April 23, 2013
The stigmatisation of benefit recipients, which this government, and previous ones, have promoted, was reflected in George Osborne’s comments about ‘hard-working families’ getting up to go to work on a dark morning only to see their neighbour’s curtains still drawn, because they have chosen a life on benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice’. Read the ‘red-tops’ and you will find stories about individuals which are said to be typical of benefits recipients who have made this ‘lifestyle choice’. Read the discussion on news websites and you would imagine that it is a given that people on housing benefit are mostly work-shy ‘skivers’.
What those who cheerfully join in this stigmatisation never do is to actually look at government statistics to try to make an objective assessment. Prejudice never bothers with examining the evidence. Read the rest of this entry »
April 14, 2013
“Cuts in welfare payments will hit the local economies of northern towns and cities as much as five times as hard as the Conservative heartland southern countries, according to research commissioned by the Financial Times into the impact of austerity.”
The government’s ‘reform programme’ – its cuts in welfare benefits – will take ￡19 billion a year out of working age social security between now and 2015. The government says that ‘the welfare cuts will spur the private sector to greater dynamism on the back of an expanded labour force’. However, even the FT says that this research “underlines the potential risks to economic regeneration and private sector business prospects in poorer areas where the local population faces the loss of a large slice of purchasing power”. Read the rest of this entry »
March 27, 2013
According to a report (Anne Black, NEC member) from the Labour Party’s national executive committee on March 19th, Ed Balls had this to say about the ‘bedroom tax’.
“Ed Balls described the tax as wrong morally and economically. The government knows there are not enough smaller properties for those trying to downsize, and people pushed into private renting may actually end up claiming more housing benefit. A few concessions had been extracted for foster parents, some disabled people for families with members in the armed forces and separated couples with children, but resistance would continue, with 55 local demonstrations in a weekend. The community charge was doomed once everyone started calling it the poll tax, and hopefully the spare room subsidy would go the same way.”
So he’s obviously against it? Well, yes and no. He’s against the Tories doing it, but…At the NEC “many members urged him to pledge to reverse the bedroom tax”. However, despite it being “morally and economically wrong” he couldn’t possibly make a commitment two years in advance of the election. Read the rest of this entry »
March 26, 2013
Labour’s abstention on the government’s emergency legislation, the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) was a shameful episode even by the standards of ‘New Labour’. The legislation passed all stages in the Commons last Tuesday, establishing the government’s right to reimpose “mandatory work activity”; that is, forcing somebody to work for no pay on pain of having their benefit withdrawn should they refuse.
44 Labour MPs did refuse to follow the whip and voted against the government, with one PPS, Ian Mearns resigning rather than follow the Party line.
This extraordinary action by Labour has accepted the principle of a retrospective change to the law to overturn a legal judgement which found the government to have been in breach of the law. The retrospective action was designed to prevent compensation to benefit claimants who had been “unlawfully made to work unpaid”. Read the rest of this entry »
February 25, 2013
This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser in response to comments by North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson.
Justin Tomlinson wrote in his Advertiser column that it is a myth that the ‘bedroom tax’ is “driven by a desire to save money”. If he had bothered to read the impact assessment produced by the government’s Department of Work and Pensions he would have read that the measure is being introduced to “contain growing Housing Benefit expenditure” and to “improve work incentives for working age claimants”.
By “work incentives” this means cutting recipients’ money so that they have even less money to live on. People on Job Seekers Allowance will have to pay up to 25% of their rent and at least 20% Council Tax as well out of the miserly sum of £71 a week on which they are somehow supposed to live. For some this will mean paying well over £20 a week, giving them less than £50 a week to live on. Read the rest of this entry »
February 25, 2013
This article was published in the Morning Star Features page on February 21st.
Labour has been tackling the government over the bedroom tax.
Ed Miliband has raised it at Prime Minister’s Question Time. He and other MPs have exposed the iniquities of the new legislation.
However, comments from the shadow employment minister pose the question as to whether Labour is opposed to it in principle or merely to the way it has been implemented.
Stephen Timms told Radio 4: “We have argued for the last two years that it would be fine to apply the penalty where people have refused to take smaller accommodation, but to penalise people when there’s nowhere smaller to move is perverse.” Read the rest of this entry »
February 19, 2013
A question for Stephen Timms
Labour has been tackling the government over the bedroom tax. Ed Milliband has raised it at Prime Ministers Question Time. He and other MPs have exposed the iniquities of the new legislation. However, comments from the shadow employment minister pose the question as to whether Labour is opposed to it in principle or just the way it has been implemented.
Stephen Timms, speaking on Radio 4 said:
“We have argued for the last two years that it would be fine to apply the penalty where people have refused to take smaller accommodation, but to penalise people when there’s nowhere smaller to move is perverse.” Read the rest of this entry »