Category Archives: Debt

Windfall tax on pandemic profits should wipe out Covid-19 related debt says McDonnell

John McDonnell: he would have revolutionised the UK’s economy. Instead, the Tories have saddled one-tenth of the population with debt so great that they cannot pay their regular bills.

A former Shadow Chancellor has proposed a radical set of plans to clear the debt created by the Tory government’s cack-handed handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

John McDonnell pointed out that the richest firms in the UK have profited hand-over-fist during the crisis, and should pay a windfall tax to help pay for the measures to end it – which would ultimately help them, of course.

His proposals were not an attack on businesses, though – they were a criticism of a speech by current Labour leader Keir Starmer, whose best idea was to get members of the public to give all the money they have managed to save during the crisis to a new investment bank – meaning the nation’s poorest would foot the bill (again). What a socialist Starmer is!

In fact, according to Citizens Advice, more than six million people have fallen behind on their bills because of Covid-related hardship, and the number in severe, problem debt has doubled to 1.2 million.

They don’t have any spare cash for castle-in-the-air investment banks!

McDonnell said a comprehensive package of debt cancellation was needed to get the UK back on its feet, including high-cost debt, old debt, unmanageable rent and student debt – all to be supported by a windfall tax on businesses that have raked in billions of pounds over the last year.

He called for the creation of a ‘Debt Charter’ to tackle the causes and consequences of debt in UK society.

Improved benefits and a £10-an-hour living wage, along with restored universal basic services, should be deployed to prevent people from getting into debt in the first place, he said.

He called for a cap on interest rate charges and a ceiling on overdraft fees and interest payments to “rebalance power between lenders and the indebted”.

And he said bailiff visits should be suspended at least until the whole of the UK has been vaccinated against Covid-19.

This is the kind of thinking we need at this time.

We could have had it, too – if only millions of people had not been hoodwinked by anti-Labour propaganda at the 2019 general election, including a Tory campaign that was found to be more than 80 per cent lies.

So if you find yourself struggling with debt for years to come, while the Tories, their client media and their business-oriented doners tell you you’ve never had it so good, just remember that you could have had it better.

And remind everybody you know not to be fooled again.

Source: Impose windfall tax on pandemic profits to wipe debt slate clean, says McDonnell | The Independent

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Tory ideas about money have been wrong since before 2010. Here’s the reason

Flag-waving fools: Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson have no idea how to run a country. They rely on patriotism to blind the gullible while they take your cash – and still put us into debt.

Some of us have been saying this for years but here’s a big-league economist to back us up.

Remember all the talk about Labour having “Maxed out the national credit card” that David Cameron and George Osborne used to win just enough seats to form a coalition with oily Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats in 2010?

It was nonsense. I said it at the time (and many times afterwards in articles on This Site. You can’t compare a national economy with household income and expenditure.

But it seems people are still being taken in by it because the Tories are still using it as the basis of their economic model.

That is the reason the UK has fallen deeper and deeper into debt during their 10 years in office. We can only go into debt, while they continue to follow this course.

Richard Murphy explains it very well in the video clip but I’ll paraphrase: while households become better-off by restricting spending, the nation loses out because businesses don’t benefit from that spending and cannot pass the money on through the system – therefore the nation becomes poorer.

So, by restricting spending with austerity policies, the Tory governments of the last 10 years have starved the UK of its economic lifeblood and plunged us into trillions of pounds worth of debt.

The only way to improve our economic situation is by spending into the economy with wise investments that help it to grow.

But Conservatives simply do not understand this basic (macro)economic fact. They never have.

See for yourself:

Some households fared well during the first Covid-19 lockdown. The lack of any way to spend their money meant they were able to pay off debts and bank spare cash.

But that won’t last. In some cases, families are already suffering because their income has fallen below their outgoings and the lockdowns are still going on.

In fact, the Tory plan is to ensure that they leach that money away from all of us as soon as possible.

There is nothing you can do about it in individual households because the household unit is too small to stave off economic intervention from a national government.

But if you group together with others, you might find a way.

Alternatively, you can just stick your head in the sand and wait for Rishi Sunak to empty your bank account and steal your house. It’s up to you.

You’ll probably see the sense in these words on March 2, when Sunak announces his spring budget.

