So… six days after chemical weapons were unleashed in Syria prompting world leaders to think about launching attacks on Assad the Prime Minister finally dragged himself away from the beach in Cornwall where he’s been enjoying his FOURTH holiday this year to do the job we pay him for. What was he waiting for? Did he hope the crisis would go away if he buried his head deep enough in the Cornish sand?
Sadly, ‘bucket and spade’ Dave doesn’t give the impression of a man dedicated to hard work despite being the leader of a party that claims to ‘be on the side of hard working people’. He has the most responsible job in the country, one that requires him to be ‘on call’ 24/7, and whilst this can obviously be pretty gruelling and hard on his family, the remuneration he gets more than reflects that. This isn’t the first time he’s been slow to return from holiday in a crisis.
He did the same back in August of 2011 when the London riots kicked off, claiming he could handle things just as well from his deckchair over the phone. He doesn’t seem to get it. He doesn’t seem to understand that when you’re Prime Minister of a country that’s suffering the pain of a dire economic recession you need to be there for your citizens; you need to show some solidarity with them and at least give the impression that you’re prepared to suffer alongside them. When you introduce the most stringent austerity package in recent history , claiming (falsely) there is no alternative because the country’s practically bankrupt and even the rich have to make sacrifices because ‘ we’re all in it together’ and when some of those who are worst affected by your actions go off the rails as a result, you don’t stay put on a foreign beach and order another cold lager – you get your pampered arse back to Downing Street right away and you bloody well deal with it.
Lots of other professions require being ‘on call’ round the clock yet pay nowhere near as much as the PM’s salary. My father was a detective sergeant and we hardly saw him. Many’s the time we’d be sitting down to Christmas dinner on what should have been his day off, and the phone would ring and off he’d have to go. It goes with the job, you get used to it. Junior doctors work a ridiculously punitive schedule for a fraction of the wages Cameron takes home. And don’t get me started on the injustice of zero hours contracts…
Truth is Cameron hasn’t got what it takes to be a serious statesman. Back in 2008 Obama called him an intellectual ‘lightweight’, a criticism also echoed by Rupert Murdoch more recently. He got away with this in opposition because the job really only required him to be a PR man, a man who projected the image of modern conservatism that the party wanted to sell a gullible public; a public long conditioned to look no deeper than the surface, the packaging. So someone wrote his speeches, he delivered them and did the photo opportunities, selling the party ideology. He hugged hoodies and huskies, rode his bike (followed by his chauffeur driven car for when the cameras had buggered off) went for the odd fun run and learnt the manifesto off by heart so he could blindly repeat bits of it when asked questions. He hosted a few country suppers and wined and dined and arse-licked Murdoch and potential rich party donors; then every three months or so he jetted off to a posh beach somewhere to ‘chillaxe’. He was, and still is, a mannequin with a mouth through which the Tories broadcast their empty sound-bites, a vacuous, expensively suited cipher of so-called ‘caring conservatism’.
Three years on, the stark truth of what that oxymoronic slogan actually means is literally embodied by the public who’ve lived with its pernicious consequences – as it is by a Prime Minister who’s cold-bloodedly imposed it with aloof indifference to any responsibility for the damage he’s caused.
Whilst the PM’s body has grown fat and brown on his many holidays from inconvenient duty so the bodies of his citizens are being reshaped by the malnourishment he’s decreed for the likes of them. Diseases once eradicated by social policies that improved diets and damp and squalid housing conditions are returning to Britain with a vengeance at a time when the NHS that could alleviate them is being ruthlessly dismantled to puff up the profits of the Prime Minister’s cronies. Diseases such as scurvy and rickets which deform bodies are back with us. Asthma and other respiratory illnesses exacerbated by damp and mouldy houses are on the rise. And Cameron’s ‘caring conservatives’ who will never suffer this fate, and know it, don’t give a monkeys.
His holiday photographs, which he no doubt thinks of as photo opportunities, that sell him as a ’family man’ devoted to his wife and kids, when put into perspective and contrasted with the lives of the families he’s destroying, instead bear witness to the truth of Cameron’s upper class essence: a weak,egotistical wealthy man who likes the lifestyle of the idle rich.
