Tag Archives: council tax

How many people does the government owe because of Universal Credit payday prejudice?

Let’s answer the question in the headline straight away: it seems 85,000 people may be able to claim compensation because the government deliberately failed to stop people getting less Universal Credit if their payday comes early because of a weekend or bank holiday.

Judges at 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 has 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.

Are they sadists? Or perverts?

Certainly perverts, it seems. In her judgment, Lady Justice Rose described the situation as “perverse”.

But decide for yourself.

The three judges at the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the Work and Pensions Secretary acted irrationally and unlawfully by making Universal Credit regulations which fail to take into account that the date monthly salaries are paid can vary because of weekends and bank holidays.

The Government had taken the case to the Court of Appeal after single mother Danielle Johnson, along with three other mothers supported by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), won a High Court legal challenge.

They said the Government’s interpretation of regulation 54 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 meant some months she would receive much less in universal credit than in others.

Ms Johnson is paid on the last working day of each month and her benefit assessment period runs from the last day of the month to the penultimate day of the following month. When a weekend is at the end of a month, this means her wages go into her bank account earlier than in other months.

The Universal Credit computer system interpreted this as Ms Johnson having earned twice as much in one month and none in others, so her payment would be calculated accordingly.

It resulted in extreme fluctuations in her income and – in several months – she lost the work allowance part of the UC payment, meaning she was around £500 per year worse off.

If 85,000 people lost the same amount, that means the government was stopping them from receiving £42.5 million a year – not a lot in terms of a national government’s budget.

So why did the Tories create a system that forced this hardship on vulnerable women (among others)?

Why spend more money defending this irrational persecution of vulnerable women?

We can only conclude that this is yet more evidence that the Tories simply enjoy making poor people suffer.

And it worked: Ms Johnson suffered severe cash flow problems and between them, the four mothers fell into rent arrears, defaulted on council tax, incurred bank overdraft charges, borrowed money and even become reliant on food banks to make ends meet.

Lady Justice Rose commented that Ms Johnson “expresses her doubts whether she will ever be able to get back on top of her finances and worries that cash flow problems will mean she is unable to pay her rent, jeopardising her tenancy”.

We should also discuss the Tory government’s defence, which seems to be that changing the system would cost too much. It’s always about money with this mob, isn’t it?

So the court was told that any change to the computer system would cost at least £7.35 million – a fraction of what the government has saved each year by withholding money from 85,000 claimants.

And the Tories said there would need to be a wholesale move away from automation back to manual calculation in order to accommodate the changes demanded by the judges.

This would be an admission that the whole Universal Credit project – that was intended to be “digital by default” – is a failure.

And it’s doubtful that there’s any truth in the claim. Computer programs can be quite adaptable – or at least, they can in the hands of people who don’t have an agenda that involves the persecution of the vulnerable.

Of course the question arising from this is: what happens next?

Will the government automatically calculate the back payments owed to many tens of thousands of UC claimants and pay them?

I think we all know the answer to that!

Will the Tories change the law to ensure that this situation is not allowed to arise in the future?

Or will they try to find another way to contest the ruling? Delay any payments resulting from it? Otherwise try to ignore the decision of the court?

What do you think?

Source: Four Single Mums Win Court Of Appeal Universal Credit Case | Leigh Day

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Are we letting Dominic Cummings off, now we have other things to entertain us?

Dominic Cummings in the Rose Garden: his attitude was “I can do whatever I like”.

Whatever happened to Dominic Cummings?

Did he quit his job as a prime ministerial advisor, ahead of being sacked? Did he apologise to the nation?

No.

Boris Johnson told us he was on his “last warning”, as if that means anything to us.

His arrogance has been unforgivable. His “last warning” should have been before the lockdown was imposed in Mid-March – not after he broke it in everybody’s face.

Nobody believed it anyway. When Boris Johnson failed spectacularly during Prime Minister’s Questions this week, we all thought he was wearing an earpiece so Demonic could Dominate him from a backroom.

There has been one dead cat after another. Today’s was the revival of a plan to build a new Royal Yacht, to cost the people of the UK £100 million that would be better-spent rebuilding the fabric of our ruined society after 41 years of neoliberal conservative rule and the Covid-19 pandemic.

So this question is pertinent:

Also, if Cummings was on his “last warning” earlier this week, shouldn’t he be out on his ear after this revelation?