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The Tories have pushed public debt past £2 TRILLION after they promised to eliminate it

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“Spaffed up the wall”: Boris Johnson’s phrase – inappropriately applied to public money used to investigate child abuse – may now be more correctly applied to his own government’s use of all public funds..

Remember when the national debt was just £950 billion and the Tories slithered into office with a claim that they would eliminate it?

What happened?

George Osborne – remember him? – promised that he would eliminate the national deficit (regular borrowing by the government) by 2015, and would then reduce the debt.

He never did. And now he’s nowhere to be found.

And the national debt is now more than double what it was in 2010.

The Tories will say it’s because of the cost of the Covid-19 crisis – which they have increased exponentially by involving inept private health companies that have failed to carry out a single task adequately.

They may say it’s due to the cost of Brexit – which Boris Johnson pushed on us with a campaign of lies back in 2016 and which has cost us more in four years than we paid in more than 40 as an EU member state.

And they will certainly try to blame the Labour government of 1997-2010 and the international financial crisis that happened during that period, which had nothing to do with Labour policies.

They’ll also say a Labour government would have made matters worse, even though they have squandered more money in the last 10 years than was ever spent by every Labour administration the UK has ever had.

And don’t forget that Labour has reduced the national debt when in office, which is more than the Tories have done in our collective lifetime.

The BBC article is full of Tory apologists saying there was nothing they could do, but it simply isn’t true.

The Conservative Party has, in the words of Boris Johnson “spaffed up the wall” all the public money it could get its hands on, and then borrowed more than a trillion pounds more.

And ministers will say that you have to pay it back.

Source: UK government spending on virus measures pushes debt to £2 trillion – BBC News

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What will you say when they ask what you did in the class war?


I seem to have hit a nerve when I said the Tories are waging a class war on anyone who isn’t filthy rich.

In fact, two Vox Political articles touched on this class war – the first implied it, the second made it explicit.

Today I opened Twitter to discover those words all over the place:

I’m not claiming credit for calling a thing by its name – this is “multiple discovery”, “simultaneous invention”, “synchronicity” or, if you like, an expression of the “zeitgeist”. More and more people are simply coming to realise, understand and accept that it is the policy of the UK’s Conservative government to push them down unfairly.

That is what the decision – and it was a decision, deliberately made – to punish ‘A’ level pupils who weren’t from private schools was all about. Yes, Gavin Williamson and the other Tories are saying it was down to a mechanical system, an algorithm – but that algorithm was written by a human being who intended it to give an advantage to the children of very rich people.

In this way, the Tory class war has stolen your children’s futures and given them to the undeserving rich.

It’s what the decision  – and it was a decision, deliberately made – not to fight Covid-19 in any meaningful way was all about. Tens of thousands of people in care homes have died – your relatives, maybe – because Matt Hancock and the other Tories said people with Covid-19 who lived in those homes should be sent back to them – never mind the fact that they did not have isolation facilities and the virus would run through those places like wildfire and be transferred to others by part-time staff who worked in different homes run by the same – private – firm.

The Tories – and their private business collaborators – failed to source personal protective equipment, ventilators, tests and the facilities to carry out tests. The lockdown they imposed was half-hearted and failed to stop the progress of the disease. Now that they have lifted it, albeit with a few measures still in place, more people are contracting the virus again. So they have stopped reporting the daily number of infections.

And the Tories have rewarded their private business collaborators for their failures with hugely expensive contracts to continue failing us – all at the public expense. Serco’s test and trace contract has been renewed, even though we know it won’t stop any second wave (really just a resurgence of the first wave that was suppressed but never went away).

You won’t get justice against the Tories by the normal means available to civil society because the Tories have either corrupted them already or are in the process of doing so. Boris Johnson illegally terminated Parliament’s last session in the autumn of 2019 and what was the result? He called a general election, lied to us until he was purple in the face and was rewarded with an 80-seat Parliamentary majority.

Now he is using that power to ensure that the courts will not be able to stop any more of his corruption by planning a curb on judicial review of government activity. He is imposing a dictatorship – just as he told you he would, if you could have been bothered to read page 48 of his election manifesto.

