Tag Archives: debt

Distraction tactics: why pay attention to all this right-wing fiddling while your country burns?

Jeremy Corbyn: it’s nice that a Twitter poll has rated him the best prime minister the UK never had, but the PM that we’ve got is turning the UK into a major disaster and this stuff is nothing more than an attempt to distract you. Did it work?

We all know bank holiday Mondays are where the news goes to die but August 2020 was particularly bad.

Judging by Twitter, the event that caught everybody’s imagination was a poll by right-wing Times Radio that resulted in a nobody presenter – This Writer has never heard of him – having to declare that Jeremy Corbyn is the best prime minister the UK never had.

(It means he would have been a better choice, not only than Boris Johnson or Theresa May, but better than many others as well – according to those who took part in the poll.)

Certain right-whingers immediately took it upon themselves to alleged – without any factual basis – that Corbynista Twitter users had ganged up to rig the poll.

Who cares?

It doesn’t matter. We didn’t get Corbyn. We got Theresa May in 2017 and Boris Johnson now – partly because Labour apparatchiks conspired to bugger up Corbyn’s campaigns on one or both occasions, if you believe a certain report (I do).

And it diverts attention from the failures of the government we have – especially at a time when Parliament is about to resume sitting after the summer recess.

The Guardian‘s editorial has identified a few of the political crises from which the poll has diverted our attention. For example:

Rishi Sunak is determined to end his Job Retention Scheme – the furlough to you and me – at the end of October, triggering a huge wave of unemployment. That’s right, even more people are about to learn what Universal Credit is all about – and they’re not going to like it.

He’s facing an annual national deficit that will have grown to twice the amount faced by Gordon Brown’s Labour government during the so-called “great recession” of 2008 or thereabouts. His party made a lot of mileage out of criticising Labour’s handling of that recession, slithering back into office by claiming it would end deficit spending and cut the national debt as well (instead the Tories more than doubled the debt to £2 trillion).

And in November Sunak has to produce a budget that will boost the economy and return the national finances to some semblance of balance (fat chance! He’s already facing a backbench rebellion on his mooted plans for tax rises).

Nobody’s going back to work because they don’t trust the government’s proclamations that it is safe from Covid-19. Nobody is likely to go back to universities for the same reason. The only people likely to want to go back to school are the kids – and that’s because they’re probably a bit bored by now and want to see their buddies again.

The Johnson government’s determination to push through Brexit as planned by December 31 means the party that pledged to end the scourge of “red tape” is more likely to throttle us with it, as businesses have to deal with an avalanche of pointless bureaucracy.

These are all problems that the Tories have created for the rest of us, either by incompetence or by design, since they first came back into power in 2010 – and most particularly since Boris Johnson became prime minister last year.

You need to be thinking about that, but instead you’re being seduced into thinking about a dopey Twitter poll that doesn’t mean anything at all.

You’re watching the right-wingers fiddling around while your country burns around you.

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

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

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

What happened?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tory treachery: these are just TODAY’S reasons to regret voting ‘Conservative’

Loadsamoney: Boris Johnson and his party are rolling in it, and can expect much more, courtesy of Russia and the USA. You are going to suffer like you’ve never suffered before.

Anybody who voted ‘Conservative’ last December in the belief that they would be better-off must be really kicking themselves now.

Today we have learned that the Tories took money from Russians and then looked the other way while Russia interfered with our general elections – and possibly the Brexit referendum. The arrogant Tories have said they won’t even bother with a retrospective investigation of what happened (in case it incriminates them, perhaps).

Within the last 24 hours, the Tories voted to ensure that the National Health Service will be part of a future trade deal with the United States of America, meaning that health care in the UK will become an asset of US corporations if any such deal goes through.

Allow me to expand on this.

The Tories have already reneged on a promise that they would not allow diseased US-manufactured chlorinated chicken into the UK, meaning anybody who eats it is more likely to contract food poisoning.

Now we can see that anybody who does become ill in that way will not be able to afford help from a doctor, as they will be charged exorbitant US rates. Buying insurance will be no good because the insurance companies actively search for ways to avoid paying out (see my pieces about Unum).

Jeremy Corbyn warned us that the NHS would be privatised before the election last year – he showed you the documents! – but you were told not to vote for him, and like a herd of sheep you did as you were told.

So: possibly because of Russian interference, if you voted ‘Conservative’, you voted to harm your own health and to ensure that you would not be able to gain access to the healthcare you would need in order to get better.

That’s on you!

By all means, blame the Tories if you like. But they are Tories – it is pointless to say, “You told us you wouldn’t sell the NHS or allow chlorinated chicken, or allow the Russians to mess with our democracy,” because their answer is clear: “You knew what we were when you voted for us. We’re Tories. Lying to you is in our nature.”

Oh, and by the way, under the Tories, borrowing has reached a record high. The UK is in more debt than it has every been in the history of the country, and that is all because of the Tories.

Remember back in 2010 when they conned you into voting for them in that year’s election? They said their austerity would eliminate the national deficit by 2015, and they would go on from there to eliminate the debt as well. They lied.

And it means there will be no money for future, non-Tory governments to buy back what the Tories are selling – without creating a debt crisis as Tory lenders refuse to help out.

And for once, the saying is true.

We’re all in the mire together – because you voted Tory.

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

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

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

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

It’s a clear admission of incompetence.

Here’s the Mirror:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the Tories made sure she would suffer.

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

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

There are several reasons for this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma is clear about the end result:

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

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

So much for Iain Duncan Smith’s brainchild.

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

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

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

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

Source: Domestic abuse survivor speaks out about Universal Credit nightmare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nonsense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why has no Tory health secretary ever done that before?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The obvious answer is: money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should the Department for Work and Pensions demand that parents on Universal Credit go into debt over childcare costs?

Current rules say parents can get up to £646 per month for each child under 16, funding 85 per cent of their care costs – but they must pay those costs up-front and claim them back later, putting them in debt.

Some end up thousands of pounds in the red.

The DWP says this is to prevent fraud – but there are ways to do this that don’t push people into debt.

Just off the top of This Writer’s head: what’s wrong with having a letter from the provider, saying exactly what the costs will be in advance? That proof is as good as anything else.

The rule may be unlawful, discriminatory, and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (which I should remind readers is nothing to do with the EU and therefore is something by which they UK must still abide).

Now, single mum Nichola Salvato is demanding a judicial review of the DWP’s dodgy rule.

She also happens to be a professional benefits advisor and is supported by Save the Children – so it seems likely that she knows her facts.

But will a ruling against the DWP do any good? Tories aren’t very good at following laws they don’t like – and the general election handed them far too much power to do anything they feel like.

Source: Single mum takes DWP to High Court after Universal Credit hurled her into childcare debt – Mirror Online

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

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

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

And what has happened in the years since then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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