Tag Archives: cap

Don’t believe Boris Johnson on benefits – he is only offering more poverty, misery and death

Boris Johnson: He can clap his hand over his mouth but he won’t stop the cruelty. That can only come with a government headed by somebody else.

Boris Johnson has finally published the Conservative manifesto amid a stink of embarrassment – and, for benefit claimants, a hard slap of insult.

Mr Johnson offers just one promise to benefit claimants – to reduce the frequency of Personal Independence Payment reassessments –  and I don’t believe it.

If Tories target a disabled person to lose their benefit, they will find an excuse to do so. Scheduled reassessments may be cut – but Mrs Mike has been threatened with random reassessments on many occasions, triggered by any reason the DWP could cook up.

The end to the freeze on working-age benefits is not a new policy; it has been set to happen in 2020 since it was introduced.

Universal Credit goes untouched, despite being possibly the biggest catastrophe to hit vulnerable people in the UK since the welfare state was introduced in the 1940s.

Mr Johnson has promised to continue impoverishing people from the moment they are forced to claim the benefit, with a five-week wait that we know pushes people towards starvation and homelessness as they struggle to pay the bills and stay out of the food bank.

(Tories think food banks are fantastic, by the way – except when they want to pretend Labour is responsible for their proliferation.)

Beyond that, the Tory manifesto offers nothing else but a vague promise to “do more to make sure” UC works.

Hang on! I’ve heard that before, somewhere! Isn’t it what the DWP says, every time the news reports a Universal Credit-related death?

Bang! Someone dies. The Tory-run DWP says, “We promise to learn the lesson.”

Boom! Another one bites the dust. The Tory-run DWP says, “We will do more to make sure UC works.”

There is only one conclusion to be had:

Universal Credit will never work for its claimants.

And as far as the Conservatives are concerned, it works best when it is killing people.

But what of other aspects of the benefit system? Here’s a quick rundown:

The Conservatives with NOT end the cruelty of the Bedroom Tax, nor do they have any intention of increasing the Local Housing Allowance to protect people against the threat of eviction.

The Conservatives will NOT end the so-called “digital barrier” that obstructs people who have trouble coping with computers and the internet from claiming benefits. They like putting obstacles before the poor.

The Conservatives will NOT end the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments.

The Conservatives will NOT end Work Capability Assessments, or PIP assessments.

The Conservatives will NOT end their cruel sanction regime.

The Conservatives will NOT scrap the benefit cap.

The Conservatives will NOT end the two-child limit on benefits and scrap the so-called ‘rape clause’. They like humiliating women who have already been violated.

The Conservatives will NOT try to ensure that women are no longer forced to stay in abusive relationships by the system by paying the child element of benefits to the primary carer.

Still, the Liberal Democrat offer is little better.

Jo Swinson is quite happy to keep Universal Credit. She thinks reducing the wait from five weeks to five days might help – apart from that, she offers nothing to anybody apart from the self-employed, to whom a Lib Dem government (that will not happen, of course) would be “more supportive” – whatever that means.

Other Liberal Democrat offers are just plain vague. What do they mean when they say they’ll abolish Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) and replace them with “a new system that is run by local authorities and based on real-world tests”? Does anybody know?

How will Ms Swinson “enshrine in law the government’s responsibility to ensure that existing and new public policy is audited for its impact on food security”?

These are brutal times. People need hard promises, not meaningless mummery.

In fairness, the Liberal Democrats do make a few good, hard promises. But another party has made the same promises and does have a realistic chance of forming a government and making them real: Labour.

Yes, it’s great that the Lib Dems would like to end the two-child limit on benefits, end the benefit cap, abolish the Bedroom Tax and increase local housing allowance, reverse cuts to Employment and Support Allowance for people in the Work-Related Activity Group, and reinstate the Independent Living Fund.

But you can be sure that the only way the Liberal Democrats will get into government in December is in coalition with another party; having already ruled out allying with Labour, that means Ms Swinson’s only option is the Conservatives, and the Tories will never allow any measures to relieve the pressure on the poor.

A Labour government would actually do those things.

And Labour would cancel Universal Credit and replace it with a system that is a genuine benefit for people claiming it.

Labour would dissolve the DWP and replace it with a revamped Department for Social Security, ending the environment of suspicion and persecution that was instilled by Iain Duncan Smith and replacing it with support for those in need.

(This Writer worked in the old DSS, before it was rolled into the DWP. The automatic assumption there was that claimants were telling the truth about their situation, about their disabilities, and about their needs – not that they are lying, as is the claim now. It was a better place to work, and it was better for the claimants too.)

But you know Labour’s offer – it’s all right here.