Apparently…

Dominic Cummimgs; a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, made it clear that he had stayed at a “spare cottage” at his father’s farm when he addressed allegations that he had broken lockdown restrictions in April.

The cottage in question is not registered for Council Tax, nor has planning permission been sought for the cottage from Durham County Council.

So he broke lockdown and social distancing rules in order to stay in a house that is a standing violation of planning laws, where Council Tax is avoided. Am I correct in that assumption?

And still this creepy little rule-flouter is drawing fat amounts of cash from the public purse.

Why?

Simon Wren-Lewis makes some good suggestions on Mainly Macro. He writes:

The old rules, like when an adviser becomes the story they go, just do not hold anymore, because this government has no respect for those rules.

Cummings is so valuable… He gaslighted half a nation into making them[selves] poorer because of an issue few of them had cared about before the referendum. To then convince enough people that Johnson accepting a deal which the EU originally proposed and the UK rejected was some kind of triumph was also impressive. Winning a large majority in the subsequent election sealed his reputation as a master manipulator of voters, although it has to be said that with all these things he had tremendous help from the collective media.

He wants a say in everything any minister does that might influence his mission… [and Boris Johnson] is happy to allow his partner in crime to pursue his own agenda, because Johnson does not have an extensive agenda of his own.

The ultimate in Cummings gaslighting was his appearance in the Rose Garden of No.10. As Frances Coppola writes, it was a gigantic show, a show of personal power. Look what I can do, he was saying. I can lie about why I went to Barnard Castle, I can lie about how I foresaw how vulnerable the UK was to a pandemic, and there is nothing you can do about it, much like all the previous lies I have made in the past and got others to say.

Yup. This Site drew attention to this lie but hardly anybody paid attention.

And later, when a BBC presenter tells the truth about what he did, his helpers get the BBC to give her a reprimand.

Again, I highlighted the injustice of this, to a chorus of tumbleweeds.

It is not as if Cummings necessarily improves Johnson’s decision making capacity. What Johnson desperately needs is someone with a proven record of gaslighting a nation to get voters to forget about it all as quickly as possible. For that reason Cummings survives, for now at least.

So there you have it.

Dominic Cummings will remain at Downing Street as long as he manages to do what Boris Johnson cannot, which is to make Boris Johnson look acceptable.

He has enjoyed the complicity of the right-wing media in this.

But the press pack has shown signs of turning lately. With Keir Starmer dragging Labour back across to the political right-wing, they have a new horse to back while still supporting the idea that rich people should be allowed to do what they want, especially if it humiliates the poor.

Maybe Demonic’s days are numbered after all. But don’t get your hopes up because even if that does happen, you won’t reap the benefits.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Tory wage and benefit cuts mean millions are struggling to pay essential bills

Money: Boris Johnson is rolling in it but his policies have starved the UK of the cash that is the lifeblood of the economy.

Nearly 2.2 million people in the UK are struggling to pay council tax, rent and utility bills because they aren’t paid enough, according to research by two universities.

The reason is Conservative restrictions on pay rises since 2010.

So much for the “trickle-down” economics of neoliberalism, beloved by Boris Johnson and his cronies.

The research by the University of Birmingham and the University of Lincoln shows that nearly 1.6 million people have fallen behind with council tax payments.

Nearly a million people are behind with their rent and more than a million are in arrears over their water bills.

Nearly 2.2 million people have been contacted by bailiffs over failure to pay (which suggests that many have multiple bill-related problems), and nearly one million have said bailiffs have broken the rules.

These findings make a nonsense of claims that average wages are rising.

Perhaps those figures have been skewed by huge increases in the amounts paid to top earners, while those of us who do the work are left to struggle?

Experience shows that higher pay for workers results in increased productivity and market dominance – as Henry Ford learned when he doubled the wages of employees at his motor company in the early 20th century.

He called it the best cost-cutting measure he ever made.

Conversely, as workers struggle to survive real-terms wage cut after wage cut, productivity in the UK has suffered its worst drop in five years.

We have nearly a million people struggling to cope with zero-hours contracts in which they don’t know whether they’ll be working (and therefore earning) from one week to the next.

Average weekly real-terms earnings are not as high as they were before the 2008 financial crash, while bills have increased.

Poverty is particularly high in accommodation and food services; agriculture, forestry and fishing; administrative and support services; and wholesale and retail.

Few households have any savings worth mentioning – the rate is lower than the EU average and far lower than many of our largest and closest European neighbours.

