Two stories on Welfare Weekly yesterday (December 9) really stood out – they express the Coalition Government’s attitude to state-funded benefits and the people receiving them so well.
The first was entitled Too Poor To Eat: Man Reduced To Tears As He Describes Being Unable To Afford Food and describes vividly – in this season of goodwill to everybody – how contemptuously the Coalition regards the people for whom it has the greatest duty of care, and how it has turned the welfare state into a tool of warfare against those least able to fight back.
It told the story of Mike from New Cross, who called LBC radio to describe how he has had to live off a tin of spaghetti a day and is forced to root through supermarket bins to survive.
“What you get covers just what you need, and you have to go to food banks,” he said.
“For these people to sit there to say oh go and get a job – I’m out there every day, looking and searching, and you know you’re trying to do it on your own, but you can’t, and it gets harder and harder.
“You’re just trying to get by. Some days I can’t eat. I don’t eat.”
The other was Five-Week Wait For Benefits Will Increase Food Bank Use, Says TUC. This warned that Universal Credit – if it ever gets introduced across the whole of the UK – will involve a wait of more than five weeks before claimants can receive benefits, rather than the current two.
New claimants will not be eligible for any financial support during the first week of their claim, and will then have to wait a further month before any benefits are paid.
The warning came in response to a cross-party inquiry into hunger and child poverty, which found that delays in benefit payments is one of primary reasons for soaring numbers of food bank users.
Clearly the Coalition Government is not bothered about the plight of people like Mike – its Universal Credit policy makes it perfectly clear that the plan is to increase the agony – for anyone who has the temerity to claim the social security for which they have been paying taxes, ever since they were old enough to be trusted with money.
And there’s another factor at play here: Blame.
Look at what Mike said: “For these people to sit there to say oh go and get a job…” Suppose he starves to death, as Mark Wood already has. What will the Coalition Government and its media puppets say? “He was another lazy man who couldn’t get up off his backside and get a job“?
Suppose more people do end up going to food banks as a result of a switchover to Universal Credit (you never know, that change might just happen) – will right-wing critics attack them in the same way a commenter on Mainly Macro attacked them? Will they be told they don’t really need the free food parcels on offer there? Will they be told they’re only going because it is free, and there is limitless demand for anything that is free? Will they be told they are just pretending to be hungry?
And what, exactly, is the ultimate purpose behind these claims?
Is it not to insure the Coalition Government against the backlash when somebody dies?
They may starve; they may commit suicide through despair. Both have already happened – here in the UK – many times since the Coalition slithered into office. Ministers don’t want you to know that they were responsible; that their policies led people to this point; that this is what they were intended to do.
Speaking ill of the dead is a better outcome for ministers than admitting they failed to provide the protection for which the people of this country pay their taxes.