode 4 the cheap workers will come here. They’ll hot-bed it, work long hours at minimum wage, pay no income tax or national insurance, employers won’t have to pay NI either for them, and they’ll be the ones taking up these vacant dwellings and they’ll be the ones driving the buses etc. I’ve said this before on this blog I’m sure but it doesn’t seem to sink in. Perhaps regulars should read up on this subject http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2011/09/01/comment-the-secret-immigration-policy-they-tr
If you insist on believing all the propaganda the condems hand out to you, then they have become your puppet-masters, with you as the hapless puppet. That is where they get their power from, don’t give them the satisfaction, think for yourself!
Ah, Joanna, perhaps you should absorb this section “Neither has the Conservative/Liberal coalition, even when David Cameron and Vince Cable led a specific ‘trade’ delegation to India in 2010. Greens MP Caroline Lucas spent years as an MEP and a member of the European parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) but has declined to warn UK workers what they are being signed up to, and similarly Ukip, which has two members on the INTA but actually supports the concept of temporary labour from outside the EU being brought in by transnational corporations.” This doesn’t sound to me like it’s just partisan propaganda,
Seriously though, who will drive your buses, nurse your hospitals, empty your bins and teach your kids?
simples they will bus these people in at extra cost to the tax payers
Reblogged this on sdbast.
Once “they” have achieved “their” mission of no plebs in the metropolis, us plebs will take great delight when they can longer get cleaners, nannies, teachers, police, fire-fighters, bin men, power workers, etc,. etc. (all the jobs done by us plebs), to keep their utopia running. Bins will go un-emptied, bodies unburied Come to think of it we’ve been here before… but this time there may be gangs of disenfranchised plebs roaming the streets looking for some recompense for their ruined lives.
One can imagine a dystopian future where thousands of unemployed people on workfare are bussed into London to do the jobs the super-rich inhabitants need doing. We’ll soon be seeing mass workfare for the long-term unemployed with the forthcoming “Help to Work” scheme; it’s not that big a leap to imagine the Tories taking things even further.
Perhaps they are hoping for the return of the live-in servants? That would solve the issue of accommodation. Or maybe the ConDems will make live-in skivvies available on Work programme, even giving money for them to be taken of the unemployment count?
No wonder they want to leave the EU and avoid all those meddling Human Rights thingies. It all becomes clear.
@Florence, that’s another possibility. Perhaps there’s more to the popularity of Downton Abbey than we first thought…
Contrary to popular mythology the concept of social welfare was not invented by some bleeding heart socialist but by the man who was the very epitome of Prussian militarism,Count Otto Von Bismark!
Bismark understood that the vast majority of the people who threatened the stability of what he wanted to create did so out of pure hunger and despair! He understood that it was far cheaper to actually look after the very poor than it was to police and repress them. By actually setting up a system of social welfare that cared for the old,sick and unemployed he deprived the anarchists and social radicals of the easy support of the very poor. By this simple measure he made revolution in Germany impossible as the vast majority of the poorest had no interest in politics once their basic needs had been met.
Our present Ruling Elite view the Welfare System as a drain on their wealth and have set out to destroy it. I personally applaud this vandalism even though I have suffered a substantial degree of hardship because of it.And why do I support it? Because it will so enrage the millions of people at the bottom of the heap that they will eventually rise up and rip the throats out of the Bankers and other smug gits who will never be satisfied with their own level of wealth no matter how many Bentley’s they own!
The destruction of the Welfare State in Britain will bring the Wealthy to their knees because no amount of money will buy off an angry mob half crazed with hunger and misery. Our Ruling Elite have already shut down REMPLOY,thus sacking THOUSANDS of severely disabled people simply to make a bit of extra money.They will not limit their own greed so they will eventually be destroyed by it, and I can’t wait to see them ALL die!
The trouble is “call me dave” wouldn’t know what social radical was even up close and personal, or he would run and hide!
ive posted several times in various places that the peoples revolt isnt far away, i wonder if its also going to be world wide, keep watching the stars (the ones in the sky) for the right alignment
I thought that nearly all the staff shown came across as truly awful human beings. I wonder if they realise what they have become.
I know what you mean, but could you do what they had to do, and still remain sane? right or wrong some people will become nasty because they fear for their own livelihoods, or just a way to cope with a catastrophic situation.
Depressingly, They will almost certainly have a ‘fix’ on the lack of staff; They sure won’t go without! Watch out for the next ministerial scandal involving a nanny/cleaner/gardener….there will be one coming this way soon, on that you can depend.
Working in London will not be an issue shortly.
