Category Archives: Poverty

Rishi Sunak wants to inflict more austerity on us – but it can’t work. Why bother?

New new prime minister Rishi Sunak wants – finally – to impose on us the new round of austerity he was planning to inflict when he became Chancellor in 2020 (but couldn’t because of Covid-19).

There is no economic justification for it because austerity does not achieve anything other than shrinking the state and choking off the supply of money into the economy.

And this is a problem for Sunak, because the people of the United Kingdom have already suffered 12 years of having their money supply choked off.

Sunak’s plan is to further impoverish a nation that is already in poverty – and it is not acceptable.

Here’s Phil Moorhouse to put some flesh on the bones:

If he were to ask his advisers for alternatives that will actually stimulate the economy, they would happily provide some.

What a shame. It seems clear that this is another Tory prime minister for whom our economic well-being means less than a political ideology.

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The Tory legacy for ordinary people: pawn shops and warm banks

“This is the consequence of voting for Boris Johnson and the Tories: they don’t care about you, they never will, they never have – and until people realise that, nothing is going to change.”

Maximilien Robespierre on the rise of pawn shops and warm banks in the fifth-richest nation on Earth:

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DWP rejects MPs’ plea to pause benefit deductions – hides it behind Queen’s funeral

The Department for Work and Pensions has refused to stop taking money from already-inadequate benefit payments – and has hidden the decision by releasing it while the media were focused on the Queen’s funeral.

MPs on the Commons’ Work and Pensions Select Committee called for the DWP to stop debt repayments being deducted from benefits, back in July.

They said deductions should be restarted only when inflation eased or benefit levels caught up.

It seems DWP chiefs have spent around two months waiting for “a good day to bury bad news”, as the saying goes.

According to Open Democracy,

[MPs] said the debt deductions were causing “hardship” for “households currently struggling with huge financial pressures”, and people needed “breathing space”.

Nearly half (45%) of people on Universal Credit are currently having deductions taken out of their benefits to repay debts, at an average of £62 a month. The debts are typically caused by historic overpayments and other errors, advance payments made during the five-week-wait for Universal Credit, and by arrears on energy costs and other priority bills. Currently the government can deduct up to a quarter of someone’s benefits each month to repay these debts.

MPs heard from charities including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that these deductions were “a key factor in destitution”. The Trussell Trust said the practice was pushing “people into destitution and needing to turn to a food bank”.

Now brace yourself for the DWP’s nonsense justification for putting people into destitution:

the Department for Work and Pensions said it did not believe pausing deductions was “necessarily in the claimant’s best interest”. It said that if that deductions were paused between now and the April 2023 rise, people might then not notice the impact … when it comes … and people might “feel no better off”.

But they’re not going to feel better-off anyway if the whole uplift has to go towards servicing debts that could be avoided if the DWP simply paused these deductions for a while.

The government also rejected MPs’ calls to bring forward the uprating of benefits, currently not due to take effect till April 2023. In April this year, benefits were increased by an inflation rate that was seven months out of date – rising 3.1%, at a point when inflation was already running at 9%.

So already, people on benefits are receiving far less than they should, simply to keep up with inflation.

Claimants are eligible for additional money to help with housing costs – but this is “not intended” to cover the rent fully in many areas, meaning people have to make that shortfall up from their benefits, too. MPs called for the housing element to be increased, as happened during the pandemic, but the government rejected this call, too, citing its work on helping people on benefits save for a deposit to buy a house instead. According to housing charity Shelter, most private tenants have a shortfall, as the maximum amount is set to cover only the lowest 30% of rents in any given area, and there are other exclusions as well.

It should be easy to conclude from this that the Tory “benefit” system is unfit for purpose and the sooner they are taken out of its administration, the better.

And the reason the DWP is refusing to take action to stop people on benefits from falling into debt and destitution should be clear: that is exactly what the Tory system is designed to do.

Source: DWP rejects ‘cost of living’ plea by MPs to pause benefit deductions | openDemocracy

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Autumn energy price raises may leave you DESTITUTE, says Martin Lewis. Who cares?

Martin Lewis: he is predicting a debt catastrophe for millions of people in October – and you’re probably one of those affected.

