Tag Archives: Mel Stride

Millions of benefits will be halted ‘if you refuse’ says Scrooge Stride. Refuse? To do what?

Persecution: the Tories are up to their usual tricks – claiming that benefit claimants are refusing to look for jobs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride is courting “Scrooge” comparisons by wheeling out an old Tory attack line against benefit claimants – at Christmas.

The line is that benefit claimants refuse to look for work:

The Department for Work and Pensions could stop your payments next year – if claimants refuse to look for work. Ahead of Christmas, a renewed warning from the DWP has been circulating with claimants tasked with more strident attempts to get into work next year.

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Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride warned: “These back-to-work reforms strike at the heart of the quid pro quo that defines the contract between the state and the individual. The government will provide you with the support you need to move into work but if you fail to keep your side of the bargain, if you refuse to engage or ignore available job opportunities, we will stop your job benefits.”

Experience suggests this may be a renewed attempt to force jobseekers into employment that pays less than they would receive on benefits – making a mockery of the claim that work is the best way out of poverty.

But who actually refuses to look for work? Very few people. If there is a glut of jobs that aren’t being filled, it’s probably because they simply aren’t worth taking.

Then again, the Tories have been making big speeches that employers should offer more pay to workers. If anything comes of that, they may see jobless figures falling.

But if they want to save money – or take money for the government – then they should be cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion rather than benefit fraud. And that is something the Tories will never do.

Source: DWP warns millions of benefits will be halted ‘if you refuse’


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After coroner’s warning over death of disabled man, benefits process to get HARDER

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

What are the courts going to do about this?

The excellent Disability News Service is reporting that a coroner has ordered Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride to take action that will prevent flaws in the Universal Credit system leading to further deaths after a disabled man became overwhelmed by the application process and committed suicide.

Instead, it seems Stride is determined to increase the death toll exponentially.

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Here’s the DNS story:

It states:

An inquest into the death of Kevin Gale earlier this month heard from his psychiatrist, who expressed significant concerns about the way mental health service-users were supported with their universal credit claims within DWP.

The inquest also heard from the trust’s nursing director, who told the coroner that they considered the issues identified by the psychiatrist to be “national” and said they were “debilitating for service users”.

Kevin Gale, who is believed to have worked previously as a window cleaner, took his own life on 4 March 2022.

Coroner Kirsty Gomersal sent a Prevention of Future Deaths report to Stride.

She pointed to the “number of and length” of the universal credit forms that had to be completed which “can be overwhelming for someone with a mental health illness”, and which are “perpetuated if the applicant cannot get help to complete the paperwork”, while also highlighting the “long telephone queues to speak to a DWP advisor”.

She added: “Having to travel long distances for appointments can be detrimental for those with a mental health illness.”

And what’s happening to the benefit system?

Here’s The Independent:

Jeremy Hunt has warned those who “coast” on benefits will lose handouts if they refuse to take a job as part of a new crackdown.

Claimants deemed fit to work, but who fail to take steps to find employment, will be cut off from accessing benefits such as free prescriptions and dental treatment, help from energy suppliers and cheaper mobile phone packages.

Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, said that schemes to help people back into the workforce would also be expanded as part of a new £2.5bn five-year long back-to-work plan.

Under the plan, claimants will be forced to accept a job or undertake work experience to improve their prospects. Those who fail to do so will be hit with an “immediate sanction”.

At the moment, claimants can face open-ended sanctions where they have their benefits stopped. Those under this sanction for more than six months will now have their claims closed, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said, which would also end their access to other benefits such as free prescriptions and legal aid.

Mr Stride said: “…We are expanding the voluntary support for people with health conditions and disabilities, including our flagship Universal Support programme.

“But our message is clear: if you are fit, if you refuse to work, if you are taking taxpayers for a ride – we will take your benefits away.”

Overall, the government says expanded help-to-work schemes will help more than 1 million people over the next five years.

Part of this package includes plans to add another 100,000 people to the Individual Placement and Support scheme, which aims to get those with severe mental illness quickly into paid employment.

Mandatory work trials will be rolled out, meaning that claimants will be forced to accept a job or do work experience to improve their prospects, and those who fail to do so will be hit with “immediate sanction”.

Reform of the “fit note” system will also be explored under the plans. In a trial in certain, fit notes, an alternative to sick notes which set out what work someone can do, will be handed out by the benefits system, not doctors.

