Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Austerity

A Budget for the Top 10% Wealthy, as 3/4 of Welfare Cuts Remain.

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One Man’s Advice has been Heeded.

Tory Budgets are odd things.

There’s a standard pattern

A Chancellor of the Exchequer stands up and grins like a Cheshire cat, meaning that you can be sure that only fellow tubby cats are going to be happy with the announcements.

In this case the likes of Sir Philip Green(CBI  and British Chamber of Commerce) and the Sir Arthur Daley (President, Federation of Small Businesses) are lapping it up.

Phil Fleming, spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses, described it as “a brilliant Budget”.

He said: “It was the most enjoyable Budget speech I have ever listened to in my life.

“He shut up the Opposition, considering what he had to juggle with. It is a brilliant Budget.”

Schools, we are told, are going to get cash for ‘little extras’.

Much needed it is said, for the post-Brexit teaching programme on the reintroduction of farthings, groats, and measurements such as Els, Furlongs, and terms for the reform of local government, Wapentakes and Hides.


On Universal Credit in  the ‘I’ reporter Serina Sandhu reports,

The rollout of Universal Credit is being delayed once more, with a new target date of December 2023 for all claimants to be transferred to the Government’s flagship new benefit. The announcement came as Chancellor Philip Hammond provided an additional £6.6 billion over the next six years to smooth the introduction of UC, which replaces a range of welfare payments. Mr Hammond revealed the Treasury would be giving £1bn over five years to the Department for Work and Pensions to help ease the transition to the controversial benefits system. He also said he was increasing the work allowance – the amount claimants can earn before Universal Credit begins to be withdrawn – by £1,000 a year, at a cost of £1.7bn annually.

Mr Hammond defended the much-blighted system, which has led to some claimants being hundreds of pounds a month worse off than on legacy benefits. Others have fallen into rent arrears caused by delays to their first payment. “The switch to Universal Credit is a long overdue and necessary reform,” he said. “It replaces the broken system left by the last Labour government, a system… that trapped millions on out of work benefits. Universal Credit is here to stay.” Welfare damage Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “The announcement doesn’t begin to repair damage caused by yearly welfare payment freezes, welfare reform act [and] austerity. This is no budget for strivers, grafters [and] carers.” Labour said: “[It] is inadequate. The document confirms that the work allowance change only reverses around half of the previous Tory cuts from 2015.”

The Resolution Foundation says,

Squeeze continues for low and middle income families despite Chancellor’s £55bn giveaway Budget

Almost half of Budget 2018 income tax cuts are set to go to the top ten per cent of households

The Chancellor set out a significant easing of austerity in a £55bn giveaway Budget yesterday that set out major increases in public service spending, tax cuts and a reversal of cuts to the generosity of Universal Credit. But the squeeze is set to continue for low and middle income families, the Resolution Foundation said today (Tuesday) in its overnight analysis of the Budget, How To Spend It.

Faced with a total fiscal windfall of £73.8bn from the Office for Budget Responsibility over the forecast period, the Chancellor chose to use 75 per cent of it in a £55bn giveaway Budget. But while yesterday’s Budget represents a significant shift in overall direction of public spending, it does not spell the end of the squeeze – either for unprotected public services, or over ten million working age families in receipt of benefits.

Key findings from How To Spend It include:

The squeeze continues for low and middle income families

  • The analysis shows that over three quarters of the £12bn of welfare cuts announced after the 2015 election remain government policy, despite the welcome £1.7bn boost to Work Allowances in Universal Credit.
  • Half of the welfare cuts that hit family budgets are yet to be rolled out – including a £1.5bn benefit freeze next April that will see a couple with children in the bottom half of the income distribution losing £200.

Better news for the ‘more than just managing’

  • 84 per cent of the income tax cuts announced yesterday will go to the top half of the income distribution next year, rising to 89 per cent by the end of the parliament (2022-23) when almost half (45 per cent) will go to the top ten per cent of households alone.
  • The richest tenth of households are set to gain 14 times as much in cash terms next year from the income tax and benefits giveaways in the Budget as the poorest tenth of households (£410 vs £30).
  • The overall package of tax and benefit changes announced since 2015 will deliver an average gain of £390 for the richest fifth of households in 2023-24, compared to an average loss of £400 for the poorest fifth of households.