Oh, and Boris Johnson is determined to force us into a “no deal” Brexit, creating even harsher economic conditions.

Considering the situation now, it seems this would be a huge mistake.

He would literally run the entire country into the gutter.

Source: Millions struggling to pay council tax and other essential bills, finds study

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READ: Universal Credit and its direct causal links to longer NHS waits, higher council tax and more rough sleepers … – Speye Joe

This is revealing – and shocking. If you haven’t read Speye Joe before, read this now:

From April 2012 to March 2019 housing associations in England have closed 14 properties every working day that accommodated older persons, disabled persons, women fleeing domestic abuse or homeless persons.

69 properties per working week and 2,501 properties per year across all forms of sheltered and supported housing has been the average that have been closed down just by housing associations according to official figures released last week.

In that 7 year period the housing need for older persons, for domestic abuse victims for disabled and for homeless persons has all increased significantly yet social landlords have abandoned housing need in favour of housing greed as the same English housing associations have chosen to develop 78 new shared ownership and leasehold properties per working day while closing 14 supported and sheltered properties each working day.

The reason and answer is simple. It is Universal Credit, more specifically it is the abject failure of the Tory government totally forgetting the facts that housing benefit is paid to supported and sheltered housing when they developed the Universal Credit policy.

It is crass incompetence by government that has seen supported & sheltered housing reduce by 17,508 properties since April 2012 while all HA properties have increased by 281,751 over the same time.

All the details are here: Universal Credit and its direct causal links to longer NHS waits, higher council tax and more rough sleepers … – Speye Joe

Tory councillors are taking your cash for themselves rather than use it on public services

What’s the expected council tax increase in your local authority area this year?

Here in Powys, it’s 9.5 per cent – a huge amount. And we’re to expect a reduction in public services.

The people of Redditch may be considered luckier – their increase is expected to be 2.2 per cent.

But it seems the borough council’s new Conservative administration is determined to take it all for themselves.

They have voted themselves a pay increase of more than 300 per cent, for those with “special responsibilities”.

Apparently they never had the chance to screw so much cash out of their electorate before – until last May, the borough was controlled by Labour, whose councillors froze their allowances for 10 years.

That’s responsible public service. What a shame the electorate turned its back on it and voted in the Tories instead.

Perhaps people thought the change would do them good. Now they know otherwise – or they will, as soon as the changes come into effect.

The current Labour councillors voted against the allowance increases when the Tories proposed them, too.

Redditch has one of the highest levels of homelessness and food bank use in the West Midlands; one in every 1,007 people is homeless there, according to Shelter.

And the average council tax bill is now £1,823 – it rose by 4.3 per cent last year.

The council’s new leader, Matt Dormer, currently receives £8,257 for being council leader with a special portfolio.

From April, he’ll pocket nearly £20,000 – an increase of nearly 150 per cent – if he keeps that portfolio.

So the equivalent of council tax for 10 households will go to support Cllr Dormer alone.

And there are 29 councillors in the borough.

Oh – they’ve pledged to spend an extra £140,000 on services for homeless people.

That’s £1,667 for each of the 84 people said to be homeless in the borough. Not enough to support them – and a tiny fraction of the pay increase these Tories will enjoy.

But that’s Conservatives for you. They absolutely refuse to serve the public and see elected office as a chance to serve only themselves.

Source: Tory councillors give themselves 300% pay hikes in homelessness hotspot – Mirror Online


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Help is available for people suffering Universal Credit-related money problems

Local councils have a duty to provide help for people with no income due to delays in Universal Credit payments – but they aren’t telling anyone.

Vox Political reader has written in as follows:

“With Christmas on our doorstep, the Universal Credit roll-out is going ahead as planned with people being changed over at the beginning of December, which could leave families with little to no money for up to 12 weeks.

“Please ensure that anyone you know who is struggling understands that THERE IS HELP.

If your money is stopped/late/delayed you can go to the council and fill in a Nil Income form.

“That will reinstate rent and council tax [they mean housing benefit and council tax reduction] and give access to further help like meter credits, food bank vouchers and emergency cash payments.

This info is not readily available sadly and it should be. The authorities will only deal with it if you ask specifically which is a disgrace.

“So if your benefits have been sanctioned or if you suffer cash flow problems from UC, then remember help is still available.

Also … never vote Tory again.


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‘Get a grip’, Corbyn tells May as her social care con-trick crashes

[Image: The Labour Party.]