So, after receiving an order from the courts to make it easier for people with severe mental health problems to claim disability benefits, Stride and Hunt have chosen to make it many orders of magnitude harder.

And we can all see them:

The last of the ‘X’ posts above makes an extremely good point.

If these changes are being made in order to allow the government to make tax cuts in advance of a general election, then the Tories will once again be pushing the most vulnerable people in society to their deaths, to make already-comfortable people a little better-off.

Are you disabled or suffering from a long-term sickness? Do you want to die to boost the bank account of someone who is already wealthy?

Are you a Tory voter? Do you have sick or disabled relatives and/or friends?

Which of them do you want to see die, so you get a tax cut that will induce you to vote Tory again?


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Is he or isn’t he? The cut-price PM’s peek-a-boo pensions policy

The short answer is he isn’t – if you can believe what Rishi Sunak said during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Asked if he was committed to the pension’s triple-lock, that commits the government to increasing pensions each year by the highest of 2.5 per cent, inflation, or average wages, Sunak said:

 “This is the Government who introduced and remain committed to the triple lock.”

That means pensions should rise by 8.5 per cent – the average annual wage increase recorded in the summer months.

But Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride had previously refused to commit to this, and it is rumoured that he wants to strip out the effect of one-off bonuses paid to public sector workers, to bring the increase down to 7.8 per cent.

It’s an argument reminiscent of that used back in September 2021, when a huge fall in earnings caused by the Covid pandemic was followed by a similarly whopping rise when everybody went back to work and their pay packets re-balanced.

The real-terms change in that case was negligible, but the rule does not take account of falls in income – only of increases.

The suspension of the triple-lock in that year was halted in the House of Lords, when Baron Prem Sikka demonstrated that it would result in a loss of more than £30 billion to pensioners by 2027:

Suspending the triple-lock would also have broken a Tory manifesto promise – as it will if Sunak does it this year.

In fact, This Writer was not particularly impressed with any of the arguments about pensions back in 2021 because I thought a simple cost-of-living increase would have been more in spirit with the intention of the triple-lock.

No – my argument with what the Tories were doing was more holistic than that; I looked at the wider issue of how much the UK pays in pensions, and found that the people were being short-changed. Here’s what I said then:

The point is that the UK state pension is one of the worst pension deals in the whole world.

On retirement, our pensioners will receive, on average, 29 per cent of their former earnings. This compares with an increase of 0.6 per cent in the Netherlands, more than 90 per cent of former earnings in Portugal, Italy and Austria, and an OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) nations’ average of nearly 63 per cent.

In fact, the UK’s pensions deal comes in at slightly worse than that provided in… Mexico.

This was a chance to level up the UK pension with some of our closest neighbours – but the Tories didn’t want to. That’s why people should be angry.

Some of the figures may have changed since then – but I doubt the UK’s position relative to other countries has.

Mine certainly hasn’t. How about yours?

Ultimately, of course, this is just part of Sunak’s quest to find which sector of society he can most comfortably penalise in order to give a big tax break to rich and influential people, so they will then persuade or coerce enough of the wider electorate to vote in another Tory government at the next election.

I still reckon that, rather than attacking pensioners or people on Universal Credit (which will include employees), the axe will fall on sick and disabled people, because they are least able to defend themselves. As usual.

Conflict of interest: Treasury minister linked to firm which profits from tax enquiries

Mel Stride: Conflict of interest?

Conservatives and corruption – once again those words appear to fit together like they were made for each other.

It is not credible for a Conservative MP with connections to the tax avoidance industry to be involved in efforts to curtail that industry’s activities.

But that is what we see in the employment of Mel Stride on such work in the Treasury, when his father – also Melvin Stride – sells “tax investigation insurance” to safeguard possible tax avoiders from HMRC prosecution.

Apparently nobody in the government saw anything amiss with that.

Now for a very important question.

Do you know someone who voted Conservative in the local elections?

If so, why not remind them that their vote supports this corruption?

tax avoidance crackdown is being spearheaded by a Treasury minister whose father sells insurance to those being targeted by HMRC.

Mel Stride, the financial secretary to the Treasury since 2017, has been the Government’s main spokesman on the controversial “loan charge” policy, a campaign that targets those who used so-called “disguised remuneration” schemes dating back 20 years.

His father, also called Melvyn Stride, owns a company that sells “tax investigation insurance” to businesses subject to HMRC inquiries, Telegraph Money can disclose.

Source: Treasury minister linked to firm which profits from tax enquiries