Cameron is a man who is either totally oblivious to the irony of his throw away words when he said his wife had an ‘unconventional’ childhood because she went to a day school – or is totally dismissive of the millions to whom he owes a duty of care and for whom this is the norm, because we are of no consequence in his world except as ‘human resources’ judged merely by our use value and thus can be discarded like used tissues when we’re all used up.
Cameron is a millionaire who claimed DLA for his disabled son because , like Tesco and all good capitalists he knows that ‘every little helps’ in the ‘global race’ for bigger profits in which the real effort is never theirs and the real risks are borne by those with least to lose.
Cameron is a vain, elitist man who secretly believes that hard work is something that the servants should do. whilst, purely in the interests of political expediency, publicly pretending to ‘care’ about a class of people he really thinks of as nothing better than livestock.
And sadly, he is the man we call ‘Prime Minister’.
Back in 1982 after 3 years of Thatcher government policies unemployment soared. Apart from the names, this news item from the BBC sounds remarkably like its describing today’s situation after 3 years of Cameron’s rule:-
1982: UK unemployment tops three million
The number of people out of work in Britain has risen above three million for the first time since the 1930s. The official jobless total, announced today, is 3,070,621. It means one in eight people is out of work.
Rates of unemployment vary across the country – in Northern Ireland it is nearly 20% and 15 or 16% in most parts of Scotland the North East and North West – only in the South East does it drop below 10%.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was given a rough ride when she tried to defend the government’s record on employment in the Commons this afternoon.
Mrs Thatcher was frequently heckled as she insisted there were “encouraging signs” the economy was improving. The Speaker was forced to intervene and call for order.
“There are 32 people chasing every vacancy” said Labour leader Michael Foot
Afterwards, Labour leader, Michael Foot, said: “When Mrs Thatcher came into office there were five people chasing each job and that was bad enough. Today there are 32 people chasing every vacancy and in some parts of the country, it’s double that.”
More than 750,000 people are now classed as longterm unemployed.
Employment Secretary Norman Tebbit did not appear to be offering any quick fixes when he said: “We are gradually fighting back in competitive terms against our rivals. As we can expand the economy so there will be more jobs available in the future.”
The level of unemployment in Britain is almost the highest in Europe – second only to Belgium.
The two main factors behind the rise in the jobless total are the economic recession and the restructuring of industry.
In cities like Coventry, workers are being made redundant by the closure of traditional manufacturing industries. The British Leyland factory making MGs closed 15 months ago, putting 700 people out of work.
After 21 years working for MG, Eddie McAvinue is now looking after his grandchildren. He says he felt bitter to start with – but not any more: “When I look round and there’s young people with A and O levels and they can’t get jobs, I just accept it now. I can’t do anything else”
The British Film Institute described it as a “seminal drama series… a warm, humorous but ultimately tragic look at the way economics affect ordinary people… TV’s most complete dramatic response to the Thatcher era and as a lament to the end of a male, working class British culture.”
Set in Bleasdale’s home city of Liverpool, and reflecting many of his own experiences of life in the city, each episode focuses on a different member of the group. The series was highly acclaimed for its powerful and emotional depiction of the desperation wrought by high unemployment and a subsequent lack of social support. Although the series is and was noted by many reviewers as a critique of the Margaret Thatcher era, which was seen as being responsible for the fate of many of the unemployed lower and working classes, particularly in the North of England (and in fact fuelling the North-South divide), most of the series had actually been written in 1978 during Labour’s James Callaghan’s prime ministership, therefore preceding Thatcher’s Britain by a year. Unemployment stood at a 40-year high of more 1.5million by the summer of 1978, compared to some 600,000 just four years earlier, but by early 1982 had reached 3 million (some one in eight of the workforce) as a result of economic recession and Thatcher’s restructuring of industry.
