Skip to main content

The disgraceful falsehood of Mr Osborne's spending review

Mr Osborne's spending cuts are based on a falsehood. He says the cuts in welfare spending are necessary to "end the something-for-nothing culture."  As the government has repeatedly done, they seek to portray those in receipt of benefits as 'scroungers'. It is of course an electoral ploy. Mr Osborne knows that he is on a winner with that kind of stereotype. It feeds the public mythology. But it is dishonest and unethical.

Mr Osborne knows that the majority of those receiving benefits are in work. He knows also that, far from receiving something-for-nothing, most of them are receiving below subsistence wages. It is not those on benefits who have become 'welfare dependent'; it is the companies who pay such derisory wages who have become dependent on a low pay workforce subsidised by welfare.

The Office for National Statistics data on employment reveals the problem. More and more people are having to work part time for low wages, and where many of them would like to work more hours they are not able to because the work isn't available.

Since the financial crash the numbers of working people classified as 'underemployed' has increased by almost a million, 980,000 since 2008.  There are now over 3 million workers classified as underemployed. That is 1 in 10 of the UK workforce.  These workers are not 'something-for-nothing scroungers'. Theirs is a culture of work, yet they are being targeted and stigmatised by this unethical and disgraceful government approach.

It affects particularly low-skilled workers, where 23% are 'underemployed'. We should note again that what that means is that they are not able to increase their hours of work to earn a living wage. They are cleaners and bar staff and dinner ladies. They are also the people who help our children cross the road. They are doing worthwhile jobs for which they receive on average just £7.49 an hour. But that is an average because many receive less.

These are good folk who are not only working hard, but who would like the opportunity to work more to make ends meet, to put food on the the table and pay the rent. These are decent people who don't deserve to be stigmatised as if they were cheating the system because they receive benefits. They are the people being hurt by Osborne's cuts.

Mr Osborne, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Duncan Smith should be ashamed of themselves, because they know these truths. Yet they still peddle the myth that the welfare bill is high because people don't want to work. On the contrary, there are more people employed part time now and they want to work more hours.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Keir Starmer has a lot to offer

The Labour Party is in the process of making a decision that will decide whether it can recover from the defeat in 2019 General Election.  All the candidates have much to offer and are making their case well. No doubt for some the decision will be difficult.  Others may well have made up their minds on the simple binary of Left-wing-Right-wing. The choice should be whoever is best placed to pull the party together.  Someone who can form a front bench of all talents and across the spectrum in the party. That is what Harold Wilson did in the 1960s.  His government included Roy Jenkins on the right and Barbar Castle on the left; it included Crossman and Crossland, and Tony Benn with Jim Callaghan.  It presented a formidable team. Keir Starmer brings to the top table a formidable career outside politics, having been a human rights lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions.   He is a man of integrity and commitment who believes in a fairer society where opportunities are more

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't