The police won’t help. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and the others are all above the law – no matter what they do. Try reporting a cabinet minister for a crime and see how far you get. They’ll tell you they’re treating it seriously, bounce the accusation around a few different departments and then say there’s no evidence. I’ve been there.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died already because it is Tory policy to kill claimants of sickness or disability claimants, who they consider to be “useless eaters”. That’s why the newspapers have been full of reports showing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities starving to death.

They wanted your homes so they imposed the Bedroom Tax and took them away from you.

The list goes on and on.

And still, too many people think they are the best choice to run the UK – even though the economy is in its deepest recession ever, and Brexit means it may never recover. You will suffer – they won’t. They have been stockpiling your cash and will simply use it to sit out any unpleasantness in the future.

But I feel sure a tipping-point will come – a flashpoint. I wonder how much we will all have to lose before that happens. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty much everything.

By then, many people may think there is nothing they can do. I am reminded yet again of Martin Niemoller’s poem about how the Nazis came for different groups who received no help from anybody else until, by the time they come for the author, there was nobody even left for him to ask.

But I am reminded of another group who were put in a similar position. When I visited Bosnia in the 1990s, I was told how – when the tanks from other countries moved in – the people, who were weaponless, left their homes and went up into the hills. They came back at night, when they took weapons – and lives – from the soldiers who had taken everything from them. And slowly, they took back their land from their oppressors.

I can see that happening here in the future.

I would rather it didn’t.

But it will, if people of good conscience don’t wake up, get up and put up a fight.

Keir Starmer won’t do it. He agrees with the Tories. That’s why he’s busy turning the Labour Party into Tory Lite Mk II (New Labour was Mk I) and accusing anybody who disagrees with him of anti-Semitism.

If you don’t want this to fall into violence, then you need to think what else you can do.

The ‘A’ level fiasco creates opportunities. Already some further education institutions have said they will take students who were downgraded, on the basis of their predicted results. Some haven’t. Clearly we should take note of the side that each University, each college, takes. Those who do the right thing should be rewarded in whatever ways we can. Those who do not should be shunned – meaning not only that we should not even try to send our children there, but that we should reject their graduates when they seek employment with our businesses. We know they won’t be any damn good anyway.

And employers who turn down applicants on the basis of the Tory algorithm’s discredited results should also be named, so we can stop buying their products.

That’s the best – non-violent – response I can conceive on the spur of the moment, and these things need to start happening now.

We’d better get to it, if we don’t want to roll over and die. And yes, that means you.

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Tory Universal Credit minister says he’s seen no evidence it puts people in debt. Because he’s not looking?

A few coppers and some silver coins: all the Tories think you’re worth.

What has Will Quince been doing? Spending every working day with his eyes closed?

He’s the minister in charge of Universal Credit – and when told research showed people on it were 70 per cent more likely to be in rent arrears than people on old-style Housing Benefit, he said he’d seen no evidence of it.

It’s a clear admission of incompetence.

Here’s the Mirror:

The research was from Citizens Advice, which helps run the Help to Claim service, chair Stephen Timms said.

Mr Quince said he would need to see evidence for that, “not just anecdotally but some actual data”.

He added: “The evidence we have is that it’s people coming on to Universal Credit with historic rent arrears which actually get paid off faster over time on Universal Credit,” he said.

“There is not evidence to suggest, as far as I’ve seen … that suggests that people are building up rent arrears while on Universal Credit.”

Okay, let’s see if I can find some evidence…

Universal Credit is increasing debt and failing disabled people, says SNP

If Tories don’t support abusers, why does Universal Credit push people to stay in abusive relationships?

Backlash against DWP as Universal Credit throws almost half of claimants into debt

Universal credit flaws are pushing claimants to debt and eviction – because that was always the aim

Mum’s court challenge against DWP demand for UC claimants to go into childcare debt

That should do for a start. A quick search of This Site turned up more than 100 articles.

So I doubt Will Quince’s sincerity when he says he’s seen no evidence.

Either he’s lying or he is incompetent. Either way, he should resign.

Source: Tory Universal Credit minister claims he’s seen no evidence it pushes people into debt – Mirror Online

If Tories don’t support abusers, why does Universal Credit push people to stay in abusive relationships?

Abuse: the Tories have ensured that people can’t escape if it means claiming Universal Credit. That way lie only debt, depression and mental breakdown.