Once the “ghetto’s ” have been cleared they will have bus stations situated on the outskirts of the capital. Workers will be clocked in and out of the city centre to work then bussed back to their out of town ghettos instead, enabling the affluent of London to walk the streets without fear of bumping into any “poor” people.
It worked in South Africa for decades no problem for it to work here too.
Social apartheid is apparently more acceptable in Western democracies than racial apartheid.
Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
Mike here provides a good summary of the social cleansing of London being implemented through the benefit cap. This is absolutely disgraceful. Particularly reprehensible is the way mothers were split up from their children. When the British were trying to improve conditions for slaves in their colonies in the 1820s, this was too much even for them. There were laws passed stating that mothers were not to be split up from their children, so as to keep something like a family life intact. It’s very much like the way families were split up when they entered the Workhouse, and doubtless motivated by the same squalid doctrine of less eligibility. Years ago Radio 4 did a programme on British popular music in the 17th to 19th centuries. They contrasted the image of domestic bliss in ‘Home Sweet Home’, with the harshness of life in the Workhouse, and concluded that some Victorians no doubt sang the song sarcastically, as an ironic comment on the injustices inflicted on the poor. The same ironic singing of the song could well be done now, because of the way council and social housing tenants are being forced out of the capital.
Most of the victims of the cap shown on the Panorama programme were Non-White. It’s a good question whether this was deliberate, how representative this was of the ethnic composition of the people affected by the cap, or whether more Blacks and Asians were willing to appear on camera. If most of the victims of the Benefit Cap and the attendant social cleansing are Black and Asian, then I would suggest that this is by no means accidental. As the British capital, London has always historically attracted a large immigrant population. Always. There were Black Londoners ways back under the Roman when it was called ‘Londinium’. You can find drawings of Black people in 12th century English manuscripts. One of these was displayed a few years ago on the National Archives webpage. However, it was reported about ten years ago that 2/3 of London’s population were Black or Asian. The parliament at Westminster has also been described as an island of White privilege amidst the multi-ethnic capital. Historically, Black and Asian workers were imported to do the kind of low-paid menial work White British workers didn’t want to do, hence the disproportionate amount of some Black and Asian groups in menial jobs. These are being forced out because, as plebs, they interfere with Tory and Tory Democrat demands that London be a playground of the rich. And it may also be a covert way of ethnically cleansing the capital, so that Whites aren’t quite in the minority. I hope I’m wrong, but this is the same government that sent vans into Black and Asian areas inviting them to go home.
Whatever colour the victims of the Benefit Cap are, this is a national disgrace. It should be stopped, and the government that created it should be voted out at the next election.
A third of Londoners are within the working poor. There are not enough council / social housing. Many thousands of homes lay derelict and empty, infested with rats, even in the wealthiest neighbourhoods, bought just for investment in land.
Most of key workers commute to London, long ago priced out of London even for average wages. They live as far north as Scotland. They inhabit most of their working lives on the M1.
All people on benefit and low wages and even the squeezed middle below £40,000 a year are being priced out of London. Once you get into the suburbs, you are one step away from the countryside, where only the super rich can live. Then you have to move far to the north.
Economic growth is only happening in London. Not in the rest of UK.
There is the joke that only asylum seekers and the rich can live in London. But even the asylum seekers we see now being shipped out of London with the Panorama programme Don’t Cap my benefits.
If Brent council did not have a housing section and all that pretty new building (itself useful to sub-divide into flats for social housing as big enough) sold off, then social housing could be afforded and funded.
In London, finance boffins say that a pensioner needs £12,299 a year (2012 figures) to survive and not fall into food and fuel poverty. Few reach those dizzy heights of income.
Half of women aged 60-66 are within the working poor, on wages flat-lined to 2002 levels, and majority of women 60-66 not in work is due to being disabled / chronic ill and losing benefits or never gaining them, and by raised retirement age are liable for the Bedroom Tax.
See if you lose most or all of your state pension:
A new party have heard of to join and bring to government in 2015 is Left Unity Party – http://leftunity.org/about/
Left Unity Party say no one should have to choose between heating and eating, no one should have to pay for their healthcare or education – and everyone should have a roof over their head. It’s that simple.
Thank you Mike you have really made my day by using my comment!
I agree with your brother, how history is repeating itself, though the tories aren’t just trying to repeat, they seem to be trying to improve on the very worst aspects of history, and testing the waters, to see how much they can possibly get away with, but, as you have said, it is really the poor who are doing all work, god forbid, the rich get their hands dirty!
It scares me, that before it is over, much more people’s lives will be damaged beyond repair and that is totally unacceptable. Broken people do not make productive people.