Coming energy price increases will swallow all the help the UK’s Tory government has provided to bill-payers so far, leaving us all severely out-of-pocket while energy shareholders pocket huge bonuses.

“Money Saving Expert” Martin Lewis has called for immediate action from our politicians – all of whom seem determined to pretend they don’t know anything about the danger facing millions of people because of their stupid political decisions over the last few years.

Bear it in mind: there is no real shortage of gas or electricity – or any other power source. You are simply being deprived of it in order to make someone rich.

Here’s Mr Lewis:

He has previously appealed for Tory politicians to get a grip on the issue in a video message last month, when he made it very clear that the price rises don’t just affect your ability to pay bills but may also affect your ability – for example – to get a mortgage.

Mr Lewis has also warned against the pitfalls of joining a campaign calling for people simply not to pay their bills, starting in October. He said energy suppliers could enforce a pre-payment meter, cut off energy supply or impact consumers’ credit scores negatively.

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Cost-of-living crisis: Tories demand clampdown on people who steal to eat

Tory Kit Malthouse: his party has inflicted poverty on millions and now he is determined that if anybody is driven to steal food, just so they can eat, police should prosecute them with the full force of the law rather than exercise their discretion to deliver justice.

The Tory government has opened up a rift with the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary over people who steal to eat because of the cost-of-living crisis.

“The impact of poverty, and the impact of lack of opportunity for people, does lead to an increase in crime. There’s no two ways about that,” Andy Cooke, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said.

He said officers should use their “discretion” when deciding whether to prosecute people who steal in order to eat: “What they’ve got to bear in mind is what is the best thing for the community, and that individual, in the way they deal with those issues.”

But he insisted he was not advocating an amnesty for people who commit crimes of poverty, nor “giving a carte blanche for people to go out shoplifting”. Instead, he advised officers to make sure such matters of law enforcement are “dealt with in the best way possible”.

The Guardian found at least one police representative who agreed with this approach:

One chief constable whose area includes pockets of poverty agreed with Cooke. “There is a difference between a first-time offender who steals bread, cheese or milk to eat, and someone stealing to feed an addiction,” they said. “Police are there to help people in extreme need, that’s why we joined. We can signpost them to a food bank or help like that.”

But the Tory government takes a different view – Policing Minister Kit Malthouse wants to crack down hard on the people his party’s policies have driven into poverty.

On Thursday’s (May 19) morning interview round, he told LBC: “I wrote to chief constables just a year or so ago saying they should not be ignoring those seemingly small crimes.

“We first of all believe the law should be blind and police officers should operate without fear or favour in prosecution of the law.”

What did you expect? Tory policy has been to privatise the prison service, remember.

Perhaps they want to fill those prisons for their private business cronies.

And one more thing:

Isn’t it hypocritical for the Tories to want harsh action against people suffering as a result of their policies – but think it is hardly worth mentioning when their own leader ignores their policies in order to have a big party?

Source: Officers should use discretion over stealing to eat, says police watchdog | Police | The Guardian

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Tory MP Lee Anderson has been talking rubbish – and expecting us to eat it

Lee Anderson (right) with his leader Boris Johnson: Anderson was talking rubbish (as his boss often does) – and expecting the rest of us to eat it, too – according to an expert chef

After Tory MP Lee Anderson claimed it was possible to cook “nutritious meals” for 30p, professional chef Gareth Mason tried it.

The chef, who has 19 years’ experience, set himself the task of cooking seven basic meals that fit within the 30p budget.

Mr Mason made crab stick salad, burgers, spaghetti Napoli, beans on toast, a jacket potato with beans, and a ‘spam fritter’ made from cheap luncheon meat.

His verdict? They were not nutritionally balanced or big enough to sustain an adult:

“I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a load of rubbish,” the head chef at Absolute Bistros in Westhoughton, Lancashire told HullLive.

“These meals I’ve done, as soon as you put any protein or dairy into them, it’s not feasible to do it for 30p.

“If you eat beans on toast for every meal, it might work, but even if you did cheese on toast, the cost of cheese would be more than 30p on its own.

“And you have the cooking cost on top of the cost of the food.”

That last point is right on the nose.

At a time when the cost of the energy needed to cook is rocketing, this overprivileged MP didn’t even have the intelligence to include it in his claim.