Boris Johnson’s manifesto shows an intention to continue the cruel Conservatism we’ve endured for nearly 10 years.

Let’s take this opportunity to tell him where he can stuff it.

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Promises on disability and social security show Labour has listened

The Labour Party has paid attention to the people and published a manifesto that promises to end many of the injustices that the Conservative government (with the Liberal Democrats between 2010 and 2015) introduced.

This Writer feels duty-bound to tell you that reading the chapter on Social Security was an uplifting experience on many levels, as so many of the subjects This Site has highlighted have been tackled.

Labour will scrap the Department for Work and Pensions. This Site said the DWP had become so badly damaged by the culture of persecution instilled in it by Tory ministers from Iain Duncan Smith onwards that the only option was to dissolve it and start again. It will be replaced with a new Department of Social Security.

Labour will scrap Universal Credit. Since it began to be developed, This Site has highlighted the fact that UC was a hugely-expensive disaster – a position that was proved when it was implemented; instead of providing a convenient all-in-one safety net for people facing hard times, it has instead deliberately pushed them into poverty. It will be replaced with a new system, to be developed carefully, intending to end poverty by guaranteeing a reasonable standard of living.

While this new system is being prepared, Labour will introduce interim measures to end the cruelty imposed by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats), all of which address complaints raised by This Site and others:

Labour will end the so-called “digital barrier” that obstructs people who have trouble coping with computers and the internet from claiming benefits. It will offer telephone, face-to-face and outreach support.

Labour will end the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments.

Labour will reintroduce fortnightly payments, to help people manage their money.

Labour will end the Tory sanction regime.

Labour will scrap the benefit cap.

Labour will end the two-child limit on benefits and scrap the so-called ‘rape clause’, which it describes (as I do) as “immoral and outrageous”.

Labour will pay the child element of benefits to the primary carer, to ensure that women are no longer forced to stay in abusive relationships by the system.

The changes won’t just extend to Universal Credit, though.

Labour will end the Bedroom Tax and increase the Local Housing Allowance to protect people against the threat of eviction.

And the party will reform the benefit system to end its punishment of people with long-term illnesses and disabilities:

Labour will end the “dehumanising” Work Capability Assessments and PIP Assessments.

Labour will stop benefit assessments being contracted-out to private companies and ensure that all benefit assessments are carried out by DSS employees in future.

Labour will increase Employment and Support Allowance by £30 a week for people in the Work-Related Activity Group, reversing the Tory cut.

Labour will raise the basic rate of support for children with disabilities to the same level as Child Tax Credits.

Labour will give extra support to severely disabled people without a formal carer, so they can meet the extra costs they face.

Labour will increase Carers’ Allowance to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance. This is the only measure that This Writer thinks is inadequate. Having been a carer, I know that CA is a pittance, but an increase of a few pounds a week is unlikely to help much. More harmful is the fact that, if a carer earns more than a set amount (around £120 a week), the entire allowance is cancelled. It would be better to introduce a taper, so that the amount of CA is reduced according to the amount a person earns.

And Labour  will help disabled people who want to work by bringing back specialist employment advisors, introducing a government-backed Reasonable Adjustments Passport scheme to help people move between jobs more easily, and reviewing support for disabled people at work, including the Access to Work scheme.

These are all terrific policies.

They make Labour the obvious choice for voters who are currently claiming unemployment, sickness or disability benefits.

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More than HALF A MILLION CHILDREN have been harmed by cruel Tory benefit cap

 

The Conservatives will be celebrating today after it was revealed that they have harmed nearly 600,000 children with their two-child cap on benefits for parents.

The stated aim of the cap on child benefit is to stop people having large families whilst on benefits.

But this is a fallacy. Most of the people hit by the cap are in working families.

And it is in fact harmful to the UK and its economy. The number of children born here is lower now than in the past, making it economically difficult to sustain the ageing population; there needs to be a large working-age population generating the economic activity needed to pay for services.

One solution has been to attract immigrants – but Brexit and the racism that it has engendered have made the UK extremely unattractive to foreign talent.

Then there’s the “rape” clause, which requires women to tell strangers that their children were born from controlling or coercive relationships, filling out a four-page form and reliving the trauma.

And there can be no doubt that this has contributed to the increase in child poverty under Conservative rule. Currently more than one-third of children in the UK are in poverty.

So the harm meted out to the children of the poor – and some parents – is revealed as what we always knew it would be: Cruelty for cruelty’s sake.

Nearly 600,000 children have seen their family’s finances slashed by the Tories’ “nasty” two-child cap on benefits.

The damning figures – from the first two years of the cap alone – sparked fresh calls from MPs, charities and more than 100 academic experts to axe the “cruel” austerity cut.