I think your closing comment is well worth emphasising because you are absolutely right: Broken people do not make productive people.
Of course, being productive should not be the most important aspect of a person’s life, but this is how Tories see the rest of us so it may at least be a way of getting through to them that their way is a mistake.
This must be to fix the election by pushing all the Labour/TUSC voters into Labour safe seats. And with the Lib Dems hated, and the voting system stopping left wing parties and UKIP alike from winning any seats, the Tories might just win.
My response was an emotional one involving sorrow, sadness and anger. My brother wrote this and I am sad to say that on reflection I think he is right: “Actually I think the program was a travesty. It will do more for UKIP than a hundred political broadcasts. However misunderstood the housing benefit capping policy is it is in fact a vote winner for the conservatives. They wont be asking the real questions like, why don’t we build more council housing they will be asking why isn’t the policy working much better. They wont be asking why should these people be forced to live so far away from family and friends they will be spitting feathers that the Somalian woman was in deep despair that her new house had a kitchen dinner when single working people cant afford a one bedroom flat almost anywhere.
They wont want to understand why a house in Brent costs £700 per week, they will ask why a man and his family can still get an entitlement to such a property of such a price just because he has a job for 21 hours per week. 21 hours a week is not going to make a dent on £700 per week rent, not to mention council tax and his 4 or more kids.
The choice of Brent with a high first generation migrant population was also another bone of contention with me. My god they started the program with a visit to a naturalisation ceremony. Why do that, unless they wanted to create even more racial contention and even more support for UKIP and the conservatives.
Then of course the remark from the, what they would term as ‘white trash’ woman who said something to the tune of ‘well I thought they were all for family values but they want to move us all away from the area where ALL the FATHERS of the CHILDREN live. Did they pay her to say that???? Any director attempting to make a sympathetic case for these people would have edited that out.
Remember, its not how we see it, it is how it is seen. It was a program that pretended to be sympathetic to the subject but was in reality an appeal to the right, the far right. It asked none of the pertinent questions, it avoided the truth on so many levels. It made me sick and sad.”
Pingback: ‘Social cleansing’ of London is wel...
Reblogged this on Guy Debord's Cat and commented:
Paris had Baron Hausmann. London has the Tory-led government at Westminster. One used civil engineering to socially cleanse a city, the other uses legislation and is supported in its efforts by the opposition Labour Party. I’ll be posting a blog in due course about the social cleansing that’s taking place right here in David Cameron’s favourite borough.
Why do you say Labour supports this?
Labour doesn’t support it.
What papers have you been reading?
The majority of Labour MPs voted for the benefit cap. My local MP was one of them,
That doesn’t mean Labour approves of what has been done with it. Most people would agree that nobody on benefits should receive more than working people get in their wages – that would be counter-intuitive as benefits are what you get until you can find a job that pays more, not instead of a job that pays less.
Labour would have mitigated the effect of the benefit cap by introducing the Living Wage, so that nobody in work has to claim benefits, and by ensuring that landlords don’t price tenants out of their homes.
There are some aspects of what we have seen that Labour SHOULD support – for example, couples should not have huge families they cannot afford to keep, and in an age when advice on contraception is freely available, it is extremely hard to justify giving single mothers a home and benefits at the taxpayers’ expense. These are social issues for which simple advice has proved an ineffective remedy and now it seems the economic stick will be applied.
These issues are not simple, black-and-white matters; they are more complicated. Saying Labour supports a policy without admitting there are other implications is misrepresentation.
People shouldn’t agree that no-one should get more in benefits than working people get in their wages. What about disabled people who through no fault of their own incur higher living expenses than normal people and are denied the opportunity to improve their circumstances through work? The whole idea’s stupid.
Yet, I would argue that no one can survive on the meagre benefits that are currently paid out. £72 a week is quite clearly not enough to live on. Unemployment benefits have actually decreased in value in real terms and are more or less at the same level as they were in the late 60s.
I am not impressed with Rachel Reeves’s remedies either. Is she trying to out Tory the Tories?
Reblogged this on Benefit tales.
In 1890 something, my ancestors moved from the midlands to Scotland to find work because ther was no work for them where they lived. There was no support and they asked for none. Adapting to circumstances is what we do as a species and strength as human beings is the result. My forbears faced disaster and took action which is why I am alive. Perhaps those facing the same circumstances should feel hopeful and react positively to new circumstances, helped as they are by teams ready to help them in new lives with new opportunities.
“Helped as they are by teams ready to help them in new lives with new opportunities”? Who’s that, then? I take it you’re discussing this as an outsider, looking in, rather than someone who’s been through the process yourself?