18 August 2015
There was an interesting letter in the Independent the other day. The writer, Roddy Keenan, pointed out that fraudulent behaviour in the City is framed as rotten apples not comprehensive or systemic failure. However, fraud by a benefits claimant is framed as “representative of benefit claimants a whole,” an example of widespread abuse. Rotten apples do not call for all-out reform of the City, systemic benefits abuse supports the abolition of the benefits system. Keenan makes an excellent point.
Here’s his letter
– scroll to No ‘rotten apples’ on benefits, Independent 10 August 2015
26 April 2015
The new rates for local housing allowance (LHA, housing benefit for renting in the private sector) for April 2015 to March 2016 are here. (LHA 2015 tables, then tab for table 4 in the spreadsheet.)
Cornwall falls into three broad rental market areas (BRMA) for calculating housing allowance rates: Kernow West; North Cornwall and Devon Borders; and Plymouth. I have put links to maps of the areas below.
9 April 2015
The Tory Libdem coalition has been a nasty government. It has hit the poor and vulnerable, savaged public goods like funds for affordable housing, and used austerity as an opportunity to undermine the state and the collective endeavour for the good of the many that the state enables. The Tories and Libdems are marketising the health service and comforting the rich. For five years they have stretched out their coalition hand and visited us with a darkness that can be felt.
Here are some very recent examples of their government:
Forty percent of new teachers quit within a year Guardian 31 March 2015
NHS damaged Guardian 7 April 2015
Doctors say “this administration’s record is characterised by broken promises, reductions in necessary funding, and destructive legislation, which leaves health services weaker, more fragmented, and less able to perform their vital role than at any time in the NHS’s history”.
Tory Libdem benefit sanctions policy has led to food banks Guardian 9 April 2015
Children coming to school hungry Guardian 5 April 2015
NHS hospital waiting time figures worst in seven years Guardian 9 April 2015
Trussell Trust: written evidence to Works and pensions select committee with examples of job centre ‘sanctioning’ 12 December 2014. Evidence to the committee from others is here.
And this too:
Schools forced to act as ‘miniature welfare states’ with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils Independent 1 May 2015
Darkness that can be felt: Exodus 10.21
4 July 2013
I have pointed out the growth of both foodbanks and the numbers of people using them in Cornwall and elsewhere. I have linked these to changes and incompetencies in the benefit system which have left people without enough money to feed their families and heat their homes.
However, David Freud, the benefits minister, has said that “it is difficult to know what came first, the supply or the demand”. The supply is the foodbank, the demand is the users. He said that foodbanks are a free good and “there is an almost infinite demand for a free good” (Lords Hansard 2 July 2013 column 1072).
In short, the view of the Tory Libdem government is that the foodbanks might be not so much serving a need of hungry people without enough money to buy food as rather themselves creating a need. People are using them not because they are short of money for food and everything else but are taking advantage of the free food because it is there.
As people have to be referred to foodbanks it is very unlikely that there is much freeloading. Poverty charities that work on the ground attest that foodbanks are serving a genuine need, a gap in welfare provision by the state; and the need has its origins in the delays in paying benefits and changes such as the localisation of crisis loans. In the government’s language, the demand came first. The need is genuine; Freud is wrong.
What we have is a reluctance by the Tory Libdem government to face up to the unpleasant consequences on people of policy decisions by that government, the impact of those decisions on the everyday lives of people. As the partiality and harshness of government pauperising decisions become more evident, as the cries become louder and the challenges more eager, the retreat of Tory Libdem ministers and MPs into the bunker of denial and unreality will be more marked.
Meanwhile in Cornwall as predicted people are having difficulty in paying council tax. The Tory Libdem government localised council tax benefit (and renamed it council tax support) and made it the responsibility of local government, Cornwall Council here, to arrange a benefit system; at the same time the government cut funds for this by ten percent. Cornwall Council, then run by Tories and Independents, decided to require everyone, even the poorest, in a rerun of the poll tax, to pay some council tax. Now we are told that about 6000 are in arrears with their council tax and the council has extraordinarily summonsed about 1000 of them. I cannot see what is positive or constructive about that.
To sum up. Tories and Liberal Democrats are pauperising the poor. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
Taxing the poor in Cornwall (bedroom tax and council tax benefit)