And Mr Mason had another thought about Lee Anderson’s disproved theory:

Gareth said while Mr Anderson’s 30p figure may be achievable using batch cooking methods in a professional kitchen, there aren’t many people who have the space or storage required to make it work.

“Has this guy ever eaten a 30p meal in his life? I doubt it,” Gareth asked.

“He’s contradicted himself by having chefs cook the food in a big kitchen with an industrial oven.

“Where does he expect the average person to cook all this food and then freeze it all?”

Where indeed? And freezers don’t work for free.

“You could just about feed yourself, but it’s not going to be healthy or nutritious or get anywhere near the number of calories an average adult needs to function each day,” he said.

“He’s treating people like peasants. Energy prices are going up, people are struggling, the cost of living is on the rise, and what’s their solution? Eat for 30p?

“The cheaper you go, how much rubbish is in the food?

“It will be full of additives and preservatives and all sorts of junk. It’s not fresh, nutritious food that people need to have a healthy diet.”

So there you have it. Lee Anderson’s claims have been definitively disproved.

Remember that, next time a filthy rich Tory MP makes wild claims about what can be achieved with very little, when they’ve never had to face the same restrictions.

Source: Chef says Tory MP is ‘treating people like peasants’ after cooking 30p meals

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The UK’s food bank shame will not be solved by Tories like Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson (right) with his leader Boris Johnson: no wonder Anderson thinks he can get away with a Big Lie when his boss is the biggest liar of them all.

This MP is a disgrace to his Ashfield constituency.

He stood up in the House of Commons and admitted that his local food bank won’t give out desperately-needed parcels to people unless they sign up to take a course in budgeting and cooking skills – but you’ll notice he never said anything about whether such courses were effective in reducing demand.

Mr Anderson invited MPs to visit a food bank in his Nottinghamshire constituency where he said people “have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course” if they receive parcels.

“We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,” he added. “We can make a meal for about 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

“There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. We’ve got generation after generation who can not cook properly… they can not budget.”

Here’s video of what he said, along with some of the more well-informed comments by opposition MPs:

As usual, though, the best commentary on this came from the food writer and blogger Jack Monroe, who slated Anderson’s comment in an LBC interview:

“It’s not a lack of skills or knowledge that is causing people to struggle in food poverty in this country…it’s the lack of resources, it’s the lack of finances.

“It’s not that people don’t know what to do with a bag of pasta, it’s that they don’t have the 29p to buy it in the first place.

“Helping somebody conditional on them saying ‘you know what, I’m a terrible kind of poor person, this is all my own fault, please teach me how to be better at being poor’, is disgusting, actually.

“In his own constituency one in three live in poverty…I don’t think he’s the one to be touting the solution.”

Jack, who is a genuine national treasure, went further on the Cooking on a Bootstrap website, reminding us all of the main reasons people can’t afford food any more – and the fatal results of these Conservative Party policies:

If the ‘let them eat 30p meals’ brigade were really concerned for the welfare of people suffering, and I mean suffering, under the worst cost of living crisis this country has known for decades, they would take heed from the thousands of stories of people who have died at the hands of the callous DWP machine, and the people who enthusiastically grease its sharp and unforgiving cogs.

Stephanie Bottrill, a mother of three who was so concerned about the impact that the bedroom tax would have on her family, that she walked out in front of an articulated lorry.

Phillipa Day, whose overdose resulted in a coroners report stating that the flaws in her PIP assessment led to her death. A nine day inquest uncovered multiple failings by both the DWP and the private sector contractor Capita in the handling of her case. The coroner issued the DWP a PFD report – Prevention Of Future Deaths – which was supposed to force them to make significant changes to the system in order to prevent this entirely needless tragedy from ever happening again. Did they implement the recommended changes? Of course not. Not then, and not after multiple more coroners reports and PFDs from multiple subsequent deaths in similar circumstances.

Jodey Whiting took her own life after her benefits were stopped. Her family received a letter endorsing the DWPs actions, incorrectly stating that Jodey was fit to work, and mailed it to them as their daughter lay in a mortuary, awaiting her untimely and again, utterly preventable, burial. Following her death, and with his life thrown into utter turmoil at the loss of his mother, her 19 year old son Cory also killed himself.

