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Now IAIN DUNCAN SMITH is challenging Liz Truss – over BENEFIT CUTS

The Tory who inflicted the most harmful benefit cuts ever to blight the UK has raised his voice to challenge new prime minister Liz Truss – saying her plan to cut benefits in real terms is too harsh.

Wait, what?

Iain Duncan Smith, whose cuts to sickness benefits led to at least 2,400 unexplained deaths between 2011 and 2014, now says benefit cuts are bad?

Well, yes:

It may not be hypocrisy.

He resigned in 2016 over plans to cut disability benefits, saying they were too harsh as well.

And the argument he is using now – that cutting money available to benefit claimants is likely to harm them – is entirely correct. How do I know?

Because I wrote it.

I, along with many other campaigners of the time, made it clear when newspaper stories about people dying for that reason were proliferating.

Suppose a claimant is diabetic. If they can’t afford to power their refrigerator, then they can’t keep their insulin at the right temperature. What happens if they then go into diabetic shock?

Just ask the family of David Clapson.

But This Writer doesn’t recall any remorse from Iain Duncan Smith over the deaths his policies caused while he was Work and Pensions Secretary.

Perhaps a more likely explanation for this is that the policy is likely to be hugely unpopular during a cost-of-living crisis caused by the Tory government.

The thought of people on benefits receiving a help package that is reduced if Truss refuses to authorise an inflation-linked uplift in benefits may be deeply unpopular with voters, so perhaps Iain Duncan Smith is simply trying to cling on to his Parliamentary seat.

His other words are absolutely correct, though: if a government wants to build economic growth, it needs to give money to the poorest in society because they are the ones who will spend it – not the richest.

He is the latest in a lengthening line of senior Tory MPs to challenge the prime minister’s authority.

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Tory government has engineered the fastest-ever fall in the value of your pay

THIS IMAGE IS FROM FIVE YEARS AGO: back then, the TUC said real wages were still lower than they were when the financial crisis hit in 2008. After all their protestations of making life better for us, the Tories have only inflicted worse suffering upon us.

The Conservatives have delivered the fastest fall in real wages ever recorded.

That’s right – and you can be sure Tory MPs will be celebrating their achievement in making the pound in your pocket practically worthless to you.

It flies in the face of every claim they’ve ever made in order to get your vote – remember Boris Johnson’s protestation that he was going to deliver a “high wage” economy, only last year? Who was stupid enough to believe that?

But they don’t care because they have feathered their own nests very nicely.

Remember: it didn’t have to be this way. It is Conservative government policies that have put you in a situation where you will not be able to afford the simple necessities of life.

Here’s the BBC:

While average wages rose 4.7% between April and June, that was outpaced by inflation – or price rises – which is growing at a much faster pace.

As a result, the “real value” of pay fell by 3%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Household budgets are being hit by soaring energy bills as well as higher food and fuel costs.

The rise in prices has fuelled the UK inflation rate to a 40-year high of 9.4% and the latest figure due to be published on Wednesday is forecast to be higher.

The gap between pay growth and inflation is the biggest since records began more than 20 years ago.

Remember when the Tories froze public sector pay for years at a time, and private pay rises were limited to around one per cent per year (except for bosses, who wrote their own cheques as usual, and MPs who have their pay determined by an “independent” organisation that always offers higher-than-inflation pay increases)?

If pay had risen realistically at that time and afterwards, would we have been able to withstand this shock? I ask merely for information.

Wage growth has been behind inflation for most of the Tories’ time in office since 2010. It is Conservative Party policy to ensure that you are paid less, and that you are less able to afford vital goods and services.

It goes back to the “Starve the Beast” plan that George W Bush used in the United States – the idea being that tax cuts make public services impossible to provide and unaffordable to the general public, who are put into permanent wage slavery to pay off the debts they rack up trying to pay for (as an example) health care. Liz Truss is a huge fan of Starving the Beast.

And the government is still trying to fob us off with its usual excuse:

Julie Marson, minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, said… “Being in stable employment is one of the best ways for people to get on.”

This is clearly not true under the Tories.

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Starmer the abstainer strikes again as Tories impose real-terms benefit cut

Labour’s shame: Keir Starmer. He was mobbed by an angry crowd who had been misled by Boris Johnson’s false allegations about him and Jimmy Savile; if the crowd had turned against him because of his tacit support for Tory benefit cuts, This Site would have applauded the act.

Boris Johnson’s hard-right-wing Conservative government has imposed a real-terms cut in payments for people with pensions and other benefits.