Jeremy Corbyn has won one of his strongest victories over Theresa May in the last Prime Minister’s Questions of 2016 – on the battleground of social care.

Mrs May had lost an exchange on social care only a few weeks ago on November 23, so we would have been within our rights to expect a better showing this time. But she had nothing but the same lame answers, along with proof that she had not done her homework since last time.

Mr Corbyn said:

Social care is crucial. It provides support for people to live with dignity, yet Age UK research has found that 1.2 million older people are currently not receiving the care they need. Will the Prime Minister accept that there is a crisis in social care?

No, she didn’t – Mrs May is a Conservative; social care is not her forte.

So she produced the first of the lame answers we had previously heard – that the Conservative Government is investing in social care through the Better Care Fund.

The Better Care Fund is a pooled budget, initially £5.3 billion, announced in the June 2013 Spending Round and intended to save £1 billion by keeping patients out of hospital. As This Blog pointed out on November 23, the number of patients who could not be transferred from hospital due to inadequate social care has increased by one-third in the last four years, so it is clear that the Better Care Fund has failed.

The next lame answer was her mention of the Social Care Precept. This allows local authorities to increase council tax by up to two per cent in order to fund adult social care, meaning that this service has now become a postcode lottery.

Oh, and the Social Care Precept was announced at the same time the Conservative Government said the local government central grant is to be cut by more than half, from £11.5bn in 2015/16 to £5.4bn in 2019/20, a drop of 56 per cent. Meanwhile, councils were expected to increase self-financed expenditure (from revenue and business rates) by 13.1 per cent over the same period, making council services another postcode lottery.

Her comment about delivery, “The integration of health and social care across the country”, is of course an attempt to steal Labour’s thunder, as Labour has been promising an integrated health and social care system for several years but has yet to return to government and carry it out.

Mr Corbyn quoted more research:

The Care Quality Commission warned as recently as October that evidence suggests we have approached a tipping point. Instead of passing the buck on to local government, should not the Government take responsibility for the crisis themselves? Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to inform the House exactly how much was cut from the social care budget in the last Parliament?

No – she tried to claim the Tories “have been putting more money into social care and health”, and then a lot of flannel: “It is about delivery; it is about reform; it is about the social care system working with the health system” – so it is about stealing a Labour policy and ruining it, then.

Mr Corbyn simply came back with another fact – the one that proved Mrs May had not done her homework:

The Prime Minister does not seem to be aware that £4.6 billion was cut from the social care budget in the last Parliament.

His next comment referred to the Social Care Precept, although this could have been more clearly-presented:

Her talk about putting this on to local government ought to be taken for what it is—a con. Two per cent of council tax is clearly a nonsense; 95% of councils used the social care precept, and it raised less than 3% of the money they planned to spend on adult social care.

And he reiterated a point he made on November 23:

Billions seem to be available for tax give-aways to corporations—not mentioned in the autumn statement—and underfunding has left many elderly people isolated and in crisis because of the lack of Government funding for social care.

Mrs May tried to counter by claiming – evidenceless – that Labour-run councils could have benefited hugely by using the Social Care Precept.

This played right into Mr Corbyn’s hands, giving him a chance to emphasize the “postcode lottery” aspect of this Tory policy:

Raising council tax has different outcomes in different parts of the country. If you raise the council tax precept in Windsor and Maidenhead, you get quite a lot of money. If you raise the council tax precept in Liverpool or Newcastle, you get a lot less. Is the Prime Minister saying that frail, elderly, vulnerable people in our big cities are less valuable than those in wealthier parts of the country?

Attempting to respond, Mrs May suggested that Newcastle City Council had no problem because it saw “virtually no delayed discharges in September”. That’s nice – what about July, August, October? She then said councils like Ealing, that are not using the Social Care Precept, were performing badly (but did not provide evidence).

The claim had to be that the extra money provided by the Social Care Precept made all the difference – but then Mrs May destroyed her own argument by saying “That is not about the difference in funding; it is about the difference in delivery.”

Oops!

It was time for the knockout. Mr Corbyn said-

Actually, you can watch him say it yourself.

Mrs May had nothing to say, other than to rehash a lame response – again from November 23 – claiming that Labour’s 13 years of government had produced no social care solution.

Mr Corbyn’s answer on that day was that health spending trebled under the last Labour government – and the levels of satisfaction with the National Health Service were at their highest ever in 2010. Mrs May didn’t have a response then and she didn’t have one today, either.