This episode “Shop Thy Neighbour” starring a very young Julie Walters brings home the trauma suffered by the unemployed brilliantly. The fact that it applies just as much today as it did then hammers home the message Labour should now be shouting from the rooftops: Never trust the Tories with the welfare state.
The report reproduced (with kind permission) below is a short summary of the vitally important research into the origin of the current government’s campaign against disability and incapacity benefits and the involvement of Unum (formerly UnumProvident) and ATOS. This remarkably detailed work was carried out over the last three years by former healthcare professional and disabled veteran, Mo Stewart*. Mo has worked relentlessly and determinedly, despite her own pain and fatigue, to bring together a vast amount of damning evidence against this cruel system which has and continues to bring misery and even death to people whose only ‘crime’ is to be chronically sick or disabled. What you are about to read below is but a tiny example of far, far more material some of which can be found on her website here or by following the links she provides in her reference list at the end of the articles.
*(Mo Stewart is a former healthcare professional, a disabled female veteran and, for the last 3 years, has researched the links between the DWP, Atos Healthcare & Unum Insurance. To date, the research evidence has been quoted during welfare debates in the House of Lords, the House of Commons and in Westminster Hall. Mo routinely shares all research evidence with academics, medical and healthcare professionals, frontline national charities, selected
politicians and service users.)
THE HIDDEN AGENDA: a research summary by Mo Stewart
(The Hidden Agenda © Mo Stewart – March 2013)
The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is exclusively conducted on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by the corporate giant Atos Origin IT Ltd Medical Services, better known as Atos Healthcare. This ‘non-medical assessment’ was introduced in 2008 by the Labour government, and was identified as a ‘medical examination’ to be used to identify genuine claimants for long term sickness and disability benefit. However, what was unknown at the time was the fact that the WCA was a continuation of the planned agenda of the previous Thatcher government, whose ultimate goal was the destruction of the Welfare State.(1) The WCA was promoted as a ‘fitness for work’ assessment for claimants of what was once known as Incapacity Benefit, now re-named as the Employment and Support Allowance.(ESA) In reality, in order to reduce the welfare budget, the WCA was designed to resist as many sickness benefit claims as possible regardless of confirmed and identified permanent illness or disability. By 2010 the planned DWP welfare budget reduction was deemed to be
too slow. The new Coalition Government enhanced the WCA and, following the previous Labour Government’s lead, it became much more difficult to qualify for the ESA(2) as the WCA totally disregarded diagnosis, prognosis or limited life expectancy.
Aided and abetted by the national press, using insidious press headlines to manipulate public opinion(3)(3b), the Coalition Government successfully introduced tyranny, fear and despair to the nation’s most vulnerable people, using a disability assessment model as designed in consultation with Unum [Provident] Insurance; one of the most discredited corporate insurance giants in the world.(4)(4b) At the same time, reported disability hate crimes in the United Kingdom(UK) were rising to record levels.(5) The first two years of independent research into the WCA concluded at the end of November 2011 with the
exposure of two government memorandums provided by Unum Provident Insurance.(6) Initially, the link between the UK welfare reforms and the likely move to an insurance based benefits system was identified by Baroness Tanni Gray-Thompson during the welfare reform debates in the House of Lords.(7) Nine months later, the link between Atos Healthcare and Unum Insurance was exposed by Kevin Brennan MP during debate in Westminster Hall(8) and, more recently, during an emergency Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons(HOC), Michael Meacher MP identified the possible influence of Unum Insurance with the UK Government.(9)
Of course, this destruction of the welfare state could never have been so readily achieved without the unelected former Labour adviser, David Freud. He was ennobled to permit appointment initially to the Shadow Cabinet but, following the 2010 General Election, he was appointed as the Minister for Welfare Reform for the Coalition where he has excelled. Indeed, one of Lord Freud’s most recent claims was that: “Poor people should be prepared to take more risks because they have the least to lose…”(11) Clearly, this man is yet another millionaire Minister who demonstrates no concern, and no comprehension, of human need.
