Reblogged from SPeye as I think this is a very important issue that has seemingly received very little coverage by our media. The overall benefit cap will have a devastating impact on all. It will see far more evictions for arrears and will resulting a massive increase in families made homeless. This will in turn cost the tax payer and the public purse huge amounts of money and certainly a far greater amount than is saved.
Only a progressive economic policy can succeed for Labour.
A progressive economic policy is also the best way to reach out to secure a broad coalition of support. Voters living standards have dramatically declined under this coalition government. Sticking with Tory spending limits in the next Parliament would ensure their further decline and cut Labour support.
That is why Next Generation Labour is calling for a Labour Assembly Against Austerity in October 2013.
Shabana Mahmood writes that with the failure of George Osborne’s economic plan, which has led to government borrowing of £245 billion more than planned, ministers are now desperate to claw back and are therefore now coming after graduates… Tory policies have failed – so now they are coming after graduates.
The tough on poverty, tough on the causes of poverty rhetoric adopted by the Tory led government has successfully perpetuated untruths about those in poverty and despite being challenged by many on the Left has framed a perception of idleness for those claiming benefits.
The behaviour of our Tory led government is down right shameful, but in reality, any challenge to it is put down to the Left attacking the Right, and the government has continued to perpetuate these lies aided and abetted by its right wing press.
It is not just the voices of the Left that seem to have been ignored by our current government. Churches from all four nations of the UK, representing 1 million people published a major report in February that showed how evidence and statistics had been misused, misrepresented and manipulated to create myths that blamed and stigmatised the most vulnerable in our society.
The report, entitled ‘The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty‘ confronted some of the most common myths told about people who are in poverty or in receipt of benefits, and highlights some of the most abused statistics.
13 million people including 3.6 million children live in poverty in the UK today. The report showed how evidence and statistics had been misused, misrepresented and manipulated to create myths that blame and stigmatise those most vulnerable in society. The report disputed many myths and figures quoted in programmes such as ‘Troubled Families’ which it stated “misused for political purposes and sells a story of dysfunctional, anti-social families costing the nation a fortune; a story which makes the existence of poverty far more acceptable to those who are not affected”. Despite the report being sent to every MP and MEP, the government has continued with its blame game.
In a letter sent yesterday to David Cameron, the coalition of churches ask that as prime minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, he ensures that the record is put straight, and that statistics are no longer manipulated in a way which stigmatises the poorest in our society. It asks him to ensure that government ministers cease to say untrue things about those in poverty.
The letter also cites three instances in April where government ministers made statements which were demonstrably untrue. The common thread between these statements was that, in support of the Government’s welfare reforms, benefit claimants were portrayed in a negative light. The letter gives a detailed explanation of the untruths and highlights a tiny proportion of the damaging, stigmatising and misleading news coverage prompted by the statements.
The coalition of churches and charities argue that this apparent pattern of misleading statements and occasional straightforward untruths cannot continue. Saying untrue things which unjustly present sick and disabled people as dishonest and lazy, cannot be acceptable if we are to live in a decent society.
Our society is not broken…the system is. And blaming those who are victims of this broken system rather than attempting to mend it is shameful.
I was pleased to read Ed’s speech on welfare which recognised that the system needed reform but with a focus on the genuine cost of welfare rather than buying into government rhetoric.
“If we are going to turn our economy around, protect our NHS, and build a stronger country, we will have to be laser-focused on how we spend every single pound. Social security spending, vital as it is, cannot be exempt from that discipline.
“So we will reduce the cost of failure in the social security system, including the cost of long-term worklessness and the cost of housing benefit.”
Ed also talked about putting decent values at the heart of the system and about controlling spending on social security and how these were not conflicting priorities. His reference to low pay, the need for a living wage, a need for investment in housing and a commitment to a compulsory youth job guarantee.
As Mark Ferguson says, “Ed is getting tough on welfare spending, but he isn’t getting tough on those who struggle to survive on welfare thanks to persistent government failure”.
An admission of mistakes – yes but also a recognition that he’s going to have to make big changes to the British economy to right the structural wrongs that have left too many languishing in dole queues, stuck in poor quality and expensive housing and trapped in poverty.