I have thousands of these stories, each and every one a heartbreakingly familiar narrative: a vulnerable person denied absolutely vital assistance, unable to bear the pain of a day to day life scrabbling at the periphery of insecurity and just-about-survival, choosing a devastatingly permanent ending to a story that they didn’t get the luxury of choosing their own adventure in. God, they didn’t even get the luxury of choosing their own living accommodation, the colour of their front doors, or the meagre combination of basic store cupboard staples that made up their dinners.

What kind of world do we live in, where these horrific and very real examples of destitution and desperation are not a clarion call for an immediate overhaul of a barbaric and repeatedly proven fatal ideology?

And it begs the point, that with several hundred thousand pounds of full time staff at their disposal to do the everyday grunt work, you’d think that MPs would use a fraction of that generous budget to actually do some research in their chosen field.

Yes indeed. Lee Anderson’s most recent expenses claim alone came to £220,000. That will have included the cost of employing his support staff, so the question goes straight to the point.

The painful reality is that when most basic of human needs costs more than the meagre payments that the recipients are forced to subsist on, cheap pasta and canned beans aren’t going to make a jot of difference unless you’re willing to stuff them up your jumper and make a run for it. Those that claim to be the party of clever economics and fiscal responsibility would do well to remember this simple truth: the square root of fuck all is always going to be absolutely fuck all, no matter how creatively you’re told to to dice it.

I make no apology for the strong language; sometimes people need to be told the facts in the hardest possible terms, just so they’ll sink in.

You’ll hear it again in the following video rant from another great social media icon, Cornish Damo:

Sadly, This Writer doubts that any amount of factual argument will persuade people like Anderson to change their tune, because they believe in the tactic the Tories stole (back) from the Nazi propagandist Goebbels: The Big Lie.

Anderson thinks if he keeps repeating, often enough, the lie that poverty is entirely the fault of people who are poor, and not of those who have deprived them of decent, affordable food, housing, energy, water and all the other necessities of life, we will all eventually believe that lie.

It’s up to you to prove him wrong.

ADDITIONAL: This could be very embarrassing for Mr Anderson:

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As NI rise bites your wages, have you realised yet the Tory plan was always to impoverish you?

Money: Boris Johnson and the super-rich have it because they took it from you. It was their plan from the start – even before the financial crash of 2008. And they tricked you with lies into voting to impoverish yourself.

Somebody’s bound to call it a perfect storm; it is perfect as far as the Conservatives are concerned.

Let’s see if we can get our ducks in the right line…

First we had the financial crisis, caused by bankers who have since become Conservative MPs. The Conservative-led Coalition government that slithered into office by blaming this mess on Labour (despite the fact that Tory bankers caused it) then claimed austerity was the solution.

And what did austerity do? It squeezed money out of the poor and gave it to the rich.

A knock-on effect of the financial crash was that banks were told to cut interest rates, almost to nothing. This meant there was no point in saving money because the only people who could benefit from the interest on their savings were the super-rich.

Then the Tories foisted Brexit on us. People like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg said leaving the EU would bring billions of pounds back into the UK, to be used on things the population really want, like investing in the National Health Service.

In fact, Brexit has cost the UK £800 million per week – and rising. It has tied the UK’s businesses up in red tape, despite that Tories having claimed that they were getting rid of burdensome bureaucracy.

And Brexit is a major contributor to the cost of living crisis. It has created huge pressures on the food supply chain (for example) due to high bureaucracy and a shortage of lorry drivers to bring goods into the country (this being worsened by the Tories’ hatred of foreign-born workers).

Food prices have, unsurprisingly, rocketed. Energy prices are also rocketing because of a shortage of supply. Both have been worsened by the war between Russia and Ukraine and decisions by western nations to boycott Russian gas and goods.

The Tories’ response to these pressures on ordinary families has been to cut wages wherever they can and to raise tax by increasing National Insurance. They have offered nothing to people on benefits or to pensioners, meaning the UK is facing the biggest cut in living standards since records began,

Their justification for the NI rise is that it will subsidise investment in the NHS and Social Care – a slap in the face for everybody who thought money saved by leaving the EU would do that. And the claim is a myth anyway:

And more of us are paying more tax already – because the Tories have frozen the thresholds at which people pay different rates of tax. Even though pay is rising below inflation, increases will push incomes above the levels at which they pay different tax rates, meaning the government will take more of your money in tax, just when you need to keep more in your pocket:

They say they’re going to introduce measures to ease the burden of the tax rises in July. Why not immediately?

