The worst part of this is that Therese Coffey probably didn’t even think about the consequences of her actions.
It is doubtful she gave a moment’s consideration to the fact that the Tory government’s so-called “grace period” exempting many people who claimed Universal Credit due to the Covid-19 crisis from the benefit cap will end this month – right before Christmas.
The number of households affected by the Benefit Cap has doubled since the Covid-19 crisis started – to 170,000. And a further 160,000 will reach the end of the nine-month grace period in the remaining weeks before Christmas.
How nice for them to have to work out how to make up the sudden shortfall just when they are likely to need more!
Still, it could be worse – they could be claiming Employment and Support Allowance, like many people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.
These people were diddled out of a £20-per-week rise in benefits that was given to people on Universal Credit. Coffey babbled a bobbins “computer says no” claim – that changes to computer systems could take months.
For UC claimants, the increase will last at least until next April, although there are demands for it to be made permanent, in the light of increasing uncertainty about the nation’s economic future.
ESA claimants are already £660-a-year worse-off – each – because of Ms Coffey’s computer-illiteracy, and this could almost double to £1,000 if they don’t see the rise in April.
Now for the most insidious part: Ms Coffey hasn’t ruled out the possibility that ESA claimants may get their benefit increase in the future.
But (firstly) she hasn’t said anything about whether they’ll have the rise backdated to cover all the time they’ve had to cope without it.
And (secondly) there’s an enormous orange elephant sitting in the middle of this room: people on Employment and Support Allowance die. One could say it is what they are best-known for.
The most common reason they die, that is known to those of us who check, is lack of money. ESA claimants need more cash because their medical conditions mean their lives are more expensive than those of people who are able-bodied.
And here the Tories have said they are deliberately denying sick people the extra cash that they have said everyone else needs to cope with the extra costs of Covid!
I fear that, for many, that is the equivalent of writing a death warrant.
And, given the Tory record on these matters, I fear that death is exactly what Ms Coffey is hoping will happen to these people – whose only crime is failure to be a “functioning work unit” (as Tory jargon describes the rest of us).
AFTERTHOUGHT: Shortly after I posted this, I received the following comment on Twitter, which I think makes a very good point:
Mike these are the same people who ar going to suffer from the failure of our supply chains over the coming weeks and months. We are already struggling to get haulage across the EU in to the UK & each day it is getting worse and costing more
— Paul Lythgoe (@PALythgoe) December 7, 2020
No extra £20/wk for those of us on ESA cos we don't matter.
UC increase was only to appease Tory voters who suddenly realised that benefit levels are so low and not what they'd been led to believe by years of Tory propaganda #LegacyBenefitsRipOff https://t.co/o9TewB6WtR
— Alis (@swangirl14) December 7, 2020
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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