Posts Tagged ‘Conservatives’
Budget 2017 for benefits: what welfare changes is Philip Hammond planning? Everything we know so far about the Chancellor’s plans for the benefits system. ANOOSH CHAKELIAN New Statesman.
This timely article outline some very bad news:
The Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce changes to welfare when he delivers his Budget. What do we know?
How has Theresa May’s government approached welfare so far?
Outside No 10 on 13 July 2016, Theresa May put equality at the heart of her first statement as Prime Minister. She claimed that she would put herself, “squarely at the service of ordinary working-class people”. She dedicated her speech to those who, “can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school”, telling the nation: “If you’re just managing, I want to address you directly.”
This meant that progressives looked to the first Autumn Statement from her Chancellor Philip Hammond last year to see if she would turn her rhetoric into action.
There wasn’t much, however, for the “just about managing” (nicknamed “Jams”) when the new government announced its first plan for Britain’s finances. The Chancellor eased the planned cuts to Universal Credit slightly, by slowing the pace at which your benefits are reduced the higher above the allowance you earn. He said the welfare cap would remain, but promised there would be no more welfare cuts this parliament.
A four-year freeze on tax credits and benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance and income support has been in place since April 2016 last year, and £12bn worth of cuts to the welfare budget were planned for this parliament in the 2015 Tory manifesto pledge. The government wants to stick to making these savings. A £3bn-a-year reduction in the work allowance – the amount benefit claimants can earn before their benefits start being withdrawn – has only really been reduced by about £700m by Hammond.
Hammond inherited harsh welfare policies from George Osborne’s regime, whose austerity programme hit low-income households the hardest – cutting working-age benefits to add to the burden of wage stagnation and rising living costs. He’s not done much so far to ease this pain.
So what are they planning for the Budget?
We can’t expect a huge amount of easing up on benefit freezes in the coming Budget. Here’s what we’re likely to see:
Jobseeker’s Allowance freeze
This is an Osborne legacy, but the unemployment benefit will continue to be frozen at £57.90 a week for under-25s, and £73.10 for those who are 25 and older. Since April 2013, this went up 1 per cent a year. The freeze was announced in the 2015 budget, and came into force last year. Remember, the rate of inflation is increasing, so this could be a big squeeze in the next year.
(Note: This is beginning to really bite.)
No automatic entitlement to housing benefit
The government recently announced its plan to remove the entitlement to housing benefit for some 18-21 year olds. Centrepoint warns that this could lead to 9,000 young people being unable to access accommodation and at risk of homelessness. The Guardian suggests Hammond might u-turn on this.
(Note: Mean-spirited is the least of it. Expect more rough sleepers everywhere)
Child benefit freeze
Another continued freeze, at the existing rate of £20.70 a week for the first child and £13.70 for ensuing children. Again, inflation going up means this will feel increasingly tighter. Another part of the Osborne plan.
(Note: the plan to hit ordinary people.)
Child tax credit limited to two children
If you want to claim child tax credits for children born on or after 6 April 2017, you can only do so for two children. If you already claim them, your claims won’t be affected. You also won’t receive what’s known as the “family element” (around £40.40 a month) if your children are born after that date. This is another Osborne policy, announced in 2015 to start this year.
Universal Credit freeze
Universal Credit rates will be frozen for 2017-18. The Osborne plan was the cut the work allowance by £3bn each year – a plan Hammond slightly softened by reducing the taper rate in the Autumn Statement.
(Note: another kick in the face for the less well off, in work.)
So that’s a huge squeeze on living standards for May’s beloved “ordinary, working-class people” then?
As we already notice in our bills and shopping, this will hit us hard.
Analysis from thinktank the Resolution Foundation found that a total of £3.6bn will be taken from the worst off households by 2020 thanks to the freeze in tax credit and working age benefits.
Their calculations suggest a single earner family with two children could lose £680 a year once inflation is factored in.
The Foundation’s director, Torsten Bell, warned the Office for Budget Responsibility could revise up its inflation forecast to 2.6% for both this year and 2018.
That would see real pay falling by the end of this year as prices start to outstrip only modest wage growth.
“The effect of a renewed pay squeeze would be broadly felt across the population,” Mr Bell told the Guardian.
“But in many ways the worst affected group might be those ‘ordinary working families’ on lower incomes who will face a double whammy of lower pay growth and benefit cuts.”
To start our coverage of the Tory Conference and the latest madcap antics of Iain Duncan Smith, this takes some beating. We shall naturally be giving more detailed reports. Tommorow in Ipswich will be helping at a Welfare Rights stall by Giles Corner, promoting the Welfare Charter (see previous posts). All welcome, from 11.00 am to 13.00.
According to the Telegraph, that outstanding group of backwards-thinking Tories, the Free Enterprise group, has come up with a new way of turning back time to the Middle Ages.
The group, some of whose luminaries were responsible for the stain on literature known as Britannia Unchained, believe those out of work for more than a year should have their benefits docked by 20 per cent.
Anyone unemployed for more than six months should do 30 hours’ community service and lose 10 per cent of their benefits, they reckon.
Britannia Unchained, you will recall, wrongly suggests that workers in the UK are among the laziest in the world.
Magistrates regularly dish out community service orders to people who have been convicted of criminal offences…
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Gummer Raises a Pint to Punishing the Poor.
Gummer Backs Sanctions Regime.
In reply to a recent letter (23rd of March – above) protesting at the sanctions regime for Benefit claimants Mr Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP and now parliamentary candidate for Ipswich (Conservative) says this:
“I must be honest with you from the outset, however, I support the changes the current government has made to welfare, including sanctioning those who break the conditions for Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA).”
Gummer talks of how the “sanctions regime has been made as fair as possible.” He asserts that, “it is not designed to catch people out or to make life unreasonably difficult.” It will, apparently, “ encourage behaviour that is ultimately in the claimant’s interest”. Why? It “will help the get a job – by discouraging behaviour unhelpful to their prospects”.
There is, he continues, an equitable punishment system in place. People get one level of reprimand for being late for an appointment, another for not turning up the Mandatory Activity Scheme.
Gummer sugars the pill: “small mistakes are therefore relatively lightly dealt with”, and that “all decisions are based on impartial facts”, by a decision-makers high above the Work Coaches.
DWP judges, no doubt schooled in the tradition of King Solomon, and Tribonian (I add the latter as Gummer is both a gentleman and a classical scholar), are in charge of the process.
There is an “appeals” system to boot. The fact that “about 40% “ of the sanctions decision are “revoked” demonstrates how fair the initial decision-making process is.
Gummer believes that the sanctions regime’s aim is to “get people into work by encouraging the kind of behaviour that will make an employer wants them”. He asks, “Why should working people in Ipswich keep funding someone who has the chance to get a job but who simply decides not to work?”
Indeed: not only are the DWP the wisest of lords of the law, but they also have the ability to see that when somebody turns up late for an appointment it’s because they have decided “not to work”. Perhaps they look a certain way, shifty, out to get funding from ‘hard working families’.
Punishment works. Honestly. Among with other (unspecified) “measures” “are succeeding in getting people into employment”. They save people from a “life of unemployment” and let them “fulfil their potential”.
Ipswich Food Banks are full of people fulfilling their potential…..
Ben Gummer’s Direct Link to the DWP:
Tories auction off an Iron Man challenge with Iain Duncan Smith (10th February).
Super-rich guests at the event in London last night were invited to bid on lots including an Iron Man challenge with Iain Duncan Smith, an early morning jog with Nicky Morgan, shoe shopping with Theresa May and a roast chicken dinner at home with Michael Gove.
Hedge-fund kings, City tycoons and captains of industry were among the 1,100 guests paying between £500 and £1,500 a ticket for the bash at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
The eagle-eyed newshounds of the Ilford Recorder give more details,
The secretary of state for work and pensions offered the opportunity for the lucky winner to join him for an “action-packed” race at the gala evening at the five-star Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair last night (Monday).
Guests paid up to £15,000 for a table at the event, with the party auctioning off items including a shoe-shopping trip with home secretary Theresa May, budget papers signed by chancellor George Osborne and a bronze statue of Margaret Thatcher.
A description of the Redbridge MP’s entry read: “Feeling adventurous? Join Iain Duncan Smith in this mini Iron Man style ‘Endeavour’.
“This 10km course will be action-packed, suitable for endurance race veterans or competitors who are looking for a challenge.
“You will encounter hills, woods, streams, hedges and hay bales as you seek the finish line in a bid to beat your team mate.”
I was just at the Dentist.
Reading Town and Country I learn that in the posher parts of London it’s £7,000 per square foot for flats and homes.
I might get me a half a foot out of a year’s JSA.
For reasons that are hard to explain Ipswich Unemployed Action was not invited to the Grosvenor House Hotel.
But in Town and Country I notice this this delightful Valentine’s gift.
I shall send it to Iain Duncan Smith in appreciation for all his hard work.
Young Homelessness: Set to Swell in Number Under a Conservative Government.
New welfare crackdown on workshy
Tens of thousands of families where no one works will have their benefits slashed, David Cameron is to pledge today.
The current £26,000 cap would be cut to £23,000 within days of the Tories winning the general election, the Prime Minister will say.
As the campaign enters its final 100 days with two polls showing his party has moved into a narrow lead, Mr Cameron is also promising tax relief for the middle classes.
He is determined to ensure welfare is no longer a ‘lifestyle choice’, while rewarding those who are in work. He will pledge that the Conservatives would reduce the limit on handouts to jobless families within a week of being re-elected.
Housing benefit would be removed from jobless 18 to 21-year-olds, meaning they will have to live with their parents like millions of youngsters starting out in a job.
There’s that stupid expression “life-style choice” – as if being on the Dole was like being a Hipster – ‘Shit, dude, my bad, awks’, ‘ Chillax!’
Very few people get £26,000 a year, per couple, in benefits.