The ongoing DWP medical tyranny, masquerading as welfare reform, has permitted Atos Healthcare to conduct the WCA by employing the totally discredited Bio-Psychosocial(BPS) model of disability assessment that remains free from all public accountability according to the General Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission. The BPS is the assessment model as used by Unum Insurance when assessing healthcare insurance claims, and it is also the assessment model enthusiastically promoted by Professor Sir Mansel Aylward. The Professor is the Director of the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University, initially sponsored by Unum Insurance from its inception in 2003 to 2009.
However, prior to his move to the Centre, the Professor was the DWP’s Chief Medical Officer who, in 1994, was in post when Unum Insurance was invited to become corporate ‘advisers’ to the UK government.(12) Whilst the BPS model is an interesting theory, the selective use of the BPS model of disability assessment, as used by both Unum Insurance and Atos Healthcare, was exposed long ago as an invention of the insurance industry.(13)(14) By concentrating on the psychological model of disability, to the detriment of the social model, the WCA was always destined to promote unacceptable results for many thousands of ESA claimants. In one six month period alone 37,100 people had waited up to a year to have their ESA benefit reinstated following appeal, yet no-one is asking what would have happened to these genuinely sick and disabled people if they had not had the strength to pursue their claim to appeal?(10)
Indeed, a recent Panorama documentary: ‘Disabled or Faking It’,(15) demonstrated quite categorically the dangers of the WCA with seriously ill patients, diagnosed with life threatening conditions such as heart failure and end stage emphysema, being found fit for work.(15) However, with the national press still refusing to expose the identified influence of Unum Insurance with the DWP welfare reforms, the British public remain in ignorance as the government covertly convert the UK welfare state into the American healthcare system, ultimately to be funded by private insurance.(12)(13)(14) Meanwhile, Unum Insurance is happy to continue to offer new careers to former government ‘advisers’. (16) The WCA is an American imported ‘disability assessment model’ and has no medical credibility whatsoever, as confirmed by the British Medical Association(17), yet it is enthusiastically employed by the DWP and causes devastation to those least able to protest. This ‘medical assessment’ is working very well as the thousands of genuine claimants that have either died, committed suicide, been forced into poverty due to mounting debt, or who have developed a mental health problem due to anxiety are now the disregarded victims.(10)
Many had been in receipt of Incapacity Benefit before being re-assessed by Atos Healthcare, using the fatally flawed WCA, only to fail to qualify for benefit following ‘assessment’. The Internet provides evidence to this government imposed suffering at a cost to the tax-payer of £110million per annum for the confidential Atos contract and an estimated £60 million pounds per annum, and rising, for the costs of the appeal tribunals. Yet, still, Members of Parliament (MP) continue with their very courteous and diplomatic debates(8)(9) as the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and, especially, their corporate partners all celebrate the ongoing planned destruction of the welfare state that appears to be unstoppable.
What is still disregarded is the fact that Professor Sir Mansel Aylward’s research activities were funded for six years by Unum Insurance.(12) Indeed, due to his significant contribution to the future reduction of the DWP welfare budget by promoting the use of a ‘non-medical’ assessment, the Professor was rewarded with a Knighthood for “services to disability assessment.” Therefore, his support for the BPS disability assessment model was presumed to be guaranteed. Yet, when confronted six months ago, the Professor actually confirmed that he now considered the BPS model to be “unsatisfactory” and that he believed it “no longer addresses the real needs of disabled people and the exclusion of disabled people from society”.(18) Of course, the question remains as to why there was no official DWP announcement following this amazing change of ‘expert’ professional opinion, as the entire national press totally disregarded the press release that was distributed last September following Sir Mansel’s unexpected statement. Perhaps the Professor was safe in the
