Tag Archives: April

Benefit cap means CUT, not rise, in benefits from April [Tory lie of the day]

A new level of cruelty: failing to increase the benefit cap in line with inflation forces more households into poverty. It doesn’t help them.

What a great example of Tories giving with one hand while taking with the other.

In April this year, the Conservative government is claiming that it will give benefit claimants an inflation-matching 6.7 per cent increase in payments.

But this will not count for people whose entitlement will exceed the benefit cap – or already does.

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This is because Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has not raised the threshold of the cap in line with entitlements.

The cap itself is simply a limit on the maximum amount of benefit payments a household is allowed to receive – regardless of whether it is enough for those households to make ends meet.

More than 85,000 households already affected by the benefit cap will not receive a single penny more in benefit, despite continuing steep rises in the cost of living. Who knows how many more will be affected from April onwards?

According to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG),

“The benefit cap severs the link between need and entitlement in our social security system: a household will have their total need for support assessed, and if this comes out above the level of the cap (currently £22,020 per year for families with children, or £25,323 for families in London) they will simply receive less than they need.

“There are wide variations in the amounts that households are capped, but the average is £53 a week, a loss keenly felt by those already struggling to survive below the poverty line.”

The DWP has provided this line to The Independent:

“We are supporting the most vulnerable with a record £94bn cost of living support package – worth around £3,700 per household – and have halved inflation to make everyone’s money go further.

“On top of this we’ve raised benefits by 10.1 per cent and are investing £3.5bn to help thousands into jobs – the best way to help people secure long term financial security.”

None of these points mean anything.

The £3,700 per household is actually spread over the four years between 2022 and 2025 – so it doesn’t come close to covering the £2,756 that households whose benefits are capped will lose.

Halving inflation doesn’t make anybody’s money go further; it means their money won’t go as far as it used to. If inflation is halved, it just means the speed at which prices rise has slowed down. Nobody’s money is going further because inflation is halved.

Raised benefits don’t matter to households that are already capped.

And “helping” (forcing?) people into jobs won’t do any good if the jobs are so low-paid that they have to claim Universal Credit anyway – like the 40 per cent of people in work who already do. Jobs are not the best way to help people secure long-term financial security and haven’t been for decades.

What, then, is the result of this decision to keep benefits capped at the same level, despite price rises across the board?

Simple.

It will impoverish thousands upon thousands of families across the UK. As intended by Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak.
Source: DWP benefit claimants face payments cut next year | The Independent


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April fool? Political jokes on THAT day of the year

Rishi Sunak and the Tories: the biggest political April Fool of this or any other year is the fact that they are (allegedly) running the country.

Way back when I was working on the old Bristol Journal, we used to put out a special supplement on the week of April Fool’s Day, with stories suggesting the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was now living in a flat in Hartcliffe, and the annual Balloon Fiesta was now to be restricted to the then defunct Avon House, former home of Avon County Council.

Do newspapers still do that?

I’ve found a few examples of the same thing online…

… at least, I think they’re April Fools.

Have you found any fun ones? Please let me know in the comments.


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Energy bills WILL rise by £900 in April and the Tories don’t care

Burning your money: ironically, the next energy price hike will give the privatised providers even more of your money to burn.

It’s happening, then.

Despite Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis pleading with Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt to use a fraction of the money they’ll save when wholesale energy prices fall in July on cutting bills between April and then, the Tories have turned a deaf ear and are bent on further-impoverishing us all.

Let’s remember one very important fact:

There’s a lot of disgust with Ofgem for allowing the price to rocket:

But here’s the kicker:

Energy bills have risen 10 times faster than wages, but the government – Sunak and Hunt again – are keeping wages down and still funnelling cash to these big energy firms.

And let’s not forget that the Tories created these firms by privatising national utilities, back in the 1980s.

They said at the time that privatisation would allow more investment to go into the service, providing power to the nation at a cheaper price.

And people believed it!

Those were more innocent times. And, for “innocent”, read “naive”.

Anyway, there it is.

You need to find another £900 per year for energy, starting in 32 days’ time. That’s £500 for the new increase, plus £400 to make up for the Tory grant that has helped keep your bill down until now.

How are you going to do it?


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Tories will continue to kill the poor as long as ordinary people keep trying to blame Labour

Labour's Anna Turley MP, standing up for victims of Conservative 'welfare' policy in exactly the way some people want you to think Labour doesn't.

Labour’s Anna Turley MP, standing up for victims of Conservative ‘welfare’ policy in exactly the way some people want you to think Labour doesn’t.

Some readers of This Blog may be unfortunate enough to have witnessed a conversation with a person calling him- or herself ‘Ghost Whistler’ in the comment column of the recent article on Momentum, in which this person has resorted to accusing the Labour Party of complacency in the deaths of benefit claimants. What a despicable distortion.