And they smashed claims the cap would force benefit claimants to make the same choices as working families – as it emerged 59% of victims have a job.

This distressing information has come at the beginning of Boris Johnson’s period as the new Conservative prime minister.

What do you think BoJob intends to do about it, apart from rejoice?

Source: DWP two-child benefits limit hits 500,000 children in cruel Tory crackdown – Mirror Online

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Another Theresa May manifesto promise evaporates in a puff of hot air

It’s all about gas. While Theresa May is full of it, she has failed to fulfil a promise to cap energy prices – and now an energy company is hiking its bills.

According to The Independent: “British Gas will hike its prices by an average of 5.5 per cent next month, taking the price of its standard tariff to £1,161 for a typical dual fuel customer.

“The energy firm said the increase was due to rising wholesale and policy costs, and blamed government policy for putting more pressure on customers’ bills.”

The minister for energy and clean growth, Claire Perry, was quoted as saying: “We are disappointed by British Gas’s announcement of an unjustified price rise in its default tariff when customers are already paying more than they need to.

“This is why government is introducing a new price cap by this winter to guarantee that consumers are protected from poor value tariffs and further bring down the £1.4bn a year consumers have been overpaying the Big Six.”

Too little, too late!

If Mrs May had been serious about this, she would have imposed the cap immediately – before energy companies had a chance to give themselves pay rises which even the Tory government has said are “unjustified”.

Therefore, she isn’t.

And we all know it:

We all know what to do about it, too:

Right?


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Bankers’ bonus cap could be scrapped after Brexit

Mark Carney speaking at the Bank of England. The governor said it was important to take a tough regulatory stance on the banking sector [Image: Andy Rain/EPA].

Is this the reason certain people in the financial sector are so keen on Brexit?

Bankers caused the crash and subsequent Great Recession, around a decade ago, but Tories tried to blame it on the Labour Party in an attempt to divert attention away from the huge bonuses that were still being paid out.

It wasn’t until 2014 that a cap was introduced on bankers’ bonuses. Now, it seems, that cap could be removed with our departure from the EU, making it possible for bankers to fleece the rest of us, all over again.

Why are these people so greedy? Isn’t twice (or even three times) an already-enormous salary enough?

The governor of the Bank of England has raised the prospect that, after Brexit, the EU rule which puts a cap on bankers’ bonuses could be scrapped.

Mark Carney, a long-standing critic of the bonus rules, listed the cap as among the tweaks that could be made to financial regulations when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

The bonus cap was introduced in January 2014 and was a reaction to the financial crisis when bankers received multi-million payouts despite huge losses. The cap limits payouts to 100% of salary or 200% with explicit approval from shareholders.

Source: EU rule capping bankers’ bonuses ‘could be scrapped after Brexit’ | Business | The Guardian


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Economic forecasts make nonsense of Tory policy – but will be used to hammer the poor again

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond recently said public sector workers like nurses were overpaid, according to a Cabinet leak. So he probably won’t shed tears over an economic forecast that could allow him to postpone easing the cap on their pay that has sent them to food banks to make ends meet.

Commentators like the Financial Times would like to say government plans are going sideways because of “weak economic forecasts”, but the fact is they were always rubbish.

Tory deficit reduction ideas that involve squeezing the poor rather than expanding UK productivity and economic output were never going to work. That’s never – not a few years after they predicted.

Today we found out that the Office for Budget Responsibility has been over-optimistic in all its productivity forecasts for the seven years since it was formed by David Cameron. Some of us aren’t surprised at all.

But here’s a thought:

Isn’t it curious that these facts are only acknowledged when the government is being asked to ease austerity, cut student debt and build houses?

It’s almost as though someone is letting the information trickle out only in order to stop politicians from helping the poor and vulnerable and keep them in line, helping only the very rich instead.

Isn’t it?

Philip Hammond is facing what officials describe as “a bloodbath” in the public finances in his Budget next month as weak economic forecasts derail the government’s plans.

As much as two-thirds of the £26 billion of headroom in the public finances that the chancellor created last year as a buffer for the economy through the Brexit period is likely to be wiped out after the government’s fiscal watchdog concludes its forecasts for growth have been too optimistic.

The Office for Budget Responsibility will publish on Tuesday a new analysis suggesting it has persistently over-estimated Britain’s productivity over the past seven years and will give a broad hint that it will rectify the situation with a more pessimistic Budget forecast.

Slower growth in the forecast will limit deficit reduction and cut the size of the war chest that Mr Hammond put aside to smooth the Brexit transition. This leaves him in an awkward position politically, because he is under increasing pressure to end the austerity cap on public pay, lower the burden of debt on students and build houses.

