S (stevie_jane) wrote in ontd_political,
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stevie_jane
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The truth about George Osborne's social security reforms

Most of the new measures unveiled by George Osborne today fall not on higher-rate taxpayers or others with broad shoulders, but on the workless, the infirm and the poor

It was a speech of nearly 10,000 words, but the real news came in a brief passage of just 291, which George Osborne spluttered out in machine-gun fashion. It covered the "reform" of social security.

Before the big day, the pre-briefing was all about terrifying cuts for public services. In the event, Osborne raided the welfare budget in order to make a crowd-pleasing claim that he would cut public services by "only" 19%, which he claimed were rather more mild cuts than those Labour would have imposed.

There had, of course, been a measure of sabre-rattling on welfare in advance of the speech, but this was chiefly connected with the withdrawal of child benefit from higher-rate taxpayers, a move to save a mere £1bn out of the total £7bn of new savings that he was bent on making today.

Coming on top of £11bn of social security cuts already announced in the budget in June, the great bulk of the new measures fall not on higher-rate taxpayers or others with broad shoulders, but on the workless, the infirm and the poor.

Taking the measures one at a time, the first – and the biggest – was to "time limit contributory employment and support allowance" for one year, that is the benefit formerly known as incapacity benefit. What this means is that a disabled or seriously sick person who has a working spouse, however low-paid their job may be, will lose their personal entitlement to benefits after a year.

Singles will be able to fall back on a means-tested safety net, but everyone else will be forced to rely on the generosity of their partner. Expect wheelchairs in Downing Street as the coalition does away with the long-established principle that people who have contributed their own national insurance in the past, and then become sick and disabled, should expect a modest stipend from the state in recognition of this.

On housing benefit, already savaged in June, there was a move to link the maximum rents paid for council and housing association properties to the market rent, something which will further encourage the cleansing of the poor out of central London. On top of that, we have the extension of the penny-pinching presumption of shared living, which the old Tories imposed on very young people (in order to try and encourage more of them to stay in the family home) to people as old as 35 who, presumably, are already likely to have flown the family nest.

Local authorities will get new "flexibility to manage ... council tax benefit". Aside from the inevitable administrative shambles that will be produced by hundreds of town halls administering a complex benefit in entirely separate ways, the 10% cut in the overall budget returns us to the days of the poll tax, by requiring councils to chase poor people for a fraction of their personal bill.

Recall that the poll tax payments for the poor were capped at 20% of the total bill, but that did not prevent a spot of bother on the streets. In the light of this, I'm tempted to say that I predict a riot.

Next came cuts to benefits for the seriously ill who live in residential care. And after that boy George turned his hand to reducing "savings credit", a benefit Labour introduced to see off the old anomaly by which poorer pensioners with a little savings, most of them single women, would find it knocked pound-for-pound off their income support entitlement.

His willingness to punish this group, who have saved a little, stands in staggering contrast to the great pains he went to placate the frustrated equitable life savers of middle England. Last but not least there were tax credits, with the cuts – as in the budget – half-heartedly soothed by an increase in the basic rate for children.

It will not be enough to undo the damage that comes from the rest of the package. That consisted of restricting the working tax credit (yes, that's right, the one that's meant to make it pay to work), and cutting the help the state gives to poorer mothers who work to help with childcare costs.

None of this fits with the government's pro-work rhetoric, and it is intriguing that the spending review documentation (at least on my quick reading) omits the table that was in the budget on the so-called marginal deduction rates which measure the poverty trap as people see their benefits reduced from working an extra hour.


The Guardian

This is such a cluster-fuck. Social Housing at rates 80% of market rent rates; Housing Benefit cut to the bare minimum until you're fucking 35; anyone sick for more than a year denied any payment at all if possible. Gideon Osbourne, you're a cretin.

We don't have fuck the poor or harassing sick people tags.
Tags: ableism, disabilities, fuckery, social security, uk, uk: conservative / tories, welfare
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