Tag Archives: Working Tax Credit

#proudtowork – Yet Another Money Grabbing Scam From The Parasites – the void

130627workprogramme

Here’s an article that ticks many boxes. Johnny Void writes:

“The body established to lie on behalf of the fraud ridden welfare-to-work industry have launched a new campaign on the back of a report so breath-takingly dishonest it would make Iain Duncan Smith blush.

“According to the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the floundering Work Programme has been a huge success and is set to add £18 billion to the economy.  This is based on a report which ERSA commisioned from a consultancy company called Europe Economics who have mangled the figures in an attempt to hoodwink the DWP into giving Work Programme providers like A4e and G4S even more tax payer’s cash.”

You can read the rest of the article here – but we’ve been here before. Look at the issues mentioned:

1. The report claims that around 100,000 people have gained jobs over the last three years as a direct result of the Work Programme – but that claim is based on the number of job vacancies. What about the phenomenal rise in self-employment? What about the question of whether these people are actually self-employed or are merely claiming Working Tax Credits because it is easier than jumping through the hoops placed in front of them by Job Centre Plus?

2. The report ignores the Work Programme’s utter failure to find jobs for people in the Work-Related Activity group of Employment and Support Allowance. These ESA claimants are in danger of losing their benefit entitlement at the end of a year – whether their physical condition has improved or not – and should therefore be a priority but the Work Programme providers are continually ignoring them in a process known as ‘Cream and Park’ – they ‘cream’ off the people they can easily get into work and ‘park’ those – like people on ESA – whose cases are too much like hard work.

3. The assumption that the Work Programme will add £18 billion to the economy is based on a lie. The figure adds together the amount the government is expected to save in benefits and the claimant is expected to receive in extra money, along with “some magical money added on top which they pretend it will save businesses”, as Johnny colourfully puts it. The trouble is, as he points out: “It assumes that everyone who gets a job and keeps it on the Work Programme is a 17-year-old with 50 years of working life ahead of them.  17-year-olds aren’t even eligible for the Work Programme” [bolding mine].

4. At face value, the report shows that the Work Programme is only adding £140 million to the economy at the moment – but it costs at least three times as much, according to Johnny’s article. What does this mean? The Work Programme is costing the UK economy at least £280 million every year.

Some might call that a measure of success – in 2012 Vox Political branded it “a £527 million failure“.

But ask yourself this question:

Would that money not be better spent helping the poor, rather than supporting corporate parasites?

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Cameron’s ‘mission’ is morally bankrupt

140117democracy

When David Cameron stands up in all his hypocrisy and tells you that tearing apart the basic safety net that guaranteed people would not be left in hunger or destitution is part of his “moral mission”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the country has taken a turn for the worse.

When he defends an administration that has become so punitive that applicants who don’t get it right have to wait without food for months at a time, by claiming he is doing “what is right”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the man who claims he is Prime Minister has diverged from reality.

That is precisely what he has done, and you can bet that the Tory diehards will quietly go along with it because they think it is far better for other people to lose their lives than it is for their government to lose face.

Cameron has been responding after the Catholic Bishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, delivered a vehement attack on the social security “reforms” being forced on the country’s most vulnerable people by Iain Duncan Smith.

In the Daily Telegraph, Cameron smarmed: “Our long-term economic plan for Britain is not just about doing what we can afford, it is also about doing what is right… Nowhere is that more true than in welfare. For me the moral case for welfare reform is every bit as important as making the numbers add up.

“We are in the middle of a long and difficult journey turning our country around,” Cameron said. “That means difficult decisions to get our deficit down, making sure that the debts of this generation are not our children’s to inherit.

“But our welfare reforms go beyond that alone – they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance.

“Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart too of our social and moral mission in politics today.”

Drivel. Any evidence-based analysis will find the exact opposite. Where are the opportunities in Workfare schemes that pay only benefits, meaning travel expenses alone put claimants out of pocket, and then send jobseekers back to the dole queue so rich companies can profit further by taking on more claimants on the same terms?

How can anyone derive hope from taking responsibility for their job search, when DWP staff at Jobcentre Plus are ordered to ignore their own responsibilities in favour of harsh sanctions for invented infringements of the Jobseeker’s Agreement?

And how is encouraging people to say they are self-employed, even though they have little chance of earning enough to support them and none of enjoying a holiday or a pension, different from writing them off with no chance?

