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Tory attempts at sleight-of-hand really are astonishing.

We’ve just had two days in which all attention has been concentrated on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the so-called “meaningful vote” on it, and the vote of “no confidence” in the Conservative government that arose from that.

But the mechanism of government has been working as usual in the background, and a few announcements were allowed to slip out quietly while we were looking the other way. It seems while we’ve been worrying about how Mrs May’s Brexit will affect everybody in the UK, her government has been picking on the poor – as usual:

  • The time at which couples of mixed ages transition onto the state pension has been changed so that, where previously it happened when the older partner reaches state pension age, from May 15 this year it will happen when the younger partner reaches pensionable age. Age UK has described this as a “substantial stealth cut” that could cost some couples £7,000 a year.
  • It was revealed that childcare workers have suffered a real-terms pay cut of five per cent since 2013, and now receive around 40 per cent less than the average female worker. Almost half of childcare workers claim state benefits or tax credits.
  • And, of course, those who are claiming benefits might have trouble finding their local job centre as the DWP may have shut it down. Employment Minister Alok Sharma was recently slated for telling Labour’s Angela Eagle to visit her local job centre when it had been closed by his department.

Meanwhile the death count due to Tory benefits incompetence continues to rise, with the DWP releasing figures showing 21,000 claimants of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) have died while waiting to be assessed.

Despite these fatalities, a report by the Office For Budget Responsibility has revealed that instead of cutting the cost of disability benefits by 20 per cent – as the DWP claimed – PIP has increased costs by 15-20 per cent.

While the Conservative government has been attacking the poor, and especially those on benefits, with nearly nine years of cuts, of which the above are merely the latest – coupled with a propaganda campaign tarring claimants as “skivers”, “work-shy” and “scroungers”, research has shown that Westminster’s policy – of squeezing benefits to force people into any job available – is completely wrong; it is in countries that have a generous benefit system that a culture of strivers flourishes and people in those countries are more likely to look for work and less likely to be dependent on benefits.

But then, we only have the Conservatives’ word that they are trying to “encourage” people into work with their policies.

From what we’ve seen, it’s far more likely they are trying to encourage people into the grave instead.