Perceptive piece by Siobhan Fenton in The Independent:

It’s now been revealed that £12bn worth of welfare cuts will be included in next month’s budget, with even more rolled out in the autumn spending review.

Such cuts are based on nothing more than the Tory myth that poverty is a choice which people can be scared or starved out of. Osborne’s logic appears to be that if the Tories make life for poor people insufferable, they will simply choose to be well-off. As such, poverty is a lifestyle choice or a moral failing.

By framing the issue in this way, the Conservatives have narrowed the conversation, and hope people won’t be able to see the wider structural inequalities and economic failings, for which they are responsible.

But in reality, the reason why there are teenagers who will leave school this year and sign on for Jobseekers’ Allowance – rather going up to Oxford University like David Cameron and George Osborne – isn’t because of choices they made as individuals. They didn’t choose to be born into a family who could not send them to Eton or St Pauls, nor did they choose to be born into the most savage economic climate in living memory.

Nor does anyone “choose” to be disabled. Or to belong to a social class, gender or ethnic group which has been economically oppressed for centuries by the establishment.

Nor do unemployed people choose to not be in jobs which simply do not exist.

Being further deprived of their right to live with basic dignity will not mean that people on welfare will simply decide to become employed or non-disabled. Rather, these welfare cuts will serve to test, punish and degrade them further.

Source: People choose to be poor and disabled – this is the logic behind the Tories’ £12bn of welfare cuts – Comment – Voices – The Independent

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