Skip to main content

Osborne now targets universal credit in his attack on the poor.

What does it take to get this government to realise the suffering they are inflicting on those reliant on benefits.  Failing to get his way with cuts in Tax Credits it is now suggested that the Chancellor, George Osborne has now his sights on cutting the new universal credit.

Apparently, the Work and Pensions Secretary has threatened to resign if the Chancellor cuts the new benefit.

Universal credit was launched by Mr Duncan Smith  with great fanfare in 2013, combining previous means-tested benefits such as jobseekers allowance, tax credits and housing benefit into a single payment which is currently being phased in across the country.

It is a controversial scheme, not least because it makes the assumption that benefit need is uniform and not specific to circumstance such as mental health. Universal Credit will mean people with mental health issues will no longer have their claims supported by a specialist health assessment but instead through meetings with a general job centre work advisor.   

Such a move is likely to be detrimental to those with mental health issues as they are often the least likely to be picked up in a general assessment by an unqualified advisor.  There is no system in place at job centres to provide such professional advice.  It is already clear from those on the Work Programme that it is making their health issues worse.  The DWP refuses to reconsider the impact of the new assessment on those with mental health issues.  They wish to remain blind to the problem and ignore the concerns expressed by organisations such as the mental health charity MIND.  

Instead we have Lord Freud, the Government’s welfare reform minister, proffering the incredulous notion that Universal Credit would make life easier for mental health problems because 'generic work advisors would become more adept at dealing with mental health issues'.   The suffering of those wrongly assessed will no doubt be a lesson to those making the assessments!

Universal benefits has some cross party support, but the devil is not so much in the detail but in the purpose.  I am always wary of the all embracing reason given for changes in benefit that it is 'to make work pay'.  What that translates into is more people being forced into low paid, insecure jobs. We create a cycle of 'dependency' - locking people into low pay jobs.  

Nonetheless, the Work and Pensions Secretary is concerned that change in universal credit, particularly if it affects the tapering of the benefit will mitigate its intention.  Currently the taper is set at 65% – meaning that for every extra £1 claimants earn above a threshold, they lose 65p – but Osborne is looking at a proposal to increase this to 75%.  

But all this begs the question wether there should be cuts in benefits at all.  The government says it is necessary to 'cut the deficit', but if that is so then why did Osborne cut tax on beer? If he intends to cut the deficit then revenue should be considered.  The stated imperative of cutting the deficit is not consistent with cutting such taxes. It was a cynical move to win votes. 

The government argues that the benefits bill is 'out of control', but you can't have a system designed to 'make work pay' and then grumble about the cost of it.  The cost is increasing because too many people are pushed into low pay. 

The best way of tackling the benefits bill is to increase pay.  Duncan Smith was delighted by Osborne’s decision to announce a national living wage in the summer budget, and famously responded to it with a double fist pump in the Commons.  For once I can agree with him that a move to a genuine living wage is what is necessary to lift people out of poverty and benefits. 

We need a budget for growth not a budget that hurts the poorest.  We need a budget that encourages proper contracts and skills, not one that pushes hard working people deeper into poverty.  We need a budget that tackles the cost of housing, a major factor in poverty, and a major hindrance to jobs. 

It is time the Chancellor understood you can't cut your way out of a crisis -  crisis of his own making.  But you can stimulate real economic recovery and productivity growth, creating more jobs and rejuvenating many areas of industrial decline. 

Lifting people out of poverty with decent wages and jobs is economic sense. Pushing more people into poverty is economic madness. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Maternal depression can impact child mental and physical health

Maternal depression has been repeatedly linked with negative childhood outcomes, including increased psychopathology.  Now, a new study shows that depression in mothers may impact on their children's stress levels,  as well as their physical and mental well-being throughout life.

In the study, published in the journal  Depression & Anxiety,  the researchers followed 125 children from birth to 10 years.

At 10 years old, the mothers’ and children’s cortisol (CT) and secretory immunoglobulin (s-IgA)—markers of stress and the immune system (see below)—were measured, and mother-child interaction were observed.
Psychiatric assessment  The mothers and children also had psychiatric diagnoses, and the children's externalising and internalising symptoms were reported.



Internalising disorders include depression, withdrawal, anxiety, and loneliness. They are often how we 'feel inside', such as  anger, pain, fear or hurt, but may not show it.  In contrast, externalising symptom…

Palm Oil production killing the planet

Bad trade and bad products are killing our planet. We have said this before on The Thin End. There is no better example than that of palm oil. It is used ubiquitously in so many products, and its production is a major factor destroying rainforests and threatening precious species.

Demand for palm oil is 'skyrocketing worldwide'. It is used in packaging and in so much of our snack foods, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, cereals, and doughnuts, and the list goes on.
Bad for the planet So, why is this so bad for the planet?

The oil is extracted from the fruit of the oil palms native to Africa. It is now grown primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia, but is also expanding across Central and West Africa and Latin America.

Palm oil production is now one of the world's leading causes of rainforest destruction, and this is impacting adversely some of the world's most culturally and biologically diverse ecosystems. Irreplaceable wildlife species like t…

Clear blue lakes turning murky in USA

New research reveals that many lakes in the continental United States are becoming murkier, with potentially negative consequences for water quality and aquatic life. These are the findings of a study published in Limnology and Oceanography.

From blue, clear lakes to greenish brown In the 5 years between 2007 and 2012, the dominant lake type in the United States shifted from clear, blue lakes to greenish-brown, murky lakes. Blue lakes declined by 18% while murky lakes increased by 12%. 



Overall, “blue” lakes decreased by ~ 18% (46% of lakes in 2007 to 28% in 2012) while “murky” lakes increased by almost 12% (24% of lakes in 2007 to 35.4% in 2012).  So, the majority of lakes are now murky.

Regionally, murky lakes significantly increased in the Northern Appalachian, Southern Plains, and Xeric ecoregions.

In the Northern Appalachians, blue lakes decreased by 41.4%, brown lakes increased by 17.8%, and murky lakes increased by 26.8%. In the Northern Plains, green lakes significantly increas…