The situation will dismay the Treasury and surprise economists, who have been encouraged by a steady improvement in Britain’s monthly public finances figures, even as economic growth has slowed this year. In August, the UK posted its lowest budget deficit since before the financial crisis, borrowing a net £5.7bn, well below the consensus estimate of £7.1bn.

Source: ‘Two-thirds’ of Hammond’s £26bn Budget war chest faces wipeout


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As we head into conference season, here are the main stories of the new Parliament – so far


It seems possible that certain unscrupulous politicians might want to distract us from the issues that affect us the most, so This Site has put together a handy, quick-reference guide for you…

… in handy infographics that you can copy and paste anywhere you like!

(You’re welcome!)



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Most people want the public sector pay cap lifted. Shame the government will cheat on it

62 per cent said now is the ‘right time’ to lift the restraints on workers’ pay [Image: Getty].

How pleasant to see that the majority of people in the UK believe the public sector pay cap has been unjust and should be lifted!

And how unpleasant to see that the minority Conservative government’s reaction is to pretend to be helping, while in fact doing nothing of the kind.

Two years of pay freezes followed by four years with pay rises capped at one per cent mean, for example, that teachers’ unions have been able to claim that average pay has fallen by 15 per cent behind inflation since 2010.

With inflation now standing at 2.9 per cent, the rises announced for prison officers (1.7 per cent) and for police (2 per cent) are in fact still pay cuts as they do not cover the increase in the cost of living.

Add to that the fact that the Tories have said the pay rises must be funded from existing budgets and we can see that the Tories have piled insult upon injury.

Already police forces across the country have said the only way to achieve these increases is to cut the number of police officers – leading to increased strain on the remaining officers and reducing the UK’s ability to detect – for example – terrorist bomb plots.

The only thing the Tories will be able to achieve with this insult is the further collapse of the services involved and an increase in the nation’s vulnerability.

Isn’t it time somebody asked them why they think that is desirable?

A majority of the public believe the public sector pay cap has been unjustified and agree now is the time to remove restraints on workers’ wages, according to new polling for The Independent.

It comes as Downing Street said earlier this week that the seven-year public sector pay cap is to be scrapped, unveiling a 1.7 per cent hike for prison officers and improvements totalling 2 per cent in [police] pay for 2017-18.

It is expected that ministers will announce further rises for other workers in the public sector at the Chancellor’s Budget in November.

Read more: Majority believe public sector pay cap has been unjustifiable and now is the time to end it, new poll says


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Fake News: Benefit Cap – Shoddiest of inept journalism from The Guardian – SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

Joe Halewood has done some good detective work here.

It would be easy for people to ignore those obvious piece of ‘fake news’ if they had no particular interest in the subject matter; fortunately Joe has years of experience and has unpicked the story with ease.

Please visit his site for the full details.

Today Dawn Foster in the Guardian takes false information from a local newspaper that in turn comes from obvious false information from a local council and reports it as fact concerning the overall benefit cap.

Can anyone please tell me how the 62 existing families who already faced a cut to their housing benefit BEFORE this further cut of £115.38 per week can suddenly reduce in number by 32% to just 42 families affected and NO NEW families are affected by the £115.38 pw or £500 pcm cut are affected?!

It is abundantly clear this article in the Grimsby Telegraph by Michelle Hurst is the shoddiest of shoddy journalism and is patently false.

Perhaps the fact the Grimsby Telegraph reports that the previous cap was £23,000 per year and not £26,000 may give you a clue as the journalistic credibility of Michelle Hurst reader?

Yet when such lazy journalism is then picked up and reported as fact by the Guardian then it is Dawn Foster who deserves the most rebuke as a national newspaper with its much larger circulation and especially online presence (and who proclaims “Facts are sacred” on its masthead!) allows the post-truth society to become reality with such shoddy journalism.

Source: Benefit Cap – Shoddiest of inept journalism from The Guardian – SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites)

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Three-quarters of the people hit by the Benefit Cap are children. Things just got even worse

161108-motherandchild

How far does the Conservative Government have to go before people wake up and realise what it is doing?

When your children are plunged into poverty, perhaps?

Or has that happened already, and you’ve done nothing about it?*

The government [has taken] another step to increase the number of children in poverty. They have done this by cutting the Benefit Cap, first introduced by the Coalition government. Outside London, the number of people in need whose benefits are cut is likely to go up by more than 700% and even in London the increase…

Source: Three quarters of the people hit by the Benefit Cap are children. Things just got even worse

*Obviously these comments are not intended for people who have done something about it – and I expect Vox Political readers will have been highly vocal in the past. I’m willing to bet you know someone for whom this is relevant, though – so please share it with them and say it is a wake-up call.

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