From April, payments will be uprated by 3.1 per cent. But inflation is likely to peak at more than twice that – 7.25 per cent is predicted – meaning vulnerable people will struggle.

The cut come on top of the 54 per cent increase in fuel bills that the Tories intend to “smooth out” with a £200 loan that will be demanded back later, even though they will not have the money.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also announced a £150 council tax rebate for people whose homes are in Bands A to D – but this does not help benefit claimants who receive Council Tax Support.

Shall I go on?

Universal Credit was slashed by £1,040 per year last September when the Tories ended an uprating that had been imposed to help people cope with the effects of Covid-19 on employment and earnings.

And a pension increase, approved around the same time, was limited to only two of the “triple lock” conditions because Tories said the third – which would have raised payments in line with the percentage rise in wages – would have led to a rise of eight per cent that they said was artificially inflated because of Covid.

Hindsight shows us that an eight per cent rise would have been appropriate to cope with the huge increases in the cost of living that the Tories have caused with their catastrophic mismanagement of the UK.

Normally one would expect Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to do its job and oppose this oppression of vulnerable people. So, where was Keir Starmer when this cut was imposed?

He was nowhere to be seen.

Starmer had ordered his MPs to abstain and only 13 party members had the courage – and the responsibility – to rebel.

They were Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Ian Byrne, Dan Carden, Ian Lavery, Tony Lloyd, Rebecca Long-Bailey, John McDonnell, Grahame Morris, Cat Smith, Zarah Sultana, Nadia Whittome and Beth Winter.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Andy McDonald acted as tellers for the ‘Noes’, meaning they were unable to vote but it is understood that they would have done so otherwise.

Steve Walker, over on Skwawkbox, has suggested that Starmer is “addicted to absention” because he doesn’t want to stand for anything disliked by the Tory voters he is trying to steal from Boris Johnson.

Steve went on to point out that formerly-Labour voters have decided to “switch off in disgust at the lack of a real alternative” to the Tories.

But it is worse than that. Starmer is alienating a generation from voting.

With no opposition from the so-called Opposition, anybody whose politics is to the left of Mussolini’s has nobody to support and is unlikely to vote for any of the far-right candidates who’ll be paraded by the Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in future elections.

These parties are now so closely-aligned that you couldn’t get a Diner’s Club card between their policies.

There is an alternative – so of course it is being played down by the Tory media.

New left-wing organisations have sprung up and aligned together in what’s being called the People’s Alliance of the Left.

Member organisations include the Breakthrough Party, Northern Independence Party, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Left Unity – all of whom, This Writer understands, have enjoyed large increases in membership since linking together.

This Site encourages readers who want to support a genuine alternative to research the PAL member organisations and either join or support whichever seems likely to gather the most support in your local area.

Information on PAL is available here.

You can find out about the Breakthrough Party here.

The Northern Independence Party sets out its stall here.

This is the website for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

And Left Unity’s website is here.

PAL’s first Parliamentary candidate is Dave Nellist, who will be standing as the TUSC representative in the Birmingham Erdington by-election on March 3.

If you live in that constituency – or you want to support the candidate and political views that genuinely oppose the current hard-right consensus – please sign up to support Dave.

Source: Byrne one of only 13 to rebel vs Starmer’s abstention addiction as Labour hides from vote on benefits cut – SKWAWKBOX

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Hancock: care workers can’t have ‘Real Living Wage’ – but let’s remember he offered them a nice badge

Up your…: last week, Matt Hancock offered carers… a badge. This is what they said he could do with it.

Right after offering carers a badge instead of genuine government investment, Matt Hancock has denied them the real living wage.

Let’s clarify, quickly: the real living wage is a wage that covers real living expenses, and is currently set at £10.75 in London and £9.30 in the rest of the UK for anybody aged 18 and older.

Hancock came out with the mealy-mouthed excuse that carers are already paid the National Living Wage, which is only £8.21 – and applicable only to people aged over 25. It doesn’t cover the cost of living, meaning its description as a “living wage” is false.

And let’s remember that MP’s have been given an extra £10,000 – above their already-enormous salaries – to help them work at home, which is something carers do all the time.

What a charmer.

Hancock was responding to SNP health spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford who pointed out that carers in Scotland are already paid the real living wage and asked when the Tory government would do the same for those in England.

She also asked him to reverse a 20 per cent cut in public health funding imposed by the Tories in 2015 – but that didn’t even get a response.

It seems the only hand Hancock has for carers is when he’s clapping for them on his doorstep – if he ever bothers.