The Department of Education have signalled their wish to renounce all responsibility it has for youth service policy and instead suggested that it becomes part of the local authority remit. This at a time when the government has ensured councils have little money. With Birmingham’s grant settlement being cut by £79m, Leader of the Council, Sir Albert Bore has warned that the bleak financial outlook for council funding means it will have to make £600m in cuts by 2017, all being made in the ‘controllable’ part of the budget, potentially reducing its services to core “priority” areas such as adult social care and child protection. Albert’s predicted “end of local government as we know it” is borne out in a whole host of controversial reductions and cuts to services not protected by ringfencing, with youth services again bearing the biggest brunt of these cuts.
The Statistical Release from the Department for Education states that in the 2011-2012 financial year “[Local Authorities] spent a total of £876.6million (gross) on services for young people, a reduction of £307.5million (26%) compared to 2010-11”
.In response the National Youth Agency have said that “Analysis of the data shows that cuts to grants to local authorities have meant that 90 per cent of local authorities in England (137 out of 152) have reported a decrease in total expenditure on services for young people. However the scale of this change in expenditure varies hugely, from a 95.2 per cent decrease to a 65.5 per cent increase. Teenage pregnancy services and substance misuse services have been the worst hit, seeing a cut of approximately 43 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.”
A handful of authorities have axed their entire youth budget and the picture will only get bleaker this year and next year. A generation of young people are being deprived of the chance to benefit from the support of youth workers and are being punished by the Government’s failure to address the causes of economic stagnation.
Cuts to youth services do not make the news, but images of young people rioting do. Research undertaken by many have all determined the same conclusion. Cuts to youth services really is a false economy, yet they have been more severely cut than any other public service.
The positive impacts of youth work include; improved engagement with school and education; a positive impact on the incidence of crime and anti-social behaviour amongst young people; improvement in the wider learning and social skills of young people and helps to keep young people safe. This can be supported by ample evidence. For example, in 2004 the Youth Affairs Unit at De Montfort University found that “The interviews and case studies [of 600 young people] provided qualitative evidence of tangible outcomes which young people and workers attributed to youth work, including for example, reengaging with education or reducing drug use..”
Government Green Paper, Every Child Matters, 2003, paragraph 1.6, page 14 found that a child with a conduct disorder at age 10 will cost the public purse around £70,000 by age 28, a cost estimated to be up to ten times more than a child with no behavioural problems. Youth work and other positive interventions can help to avoid this.
In ‘Tired of Hanging Around’, the Audit Commission argued that “Preventative projects are cost-effective. A young person in the criminal justice system costs the taxpayer over £200,000 by the age of 16, but one given support to stay out costs less than £50,000”. It costs around £35,000 per year to keep one young person in a Young Offender Institution compared to an annual average of £3,800 for secondary education and approximately £9,000 for the average resettlement package per young person after custody. None of this even begins to take into account the scarring impact the experiences of the criminal justice system has on the young person, their future prospects, and the detrimental impact on the wider local community.
A coalition of youth sector organisations and trade unions, Choose Youth argue that youth services need a national legislative and political commitment to creating a quality universal service for all young people aged 13-21. This should be protected in statute by dedicated ring fenced funding.
Labour has pledged to provide a statutory footing for youth services in its 2015 manifesto and is currently working on its youth policy. It cannot come to soon. Without a statutory base, the future for youth services is bleak. Youth services will continue to bear the brunt of the cuts as it is the easiest option. As Patrick Butler suggests, it’s a Big Society future for youth services which will be dependent on the ability, goodwill and resources of local people and the decreasing budgets of community chest.
This Tory led government is sticking two fingers up to our young people and treating them with utter contempt, relinquishing all responsibility for youth policy and effectively turning their backs on them. Our young people deserve so much more.
Ross McKibbin presents a must read view of the Tory led government’s hostility to the welfare state and its relentless ideological stereotyping, perpetuated by the right wing press, but that underlines the electoral interest of the Tory Party.
Anything but Benevolent: Who Benefits?