Cuts to public services are eased, but not ended

  • Overall day-to-day departmental spending per capita is now set to rise by 4 per cent between this year and 2022-23, rather than fall by 4 per cent as previously planned.
  • However, the promises of extra spending on the NHS, defence and international aid mean that unprotected departments will continue to see cuts in every year from 2020-21. Their per capita real-terms budgets are set to be 3 per cent lower in 2023-24 than 2019-20.
  • If allocated equally this would mean day-to-day spending cuts of 48, 52 and 77 per cent between 2009-10 and 2023-24 for the departments of Justice, Business and Transport respectively.

The economic backdrop to Budget 2018

  • Despite the slight upgrade in the OBR growth forecasts, GDP per capita is set to grow by 4.9 per cent between 2018 and 2023, compared with an IMF forecast of 5.5 per cent across the rest of the G7.
  • Real average earnings are not set to return to their pre-crisis peak until the end of 2024 – representing an unprecedented 17-year pay downturn.

Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation, said:

“The Chancellor was able to navigate the near impossible task in his Budget of easing austerity, seeing debt fall and avoiding big tax rises, thanks to a £74bn fiscal windfall. He chose to spend the vast majority of this on the NHS, income tax cuts and a welcome boost to Universal Credit.

“But while yesterday’s Budget represented a seismic shift in the government’s approach to the public finances, it spelt an easing rather than an end to austerity – particularly for low and middle income families.

The Chancellor made a very welcome £1.7bn commitment to Universal Credit, but has left intact three quarters of the benefit cuts announced following the 2015 general election. Meanwhile income tax cuts announced yesterday will overwhelmingly benefit richer households, with almost half of the long term gains going to the top ten per cent of households. On public services the NHS saw a big spending boost ­– but unprotected departments still have further cuts penciled in.

“This Budget was much easier for Philip Hammond than many expected. But there will be tougher choices for Chancellors in the years ahead. Brexit must be delivered smoothly, public spending will remain tight, and forecasts may not always be so rosy.

“Looking further ahead, living standards growth is set to be sluggish and the tax rises to meet pressures in the 2020s from our ageing society will still be needed – as and when there’s a government with the majority to deliver them. Austerity has been eased, but there are still tough times ahead.”

The Mirror gives Labour’s response:

John McDonnell: Philip Hammond gave a broken promise budget, failing to end austerity

By choosing to cut rather than invest, Tories have failed to fix the weaknesses of the economy, says the Shadow Chancellor

David Gauke, Work and Pensions Secretary: another Tory who Hates the Poor.

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David Gauke: Avoid Bumping into him in Dark Alleyways. 

The Grenfell Tragedy has brought to everybody’s attention the way the Tories treat the working class and poor.

If you thought Theresa May was bad enough there was this today (Mirror),

Shameless Tory council leader blames Grenfell Tower block residents for lack of sprinklers claiming they didn’t want ‘disruption’

A shameless Tory has blamed Grenfell Tower block residents for the lack of sprinklers in the building.

Nick Paget-Brown, the Conservative leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, claimed tenants didn’t want the ‘disruption’ of them being fitted.

So it’s no surprise that Theresa May has appointed this creature to run the DWP and ‘deal’ with those on those benefits.

David Gauke MP appointed Work and Pensions Secretary – see his voting record

Mr Gauke has been the Conservative member of parliament for South West Hertfordshire since 2005.

His voting record is unlikely to comfort people affected by years of social security cuts.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 16, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Austerity Agenda Continues as Damian Green Takes Hold of DWP.

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Shifty Looking Damian Green Sidles into the DWP.

On Monday the Guardian published this article:

The austerity agenda isn’t over. More people will sink further into poverty

There will be “no new search for cuts in individual welfare benefits” the secretary of state for work and pensions, Damian Green, has pledged. Not much news there, then. Green’s predecessor, Stephen Crabb, made the same promise in March, as a jittery Treasury sought to placate the Tory backbench revolt over cuts to disability benefits. The former chancellor George Osborne may be gone, but his welfare spending strategy remains largely intact for now.

During his Andrew Marr Show interview at the weekend Green made it sound like his “no more benefit raids” pledge was a sign that the austerity agenda was over. But it is not. Green confirmed that inherited current and planned cuts, amounting to billions of pounds by the end of the decade, would go ahead.