Source: Matt Hancock refuses to commit to paying care workers the ‘Real Living Wage’ – Welfare Weekly

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Workers blamed for sinking wages by Tory-controlled BBC

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Congratulations are due to BBC business body Jonty Bloom, who should get an award for the bilge he blathered to justify the fact that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have engineered the longest drop in wages for 50 years.

He blamed employees, saying that they weren’t productive enough.

The Office for National Statistics had reported that real wages have fallen by 2.2 per cent every year since David Cameron took over as Prime Minister in 2010 and, as the Tory’s mass-media mouthpiece, the BBC seem to have tasked Mr Bloom with finding plausible deniability for the Coalition, so that ministers won’t have to take responsibility.

Real wages are worked out by taking the rising cost of living into account while calculating the value of earnings.

The ONS report followed one from the Institute for Fiscal Studies on Thursday, suggesting that a mid-range household’s income between 2013-14 was six per cent below its pre-crisis peak.

Both of these reports were latecomers to this particular party, though. A Labour Party report from August 2013 stated that prices had risen faster than wages in all but one month of Cameron’s premiership – April 2013, when he cut taxes for millionaires and bank bonuses soared. The overall fall in annual real wages was £1,350 at the time that report was written.

The Labour report went on to say that figures from the House of Commons Library forecast that, after inflation, wages will be £1,520 lower in 2015 than in 2010, meaning working people, on average, will have lost £6,660 in real terms during the Coalition Parliament.

You’ll notice the BBC report only provides percentages. Interesting, that.

Over at the BBC, Mr Bloom tried to convince us that “workers have, on average, been working fewer hours during the downturn and that in turn has meant that they are earning less.

“The wage an employer pays… will be based on the productivity of the employee. So if a firm’s output falls, it will respond by reducing either the level of wages or the number of people employed in order to maintain its viability… Many firms seem to have held on to staff but output per hour worked fell, putting downward pressure on wages.”

He also suggested that a shift from higher-paid manufacturing jobs to lower-paid service jobs had contributed.

Sadly for Mr Bloom, we can punch holes through all of his arguments. Firstly, this is the government that insisted private sector jobs growth would outweigh the loss of public sector jobs it was going to inflict on the country. That claim alone suggests that ministers may have pressurised firms to keep employees in-post.

But the downturn meant there was less demand for firms’ products. How could they remain viable? Answer: Cut the hours worked by employees. Could this be the reason part-time and zero-hours contracts have exploded during the course of this Parliament? Part-time workers have fewer holiday entitlements and do not cost employers as much in National Insurance. Zero-hours workers are only called when they are needed and therefore the firm’s overheads are hugely reduced. Bosses benefit while workers go without.

Could this also be why firms have hired outside contractors on a self-employed basis, paying them a set amount per job, no matter how long it takes, in order to bypass the minimum wage law? Contractors earn less than the minimum wage but work far longer hours (without upsetting Mr Bloom’s average).

The productivity of a worker depends on how long they are working; part-time or zero-hours employees work for less time and therefore their productivity cannot be anything but lower than a full-time worker. Self-employed contractors’ pay is fixed in companies’ favour from the start. Mr Bloom’s argument is based on a wages fiddle.

Oh, and that shift from manufacturing to the service industries? Isn’t that something the Conservative-led Coalition has vowed vehemently to reverse, while doing spectacularly little about it? I think it is.

One personal note: My own experience as an employee suggests that firms’ financial woes have far more to do with the idiotic decisions made by executives than with the output of employees. Changes in the market do not lead to inventive and innovative responses; instead, the workers are penalised with lower wages or unemployment. This puts firms in a slow death spiral as continual erosion of the workforce makes managers increasingly less able to cope with the challenges that, unaddressed, rack up against them.

So congratulations, Jonty. You carry on blaming the workers if you want. It won’t make a scrap of difference because the real problems lie with the decisions made by company execs, responding to stupid Tory policies.

What a shame you can’t say anything about that because your employers are so utterly under the Tory thumb.

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Turncoat Tory’s blue-sky talk can’t hide the damning truth

A head up his own behind: David Freud doesn't want to make work pay - he just wants you to think he does.

A head up his own behind: David Freud doesn’t want to make work pay – he just wants you to think he does.

Here’s another Tory who should go boil his head: David Freud.

This former Labour advisor on social security – who had previously worked in the city, setting up company share flotations (and if that isn’t a deeply worrying connection, what is?) – crossed the floor to the Conservative Party when he realised Labour wasn’t going to keep power in 2010, and was rewarded with an utterly undeserved peerage.