“It seems appropriate that just as the ‘reformed’ welfare state is ushered in, Margaret Thatcher should be ushered out. Appropriate too, that she, whose policies generated so much homelessness, should end her days in the Ritz. There used to be a genre of Labour autobiography with titles like ‘From Crowscaring to Westminster’, ‘From Workshop to War Cabinet’, which expressed something admirable about their subjects. ‘From Grantham to the Ritz’ isn’t quite that. The procession of Tory grandees on TV reminding us how Thatcher saved the economy, rescued the country from the anarchy of the 1970s, restored our faith in Britain etc made depressing viewing since almost none of those things is true, while the acres of newsprint devoted to her career tell us much more about ourselves than they do about her.” Read more here.
David Cameron stands by his welfare reforms and refuses to accept any criticism of them despite a Financial Times analysis clearly showing that cuts are hitting poor people in the north far more than those in southern Conservative heartlands.
The research undertaken by the Financial Times shows that a raft of benefit changes, many of which came into effect on April 1st, and will have an annual impact of £607 per working age adult in Birmingham where 54.8% of neighbourhoods are among the poorest 20% in Britain. The average for local authorities in Great Britain is 15.1%.
Cameron refuses to ‘wake up and smell the roses’ and continues to insist that the coalition was right to tackle welfare dependency and denied the reforms would deepen regional economic divisions. He continues to peddle the scrounger v striver rhetoric, knowing that he is tapping into the insecurities that many are now facing and turning communities on each other.
Indeed, this is exactly what the facists did in the 1930’s, scapegoating particular groups for all of society’s problems. The video clip “Oswald Mosley and the Blackshirts” (Oswald Mosley and British Union of Fascists footage / BUF tribute) is a frightening portrayal of just how seductive the promises of fascism can be. Thousands of people turned up to the Olympia event, and thousands took to the street, organised in a military style, donned in uniform, marching for fascism. It was Mosley’s copycat scapegoating of Jews for societies problems that became the building blocks for his movement across London and the East End in 1936. Another video clip demonstrates the clear determination of the anti fascist demonstrators to ensure that Mosley and his supporters did not march down Cable Street. Scenes of violence between the demonstrators, the police and members of the BUF, albeit quite horrific, again show the united determination, by so many, to oppose fascism.
In Britain today, there are nearly as many workers unemployed as in the 1930s and many people, experiencing poverty and living difficult lives. There are over one million young people unemployed. The media remind us on a daily basis of the fear of a triple dip recession. Many ordinary working people are losing faith in politicians.
We have a coalition government, led by the Tories overseeing an economic recovery plan of austerity measures, involving cuts to public spending and welfare which is failing.
Behind the rhetoric being spun by the government, the one thing that is clear is that although Cameron is playing a dangerous game, but he needs to turn neighbour against neighbour, quite simply because he needs the votes. The newly-introduced £26,000 benefits cap for households is supported by more than three-quarters of voters of all three main parties, according to a poll when the policy was announced by the government last year.
We know that the Tories will not relent and will continue to peddle their right wing ideology, pushing more people into poverty in their quest to look tough on welfare and we must use the ensuing debate about how that policy is now being implemented to further highlight the unfairness of these policies. But we must remain mindful that amidst all of this political point scoring, how easy it might be for fascism to take a foothold once again in our society, particularly at a time of such great economic crisis, with so many living such wretched lives and many who might easily be seduced by the promise of something ‘different’.
Even the Lib Dem’s think that George Osborne has gone too far this week and have distanced themselves from him, condemning the Chancellor for “playing politics” with the deaths of six children after he highlighted the Mick Philpott case to raise questions about high welfare payments.
Lib Dem MP, Sarah Teather, a former education minister, accused him of making a crude political point out of the tragic deaths of six young children and even Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury has made clear his unease according to the Guardian saying “The Philpott case is an individual tragedy,” he said. “Children have died in that case. I think that is where we should let that case lie. I would not want to connect that to the much wider need to reform our welfare system.”
Unsurprisingly, Cameron has strongly endorsed Osborne’s decision to call for a debate on whether it was right to be “subsidising lifestyles like that” – a reference to the Philpott case linking it to the tailcoats of the scrounger v striver rhetoric currently being propagated by the Tories.