Twisted Tory rules mean that people are financially encouraged to stay in abusive relationships rather than claim Universal Credit.

The Conservative government has deliberately weighted the conditions under which the so-called benefit is paid to make it more difficult for people to survive by claiming it than by living with an abuser – even if this means endangering their own lives.

People with disabilities are particularly at risk. But then, those of us who are familiar with the Tory record on disability have come to expect that.

Unite the Union has provided the story of Emma (not her real name), who lived a life of psychological abuse, control and marital rape until she was helped to divorce her husband and strike out on her own.

She did not think there would be any hardship as her husband, it seems, was a genuine skiver who refused to work, meaning she had been the main earner – despite being able to work only 24 hours per week, due to a serious autoimmune disease.

But the Tories made sure she would suffer.

Previously, as a working person, she had been receiving tax credits, and would have been better-off had she continued to do so.

But the Tories used her change of circumstances to force her onto Universal Credit, leaving her £350 per month worse-off.

There are several reasons for this:

The disabled worker allowance she used to receive under tax credits was stopped. This is because the allowance can only be accessed through a work capability assessment, which grants benefits to people unable to work, rather than for disabled people who can work.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has stated that this has resulted in a Catch 22 where “a worker must be assessed as not fit for work to receive targeted in-work support”.

Have you ever heard of anything as flat-out daft?

I bet if anyone tried to point it out, they’d have to fight an expensive court case before the Tories did anything about it, too.

Worse still, Emma ran into a problem that has now been challenged in court, with a ruling made against it:

Her wages are paid on the last Wednesday of every month rather than on the same date. This resulted in her claim being cancelled and her payments being stopped for three months. She was also ineligible to claim her entitlement back for the month in which the claim was ended.

This is a widely experienced problem for Universal Credit claimants whose regular wages are paid on different days each month and stems from an ill-considered policy stipulation that the benefit amount is calculated to a strictly defined time period.

Now Emma is among 85,000 people who should be able to claim compensation, after the Court of Appeal have ruled that it was “irrational” for the Department for Work and Pensions – and the Secretary of State in particular – to ignore the fact that computer systems would assume that claimant had received double the money expected and cancel their payments.

The Conservative government spent two years fighting this court case – indicating that, despite being well aware of the issue, Tories were determined to continue depriving some of the poorest workers in the UK of vital benefits – including victims of outrageous domestic abuse like Emma.

I asked in my previous article about the court case whether the Tories were sadists or perverts, commenting that “perverts” seemed closest to the mark as one of the judges had described the situation as “perverse”.

Considering Emma’s case, it seems they were sadists as well.

The court ruling came too late for her, by the way – forced into an ever-mounting debt crisis with not even an offer of support from the Department for Work and Pensions, the weight of a life suffering abuse came crashing over her and she suffered a nervous breakdown.

She is now diagnosed as suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

After 22 years as a healthcare professional in which she had always paid her bills, taxes and pension contributions, she now says she is “mortgaged up to the hilt… living off a credit card and have taken out two personal loans”.

So Universal Credit has put Emma exactly where the Tories want her – deeply in debt and forced to work like a beast of burden in the forlorn hope of clearing that debt again.

Consider the fact that 85,000 people are likely to have been put in the same situation by the ‘pay date’ scandal alone – never mind those who lost the disabled worker allowance, and it seems clear that the Tories are trying to create a “zombie economy” – with working people forced to wear themselves out trying to pay off an impossibly-high debt while their creditors sit back and count their profits.

It seems a limited amount of help is available for people who have suffered domestic abuse – but anyone seeking it must provide “written evidence” (of what kind?) within one month of discussing it with a work coach.

Emma is clear about the end result:

“Had I known that I would lose my tax credits and be transferred to Universal Credit before I separated from my ex-husband, I most definitely would have remained in the marriage and that is a worrying thought.

“Universal Credit, I believe, traps people in unhealthy relationships and causes more difficulties to individuals who are already in a vulnerable and distressing situation.”

So much for Iain Duncan Smith’s brainchild.

The only way for vulnerable people like Emma to avoid its debt trap is to go back into domestic degradation and abuse.

