Tag Archives: Welfare Reform Bill

David Cameron: We are now in the 1930s

As I noted in The Ideology of Workfare, the ultimate goal of the cheap-work conservatives in Westminster is to roll us back to 1834, the year of the workhouse.

But as Cameron says

Today marks an historic step in the biggest welfare revolution in over 60 years.

What is he talking about is rolling back the welfare state, put in place by the Labour government elected in 1945, founded on the principles outlined by William Beveridge, the British economist who wrote Social Insurance and Allied Services, widely known as the Beveridge Report. Cameron is once again raising the giants of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness – which rightly he describes as a “historic step”.

My government has taken bold action to make work pay, while protecting the vulnerable.

David Cameron’s “bold action” was to institute a system by which high street stores and other commercial organisations can get employees who will work for nothing, Continue reading

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Filed under Benefits, Charles Dickens, Economics, Poverty, Scottish Politics

You will work harder. Cameron is always right.

At the beginning of 2012, a young woman, Cait Reilly, stood up for human rights and natural justice as no one on the front bench of the Labour Party has done yet in this Parliament: she took the Department of Work and Pensions to court, demanding a judicial review to find if they had any legal right to force her to work for Poundland for free, or any other JSA claimant work for a major corporation without pay.

A case such as this cannot result in significant damages; from day one, my challenge has been about the principle, not the money. It is about social justice.

I posted early this morning on the ideology and economics of workfare, and through the day I kept adding bits and pieces to it as more came up. (I’m still mordantly amused at my initial presumption that when Tesco was getting an unemployed person to work for them for free Continue reading

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These people were living on a shoestring.

Lisa Egan:

I get the care component of DLA for supervision because my bones break so easily. There is no mention of needing constant supervision in the proposed PIP criteria. Because I can feed myself, even though I once broke my arm eating, I will get no recognition for that. Because I can take myself to the toilet, even though I once broke my leg washing my hands after, I will get no recognition for that. Because I can get myself in and out of the shower, even though I once broke… you get the idea. (Huffington Post, 30th January 2012)

Louise Bolotin:

I had a good look at the PIP case studies yesterday, particularly studying the one about a woman with epilepsy. Looking at the points allocation, I’m fairly sure I won’t qualify for PIP even though I have a lifetime award for DLA. I get DLA because preparing and cooking a meal unaided is very risky for me (I once almost burnt down my former partner’s house because of this – it was a miracle the house hadn’t gone up completely in flames by the time he got home), likewise going out unsupervised is also risky because of the possibility of having a seizure while crossing the road. (Where’s the Benefit, 18 January 2012

Sharon Brennan:

I currently qualify for higher rate mobility under DLA but I won’t under PIP. Under the new rules for PIP if a disabled person CANNOT walk more than 50 metres but doesn’t need a wheelchair then they will no longer be entitled to higher rate mobility, which in short means access to a car through the motability scheme.

Please re-read that sentence and then think through the callousness of that statement and what that means to disabled claimants, like me. It means my world would be reduced to my home, and a stumble to the end of my road at best. My world, which has already been turned upside down by my worsening health, would diminish so much I’d have to question whether there is any point fighting to stay off the lung transplant list anymore. (Where’s the Benefit, 18 January 2012

Angela, via @THemingford: Angela has peroneal muscular atrophy and high blood pressure: some complicated medical problems relating to a road traffic accident years ago: anxiety and depression. Until 2009, she was able to work, and paid for adaptations to her home that made it possible for her to continue to live there, worth about £30,000. She used her DLA to pay for a carer to come in some days and help with “washing, laundry, hoovering, dusting, tidying and some aspects of shopping.” She lives alone but needs a second bedroom to store various pieces of essential disability-related equipment, including her wheelchair. “There is nowhere else of this to go or be stored.”

After she was no longer able to work, Housing Benefit paid most of her rent and she used £50 per month from her DLA to top up the remainder. Besides the Housing Benefit she gets Income Support and DLA. Recent Housing Benefit cuts and changes to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) now partly determined by the number of rooms and people in a property – no exemptions for disabled people – mean that her Housing Benefit is much lower: she has to find £35 more a week, so the amount she now has to pay to top up her Housing Benefit is £190 per month. For want of £190 a month – she has no way to earn it and no other source of income – she will have to move. Wherever she moves to, will have to have £30,000 of adaptations made in order for to her live there.

I got that far with Angela’s story and realised full-on how absurd this kind of “cut” is. Angela paid herself for the adaptions to a home she rents: if she moves out, the adaptations are worthless. To “save” the taxpayer £190 a month, £2280 a year, Angela is being required to dispose of essential assets worth £30,000 to her and worthless to the next tenant. What kind of arithmetic is this?

But wait: There’s worse. Continue reading

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Why the Welfare Reform Bill Is Wrong

Today in Parliament MPs vote on the Welfare Reform Bill, which the House of Lords amended in some respects. The goal of the Tory government is to cut payments to people with disabilities and to their carers by 20%.

I read this last night on Twitter and asked Helen’s permission to republish it, which she gave.
A stressed out Mum’s thoughts on the #wrb..

Just walked into the kitchen after a long working day. Danny, my 21 year old learning disabled son, has not long arrived home in his taxi and headed straight to the kitchen. I look across to the window and see I am already too late, the venetian blind and wall around the window is completely covered in yoghurt. I go and fetch a ladder and a cloth and start to clean up, quickly realising that the blind will have to come down. Dan appears back in the kitchen, sees what I am doing and quickly retreats with his hands over his ears. He knows he’s done wrong but he can’t help it, he is compelled to open and shake everything he can get his hands on… milk, yoghurts, sauce, paint, shampoo… the list goes on and on. Apart having the major clean-up operation to deal with each time, the cost of replacing these items is beyond funny.