Look at the new employment figures from the Office for National Statistics – the Coalition government has been making a song and dance about them ever since they came out. On the face of it, they seem reliable: In December 2013, 30.15 million people were in work of some kind, up by 396,000 from the same time the previous year; there were 2.34 million unemployed, down 161,000 from December 2012; and the Claimant Count (those on Jobseekers’ Allowance) was 1.22 million in January, down 327,000 from a year earlier.

However, the number of people marked as self-employed has rocketed to a record level, totalling one in seven of the workforce. That’s 4,370,000 – up 150,000 on the previous year. This is extremely suspicious, as the increase in the previous year totalled 25,000 – just one-sixth of this week’s figure.

Some of these people might be genuinely self-employed and making their new business work – but all of them? In an economy where productivity hasn’t increased since the Coalition took office? You’d have to be stupid to believe that.

Assuming the amount of real self-employment has increased in line with economic growth (at 1.9 per cent), that’s an extra 25,475 in 2013, leaving 124,525 in limbo. Are these really self-employed? Or were they told by Jobcentre advisors to say so and claim working tax credits (as we’ve seen in the past), leading to a huge debt when HMRC tells them they have been claiming fraudulently and have been overpaid?

How many of the unemployed have been wiped off the books due to sanctions? We don’t know, because we don’t have figures up to December 2013. We do know that 897,690 sanctions were enforced in the year to September 2013. We don’t know how many were for one month, how many for three months or how many for three years, but we do know that the rate was six per cent of jobseekers per month in the three months to the end of September 2013. Assuming that rate stayed solid, it suggests that 73,200 were off-benefit due to sanctions in December and should be added to the Claimant Count to give a more accurate figure.

How many of the unemployed have been wiped off the books due to Workfare? We don’t know. How many are unemployed but on Universal Credit, which isn’t included in the Claimant Count? We don’t know – 3,610 were on it at the end of November last year, but the DWP has not divided them into those in work and those without.

David Cameron has access to all of this information, and he doesn’t care. He also has access to the mortality figures for claimants of Incapacity Benefit/Employment and Support Allowance, that the DWP has been withholding from the rest of us, probably for fear of sparking an international outcry. He doesn’t care about that either.

His comments are therefore doubly outrageous – not only is he claiming that his Coalition’s changes are having a beneficial effect when the figures demonstrate the opposite, but he is also claiming the moral high ground when his actions are more appropriate to the populace of the Pit.

In terms of his morality, there can be only one description for him and his cronies:

Bankrupt.

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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.

Inflation rise will increase the agony for those on benefits

This is what ‘money’ looks like. Enjoy the sight because you’ll probably be seeing increasingly less of it in reality from now on.

How many different ways can the Coalition find to shoot itself in the foot?

Today, inflation is the cause of the embarrassment. Just one month after it dropped to its lowest level in three years, the pace of price rises leapt up by half a percentage point, which is well above expectations.

And what’s the reason for this unexpected turnaround? Why, it’s because of the sharp rise in university tuition fees!

They rose by 19.1 per cent after the cap on charges was lifted by the government to £9,000 from £3,375.

In response, the Consumer Price Index rose from 2.2 per cent to 2.7, while the Retail Price Index went from 2.6 to 3.2 per cent.

What does it mean for you?

Well, it’s still September’s rise that is the important one, because it is those figures that part-time Chancellor Gideon George Osborne uses to work out the rise in benefits, starting next April. He’ll announce the amounts in December, but he’ll be guided by the September CPI rate.

These include Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support, disability benefits, maternity benefits, Incapacity Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Child Benefit.

With inflation rising again, those on benefits are likely to suffer an even greater squeeze on their wallets than is already expected – remember, the bedroom tax and the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’ are both being imposed on us in April 2013.

Energy bill increases, water bill increases, food price rises, and the increase in fuel duty that members of the Coalition dutifully and brainlessly supported only yesterday will add to the agony for the many.

Mr 0 has already announced an intention to squeeze Jobseekers’ Allowance, as he is keen for those in work to see greater reward than those on the dole. Notice that he doesn’t say anything about whether that reward will be adequate to their needs. The living wage is not a factor in this Chancellor’s thinking!

Even last month, when inflation fell, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber warned that real wage drops mean families have been getting poorer every month for the last three years.

It’s not all bad, though!

Pensions – which are drawn by those who are most likely to vote (and most likely to vote Conservative) – are protected by a government guarantee, and will therefore rise by 2.5 per cent.

How cynical.