It was a performance with which the Labour leader ended a spectacular year with a bang – and from which the Conservative prime minister probably slunk away with a whimper.

Adding insult to injury, the chair of the Health committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston, undermined Mrs May even further when she asked her own question: “Is it not time that, rather than having confrontational dialogues about social care funding, all parties work together – across this House – to look for a sustainable long-term solution for the funding of both integrated health and social care?”

When you can persuade your enemy’s supporters to take your side, you have won a convincing victory indeed.

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The SNP’s great poverty betrayal

Scotland's economic disaster [Image: SNPfail - it's a Liberal Democrat-run site but the figures are accurate].

Scotland’s economic disaster [Image: SNPfail – it’s a Liberal Democrat-run site but the figures are accurate].

The poorest Scottish people are losing public services due to a Council Tax freeze by the SNP-run Scottish government, while £1 billion provided by the Westminster government to alleviate poverty has been used to patch over cuts in local authority budgets.

Scotland’s 32 local authorities have still racked up a record £12-15 billion worth of debt as a result of the council tax freeze – but the SNP still claims it is a socialist party, and still claims it is economically responsible.

The SNP has kept council tax frozen every year since it took power in Holyrood in 2007. The party claims this helps all households – but of course it helps some more than others. The richer you are, the more you have to pay if council tax is increased, while the increase on poorer people is less. Therefore, if council tax is frozen, the rich see more benefit from it. Add in the fact that average wages have been stagnant for almost the entire period of the Scottish council tax freeze and is becomes clear that poorer people have seen little or no benefit at all.

Meanwhile, council services that benefit everybody are being harmed, with 50,000 jobs lost since the freeze was imposed and another 60,000 set to go.

Scotland’s local councils have borrowed billions of pounds to help survive the swingeing budget cuts from the Scottish government – and now owe more than twice as much per head than English and Welsh local authorities, equal to debts of £6,166 per household, compared with £3,100 per home in England and £2,825 per household in Wales.

And rather than spend £1 billion of money from Westminster on alleviating poverty – as intended – the SNP gave it to councils who used it to lessen their borrowing requirements. There was no scrutiny or management of how the money was spent.

The SNP is increasing poverty among the Scottish people, while continuing with giveaways to high-earners – there can be no doubt about that.

Yet that party is still claiming support from more than half the Scottish electorate. How?

Surely Scottish people are more intelligent than that.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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The SNP’s great education betrayal

Some facts about education in Scotland. SNPfail is a Liberal Democrat site but the information is accurate.

Some facts about education in Scotland. SNPfail is a Liberal Democrat site but the information is accurate.

That’s right – betrayal. For all its bluster about free University tuition, the SNP government at Holyrood seems more interested in providing cheap education for the already-well-off than helping the disadvantaged achieve their potential.

Holyrood abolished tuition fees for Scottish universities – but who did that help? According to research by Edinburgh University in 2013, it helped those who were already wealthy.

The report on widening access to higher education was submitted to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) after Ferdinand von Prondzynski, the university principal hand-picked by SNP ministers to review higher education, said abolishing tuition fees has mainly benefited the middle classes.

The report found the lack of fees in Scotland has meant initiatives to widen access have had “lower priority” and less funding.

The amount of grants available to poorer Scots has fallen and the funding packages offered north of the Border are virtually the same, regardless of the student’s wealth.

Meanwhile, there has been a huge drop in the number of students attending colleges since the SNP came to power in Holyrood and inflicted “savage spending cuts”, axing part-time courses which MSPs derided as “hobby courses”. The figures came from the Scottish Funding Council and show that 130,000 college places and teaching staff have been lost.

Those most affected by the cuts are young people who are less academic and are looking for vocational qualifications, and women returners – it was said that 100,000 fewer women were in education as a result of the SNP’s cuts.

And almost 4,000 teachers have been lost since the SNP took office in 2007. The party froze council tax that year, meaning local authorities were forced to make cuts in their spending.

As a result, instead of reducing class sizes to 18, the loss of enough teachers to fill 50 average-sized secondary schools has pushed class sizes to more than 30.

Again, the well-off are the winners. They benefit more from the council tax freeze because it leaves them with more disposable income; lower earners still have to spend most – if not all – of their income on the bills. And wealthy parents can afford to supplement their children’s education with extra, private, tuition – or opt out of the state system altogether and send them to private school.

So the SNP’s education policy is to penalise the poor and reward the rich. So much for that party’s left-wing credentials!

