George Osborne’s assault on welfare must not go unchallenged | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian

They walk on air, for now. This government can say and do whatever it damn well pleases, with Labour awol until it has a leader. And George Osborne has just pulled off an outrageous betrayal of the cohorts of over-65s who gave the Tories their victory, yet nothing has happened.

Barely 10 weeks since a manifesto pledge to cap the care costs of elderly homeowners, Osborne has abandoned it. This perfidious U-turn is every bit as shocking as was the Liberal Democrats reneging on tuition fees. That’s just one example of the Conservatives’ current air-walking untouchability. But their majority is only 12, they make bad errors, and no one can fool everyone all the time with factoids and fictions.

George Osborne’s assault on welfare must not go unchallenged | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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What have young people done to Osborne to deserve such contempt? | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian

I was going to write about the devastating impact that Osborne’s budget will have on young people but instead urge you to read Polly’s take on it all as she expresses far better exactly what I wanted to say.

Why are the young caught in the cross-hairs of this government? That will mystify future social historians. Most societies talk of them as “our future”, to be nurtured and encouraged, but in yesterday’s budget, yet again they were pursued in a special vendetta of dislike, bordering on disgust.

via What have young people done to Osborne to deserve such contempt? | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian.

What have young people done to Osborne to deserve such contempt? | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian

Tory policies have failed – so now they are coming after graduates

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.

 

Ross McKibbin · Anything but Benevolent: Who benefits? · LRB 25 April 2013

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.

Guest Blog: Zoe Williams – OurWelfareWorks

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

 

Homelessness rises as benefits are cut – coincidence? | Shelter blog

Just a few days after George Osborne’s budget for an ‘aspiration nation’, with its focus on home ownership, today’s homelessness statistics reveal the reality for people at the sharp end of Britain’s housing crisis.

Homelessness acceptances are up 10% since 2011 to 53,450 households, 64% of them accepted because they’re families with dependent children.

The number of households placed in B&B accommodation is up 26% to 4,000, including 1,690 families with children. The number of families stuck in B&Bs beyond the legal six-week limit has continued to rise year on year.

Every one of these families has experienced one of the most terrifying things any parent can face: being unable to provide your children with a home.

The yearly ‘prevention and relief’ statistics, also published today, show that a further 199,000 households were assisted by councils to stay in their homes, or move to another, outside of the homelessness legislation. It’s clear that local councils all over the country are struggling to cope with the number of people at risk of homelessness coming through their doors.

So the number of people asking for help has gone up and large numbers are being assisted. But the Government, and local councils, must get to grips with the underlying causes of this growing tragedy.

Over a fifth (21%) of homelessness acceptances were triggered by the loss of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). This makes the private rented sector the leading cause of homelessness. Two years ago, just 14% of statutory homelessness cases were attributed to the loss of an AST
… Full Article here Homelessness rises as benefits are cut – coincidence? | Shelter blog.

Same old Tories….

The Tory’s austerity measures are just not working…figures released show there are weaker tax revenues, substantially higher public spending, and growth at only 0.8% rather than the predicted 2.5%. So with unemployment still increasing, youth unemployment at its highest and no plan in Osborne’s budget for growth and more cuts on the way it is only going to get worse.

The LibDems have championed an increase in tax allowances and therefore it is no surprise that they have clung on to this one issue in any discussion relating to the budget as they know that there is little else in this Tory budget that they can be proud of.

They really do not have any credibility left. Osborne’s  ‘Millionaire’s budget’ will only help the privileged. The removal of the 50p tax rate, and no mansion tax or tycoon tax, shows that they really are the same old Tories.

We are ‘all in this together’ – NOT…the Tories have shown their true colours and launched an attack on the pensioners with a stealth tax which will ensure they will be the big losers in this budget. Other losers are families who will face reductions in child benefit with a taper (that will be highly complex to implement) and cuts to working tax credits.

If all this is not bad enough, there is a renewed attack against the working classes and the labour movement with the Tory proposals for regional public sector pay. This attack on national pay bargaining will only help widen the pay gap across the country. Different levels of pay for the same job dependant on which region or county you are in. This drive to press ahead with regional pay will be an economic disaster for the poorest regions of the UK, cementing the North-South divide. Spending power will be drained from these areas, and siphoned off even more rapidly.

This coalition government has received no mandate for this Tory budget. Cameron’s Big Society has been left in the gutter to be replaced by his Big Capitalist Society. Sorry George but this really is a #fail