knowledge that the press release would be ignored, and perhaps this is why he continues to travel widely, still lecturing about the virtues of the totally discredited BPS model of disability assessment? The most recent lecture was at the Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference in Birmingham, from 5th-6th March 2013,(19) where Professor Sir Mansel Aylward was listed as a keynote speaker on the subject of: The New Public Health Agenda: Its Impact on Health and Wellbeing at Work. Given the title of his speech, one can only presume that the Professor has yet to advise other professionals of his reported change of expert opinion.(18)
This is how the UK welfare state will be destroyed. There is a BPS ‘expert’ in place, and an American corporate insurance giant has influenced the UK Government to totally disregard human suffering, in favour of a reduced welfare budget, using an identified bogus ‘medical assessment’. Unum Insurance have begun their mass marketing to encourage able bodied members of the British public to invest in their ‘Income Protection Insurance’ or their ‘Back-up Plan,’ that’s only available via the workplace, and these are the healthcare insurance policies that the company has historically tried very hard to resist funding when a claim is made.(20)(21) Given that the unacceptable practice of Unum Insurance was previously exposed by MPs during a House of Commons debate in 1999(22), the question remains as to why was this highly discredited American corporate insurance giant ever permitted to influence UK welfare reforms and why the national press, en masse, refuse to expose this insurance company’s confirmed influence despite it being identified by a BBC News report in 2007?(23)
The recent exposure of a 2005 internal Unum report, that actively boasted that the company was ‘driving government thinking’ regarding the reform of Incapacity Benefit (24) leads to the much more sinister possibility that the DWP are simply administrators of these brutal welfare reforms, and that the perpetrators of the devastation caused to the victims of this UK government funded medical tyranny are, in fact, Unum Insurance. Michael O’Donnell was the author of the 2005 internal Unum report that was written when he was the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Unum Insurance. Michael O’Donnell is now the CMO for Atos Healthcare…..
The difficulty remains that no-one is asking the relevant questions. Perhaps MPs should be asking the Prime Minister why he’s been funded by ‘healthcare companies’ to the value of £750,000(27) since he became Prime Minister (25) or why every report produced by the President of the Appeal Tribunals, all of which identified the Atos Healthcare WCA assessments as “failing to coincide with reality”, was totally disregarded by the DWP? (12)
Until and unless more significant questions are asked in the House of Commons, victims of this government funded medical nightmare will be forced to turn to the law for help, just as in America.(26)
Until and unless the national press demonstrate that the UK really does benefit from a free press, and not a government controlled press, the most vulnerable of all British people will continue to suffer and the British public will continue to be deceived.(12)
1) Margaret Thatcher’s role in plan to dismantle welfare state revealed:
(2) Cuts to UK benefits: http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/type/text/cuts-to-uk-benefits.html
(3) ‘Ello, John, got a new Motability motor? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2047593/Motability-schemes-starting-resemble- worst-excesses-Arthur-Daley-.html
(3b) Half a million incapacity benefit claimants are fit for work, Government’s own figures show: Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115476/A-incapacity-benefit-claimants-fit-work-Government-s-OWN-figures show. html#axzz2JqkmNFAR
(4) New York Attorney General Spitzer’s ruling: http://www.insure.com/articles/healthinsurance/unum-settlement.html
(4b) The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America – The American Association of Justice
(5) Hate crimes against disabled people soar to a record high:
(6) The truth behind welfare reforms: http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveteransreport20111120.html
(7) BnsTanni Gray-Thompson: House of Lords, welfare reforms
(8) Private Members’ Debate: Atos Healthcare: 4th Sept 2012
(9) Backbench Business: Atos Work Capability Assessment debate: 17th Jan 2013
(10) British people are committing suicide to escape poverty. Is this what the State wants?
(11) Lord Freud’s welfare ‘lifestyle’ comments show ‘nasty party is back’, say Labour:
(12) Government use might of American insurance giant to destroy UK welfare safety net – update 27th Oct : http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveteransreport20121027.html
(13) An academic responds to statement by Prof Aylward:
(14) A Tale of Two Models: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies/archiveuk/jolly/A%20Tale%20of%20two%20Models%20Leeds1.pdf
(15) Panorama: Disabled or Faking It?
(16) Peter Dewis: Steppin’ Sideways from Government to Unum:
(17) GPs call for work capability assessment to be scrapped:
(18) Former DWP medical boss makes WCA pledge to protesters:
(19) Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference, NEC Birmingham: http://www.healthatwork2013.co.uk/
(20) “The denial on the part of Unum in the Mondolo case appears to mirror denials of other Unum disability claims historically, going back several years. To that end, the Court noted Unum’s history of biased claims administration.” (MARCH 2013)
(21) CBS News 60 minutes: DID INSURER CHEAT DISABLED CLIENTS:
(22) Permanent Health Insurance debate, Westminster Hall, 21st December 2009
(23) BBC Ten ‘o Clock News report: 6th Nov 2007 http://www.meactionuk.org.uk/UNUM_on_BBC_News_061107.wmv (BBC NEWS report – video)
(24) Unum bragged about ‘driving government thinking’ on incapacity benefit reform:
(25) MPs’ links are so unhealthy: http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/378233/MPs-links-are-so- unhealthy
(26) High Court rules Work Capability Assessment arguably unlawful:
(27) NHS reform leaves Tory backers with links to private healthcare firms set for bonanza:
He caused them but he doesn’t have to put up with them.
Read what an American observer thinks of Breadline Britain…
Force-Fed UK Austerity
By Stephen Lendman
Since 2008, America, Britain and other European nations force-fed austerity harshness. Neoliberal and imperial priorities take precedence.
Bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and privileged elites alone benefit. Ordinary people lose out entirely. Public needs go begging. Human misery grows. Things go from bad to worse. Nothing ahead looks promising.
Britain made things harder. Parliament imposed the largest welfare cuts in modern times. More on them below.
They come when Prime Minister David Cameron wants UK nuclear defenses upgraded. He wants billions of pounds spent doing so. He claims Britain faces threats that don’t exist. An “ultimate weapon” is needed, he says.
His Daily Telegraph op-ed headlined “We need a nuclear deterrent more than ever,” saying:
(A)s prime minister, with ultimate responsibility for the nation’s security, I profoundly disagree with” naysayers. The “nuclear threat has not gone away.”
“My judgment is that it would be foolish to leave Britain defenceless against a continuing, and growing, nuclear threat.”
Saying so defies reason. Wanting billions of pounds spent on what’s not needed reflects deception writ large. Britain’s FY 2014 budget allocates 44.7 billion pounds for defense.
Billions go for nuclear deterrence. Cameron wants billions more. It’s worth the cost, he says. No cheaper options exist, he claims.
He wants Brits to think wasteful spending will protect Britain from nuclear attacks. Estimates run up to 20 billion pounds. It reflects multi-year spending.
At the same time, he supports massive welfare cuts. They come when Queen Elizabeth got a five million pound pay increase. In FY 2013-14, she’ll receive 36.1 million pounds (around $54 million). It’s up from 31 million last year.
She gets regular pay increases. They come from the Crown Estate. Its properties are worth eight billion pounds.
She’ll now receive 15% of their profits. In 2011-12, they earned 240.2 million pounds.
The Queen claims she needs the money. Royal priorities aren’t cheap. Annual expenses keep rising. She’s having a hard time making ends meet.
She’s dismissive about ordinary people’s suffering. It’s their problem, not hers. Let ’em eat cake doesn’t wash. A former monarch learned the hard way.
Tough times keep getting tougher. Ordinary Brits struggle to get by. Britain’s coalition government made things harder. On April 3, Russia Today headlined “UK govt imposes avalanche of cuts,” saying:
Low-income and financially vulnerable families will be hit hardest. Opposition Labour MPs called new cuts announced “the beginning of ‘Black April.’ ” It’s hard imagining why. They’re as neoliberal as Tories.
From June 2007 – May 2010, Gordon Brown was prime minister. Austerity began on his watch. Budget cuts hit ordinary Brits hardest. Brown said “Labour will cut costs, cut inefficiencies, cut unnecessary programmes, and cut lower priority budgets.”
He targeted public sector worker wages, pensions and other benefits. At the same time, Britain spent 94% of its GDP on bank bailouts. It amounted to taxing every Brit about 30,000 pounds.
Labour and Tories conspire against ordinary people. Austerity is policy. So are harsh welfare cuts. Imposed them inflicts enormous hardships. Earlier amounts totaled tens of billions of pounds. In January, another 14.2 billion were announced.