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Tories plan benefit system massacre

zIDSmurderer

 

The headline is no joke. Based on the plans revealed by the BBC, if the Conservative Party is re-elected in May, all but the richest of us can look forward to the death of a loved one – perhaps many loved ones.

They’ll have to hang signs over entry points into the UK: “Conservative Britain, 2015-2020: Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here”. At least now we know why David Cameron was determined not to reveal any details of the proposals to cut £12 billion from the benefits budget.

Chequebook euthanasia play a prominent role, and it is clear that the plan is to push as many benefit claimants into destitution as possible while encouraging suicidal thoughts. It has already worked with many people on Employment and Support Allowance; they want to spread their version of Aktion T4 more widely.

Top of the proposals is the replacement of the Industrial Injuries Compensation Scheme with an insurance policy provided by companies. Any not doing so would become members of a default national industrial injuries scheme, similar to the programme for asbestos sufferers. This is the long-anticipated arrival of private health insurance in the British benefit system; we have been expected this ever since Peter Lilley invited the criminal American firm Unum into the then-Department of Social Security in the 1990s. Vox Political predicts that nobody taking out such insurance will ever receive a payout on it; it will be run by Unum.

The DWP predicts that £1 billion will be cut from the benefits budget. The human cost might be significantly higher, especially when you consider the following:

Carer’s Allowance may be restricted to those caring for somebody eligible for Universal Credit. We know already that Universal Credit has been designed to prevent genuinely sick and disabled people from receiving their benefit, and that Universal Credit doesn’t work; this attack on their carers will tip both deep into poverty. Leaked documents suggest about 40 per cent of carers would lose their payments, despite the fact that they genuinely need the money.

The DWP hopes to cut another £1 billion from its bills with this. As it ties in with current chequebook euthanasia programmes, expect many thousands of deaths.

Employment and Support Allowance and Job Seekers Allowance claimants may be denied the privileges that should be afforded to them by virtue of having paid enough National Insurance contributions; your record will not count if you claim these benefits. The plan here is to cut benefits for more than 300,000 families – by around £80 per week. Those on ESA may have carers who will also lose their benefit, therefore we can conclude that this is another planned area of chequebook euthanasia.

Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance (for over 65s who have personal care needs) would be taxed in order to cut payments by around £1.5 billion a year (based on IFS Green Budget calculation ). Many of those claiming these benefits will also be claiming ESA and will have carers as well, so chequebook euthanasia – again – applies. Who knows how many will live to see the 2020 general election if the Tories gain another term in May?

Council Tax Support may be incorporated into Universal Credit. This blog is prepared to be corrected on this, but wouldn’t that mean the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament (and the Northern Irish Assembly if it runs a relief scheme) would be unable to pay the council tax demanded under the Pickles Poll Tax that came in after Council Tax Benefit was scrapped? This would cut funds to claimants of ESA, JSA, DLA, PIP, AA, carers, and those claiming Housing Benefit and therefore – again – the government is opening itself to accusations of chequebook euthanasia.

Child Benefit may be limited to the first two children in any family. How nice that the Tories may be planning to spring this on families without enough prior warning. This writer would suggest that 18 years’ warning is necessary, to clear the books of people who could reasonably have expected child benefit to be paid as it always has. What about those having triplets? Apparently little would be trimmed from the benefit budget at first, but up to £1 billion might be kept, every year, in the long term.

Regional Benefit Caps – instead of £26,000, the Tories are planning to cut its already-too-low Benefit Cap to £23,000 – and then vary it still further in different parts of the UK. Londoners would receive the top amount due to the higher cost of living; people in rural areas could be forced out of their homes by this.

The leaked documents were prepared by civil servants and commissioned by Conservative Party officials.A spokeswoman for Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of previous state-sponsored pogroms against the poor, sick and disabled, told the BBC: “This is ill informed and inaccurate speculation… Officials spend a lot of time generating proposals – many not commissioned by politicians… It’s wrong and misleading to suggest that any of this is part of our plan.”

In other words, this will definitely happen if the Conservatives are elected in May.

This blog has made much of Labour’s own failure to plan the scrapping of the homicidal Work Capability Assessment if that party is elected into office in May (the other parties’ plans aren’t as important; they won’t be running a government for the next five years). Labour is still wrong to inflict it on people who have illnesses and disabilities through no fault of their own.

However, faced with a choice between the Tories’ certain death and Labour’s possible death, the decision should be obvious.

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