The language of welfare may well be less abrasive under Green, and his compassionate conservative presentation of welfare reform may aspire to be softer, but without material change, the net effect of the cuts will be the same as it would have been had Osborne still been in post: the living standards of millions of “just managing” low-income working households will continue to suffer, and the very poorest and most vulnerable will become poorer.

Butler concluded,

There is plenty that can be done to make universal credit more operationally humane: Green could make a start on this by scrapping the notorious six-week wait for a first universal credit payment, a rule dubbed “a recruiting sergeant for food banks” by Frank Field MP for its unerring ability to pitch low-income claimants into avoidable debt, rent arrears and food poverty. Green may also want to look again at the potentially explosive plans, currently being trialled, to introduce conditionality for low-paid workers on universal credit. Fining a claimant for not turning up to a jobcentre interview because they were at work is not a convincing advert for “making work pay”.

Green and May will have to accept that the social security system is, as the Fabian Society recently pointed out, rapidly becoming unfit for purpose. There are huge imbalances in who benefits: between working age recipients (who have shouldered the austerity burden) and pensioners (relatively unscathed); and between those on low incomes (who took the biggest hit), and the wealthy (who, according to the Fabians will by 2020 receive more financial support from the state in the form of personal tax allowances than poorer families will on benefits).

Two days ago the Independent noted,

There is a major squeeze on public spending and welfare payments still to come over the next five years as a result of government decisions already taken – including the filleting of almost £9bn from the tax credit and working age benefits bill.

These will assuredly diminish the living standards of the less well-off. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has projected that those in the poorest tenth of the population will lose £800 a year by 2020 relative to those in the second poorest tenth at £1,500 a year and the third poorest tenth at £1,200 a year.

What is Damien Green’s background?

Damian Green was born in Barry, Wales. He grew up in Reading, Berkshire and was educated at Reading School and then at Balliol College, Oxford where he was awarded a BA degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in 1977, followed by a MA degree. He was President of the Oxford Union in 1977 and was the vice-chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students (now known as Conservative Future) from 1980 until 1982.

Not, we suspect, the kind of education (Grammar school, Oxford) and politics – including at the top of the hard-right free-market Thatcher worshiping Federation of Conservative Students – that would signal out somebody for compassionate, or even moderate positions on social security and the welfare state.

in 1998 Green was – rightly – very critical of the New Deal for the Unemployed. He called it a waste of taxpayers’ money, unable to train people in a  way that made people attractive to employers, or, as he put it “providing suitable recruits. (The Four Failures of the New Deal, by Damian Green, 1998, Centre for Policy Studies.) Essentially this was cost-benefit analysis, which paid little attention to the needs of the out-of-work.

How will he stand on the use of private companies, known in academic circles as bands of thieves living off public money, by the DWP, for training the unemployed, for Universal credit, and so on?

We note this: “As Police Minister in the Coalition Government, Green called for increased partnerships between the police and the private sector.” from here).

As for austerity we also observe read this (Telegraph)

Damian Green, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, has indicated pensioner benefits may be cut after 2020 as he pledged to tackle “intergenerational fairness”.

In his first major interview since taking up the job, Mr Green defended the government’s current support for pensioners and heralded the fall in poverty among the elderly.

However he also said it was “absolutely” necessary to consider “over time” whether different generations are getting a fair share of the proceeds of economic growth.

It follows criticism of David Cameron’s decision to ring-fence pensioners from austerity cuts, introducing a “triple lock” on pensions and sticking with a promise of free bus passes and TV licenses.

Cutting benefits for pensioners will not mean better benefits for anybody else.

Just equality in misery, as he might have said as a Conservative Student.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Unemployed fill special constable roles in move branded “policing on the cheap”.

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Your next job?


Obviously somebody has a wizard idea for dealing with cuts in the police force, and it’ll help if French unrest spreads to Britain….

Young unemployed fill special constable roles in move branded “policing on the cheap” by unions.

Reports the Mirror.

The recruits will work alongside regular officers ­patrolling the streets, but will be paid the minimum wage of £7.20 an hour.

The unemployed are being drafted in as full-time special constables in a move blasted as “policing on the cheap” by unions.

Renfrewshire Council is offering 11-month, full-time “traineeships” which will see new recruits work alongside regular officers patrolling the streets but paid the National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour.

The successful applicants will be trained at the national police college where they will undergo a “revised” version of the training programme undertaken by probationer officers.

If successful it’s possible other councils will follow suit.

Officials in Renfrewshire insisted the special constable recruitment drive was part of an anti-poverty scheme to provide unemployed people with work experience.

But the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, slammed it as “cynical” and questioned its legality.

General Secretary Calum Steele said: “This proposal is more about a cynical attempt to deliver policing on the cheap rather than genuinely creating employment opportunities.

“Quite simply, if Renfrewshire Council believes there is a need for additional policing resources, it should implore Police Scotland to either deploy more officers or directly recruit those who pass the national entry standards.

“We are also far from convinced this initiative is lawful as it implies the council has the authority to not only pay special constables but also to determine their remuneration.

“We can find no legal basis that would support such a position.”

Scotland’s 1,400 special constables are part-time volunteers appointed by police chiefs to provide support to regular officers.

The advert for the full-time trainee special constables in Renfrewshire says they “could be doing anything from policing a football match to assisting at a road accident” and will be paid the National Living Wage.

Read more: Police take FORTY THREE attempts to smash down a suspected drug dealer’s door

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur said: “Police Scotland are facing budget pressures but the solution to financial problems is additional funding, not bumping up the number of what some would see as cut-price coppers.”

Councillor Mike Holmes, deputy leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “The role of our trainee special constables will be to support and complement the work of regular police officers, not to be a substitute for them.”

Chief Inspector Alison Kennedy, Police Scotland’s area commander at Paisley, said: “This is an innovative initiative which will provide young people from Renfrewshire 11 months’ employment with practical experiences and opportunities.”

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2016 at 11:24 am

Threat to Housing Benefit as 10% Claimant “Contribution” to Rent Floated.

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One of Iain Duncan Smith’s Gaffs: No Housing Benefit Problems for him!

“State benefits paid to thousands of sick and disabled people could be cut by £30 a week as part of the £12bn of welfare cuts to be implemented by the Government.” reports the Independent today. 

People on housing benefit could be forced to contribute part of their rent for the first time under measures that could be announced in next week’s Budget, which will outline some of the welfare savings promised in the Conservatives’ election manifesto. 

Housing benefit costs £26bn a year, with an average payment of £93 a week. A 10 per cent compulsory payment by tenants would save about £2.5bn a year.

The BBC gives some relevant background,

Housing benefit is thought to be an obvious target as costs have been rising in recent years, to £25bn last year.

The average weekly housing benefit payment is £93.

If, for instance, ministers made claimants pay 10%, they would have to find about £9.30 a week to ensure their rent is paid in full.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has calculated that this would save £2.5bn if applied to both the social and private rental sector.

The story also features in the Mirror, without mentioning the 10% figure.

The Tories could cut housing benefit in their £12bn welfare crackdown by making all tenants pay towards their rent, it’s been claimed.

The move would hit thousands of families who have their full rent paid by the taxpayer if it’s included in next Wednesday’s Budget.

Housing benefit pays all or part of the rent for Britain’s poorest tenants and is set to cost £26bn this year – 21% of all welfare payments up for the chop.

A 2011 analysis found 28% of all renters in the UK had their full amount paid by the taxpayer, with another 17% having it ‘topped up’ with partial housing benefit.

Sources have told the BBC all households would be forced into a ‘top-up’ system where they contribute towards their rent.

JSA rates:

18 to 24 up to £57.90
25 or over up to £73.10

£9.30 a week is  a hefty chunk of this payment (and we know that many people, particuarly in London, will have to pay a lot, a lot, more).

It will come on top of the (variable) percentage of Council Tax that the unemployed now have to pay.

Dawn Foster wrote last year (Guardian),

From April 2013, the government slashed funding for council tax benefit by £500m, and instructed local authorities to decide how the reduced benefit should be distributed. The poorest residents, unemployed, disabled or low paid, now find themselves paying council tax where previously they were exempt.

The headlines of her article sum up the result.

Thousands in court for council tax arrears as benefit cuts hit home

Many people who were formerly exempt from paying now face court, as the bedroom tax adds to spiralling debt burden

Payments range from a minimum of 10%  to  as much as 20% in others.

Now we have this proposal.

It will more severe poverty and more homelessness.

 No doubt the intention!

Written by Andrew Coates

July 3, 2015 at 3:19 pm