And the only conclusion we can draw is that Conservative politicians have designed the system to achieve this.

So it would be fair to say the Conservative government – and every MP who is a member of it – in league with the worst kind of physical, psychological and sexual abusers.

If they try to deny it, let them explain why they designed Universal Credit that way – and why they fight court cases to keep it that way.

Source: Domestic abuse survivor speaks out about Universal Credit nightmare

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Tories refuse to help Universal Credit claimants left dangling due to coronavirus

Thousands upon thousands of formerly-working people are learning the realities of the UK benefit system, after being told by the Tories to wait months before their first benefit payment.

If they hoped the Tories would speed up the four-week assessment period for Universal Credit – because of the coronavirus crisis and the cash crisis it has created for millions – they thought wrong.

And they need to remember that they won’t get paid until a week after the assessment period ends; it’s a five-week total wait.

The Tories could make the wait shorter – but they won’t.

The usual excuse is that UC is supposed to mimic the salary system in which people get paid once a month (except of course we know that many people are paid weekly, or fortnightly).

The current excuse, sported by UC director general Neil Couling is “If you play about with the architecture of Universal Credit you won’t be able to pay the vast millions we have to pay every month.”

Nonsense.

It’s an automatic system. If you qualify, you qualify – and it can pay you straight away.

It doesn’t, because the Tory system is to make you wait; to push you far enough to take out an advance loan that will take months to pay off; to push you into permanent debt.

It seems the coronavirus is a perfect opportunity to get 1.4 million people (at current count) servicing a needless debt for months to come.

Hopes new Universal Credit payments could be made faster have been dashed after the Government said the four-week assessment period was ‘integral’ to the benefits system.

Many campaign groups had been hoping for an accelerated process to help alleviate the pressure families found themselves under after the coronavirus outbreak forced businesses to close and people to stay at home as part of the lockdown.

Speaking at a press briefing, Universal Credit director general Neil Couling said: ‘If you play about with the architecture of Universal Credit you won’t be able to pay the vast millions we have to pay every month.’

Source: ‘No chance’ wait for Universal Credit payments can be shortened | Metro News

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Coronavirus: NHS debt write-off is further evidence that the Tories only see it as a money machine

Matt Hancock: he has cancelled £13.4 billion of NHS debt – but now we find that it didn’t really exist anyway, except as a way of penalising patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced last Thursday that the government is writing off £13.4 billion of National Health Service debt.

Why has no Tory health secretary ever done that before?

There can only be one answer: because they simply didn’t want to.

As Richard Murphy states in his Tax Research UK article, the NHS wasn’t actually in debt to anybody – the money was owed by the government to the government. It was an item of book-keeping.

That book-keeping element was created to introduce hugely-expensive bureaucracy into the health system, that “diverted massive effort into corporate management, PR, and accounting when none of that was needed” as a precursor to full privatisation.

And it also removed the “national” element from the health service because trusts that run deficits are penalised by the Tory system; they have to try to recover the deficit and if they fail to do so, then they are told to recover more the following year.

This meant they were increasingly less likely to be able to provide the health care that patients needed; the money had to go to debt recovery instead.

That means the NHS is no longer a service to improve public health; it is a service to provide money to the Tories.

(And that’s before we even mention the cash that’s being leached away in contracts with private companies, that ends up in shareholder dividends instead of in treatment for patients.)

It’s as Noam Chomsky stated when he described the steps leading to privatisation: you defund, the system stops working, people complain, then you say the public system doesn’t work and commercialisation is the only way forward.

In other words, the Tories have been creating a lie that looks plausible, in order to fool us all into accepting the imposition of a private health service that we won’t be able to afford.

Hancock has written off the debt in order to make it possible for health trusts to buy in the resources they need to fight the coronavirus – which is good, right?

But when the crisis is over, the Tory system will still be in place, putting trusts in the most vulnerable parts of the UK back into debt and increasing health inequality.

Mr Murphy says the answer is to restore full nationalisation to the health service – ending the pointless bureaucracy that negates huge chunks of the annual NHS budget.

At a time when we’ve seen how the Tories left the NHS unprepared for coronavirus, he makes a good point.