Those that do have to pay massive rents. If they don’t get the benefits they will loses their homes.
So, more homeless.
Young people on Housing benefit have often left home because they cannot live there – for reasons that range from abusive parents, not enough room at home, to a simple wish to be indepdnent.
If their benefits are removed they will find themselves homeless.
The Conservatives, the party of homelessness.
Note: detailed demolition of Cameron’s claims, David Cameron churns out another Benefit Cap lie (Vox Political)
Word has reached Ipswich Unemployed Action from The Void that Iain Duncan Smith plans to convert 40% of benefit claims into loans as a result from increasing draconian benefit sanctions. Benefit Claimants will be divided into The Deserving Poor and The Undeserving Poor – most of this will be delegated to the private sector to decide within their remit who should be able to claim benefits and who should be forced into a hardship payment loan of up to £6000 or more.
The Deserving Poor
If you are deemed worthy of benefits – perhaps newly unemployed from redundancy or never had a benefit claim before; you will still have to meet an almost endless (and continuously growing) list of conditions, but you will be able to claim benefits.
The Undeserving Poor
If you are deemed to be, lets say “undeserving” of benefits at the DWP or private providers’ (such as on the Work Programme) discretion, by not meeting the list of conditions, then you will be sanctioned up to 3 years. Hardship payments will be replaced with loans – we assume they will be interest free, but we await details – thus converting welfare into loans.
The likelihood of rolling sanctions is rife – 3 year sanctions (paid as a loan) and recouped in the following 3 years from benefits to pay the outstanding debt.
Some readers might be thinking “6 years?! Who is going to be unemployed that long?” – financial hardship wont force someone into securing work, it alienates people from society, and if it doesn’t kill someone through suicide, its certainly not going to get someone a job.
Welfare to Loans
Ipswich Unemployed Action believes up to 40% of claimants might be subject to these (repayable, obviously) loans at some stage. These will be targeted on long-term (6 months+) unemployed persons especially, but new claimants wont be immune.
We feel that any higher percentage couldn’t be sustained as this is unlawful.
Its probable that longer term the loans could be delegated to Tory banking chums in the latter years of the next parliamentary term if the Tories win the next General Election.
Ian Duncan Smith has spoken.
“Our Work Programme is giving new skills to people far from the jobs market. (!!!!!!!!!)
The voluntary and private sectors, paid only when they get people back in work and as they help people sustain it by developing the ‘work habit’, are delivering value for money. (!!!!!!!!)
Not just the big society at work, but the big society getting people back to work. (!!!!!!!!!)
And ending the something for nothing culture.
Promise made, promise delivered (I’ve run out exclamation marks…)
Second, we also promised to start dealing with the long term sickness benefit, too often abused as an excuse for avoiding work.
Our Work Capability assessment will review 1.5million people on Incapacity Benefit, many of whom have been written off and abandoned. 115,000 have already been through the assessment.
Those able to work immediately will look for employment and join the Work Programme; others who could work in the future, will get tailored support.
With more and more of those once parked on permanent benefits back seeking work or in work –
Third, as David Freud said, we promised to build the Universal Credit, the most radical change to benefits in a generation.
The current system, a mess of multiple benefits paid at varying rates, is open to widespread abuse – the result is massive error and fraud costing our country over £5 billion.
Worst of all, some people lose up to 96 pence of every pound earned in work because of the way their benefits are withdrawn. Would any of us work at 96% tax rates, especially if we could earn a living without any effort at all?
Universal Credit will ensure that you will be better off in work than out of it, and it will mean taxpayers get value for money.
Just imagine, a system that places work at the heart of the benefit system –
Which is why, for those fit for work I have a simple message:
Work with us to find and stay in employment and you will get all the support we can muster.
However, failure to seek work, take work, stay in work, or cooperate, and you will lose your benefits.
This is our contract with the British people. (who signed to it?)
To bring an end to the something for nothing culture (See below on Osborne)
Promise made, promise delivered.
But we are doing more:
As Maria pointed out, we are improving disability support, which is currently unfair and un-ambitious.
Too many in receipt of Disability Living Allowance are left for years with no re-assessment of their circumstances: more than two-thirds of the current case load has an indefinite award.
DLA is a lifeline for many, but it just isn’t working effectively enough in its current form. And many jobseekers who receive it are confused, often thinking that if they take work, they’ll lose support because it is complicated and oddly inflexible.
Whilst we’ll help those who can work to sustain work, we will always care for those who cannot.
But those with a disability must no longer be left behind.
And that’s not all. We are determined to help bring young people to meaningful employment – For it is they who have felt the recession the hardest
We have created funding for 250,000 new apprenticeships and 100,000 new work experience places. This alongside an innovation fund of £30 million to help our most disadvantaged young people.
Four years ago, when I was Chairman of the CSJ, I commissioned a national review of Britain’s street gangs to seek solutions.
Ian Duncan Smith was followed by George Osborne.
THE former prostitute who insists she watched George Osborne snort “a big, fat line of cocaine” yesterday challenged him to sue her. Read the rest of this entry »