And they say they’re going to cut Income Tax by one penny (to 19p in the pound) in time for the next general election. But is that really going to help people? How much money will it put backin the pockets of the poorly-paid when they’re already losing so much to inflated prices and higher taxes?

Put it all together and you can see that this was the plan all along: to multiply the incomes of the already-wealthy while restricting those of the working majority, then to increase prices and taxes to levels that won’t affect the rich but will plunge the vast majority into poverty.

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Sunak says everyone knew Brexit would make us poorer. Did you?

On the ropes: Rishi Sunak.

Is this the blunder that ends Rishi Sunak’s career?

He has told the House of Commons Treasury Committee that everybody knew Brexit would make the UK poorer when they voted for it in 2016.

Do you think that is true?

This Writer’s recollection is of people like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage claiming they were leading us into the “sunlit uplands” of a prosperous post-Brexit future. In fact, the Office for Budget Responsibility recently published two graphs showing how badly the UK has suffered on those so-called sunlit uplands:

Nobody saw “Brexit will make you poorer” written on the side of a big red bus. It said £350 million a week that then went to the EU could be given to the NHS instead.

When the promised cash failed to materialise, Sunak used it as a pretext to impose a 10 per cent increase in National Insurance on us, justifying it with a lie that it would go towards health and social care. It won’t. He wiped away half of the £12 billion it was supposed to make in his Spring Statement last week.

Presented like that, it looks like a premeditated Tory plan to make millions of people poorer. Indeed, 1.3 million of us will be dropped into poverty because of the decisions he made in his Spring Statement.

So when Sunak said everybody had always known a change in trading relationships with the EU would cause a hit to the UK economy, he was trying to offload the blame for a Tory plan onto the voters.

No wonder he shrugged when he was asked if he thought voters were stupid. Clearly, he does.

His reasoning also seems clear: voters put the Conservative Party back into government twice, after being misled into voting to make themselves poorer in the EU referendum – thereby encouraging Sunak and all the others to impoverish them further while lining their own pockets.

That’s stupid in anybody’s book.

The rest of his evidence was more of the same – an attempt to pass the blame for the UK’s current financial woes onto the nation’s citizens.

So the £200 heating loan isn’t a loan even though it will push people into further debt.

So he couldn’t help people on benefits because that would increase public borrowing.

So his squeeze on the poorest was their fault for not having saved more during lockdown.

At least he admitted that his tax relief on solar panels won’t help people on Universal Credit. Very handy for him, though.

The message is clear:

Tory government will make you poor. If you don’t want to be poor, don’t believe the Tories. Don’t listen to them. And most importantly of all, never – never – vote for them.

Source: ‘Do you think people are stupid?’ Sunak shrugged. Of course he did

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Gary Neville’s attack on Rishi Sunak after Spring Statement threatens 1.3 million with poverty

NOT smiling: Gary Neville.

Gary Neville has excoriated Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak after analysis of his Spring Statement has found 1.3million people – including half a million children – will be dragged below the poverty line.

Analysis by the Resolution Foundation think tank has calculated that the typical working-age household will see their real income fall 4 per cent next year – a loss of £1,100.

Benefits will rise at less than half inflation.

A promised 1p cut on income tax from 2024 should only impact those on salaries between £49,100 and £50,300, the experts have said.

The Manchester United legend – and enthusiastic political commentator – had a few things to say about this:

He posted on social media: “Hey Rishi Sunak you’ve just pushed 1.3m people into absolute poverty this year including 500,000 children. UC [ Universal Credit ] rise abolished , NI [National Insurance] increase, not feeding children in a pandemic etc.

“You’re building a truly great record of achievements. Keep smiling for those photo opportunities.”

Yes, Sunak can keep smiling.

We’ll see if he can still smile when it’s time for his mugshot to be taken.

Source: Gary Neville launches scathing attack on Rishi Sunak and tells Tory MP to “keep smiling”

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
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SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook