Benefits cuts will kill the poor

Today, the House of Commons voted through government spending cuts that will cut benefits to the poor for at least the next few years. The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government won the vote easily. Labour voted against it, and former leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy led 6 Lib Dem rebels to oppose the government (which must have upset deputy prime minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg) – but it easily passed, 324 to 268. And this was after Whitehall published their “impact assessment” that showed the very poorest in Britain will suffer disproportionally from these cuts.

I’m really depressed about this. I know people whose lives will be harmed by the cuts. The government have tried to make the British people believe that benefit claimants are “shirkers” or “skivers” sponging off society. And this propaganda has worked on a lot of people – there have even been reports of hate crimes against disabled people, who have also been declared the “undeserving poor”. In fact, I’m so depressed I can’t face writing about this at length. So I’m going to cut and paste in some of the best readers’ comments about this, from the Guardian. Sorry. I promise to behave tomorrow.

First, here are some statistics posted by “thenewscritter” to try to disprove what the government’s black propaganda has been saying:

From FullFact.org:

– On average people think that 41 per cent of the entire welfare budget goes on benefits to unemployed people, while the true figure is 3 per cent.

– On average people think that 27 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently, while the government’s own figure is 0.7 per cent.

http://fullfact.org/factchecks/welfare_spending_economy_Lib_dem_conference-28294

Next up is “stayingalive”:

i am also sick of reading that “pensioners and the disabled will be protected”. Disabled people will NOT be protected, according to the government’s own figures, and for any media to continue to simply regurgitate the Government’s spin is an offence against journalistic integrity.

People who have somehow managed to get found not fit for work by ATOS, despite the demeaning, woefully inaccurate systems, receive ESA. The main component of ESA will be included in this cut.

People who have been found “fit for work at some point in the future” and placed into the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA will find all of their income is included in this cut.

People who have been found to be “incapable of any work, now or in the future” and placed into the Support Group will find most of their income included in this cut, so that they are likely to receive an increase of 1.4% overall, far below inflation levels.

People who currently receive DLA – a payment to reflect the additional costs of disability and paid whether people are in or out of work provided they are substantially disabled – will be gradually switched over to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) from October. The Government have written the new rules to totally redefine what “disability” actually means.

At present, if you cannot walk 200 m you can receive low rate mobility DLAt; if you cannot walk 50 m you can receive high rate of mobility

DLA. From October if you can walk 50m IN A DAY you will be regarded as having NO MOBILITY restrictions and lose DLA.
The changes to the care component of DLA are complex, but equally very draconian and far more stringent.

And given that the new PIP is being assessed by ATOS “health care professionals”, who are making enormous numbers of patently wrong decisions on ESA, there is little cause for any sense of security for “genuinely disabled people”.

In addition, from April disabled people who have one or two “spare” bedrooms and are in receipt of Housing Benefit will have their HB cut by 15 or 33% of their rent, REGARDLESS of whether there are any suitable adapted smaller properties for them to move into. This extra housing cost is somehow supposed to come from monies paid to cover disability or illness needs.

In addition, from April disabled people are no longer going to automatically receive credits for Council Tax. The Government has reduced the amount available by 20% and passed it to local authorities to each make their own decisions as to who receives help, but ringfencing the Council Tax credits for pensioners. As a result, far less will be available to all other groups (people in low-paid work, families with children, disabled people, unemployed people) who will receive bills for a “tax” they have until 31 March been deemed too poor to pay.

Quite HOW is the government protecting disabled people, from anything? And if i know this, why do not the Guardian, Channel 4 news, the BBC ….?

i despair of the future. How many wheelchair users have to lose their jobs through losing their ability to travel to work from DLA; how many terminally ill people have to lose their homes through rent arrears; how many blind people have to attend food banks before this is taken seriously and properly reported??

A good question, “stayingalive”.

Next up, “maxivory”:

Its pretty clear that many Tory MPs, none of whom have ever known any form of hardship themselves, are relishing the chance to put the boot into “people on benefits” who are they consider to be a homogenous group of workshy skivers with no motivation to better themselves. No matter that 68% of those claimants affected have jobs, the important thing is to ‘set an example’ and score a politcal victory over Labour. Never mind that the government defict reduction is wildy off target and that we still borrow 2.5bn a week, the poor MUST be made to suffer so that the Treasury can rake in another 5bn over two years.

Full time workers havent had 2.5% pay rise, so apparently its unfair to increase benefits by this amount. What facile logic. If you have a full time job earning 26,000 a year (average wage) you are infinitely better off than anyone on benefits, even if you receive no pay rise at all. Also, a 1% rise (£260) woud be materially more than a 2.5% rise in a family’s paltry £200 a week benefit (£104). They are not comparing like with like, and 99.9% of those on benefits would like.. a job.

And finally, an excellent comment from “PaulTreloar”:

I warn you. I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay. I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient. I warn you that you will have defence of a sort – with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding. I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday, I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old.

That was then and this is now……

Thanks for that “PaulTreloar”.

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