Parliament is open; The Agony has begun

It probably looked reasonable to her: The Queen's Speech was in fact written in a way that hid the facts about what the Tory government is planning.

It probably looked reasonable to her: The Queen’s Speech was in fact written in a way that hid the facts about what the Tory government is planning.

Another year, another State Opening of Parliament, another Queen’s Speech full of Tory lies.

Perhaps one should qualify that by saying the legislative plan outlined in the speech isn’t a lie, but the language used to describe it was most certainly stuffed full of them.

“My Government will legislate in the interests of everyone in our country,” pronounced Brenda. “It will adopt a one nation approach, helping working people get on, supporting aspiration, giving new opportunities to the most disadvantaged and bringing different parts of our country together.

That’s a pretty tall order for the Tories – especially since the part about “helping working people get on” was stolen from the Liberal Democrats’ old message script and the part about “aspiration” has been nicked from Labour, as one can tell by checking recent comments from that party’s leadership candidates.

What did they actually give us, though? The Guardian‘s editorial, yesterday morning, described the possibilities as a “menu of pain”:

“Express protection for the elderly doubles the proportional cut for everyone else, to about 10 per cent,” it stated. “The main action will have to come in some mix of four welfare fields: children, housing, disability and tax credits.

“Mr Duncan Smith has signalled sympathy for capping support to just two children, to encourage parents to think twice about having kids they can’t afford. That’s too bad for children who didn’t ask to be born into big families, and won’t help with the immediate arithmetic unless it is retrospectively imposed on existing big families, which are hardly going to shrink. Besides, if Mr Cameron’s reassurances are worth anything, child benefit is safe, which only leaves means-tested payments, where cuts are guaranteed to increase child poverty.

“Cutting in-work tax credits would sink the supposed pro-work welfare reforms, which leaves support for housing and disabled people looking like the principal targets. Even if the Queen’s speech rustles up something on the minimum wage, Mr Cameron can hardly talk of ‘one nation’ until he can reassure the poor and the frail that there is a place for them in his land.”

In practice, the Tory ‘Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill’ proposes freezing working-age state benefits, meaning that they will not rise with inflation for at least the period of the current Parliament and people on benefits will be less able to afford the necessities of life.

The Benefit Cap will be dropped to £23,000 per family, creating a greater risk that David Cameron and the Gentleman Ranker, Iain Duncan Smith, will push children into homelessness and poverty.

Young people aged 18-21, who are on benefits, will lose their ability to move away from their childhood home because housing benefit is to be withdrawn from them. This will create resentment within families and family-style groupings, and could present the opportunity for abusers (of many kinds) to continue their crimes, with the authorities going unnotified.

Benefit claimants aged 18-21 will have to work for it, which is in itself a contradiction in terms and a betrayal of the National Minimum Wage. The Bill states that there will be “stronger work-related conditionality from Day One, and anyone who remains unemployed for longer than six months will be required to go on an apprenticeship, training or community work placement.

This means young adults working for their benefits will be removing jobs from the market; if a company can get a jobseeker to do a job for free, it won’t pay an employee to do it. Therefore the jobs market will contract, pay will be cut – in real terms – to the levels of benefits and more profit will go to the bosses, who will probably stash it in a tax haven rather than letting any of it go back to the State in tax.

The government intends to limit the amount of income collected by HM Treasury by ensuring that there are no rises in income tax rates, VAT rates or National Insurance contributions (NICs) rates for individuals, employees and employers. This means the only way the government will be able to pay down its debts will be by expanding the economy – a feat which the Conservative chancellor, Gideon Osborne, has failed to achieve after more than five years in the job.

This is a transparent move to increase public debt, making it easier to cut public services even further.

The government intends to restrict the supply of social housing even further, forcing council to sell off larger houses that have become vacant (due to the Bedroom Tax?) and force housing associations to sell their properties at discount to tenants. The claim is that new houses should be built at a rate of one for each house sold – but with discounts of up to 70 per cent per sale, this is clearly a false claim and the housing stock will drop. A commenter to this site has stated that a more realistic building rate is one new house for every eight sold – which would make the current housing bottleneck much, much worse.

In short, this is a legislative programme that is very much in line with the plan laid out by Margaret Thatcher and her cronies in the mid-1970s: Less security in work, lower pay and benefits, less social housing.

People thrown into poverty and onto the street when they deserve better.

Higher profits for the undeserving rich.

Who voted for this?

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10 thoughts on “Parliament is open; The Agony has begun

  1. A-Brightfuture

    The heart of conservatism is that charity and the church should look after the poor.(The tories take on Christian values). If devolution takes place within this country,and councils and/or local parishes become independent, then poor people will be shunted around the country until a council who can afford them “takes them in”.
    This used to happen in the 17th, 18th and early19th century.

    We are going BACK TO THE FUTURE.

    London used to be slum centre for families and lodgers being crammed into substandard housing. (still is in parts). But it is being cleansed, “apparently”.
    Now London wants to be the shiny place for big money and posh housing, only available for the privileged.

    Half a million quid plus for ex 3 bedroom council houses in parts of London.
    No wonder the bedroom tax and benefit cap is popular. Get every one crammed into tiny homes while the big houses get sold off because no one can afford, or eligible to live them.

    There is nothing new here, its all been done before.
    Governments through the centuries just go round in circles, same policy, just a different name.

    1. Florence

      You obviously missed the Estate Agent interviewed in the Grauniad recently where they have already had the £900,000 ex-council flat, sold to a SIngaporean.

    2. John Gaines

      In 1846 the Tories were the hand-outs Party, to buy votes they promised Repeal of Land Rights, Corn..etc, etc, only the poor voted with greedy grasping Tories, why has not the Benefits system guaranteed a Labour Gov. for 100 years.
      Is it because Labour Politicians are constantly on the make and ‘definitely’ on the Take

  2. hugosmum70

    why cant social housing providers do miner alterations and do what private landlords do. let bigger houses off as shared tenancies. for students,single people etc. own room shared kitchen and bathroom. its like they want rid so no one can reverse the situation in future years when,hopefully, they’ve been “deposed”.

  3. Jason Horton

    Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill – Creating 2 million jobs and 3 million apprenticeships while reducing benefits and penalising young people. How will they create 5 million jobs? Are these all going to be minimum wage jobs? Doing what? My other half runs a not for profit company that cannot afford to hire any full time staff. Those she hires are on short term contracts to cover a particular contract or schedule of work. The company that I work for has shed a third of its staff in the last six months, including all the apprentices. The ONS shows a small increase in employment though with 557,000 finding work in the last year. That is far short of 5 million, even if you stretch it over five years.

    Enterprise Bill – A reduction in red tape for businesses to save £10 billion. To me that means deregulation and reducing oversight. They’ll save money at the expense of worker safety.

    National Insurance Contributions and Finance Bill – No rise in income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020 thus hamstringing any way of bringing further money into the treasury except through cuts. Nobody on minimum wage working 30 hours a week pays tax now so why add it to the bill. Increasing the tax threshold is a nice touch but they’re still leaving a burden on the state to supplement low wages with benefits. If the minimum wage were increased then they’d have more tax payers contributing to the treasury and less outlay in benefit. If they think that this will harm businesses then why not pay something to SMEs to help with the costs of employing people?

    A Childcare Bill – doubling free child care is a nice touch but the existing system is already overstretched and terribly flawed. If nurseries and child carers are waiting months for their vouchers to be cashed then they aren’t going to be able to operate and expand to fill the extra requirements. They’ll have to turn people away because of cashflow. Also allowing it to run for 38 weeks still doesn’t allow parents to work all year round and limits them to working in part time, low paid jobs. Perhaps that’s where the 5 million extra jobs will come from. All part time jobs.

    Housing Bill – I did some research on the number of houses built each year under the last term of government and it was 140,000. Where are these 200,000 starter homes going to come from? How are house builders going to receive the full market value of these homes when the government is planning on offering a 20% discount to first time buyers? Perhaps they’ll take some of the 635,000 empty properties in the UK under compulsory purchase and sell them off cheap. How will this affect the housing market? How long will you need to live in your starter home before you can sell it and move up the ladder? A day? A year? If I were unscrupulous I’d have a load of young relatives buy houses using loans from my company and then sell them off after pocketing the 20%. A little bit for them and a little bit for me and profit for everyone.

    Energy Bill – Doesn’t seem to be saying anything other than having central government leave planning permission up to local authorities (where it already lies).

    Immigration Bill – 298,000 immigrants come into the UK each year and mainly fill jobs that “hard-working British families first” don’t want to do or aren’t qualified to do. I’m sure that plenty of people would love to be dentists, nurses, or doctors but getting training in these fields in the UK is just too expensive for some. As for unskilled labourers working long hours for below minimum wage I’m fairly sure that “hard-working British families” will be forced to do this kind of work when their benefits are cut to the bone. Seizing wages as the “proceeds of crime” is just criminal in itself.

    There’s so much more but I’ll have to come back to it.

  4. wildswimmerpete

    I understand the Queen has threatened to use Royal Prerogative to bring Cameron to heel, especially concerning his selling-off of the NHS. “Interesting times” ahead?

  5. Steve Grant

    In the interests of everyone?…… about the children the royals hunt….is it in their interests?

  6. Michelle

    Jason mentioned: ‘As for unskilled labourers working long hours for below minimum wage I’m fairly sure that “hard-working British families” will be forced to do this kind of work when their benefits are cut to the bone.”

    Self-employed Brits who aren’t unskilled and who get no benefits are already having to take work that is minimum wage or just below, packing socks in boxes in dust and one’s haunches isn’t a great career move especially when similar work was done while still at a very young age many moons ago long before GCSE’s, Degree, postgraduate studies etc. etc. Land of hope and…. with the greenest government ever!

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