Source: Writing off NHS debt of £13.4 billion is a charade. What is required instead is the renationalisation of the NHS: nothing less will do

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This is how your government handles coronavirus: families in debt for food one week into lockdown

School meal: this image is from before the coronavirus lockdown. Now parents are saying they’ve had no substitute for school meals with which to feed their children, despite an(other) empty promise from the Tory government.

You think coronavirus is a deadly contagion but the Tories seem to think it’s a money-making opportunity.

Here’s what’s happening, according to The Guardian. I’ll lay out what it means below:

Millions of British people are already struggling to get the food they need and are falling into debt because of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey carried out this week suggests.

More than 1.5 million adults in Britain say they cannot obtain enough food. Half of the YouGov poll sample reported that they were self-isolating, and 53% of NHS workers were worried about getting food.

Half of parents on low incomes with children eligible for free school meals said they had not yet received any substitute meals to keep their children fed, despite government promises to provide food vouchers or parcels. Around 830,000 children are therefore likely to be going without daily sustenance.

On 21 March the government instructed people at greater risk of Covid-19 to stay in their homes and self-isolate for 12 weeks. It said it would contact 1.5 million people in this category and set up a system with local authorities, voluntary organisations and business to deliver food parcels to the homes of those who lacked family support.

Military planners have been assigned to work with councils, but the Guardian understands that the scheme is not yet running and will take a few weeks to scale up to supplying food to 400,000 people. The Food Foundation has calculated that more than twice that number – 860,000 people who fall into the medically vulnerable category – were suffering from food insecurity even before the crisis.

The government of the United Kingdom could put the systems in place to get food to people within minutes if it so desired.

So we have to ask why this has not been done.

The obvious answer is: money.

People in debt end up not only owing the amount of the debt but interest on it as well. They become long-term sources of income to their creditors.

And what’s the easiest way to make people borrow? Simple: depriving them of food.

Why do you think the Tories are so keen for so many people to claim Universal Credit? It’s a debt-creation machine; the five-week wait for payments means you have to borrow money.

It’s the “zombie economy” but using private money instead of national funds.

And by attacking the poor and vulnerable, it’s practically a guarantee that these people will never be able to pay it off.

Source: Families borrowing to buy food a week into UK lockdown | Society | The Guardian

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Universal Credit isn’t just harming people – it is damaging the entire UK economy

Oldham was named as the most deprived town in England in 2016.

That was three years after the town volunteered – yes, volunteered – to pilot Universal Credit, the Tory government’s flagship benefit that was touted as a huge improvement on the ‘legacy’ benefits it replaced.

And what has happened in the years since then?

Well, UC pays housing benefit direct to claimants, rather than to Housing Associations – meaning that one such organisation lost £400,000 in rent during the first year of the benefit; money it will never recoup.

Currently, 41 per cent of its tenants on UC are in arrears – that’s 1,398 out of 3,402.  Another 2,450 are yet to make the move.

But the problem isn’t with tenants withholding the money; it’s with them struggling with the Kafkaesque application process and having to wait five weeks before their first payment.

In the last year, the housing association has referred 199 people to food banks.

That’s not what happens to people who are receiving enough money but using it wrongly; it’s what happens to people who are being deliberately starved.

Claimants like ‘Barbara’, who has to look after an autistic son and has anxiety and depression, including suicidal thoughts, have faced delay after delay in a process that should be straightforward but seems to have been deliberately complicated by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Now she is £5,000 in debt because the pittance UC provides her simply doesn’t cover basic living costs.

And some people are going undetected by organisations trying to help. While they seem to be coping on paper – by paying their rent on time – they are going without heat, light or food.

Even people who are in work are penalised by the system. One couple, after going self-employed and coping on UC for a year, then discovered that their future payments would be based on a notional figure of what they should be earning, plucked from the air.

In short, their UC payments halved and they were left struggling to cope. Reluctantly, they were forced to close down the business.

So this revolution in the benefits system has not only caused extreme hardship to its claimants, but there have been knock-on effects on the businesses they try to run and the organisations they rely on.

It is already causing serious harm, not just to the poor but to the economy of the United Kingdom. And the Tories want you to think it’s a huge success. Insanity.

Source: Oldham Piloted Universal Credit 7 Years Ago. Here’s The Grim Reality Of What Happened Since. | HuffPost UK

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