The newspapers have been full of the news that Iain Duncan Smith has resigned because of his objections to the massive cuts that are planned to disability benefits. However, on yesterday’s Andrew Marr show, IDS admitted the real reason why he resigned, and it’s more evil than you might imagine.
Iain Duncan Smith has come up with a brilliant plan to save money. He’s going to cut £29.05 a week from half a million people who are too sick to work – slashing their payments from £102.15 to £73.10. Why? To encourage them to get better and go back to work.
Unfortunately, these are people who his own work capability assessment process has already confirmed are not fit to work. But they have been judged as potentially being able to get a job one day, and for that little glimmer of hope he’s going to cut their income. Mwhahaha.
This policy is pretty universally applauded as evil. The Lords have already rejected it once, and even Tory back benchers have said it goes too far. None of that will stop IDS, who is determined to make sure that no unfortunates gets any help from his department.
For disabled people, there is no bigger evil than the work capability assessments that the DWP inflicts on them. In March 2011, the Department for Work and Pensions started to remove disability benefits from people that independent assessors deemed fit for work. It sounds sensible in theory, but in practice it was executed in a most evil manner, with independent contractor Atos subjecting disabled people to the most humiliating experiences, and having people with no medical experience decide on whose benefits to remove.
The National Audit Office have now released figures that show that this degrading debacle in fact cost the country far more than it saved;
Unbelievably, the cost of paying private contractors to do the assessments is £1.6bn over 3 years, with savings failing to reach even £1bn by 2020. So the government is on balance paying private contractors millions of pounds simply to inflict misery on disabled people. Mwhaha.
And the misery should not be underestimated. Over 60% of people assessed say that their examinations by the unqualified examiners exacerbates their illnesses, and several university studies have shown that the assessments have led to a statistically significant increase in suicides. And not only are we paying private contractors a fortune, they are not reaching the correct assessments, with the DWP overturning hundreds of thousands of cases of Atos claiming people were fit for work. When you measure evil done for pounds spent, this has to be a winner.
Tory MP Shailesh Vara yesterday made the comments that cutting the lowest paid people’s income by £1600 doesn’t matter, because they will save £10 every time they fill up their cars. Not only is that factually completely incorrect, it’s irrelevant to people too poor to own a car anyway. Mwhahaha.
In fact that was just the highlight of his ignorance. He was attempting to contrast the cuts in in-work benefits with the positive changes that the Tories have brought in. But how does this stack up for someone on minimum wage today?
People will save because of the raising of person allowances
In the Autumn Budget, George Osborne raised the personal allowance from £10600 to £10800, so another £200 will be tax free. This saves people £40 a year as long as they are in full time employment (40 hours a week). If you work 30 hours a week, it has no impact as you don’t pay tax anyway. Of course it could be argued that the change was just in line with inflation, but that would be churlish.
The new national living wage will increase incomes
From April (after the benefits cuts), the minimum wage will go up from £6.70 to £7.20. For someone working full time, that is an extra £1040 before tax. After tax, it’s £707 a year
Doubling free childcare
David Cameron committed to increase free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds from 15 hours to 30 hours as long as all adults in the household are in work. This hasn’t materialized yet, and nurseries have claimed that they won’t be able to support it at the rates the government would pay them, so whether this is any help in reality to the small amount of households it covers remains to be seen.
Tax free childcare from 2017
From 2017, if both parents are working, the government will top up every 80p that you spend on childcare by another 20p. This replaces a scheme where you can pay for childcare out of your pay packet before deductions. Unfortunately the new scheme is actually worse for most people – including basic rate taxpayers, so this one is a net negative.
£10 saved when filling the cars
When Labour were in power, they put in place a tax escalator on fuel of 2p a year. This was to help the environment, which thankfully we have stopped doing. Mwhahaha. In the last budget, George Osborne suspended the tax escalator, meaning that this year motorists save 2p per litre COMPARED TO A TAX THAT NEVER HAPPENED. So this isn’t a saving in your pocket – just the government saying they might have taken more money from you but decided not to. Also, most people who are impacted by the universal credits cuts can’t afford a car, so the savings are zero. And for those who do somehow have a car, the increase avoided is £1 per tank at best – perhaps £50 a year.
So, the “savings” that Mr. Vara touts as offsetting the £1600 cut in benefits are very much less than the amount lost. In fact, depending on personal circumstances, the money saving measures that he is so proud of could actually be costing people even more money. Mwhahaha.
David Cameron released a Christmas message, in which he encourages us all to think about the great Christian values that make our country strong.
The bible claims (Matthew 2:13) that when Jesus was a baby, his family fled to Egypt to avoid the persecution of Herod, who was killing all baby boys. There’s a bit of a lack of detail, but we assume that the Pharaohs didn’t try to demonize them for their own political gain. How does that compare to the UK?
With no apparent sense of irony, Cameron also remarks on how lucky we are to be secure with our families around us, while millions of refugees are spending a harsh winter in makeshift camps across the middle east. That comes in the same week as the news that we have housed just 1000 refugees so far. Compare that to Germany, who are buckling under the weight of nearly a million refugees, and you start to wonder just what happened to our Christian values.
The bible tells us that Jesus had pretty strong opinions about the poor – basically that we should be nice to the poor. For example, in Mark 10:21 he told a rich man “go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”.
In contrast, Iain Duncan Smith agrees that the poorest working families will be worse off by £1600 next year thanks to his benefits cuts, and suggests that they all just go out and work an extra 200 hours to make up for it. Not exactly the rich looking after the poor.
Again the bible tells us that Jesus was generally sympathetic towards the sick. Admittedly 1st century medicine was a little basic, so praying was just about the best that was on offer, but it seems to have been pretty effective, with Jesus curing leprosy, blindness and other sicknesses at a rate otherwise unheard of in pre-antibiotic times.
The UK record on health is not doing so well. Funding is being slashed by £18bn, and junior doctors are being screwed for every penny possible. Waiting lists are up, and health is down.
Anyone unlucky enough to become long term sick is also in trouble, with strong evidence that government cuts in disability benefits causing increasing levels of hardship and suicide.
Jesus really wasn’t a fan of tax collectors. Luke in particular vilifies them as the worst kind of sinner. The main gripe is when the tax collected is unfair, and then goes to the rich.
One of the most evil Tory taxes is the bedroom tax, where people who are deemed to have too many rooms have their benefits docked. It doesn’t matter if the person is disabled and the room is for a 24 hour carer to sleep in – they get docked anyway. Last week the government admitted that the tax was resulting in people going without food just to make ends meet.
Other tax news recently had George Osborne propose a 93% tax rate for the poorest. The richest by contrast had their tax rate cut to 45% by the Tories.
It’s pretty evident that the government has been looking to the bible for inspiration. Jesus spelled out a great list of evil things, and the government seems to be uptaking them all with great gusto. Mwhahaha!