“Where are the Labour politicians when kids are taking their own lives due to benefit sanctions and DWP bullying?” That’s what this person asked, in a clear reference to the case of David Brown that This Blog covered yesterday (December 7). The implication is, of course, that Labour was complicit in the death.

Clearly this person had failed to do any research at all, as that particular comment was made more than four hours after Labour MP Anna Turley directly challenged the government over that very case, during Prime Minister’s Questions.

She told Leader of the House David Lidington, standing in for Theresa May while she’s off on a junket to sell weapons to Middle East countries: “I know that the whole House will join me in sending heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of David Brown, from Eston, who, aged just 18, took his own life.

“The inquest into his death has heard that he did so on the day he was due to sign on at the Job Centre, after saying that he felt ‘belittled’ by staff despite actively looking for work and seeking an apprenticeship. Shortly before taking his own life, he told his mum: ‘The way the Job Centre treat people, it is no surprise people commit suicide.’

“Will the Leader of the House undertake to review that individual case? Will he also undertake to take stock of six years of brutal welfare reform, and look into the way the Department for Work and Pensions treats its most vulnerable constituents, particularly young people?”

If anybody wants to find complacency about this death, they need look no further than Mr Lidington’s reply. After expressing what he described as “unreserved sympathy” for Mr Brown’s family, the Leader of the House contradicted himself thus: “Clearly, human beings in any organisation sometimes make decisions that get things wrong, and I will ask the Department for Work and Pensions to have a look at the particular case that the hon. Lady has described.

“However, I have to say to her that I think the principle remains right that while staff should always behave with courtesy towards people seeking to claim benefits, it is also right for us to expect people who are receiving benefits to be subject to the kind of disciplines that apply to people in work even if they are on low pay. There is a principle of fairness here, which is what lies behind the approach that the DWP takes.”

What’s fair about putting an impressionable young man into the clutches of a woman who clearly had not respect for him at all and from whom he could not demand proper treatment for fear of being removed from the interview by the guards that are now routinely posted at these facilities, his benefit sanctioned on the grounds that his behaviour fell short of the mark?

Who says it is right that jobseekers must be placed under the same pressures as people who are in work? They are not in work. They are seeking work. The two conditions are not that same and it is wrong to pretend that they are.

What will be gained from asking for the DWP to examine the David Brown case individually? This is not an isolated episode. DWP ‘advisers’ are constantly attacking claimants.

Today I read of a young man with severe disabilities that mean he has the mentality of a small child, being called in for a highly-distressing and pointless work capability assessment by the DWP.

The Department later apologised, saying he would not have been invited to an interview if the Job Centre had known the full extent of his condition – a condition for which the same department had been paying benefits for his entire life.

The problem is system-wide. Singling out a single case won’t stop the abuses from happening – unless the DWP intends to give, to the woman who forced David Brown towards suicide, a bonus? That seems far more likely.

The DWP’s response to Mr Brown’s death was an insult to him and everybody else who has died as a result of Conservative ‘welfare’ policy – and, make no mistake, there have been thousands upon thousands; far more than those covered by official statistics, even though they now run into the thousands.

A spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Brown’s family at this difficult time. Suicide is a very complex issue and there is no evidence of a link between Mr Brown’s suicide and his interaction with Jobcentre Plus.”

That is exactly the same line the DWP always trots out when somebody on benefits commits suicide – in defiance of the facts.

I read that comment on the Channel 4 News Facebook page and was so incensed I penned the following in response: “This is a person who made it clear he was being treated like dirt by a DWP staff member – and actually said, ‘The way the Job Centre treats people, it’s no surprise that people commit suicide’. Then on the day he was due to visit the Job Centre again, he was found dead.

“And the DWP wants us to believe there is no link?

“I’d like to know who made that comment and ask them just what somebody would have to do to get them to accept that there is a link.

“Their comment is an insult – not just to David Brown and his family, but to everybody else who has lost a friend or loved one because of the Conservative Party and its homicidal attitude, and to the public in general who they think they can patronise in this manner.”

All of the above was triggered by a Labour MP’s concern over the death of young man due to his treatment by the benefit system.

But that doesn’t matter because ‘Ghost Whistler’ wants to blame the Labour Party for it.

These deaths aren’t going to stop any time soon – not because Labour isn’t opposing them but because people like ‘Ghost Whistler’ are blaming Labour rather than putting responsibility where it is due, on the Conservatives. ‘Ghost Whistler’ is contributing to the problem, along with anybody else who would rather accuse the wrong people to make some obscure political gesture. This person is such a coward, they won’t even support their words with their own name.

So I’ll tell you what, ‘Ghost Whistler’ – do us all a favour. Take your ill-informed and offensive opinions, take yourself, and take all the other blinkered bigots like you, and toddle off back to whatever slimy hole you call home.

Don’t come out again. Don’t try to infect anybody else with your ignorance. Don’t insult the memory of the dead.

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