The shadow chancellor Ed Balls has accused Mr Osborne of making “desperate and cynical” remarks and that were offensive to millions of British people who happen to claim benefits.
And on a par with the Chancellor’s political point scoring has been reading the pure venom that has appeared in our right wing press with the Daily Mail running the story about the tragic deaths of six children on Wednesday with the headline “product of welfare UK”.
Let us not be fooled by this shameful behaviour… watch Owen Jones v Ruth Porter to hear the real debate
First published on www.ourwelfareworks.com this blog written by author and Guardian columnist Zoe Williams takes on the ‘Strivers V Scrounger’ myth, arguing that it has been rolled out time and time again, as a way of trying set people against each another to suit a vengeful political narrative about the financial crisis.
Political con artistry – the dark art of division
I know women who no longer work, even though their kids are at school, and they have the whole day. They’re supported by their banker husbands, so you can’t accuse them of being a burden on the state.
Nevertheless, when I think of all that money wasted on their education – taxpayers’ money, ploughed into universities, into secondary and primary schools – I can’t help thinking that, as a nation, in this period of national near-emergency, we just can’t afford to carry these workshy leeches.
Actually, I don’t know anyone like that. I don’t know any bankers. I see some affluent people around the traps, in the day, without any kids, that could meet this stereotype. She plays into my prejudice against the moneyed, idle Mrs X. But for precisely that reason, the prejudice emanates from the picture more strongly than the reversal-of-expectation, rich-people-are-also-lazy, perhaps-even-lazier-than-poor trope that I’m aiming for.
We’ve lived for so long in a period of growth that I’d forgotten how brazen, how unsophisticated, how jaw-dropping the attempts are, that aim to set people against one another when times are hard and it suits a vengeful political narrative.
Politicians, people in public life, upon whose integrity rests not simply their own reputation, but the reputation of Westminster, will tell you that we have a “benefit culture”, that the low-paid are subsiding the idle unemployed to live in houses better than they themselves can afford.
They’ll tell you that to keep benefits in line with inflation is “unsustainable” even while doing so has steadily driven down unemployment benefit, as a proportion of average income, since the Seventies (wages, most of the time, grow faster than inflation).
They’ll tell you that the unwaged are costing the money, when in fact only three per cent of the bill goes on unemployment, and most housing benefit claims come from people in work, caused not by renters themselves but by the impossible disparity between average rent and average income.
Osborne attempts not just to create a meaningless distinction, between strivers and shirkers (most strivers, obviously, are on benefits as well; most shirkers would love to be strivers, if only some idiot hadn’t broken the economy); the divide wouldn’t help him unless he could pit them against one another, blame the travails of the strivers on the low cunning of the shirkers.
Politicians take such delight when the polls bear out their fabricated prejudices, but they should no more publicly rejoice when people agree with them than a con artist should boast when they’ve parted someone else from their money. What remnants of credibility the political class has left, they are shredding with this dishonesty. People won’t swallow it forever.
You can keep up to date with Zoe via Twitter on @zoesqwilliams
At the end of last year as the tragic news emerged of the Indian medical student’s death, who was subjected to the most unimaginable torture when she and a male friend boarded a bus in Delhi, the supposed true scale of Indian’s mistreatment of women was laid bare for the world to see. Digesting statics such as ‘according to official figures, a women is raped in Delhi every 14 hours’ (BBC:2013) is not a statement that many would find easy to comprehend. As word spread, people started to voice their concerns, particularly young women, who took to the street to protest. However, ‘not a single leader came forward to engage with protesting students demanding safety for women.’ (BBC: 2013) The government may have made their stance clear now, ordering a rushed trial with no lawyers or legal representative for the men charged with the murder and rape. The Government also stating that if found guilty, the accused will all be publicly hanged. Considering the worldwide media interest in the case, this reaction seems typically frantic of a government that is desperate to end discussion and anxiety surrounding women’s rights and safety. In spite of this, one thing is now undeniably certain, India must address its’ deep rooted, often accepted approach to treating women as second class citizens, not only politically, but in the horrendous struggles they face in everyday life. Read the full article – Young Women & Violence | 99percentblog.