Then there is all the furniture he breaks from bouncing on it… the clothing he rips… Imagine having a toddler who is into everything and then imagine if that toddler was suddenly the size of an adult 5’ 11’’ tall and could get into any cupboard, even if you locked it.

Today I’ve been reading about the proposed cut to benefits to families with disabled children, the latest particularly cruel punishment arising from the Welfare Reform Bill debated in the House of Lords. I can’t even begin [to] imagine how we’d have coped without additional income from benefits when Dan was younger. Apparently Lord Freud thinks a drop in income of £1,500 isn’t a significant amount and losing it will incentivise parents to go out to work – what planet is this man on? Does he have any grasp on disabled children’s real life situations at all?
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The CSA saved by the House of Lords

Every government since 1993, when the Child Support Agency was founded, seems to think they can reform the CSA, and the coalition government is no exception.

Starting from 2013, the Conservatives/Liberal Democrats propose charging:

  • £100 as an upfront fee (or £50 for parents on benefit) for those who want to use the future CSA. Only “Victims of domestic violence” will be exempt (although there is no detail on how this will be proved or checked).
  • An on-going charge of between 7% and 12% on any maintenance paid to parents who rely on the future CSA to collect their child maintenance, as well as an extra 15-20% charge added to the non-resident parent’s payment.

How, exactly, is this going to help?

When the Child Support Agency was launched in 1993, it rapidly became the object of “more concentrated hatred than any other modern UK institution except the poll tax”. Partly that was because the formula established for the CSA by Act of Parliament for the first time set mandatory levels of child support payment equivalent to what a single mother got when she signed on the dole. Before the CSA, it had been the job of the judge in the divorce court to determine how much maintenance a divorced father should pay his children, and the judges – either out of ignorance for what children cost to bring up, or misplaced compassion for the poor man being divorced – generally set that rate far too low: maintenance of £10 or £20 a month per child. And low as it was, there was no mechanism for a mother to collect it except by taking her ex-husband to court.
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Filed under Benefits, Equality, Poverty, Uncategorized, Women

Douglas Alexander and Scottish independence

In May 2011, the SNP won a majority in the Scottish Parliament – a victory that was unprecedented for both party and Parliament.

Douglas Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, believes (Independent, 22nd January) this victory came about partly because of a renewed Scottish nationalism but primarily because:

In contrast, Scottish Labour failed to recognise the changed environment that, ironically, it had help to create. [Pretty sure Doug means “had helped” not “had help”, though it certainly did have help from SNP, Scottish LibDem, Scottish Greens, and the Scottish Socialist Party] The party was left singing the old hymns and warning of the risks of Thatcherism at a time when these songs were increasingly unfamiliar to a new audience with no personal knowledge of the tunes. In truth, Scottish Labour never felt it needed to be New Labour because arguably that process of modernisation was not needed to defeat the Tories in Scotland, but this complacency, in time, left us vulnerable to attack from a different direction from more nimble opponents.

There are much simpler answers why the Scots tended to vote SNP this time. Part of it may have been due to fed-upness with Labour (which I’ll deal with later), partly it may have been the Westminster brigade arriving in Scotland in April 2011 on a rescue mission, but mostly, I think, it was just that the Liberal Democrats had put a Tory UK government in. Voting for the LibDems was seen as voting Tory, and Scots don’t vote Tory. (Well, not many, and those that do, vote for the real Tory party.)
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Challenge Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith, today:

“The question I’d ask these bishops is, over all these years, why have they sat back and watched people being placed in houses they cannot afford? It’s not a kindness. I would like to see their concerns about ordinary people, who are working hard, paying their tax and commuting long hours, who don’t have as much money as they would otherwise because they’re paying tax for all of this. Where is the bishops’ concern for them?”

The Welfare Reform Bill will cap the total benefit – including child benefit – any family can receive in any one year to £26,000.

The IDS Chttps://edinburgheye.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=752&action=edit&message=1#post_namehallenge on Twitter

Iain Duncan Smith says (BBC, 18th January) that those who have savings of more than £16,000 would be expected to “dip into” their own money to support themselves after a year, as taxpayers needed to know that state support for those with a certain level of income was not “open-ended”. Iain Duncan Smith’s personal fortune is estimated at £1m.
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Filed under Benefits, Healthcare, Human Rights, Poverty

Homes that they can only dream of…

The new welfare system takes for granted that all claimants are scroungers and cheats who need to be penalised. Political Scrapbook:

The £1.1 billion cost of fraud (a modest 0.7% of the total benefits spend) averages out to £59 across 18.5 million claimants. In contrast, MPs were ordered to pay back £1.2 million in the wake of Thomas Legg’s inquiry into expenses, an average of £1,858 for the 646 members of the Commons.

Especially if the claimant supposedly has a “disability” and yet doesn’t fill in their ESA50 (Limited capability for work questionnaire). The claimant’s wife contacts ATOS and offers as an excuse that the claimant is in a coma, and presents a letter from the hospital where the claimant is staying which confirms that the claimant is in a coma, but really: if you don’t fill in your ESA50 yourself, or at least check and sign it, you are obviously a scrounger and a fraud.

Employment and Support Allowance focuses on the patient’s abilities – on what they can do rather than what they cannot. The overarching principle of Employment and Support Allowance is that everyone should have the opportunity to work and that people with an illness or disability should get the help and support necessary for them to engage in appropriate work, if they are able. It builds on the successful “Pathways to Work” programme, which is now available nationally. We are investing in every region to ensure that a range of services is available for your patients, including condition management programmes specifically designed to help your patients manage their conditions in preparation for a return to work.

Obviously a patient in a coma who is capable of defrauding DWP should have the opportunity to engage in appropriate work. Minister for Employment, maybe?
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