It had to be him.
Iain Duncan Smith, creator of the huge increase in poverty in the UK since 2010, has spoken out against a plan to keep people from financial ruin during the coronavirus crisis.
His prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he would consider introducing a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to help people hit by the financial impact of social distancing measures he has introduced to fight the spread of COVID-19.
It has been suggested that the idea would cost the Treasury £260 billion – less than the £330 billion measures Rishi Sunak has already imposed, in a bid to protect the economy – and industry leaders like Liam Kelly, chair of the Baltic Triangle group of companies, support it.
He told the Liverpool Echo: “UBI isn’t quite as radical as the idea of dropping money from a helicopter, but it’s clearly a plausible solution to the wealth crisis caused by this global pandemic.
“It will help stave off the unprecedented economic challenges we face and protect us from another. This is a sensible fiscal stimulus and it’s time it went directly to the people, not just to the banks.”
But Duncan Smith, whose Bedroom Tax turfed people out of their homes (including vulnerable people who had panic rooms installed to protect them from violent assault); whose Universal Credit, with its five-week wait before the first payment has unnecessarily tipped millions into poverty; and whose doctored assessments for sickness and disability benefits have denied financial security to the most vulnerable people in society, prompting some to take their own lives and worsening others’ illnesses to the point of death… He thinks he knows better.
Following the recent Tory tactic of putting comments behind a paywall on a Tory-supporting newspaper’s website (this time it was the Telegraph), he claimed that UBI would make no difference to the financial struggles of low-income households and would not alleviate poverty.
He provided no evidence to support this wild claim.
He said a guaranteed monthly income would “disincentivise work” and cost an “astronomic amount of money” – even though it is believed to cost £70 billion less than the measures already announced by the Chancellor.
We must remember that these are the words of a man who believes the best way to wipe out poverty is to wipe out people who suffer from it.
Why else would he have imposed policies that push vulnerable people so deeply into poverty that many of them are unable to survive?
It seems clear that he is trying to protect his vanity projects – Universal
Credit, the Bedroom Tax, biased PIP and ESA assessments – all of which would become redundant if UBI were brought in.
And he wants to ensure that we do not get to see the beneficial effects of UBI, even if it is only brought in for a brief, experimental period.
It seems clear that, while the Tories are claiming to be doing what they can in the face of the crisis, the evil that motivates them remains as strong as it ever was.
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