Lord Prior of Brampton, Minister for NHS Productivity, has been quoted as saying that there is no link between between food bank use and the changes in benefits policies. He has also noted that it’s strange that people are using food banks while so many people are obese.
Former investment banker, Lord Prior, was taken to task by numerous food banks and the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, who noted that between 35 and 45 percent of visitors to food banks said that they were there because of benefit cuts or sanctions leaving them without any food to eat.
Food bank use in the UK has increased massively over the past few years, with the Trussell Trust giving out 40 times more emergency food packages than in 2008.
It’s not surprising to see the wealthy elite being occasionally ignorant of the use of food banks. For example, Michael Gove claimed that food bank use was just due to poor money management, and Tory Peer Baroness Jenkin claimed the poor should just learn to cook porridge. But for a Health Minister to equate obesity with a lack of poverty is either absurd ignorance or pure evil. Mwhahaha.
When George Osborne stood up in front of parliament to give his budget speech, he only spoke about the good things he did (or rather the bad things that he had threatened to do but then changed his mind in the face of overwhelming public objection). For some reason, he didn’t mention all of the evil things that he is doing in parliament – instead he published those in an 154 page document. Here’s some highlights of the evil buried deep in the document;
When students took out their loans, they signed up to a set of terms and conditions which described how much they would pay back and when they would pay it back. The amount they would pay back in any year depends on how much they earn above a certain threshold in that year, and that threshold increases with inflation. Except the government announced yesterday that they are changing the terms and conditions for people who already have taken out the loans to freeze that threshold rather than increase it with inflation – resulting in students having to pay significantly more of their wages in student loan repayments. If a commercial company changed loan conditions retrospectively, the FSA would stop them, but the government can do what it likes. Mwhahaha.
Whiplash injuries are thought to be a source of fraudulent insurance claims. Someone takes out their brake light bulbs, then slams on the brakes, and then claims for pain and suffering from whiplash injuries when the car behind hits them. This is thought to cost the average motorist £50 a year. In an effort to stop such fraudulent claims, the government is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. They are banning all claims for general damages (e.g. compensation for pain and suffering) in soft tissue injuries, and they are forcing anyone claiming under £5000 for an injury to do so in the small claims court – where they can’t recover any legal costs. So to stop fraudsters, innocent people are going to be out of pocket and under compensated.
Despite the high profile u-turn on withdrawing tax credits, a number of other changes are going on anyway. First of all, the tax credits are being withdrawn anyway, with people being switched over to universal credit, which will leave people £1600 a year worse off. Plus the chancellor will still cap child tax credit at two children, hurting families with more children.
At the moment student nurses get means tested bursaries to help them through their training. Nurse and midwife training takes 3 years, and typically has them working a 37.5 hour week during their training period, spending time working on wards in addition to lectures. So there’s little free time for a part time job on the side. But they can at least walk in to a job paying £21,692 a year at the end of it. However, thanks to changes in the autumn statement, nurses will be forced to pay for their training, so now they will start work with £50,000 in debt to pay off too.
Just 6 months ago the Tories pledged in their manifesto to spend £1bn on carbon capture. This project was not only vital in preventing world changing climate change, but also was going to create thousands of new jobs.
The £1bn was in the form of a competition to come up with the best scheme to capture carbon at gas and coal fired power stations to make them environmentally friendly. Several companies have been working over the past 4 years to come up with plans for doing this, and the competition is just about to reach completion. The scheme at one power station alone was expected to create 2000 construction jobs, and 100 permanent jobs, as well as saving the UK £32bn by 2050 in other carbon reduction processes. Undoubtedly the companies involved (e.g. Shell and SSE) will still need compensation for the work they have done, so the savings to the country won’t be £1bn – we’ll end up spending a chunk of money with no climate saving technology in return. To save a modest amount of money today, the government has put a massive financial and climate burden on future governments. Mwhahaha.
In today’s Autumn Statement, George Osborne confirmed that he will in effect be cutting £18.2bn from the NHS budget. This is the same NHS budget that in their manifesto, the Tories said;
We will continue to increase spending on the NHS, supported by a strong economy, so the NHS stays free for you to use, and spend at least an additional £8 billion by 2020 over and above inflation to fund and support the NHS’s own action plan for the next five years
And George Osborne would like you to think that that is what he is doing. He claimed today that he is giving an extra £3.8bn to the NHS budget next year. However, what he gives with one hand, he takes away with the other. The NHS is in huge debt, with every trust over spending this year in a unsuccessful attempt to meet waiting list targets. So far this year, the NHS has spent £2bn more than it’s budget – primarily due to increased spending on agency staff, and to ongoing budget cuts, and despite that waiting lists are growing longer. The NHS has projected that it needs £30bn by 2020 to get back up to scratch. Instead of funding the NHS properly though, George Osborne has told the NHS to somehow make £22bn in cost savings. So the combined result is that he wants £18.2bn less to be spent than is needed.
And the way that he wants the NHS to make savings is primarily by cutting back on the sort of preventative services which cost money in the short term, but save a fortune in the long term. The sort of thing we are talking about is staff training, helping people give up smoking, and sexual health programs. But by the time the impacts of cutting those corners is felt, the Tories may well be out of government, so it’s someone else’s problem. Mwhahaha.
The other thing that the government is doing to hurt the NHS is throwing 30,000 overseas nurses out of the country. And the reason for kicking them out is perversely because the government isn’t paying them enough. Under new rules, any foreign national earning less than £35,000 will be forced to leave after 6 years. Since 90% of nurses would be earning less than that, the NHS will have a staffing crisis, costing even more in recruitment costs (£6,000 per nurse), and in overtime and agency staff. The government’s own immigration rules are going to sink the NHS. But then, given the number of MPs with links to private health companies, perhaps that’s exactly what they want. Mwhahaha.
On Friday the government announced that the deficit was up to the highest monthly level since 2009 – £8.6bn in October alone. This is in part because the UK economy is not particularly growing (inflation was negative last month). Unlike countries, such as the US, who have not engaged in harsh austerity, the UK economic recovery is on a go slow. Countries who have been willing to spend on capital projects have seen their GDP grow far faster than the UK. That means that we don’t have increasing taxes coming in to help balance the books.
Another reason for the increased deficit is pensions. While inflation was negative and wages are stalled, pensioners are taking an ever increasing proportion of the UK’s benefits bill. In order to secure the grey vote, the Tories promised to give pensions a “triple lock” whereby the state pension is guaranteed to go up by price inflation, wage inflation or 2.5% – whichever is greater. Pensions income is racing away from other income and other benefits. From April 2016, the state pension will be worth £119.30 a week (compared to £57.90 jobseekers allowance for a 24 year old for example). Pensions make up £95bn of the state budget thanks to the triple lock, and with people living longer and longer, that super inflationary increase is not going to help the chancellor balance the books.
But don’t worry – there’s a budget this week, and instead of keeping pension inflation in line with everyone else, or injecting work in to the economy, we can cut back some more essential services or screw the poor some more. Mwhahaha.