Long-term readers of This Site will be pleased to know that Mrs Mike was recently awarded Personal Independence Payments, at a rate that means she receives more than she did on Disability Living Allowance.
Unfortunately, she has now heard that her PIP claim will eventually be mutated into Universal Credit, leading to an awkward conversation in which she asked whether we would have to write the forms all over again, and expressed her fear that she would lose money, in the strongest possible terms.
When you hear statements like the following, from Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey (and pay attention to the Labour Party’s comments too), you can certainly understand Mrs Mike’s concerns:
Nobody should be worse off, and nobody should have their homes put at risk because of Universal Credit.
The system has to change. pic.twitter.com/nCQYNAU2Qh
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 11, 2018
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood has hammered the point home: “Now that Esther McVey has admitted that people will be worse off under Universal Credit, this Conservative Government has no excuse for pushing ahead with [its] shameful programme.
“This exposes Number 10’s claim this week that no family will receive less money under Universal Credit as fiction. The evidence shows that millions of people will be worse off.
“The Government must stop the rollout now, before millions of families are plunged into poverty and put at risk of homelessness.”
Eoin Clarke posted on his Tory Fibs Twitter feed: “Massive moment in British Politics. Today, the government admitted Universal Credit will leave people worse off. Going ahead with it is now nothing other than sadism.”
Journalist George Monbiot Tweeted: “When a politician like Esther McVey says they have made a “tough decision”, they invariably mean tough for other people, not for … them.”
And Labour’s Ian Lavery pointed out that the rollout of Universal Credit makes a mockery of the Tories’ appointment of a minister for suicide prevention, as the number of people attempting to kill themselves will soar. This is a strong assertion that Tory policies push people to suicide, in the face of the DWP’s protestations that they don’t.
He wrote, in a letter to Theresa May: “This rollout will lead to increased suicides and the unnecessary deaths of yet more people who have been forced into desperation by the welfare reforms of the past 8 years.
“I ask you to look at this situation urgently and do all you can to avoid implementing such an ill-thought out and damaging policy simply because of an ideological belief.”
Speaking as he sent the letter he added: “If the government continues to push forward this nonsensical and vicious agenda, they will have blood on their hands.”
Tory ministers already have blood on their hands, of course. John McDonnell has backed calls for Iain Duncan Smith to be prosecuted for failing to act on coroners’ reports, warning that Tory benefit cuts and conditionality were leading to deaths.
And what does “sadistic” Mrs May have to say about all this?
She’s not budging.
Asked by the SNP’s Ian Blackford to reconsider all the government’s social security policies – and in particular to scrap the work capability assessments that have driven half of all female claimants of sickness and disability benefits to attempt suicide – she dug her heels in.
“It is important that we get the assessments right,” she incanted robotically at Prime Minister’s Questions. “It is right that we are encouraging people into the workplace and wanting to ensure that people who are able to be in the workplace are given the support that enables them to do that. That is what we want to do. It is right that we maintain assessments. Of course we look at the impact and quality of those assessments. That is work the Department for Work and Pensions does on a regular basis. It is important that we are undertaking those assessments.”
“It is important.” “It is right.” “It is right.” “It is important.”
Important for whom? Right for whom?
For the super-rich, who have benefited from huge tax cuts while the rest of us have suffered from cuts to services and benefits? Assuredly.
Certainly not for the thousands upon thousands of perfectly decent people that Mrs May, Ms McVey, Mr Duncan Smith and the others have driven to attempted suicide and to death.
But then, Tories don’t count them as people, do they? To a Tory, they – and you, and certainly Mrs Mike – are stock.
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