Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The shape of things to come

So now we know what's in store if we get a Conservative government in May.  Benefits will continue to be frozen - everything except those for the disabled and the elderly.  This includes ESA for the WRAG group and working tax credits.  It will affect 10 million people.  We're told that this is in the interests of fairness, because wages are static.  Now before anyone starts blaming pensioners because we're safe for the moment, just think that you'd be doing exactly what the Tories want you to do - turning your anger on the wrong people.  It's not only that pensioners vote in greater numbers than young people (and it's a myth that we most often vote Tory), it's that exempting us deflects the wrath and persuades some people that it's all our fault.  It must not be a case of everyone should suffer except the wealthy.  And you can be sure that they will come for us after the election.
For young people the prospects are very bleak.  You will get work (probably a bogus apprenticeship on £2.73 an hour, or an unpaid "internship") or you will be sentenced to community work.  Don't ask where that community work is going to be found, that will be up to the outsourcing companies that get the contracts.
That was just from George Osborne.  It left Iain Duncan Smith with a couple of announcements.  Universal Credit will be rolled out across the country next year.  (Stop laughing.)  This morning we learned that the chap in charge of it, Howard Shiplee, has quit.  He has been ill for some time.  And - the real shocker that has barely been reported by large parts of the media - IDS, without waiting for the election, is trialling the payment of benefits on smart cards, aimed at those with bad habits so they can't spend their money on alcohol or drugs.  It's for the good of their families, of course.  Apart from the moral issues here, which we've examined before, the practical issues are huge.  Not least, there is no way of stopping the trading and selling of these cards to put cash in the claimant's pocket.  And it's very clear that this would be the only way of paying benefits under a Tory government.  How does this fit with Universal Credit, which encompasses housing benefit?  Will a landlord have to accept the card?
Before anyone starts advocating UKIP as an alternative, their welfare policies are equally disgusting.


  1. Ok, the benefits on cards.. first stupid idea.. but I dont drink, smoke, i live at home with my mum so no rent, and because i live at home mum buys the food for her and for me. So i couldnt use the card..same with electricity and power, mum pays that as its her house, No doubt you can only buy food from "official" stores like tesco or other sites no doubt some of these "official" stores will take work programme people. I wouldnt be able to use the card for anything no doubt they will ask why..and say you dont need this as you live at home.. so no money for you..

  2. Dunno if anyone heard the R5L phone in this morning. It was about this very topic - freezing benefits and whether it was fair or not. One caller suggested the cut's were fair because he thought most on benefits blew their cash on booze and fags. Another claimed she knew people who were 'playing the system' and claiming what they were not entitled to. When challenged by another caller to report them she copped out and suggested it was an unchristian thing to do.

    Sadly, I was on for less than a minute. I was on along with some Tory blogger from Conservative Home. I suggested the money saving exercise by this govt. with regards to benefits freezes was illogical due to the sheer £5bn failure of the Work Prog. People such as myself supposedly helped by being parked for weeks and even months on end. I also made a point of the wasteful and indeed dodgy practices involved in outsourcing overall coting taxpayers ever more £billions. The Tory blogger suggested the fault lay at the feet of civil servants when devising the contracts. Nothing to do with ministers continuing to use these outsourcing firms when they fail to deliver time and time again of course!

    As for smart cards, this seems similar to food stamps in the US. If the American experience is anything to go by, we could see people selling their smart cards for half their worth or less in exchange for hard cash. With government depts. and outsourced IT involved, I doubt these cards will be very smart at all. Watch the first cases of people being paid too much, too little or nothing at all! And which participating sores will be accepting these cards anyway? The big supermarkets, discount stores or more expensive local franchises? No good for someone who gets lower priced meat, fruit and veg from his or her local market if they're forced to shop in a more expensive location.

  3. I agree with you, Historian. I’m waiting to see whether or not potential voters will hear another “pledge” from Cameron Minor, promising to leave pensioners alone for another five years. If he says it then his party will have to honour his promise for as long as he remains their leader but I’ve read that his hardline right-wingers are furious about his earlier promise to protect pensioners.

    If I were a Tory, I would also avoid risking putting a Cable into the waiting arms of Miliband & Balls. The Lib-Dems are no longer just an irrelevant pressure-group, thanks to none other than the Tories.

    The idea of savaging 10 million households in receipt of working age Benefits is as moronic as it is bestial, in my view.

    Thanks for telling us about Howard Shiplee’s departure. Many, many months ago I read that Mr Shiplee had threatened to jump ship from the Universal Cock-up project unless IDS behaved himself for a change. Then I read that Mr Shiplee seemed to have developed chronic “bronchitis” (which seemed to be resistant to modern antibiotics.) I hope that Mr Shiplee has actually only been suffering from an overdose of IDS and that Mr Shiplee will soon make a full and complete recovery.

  4. I feel this untrammelled targeting of the poor and vulnerable may be a tactical error by the Tories. It plays well with the Daily Mail reading populace but these are the people who are going to vote Tory (or UKIP) anyway. The net effect may be to just swing a few of the would be UKIP defectors back to the Tories - even this is doubtful and the numbers are probably insignificant. Meanwhile whatever remained of the sensible and reasonable side of the Tory party (and their support) has been thoroughly alienated. There is an article on the rightwards swing here:
    Meanwhile the young, the vulnerable and the working and non working poor are targeted yet again. I hope this has the effect of politicising those that thus far have not exercised their vote. I would love to see a similar turnout at the UK General Election as in the Scottish referendum resulting in a massive trouncing for the bunch of carpetbaggers which form the current Government.

  5. I'm not aware of anyone blaming pensioners and I think that those 10 million who will now see their standard of living fall even further deserve the support of the 'baby boomers' in the next General Election. The question is do they have the moral courage to vote this government out?

    Hopefully, they will recognise the benefits freeze as an attack on the welfare state of which the state pension is part of and they have benefitted greatly from.

    You cannot pick and choose which bits you like and dislike.


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