It is possible that he has done at least as much harm to the unemployed as Unum and Atos, along with an equal amount of harm to those on low wages.

He has written a worthless screed in the Huffington Post, no doubt part of an attempt to soften us all up for a new assault on the workless. We’ll get to his words in a moment. First, let’s look at the current situation, as created by the David Cameron government that Freud serves.

Under the current government, real wages have fallen in 36 out of 37 months – the only month when they didn’t fall was April 2013, when millionaires had their tax cut and bank bonuses rocketed. You can be assured that ordinary wages continued to plummet.

This has been led, of course, by the social insecurity policies adopted by Freud. The plan has always been to make life extremely difficult for the unemployed, ensuring they will chase work wherever they can find it – no matter how poorly-paid. This is why zero-hours contracts have gained the prevalence they have, which would be unacceptable in a civilised society.

It also means that company bosses can push wages down, even if prices are rising and people are facing a cost of living crisis – because they can always say there are plenty of unemployed people willing to take a complaining worker’s place.

And prices are rising. Inflation has been above the current two per cent target throughout Cameron’s administration, meaning that, in 2011, 70 per cent of people saw their real wages fall as pay packets failed to keep up with inflation. Families were an average of £891 worse-off in the current financial year because of tax rises and cuts to tax credits and benefits introduced since 2010 – negating the much-touted £600 that was given back when the Coalition raised the threshold for tax payment.

The government has blamed high inflation on “rising global prices” but this is nonsense – inflation in other G7 countries has been lower than in the UK, disproving the claim.

Wages after inflation are forecast to be £1,520 lower in 2015 than in 2010, meaning that working people, on average, will have lost a total of £6,660 in real terms under the Coalition government of David Cameron.

It is against this background that David Freud has written, in the Huffington Post, about what he seems to think are his government’s successes in forcing unemployed people to chase your jobs, thereby keeping your wages low. They can’t go after other jobs, you see – this government hasn’t lifted a finger to create any!

“The benefit cap is now in place across the country,” he began. “This means that benefit claims are limited to a fair level, a maximum of the average working household earnings of £500 a week.” Instantly, he is distorting the truth. The income of an average household earning that much would be topped-up with benefits totalling a further £105 or thereabouts. The benefit cap is, therefore, intrinsically unfair.

“The taxpayer who funds the welfare state has the assurance that someone in receipt of benefits no longer has an income that’s beyond the reach of the average working family.” A flat-out lie. The average benefit recipient never received more than an average working family. As a rule, benefits totalled one-sixth of wages and the one per cent limit on benefit uprating over the next three years – no matter what inflation does – means a huge drop in real terms during that period.

“The benefit cap has removed the barrier some people faced getting into work.” Another lie. The barrier that was stopping people getting into work was a lack of jobs that paid enough for people to cover their costs. Freud and his government want you to compete for jobs that put you into debt at a s-l-I-g-h-t-l-y slower rate than if you were unemployed.

“I must be clear, the old system failed people. If benefits provide an income well above wages, sticking to receiving state support over going out to work is too easy a decision to make.” A false premise. Benefits never provided an income well above wages – except for people in extraordinary circumstances (and those people had stopped receiving such income before the benefit cap was imposed). It’s lie after lie with this man.

“Our reforms put getting into work at the top of the agenda.” No – they set working class people against each other, scrabbling for jobs that pay marginally more than benefits while employers compete in a race to the bottom, to see who can get away with paying the least.

“Universal Credit will make sure it pays to work and the benefit cap ensures a lifestyle on benefits is not a lifestyle beyond the reach of the average household.” Universal Credit is, as we all now know, a money pit into which Iain Duncan Smith has poured hundreds of millions of pounds and received nothing in return. The average household will soon endure a lifestyle – in work – that is almost indistinguishable from one on benefits, as wages continue to fall.

“That is why alongside putting the cap in place, we made sure that people who get a job and are eligible for working tax credits are exempt.” But hasn’t this government made working tax credits harder to claim?

“We have ensured that households who should be exempt, such as people claiming disability benefits as well as war widows and widowers, have not been affected.” What about sick and disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, which is not classed as a disability benefit even though it is paid to people with disabilities? They have been dying in their thousands as a result of Freud’s policies.

Yes, this man’s ideas kill.

David Freud’s middle initial is ‘A’. Someone recently pointed out that initialising ‘David A Freud, Tory’ gives you the acronym ‘DAFT’.

You’d have to be daft to believe him.