New ones are toughest of all. Britain’s Baptist Union called them “unjust (forcing) the most vulnerable (to) pay a disproportionate price.”
Methodist Church Public Issues Policy Adviser Paul Morrison said they “make April fools of us all.”
“We are witnessing what happens when we create a culture that blames poor people for their poverty.”
“It is a lie to say that most people on benefits are lazy, that they have an easy life or that they are responsible for the nation’s financial deficit.”
“When people are willing to believe those lies, poor families pay the highest price.”
At the same time, wealthy elites got a tax cut. In late March, Britain slashed its 50% top rate to 40%. Corporations got a 1% cut.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s “granny tax” left around five million middle-class pensioners up to 323 pounds worse off. It’s when they most need help. They face other harsh budget cutting measures.
Welfare benefits will be cut another 10 billion pounds by 2016. On average, around 18 million Brits will lose 500 pounds annually. Billions more welfare cuts were announced earlier. Where this ends who knows.
Cameron wants public spending cut 5.3%. Expect more cuts to follow. Since financial crisis conditions erupted in 2008, one in 10 Brits lost their jobs.
The latest measures are worst of all. They include a new “bedroom” tax. It’s on local council and housing association tenants. They get housing benefits.
Recipients claimed to have a “spare” bedroom face cuts totaling 14%. Those with two “spare” ones lose 25%. Britain calls the measure an “under-occupancy penalty.”
Imposing it seeks to encourage more efficient social housing use. It inflicts enormous harm on vulnerable households. Expect more ahead hitting them harder. It’s coming in waves. One measure leads to others. Like America, Britain’s heading for third world status.
Hundreds of thousands of people are affected. Many will become homeless. Britain’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said the new bedroom tax will “end up costing more than it saves as tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private renter sector.”
Around 90,000 households are affected. Less than 4,000 smaller homes can accommodate them. In April, “personal independence payments (PIPs)” replace disability living allowances.
Private consulting and information technology services firm ATOS will assess whether benefit claimants can work. It’ll be paid up to one billion pounds to do so. In the past, it claimed stroke victims were fit to work.
ATOS aims to remove another 500,000 claimants from benefit rolls. Doing so will throw many of them in the street. They’ll risk losing out entirely.
New Health and Social Care Act legislation affects them. Enactment reverses 1946 free, universal National Health Service care. Government no longer has a legal duty to provide it.
Newly created Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) now have a “duty to arrange” what used to be mandated. Doing so shifts costs on the backs of vulnerable Brits least able to afford them. Commercializing healthcare lets predatory private profiteers take full advantage.
Combining austerity with welfare cuts heads Britain for third world status. Poverty and unemployment will rise further. So will public anger. On March 30, protesters targeted London’s Trafalgar Square.
Unionists joined anti-poverty campaigners, the disabled, homemakers and others.
Simultaneous gatherings were held in cities and towns nationwide. Thousands turned out in Glasgow. “Axe the bedroom tax,” signs read. One protestor spoke for others, saying:
“We won’t forget what they are doing to working class people.”
“They have just shut the soup kitchen in Waltham Forest despite having a real problem with homelessness. I’m a working single parent. Now I’ve a tiny boxroom, and I’m faced with the choice between food, heat or paying the ‘bedroom tax.’ ”
At issue are numerous other cuts. Expect new ones to follow those announced. More recent ones began last October. Dozens of imposed changes were made. They include:
cutting support for mortgage interest from 6.08% – 3.63%;
scrapping the Child Trust Fund;
reducing the Council Tax benefit;
ending the Health in Pregnancy grant;
abolishing the Disability Living Allowance;
cutting legal aid;
freezing the Child Benefit and Working Tax Credit for low-income workers; and
much more implemented from October 10 through mid-April.
Making ordinary Brits bear burdens they can’t afford is policy. Expect new imposed hardships ahead. Tories and Labour are in lockstep. It bears repeating. Britain’s heading toward third world status. It’s on a fast track toward getting there.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.