Tag Archives: George Osborne

A Bungling Fucking Idiot On A Mission From God, That Was The Real Iain Duncan Smith

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Good riddance, to an absolute tool.

Pass the fucking sick bag.  Iain Duncan Smith’s performance on the Andrew Marr show this morning was one of the most nauseating displays politics has seen in a long, long time – and there’s been stiff competition.  His crass portrayal of himself as a decent man, trying to do the right thing for both the people and his party, is perhaps his greatest self-delusion yet.  Remember one thing from that interview if you were unlucky enough to watch it.  Iain Duncan Smith, quietly amid his bluster, admitted that he agreed with the cuts to disability benefits that he resigned over, but that they should have come as part of a package of wider support.

Every claimant knows what that support would be.  Yet another chance to squander billions pursuing his messianic fantasy of himself as a great welfare reformer with more workfare, more sanctions and more harassment from Jobcentre busy-bodies.  George Osborne said no, cut the fucking crap, we’re supposed to be pretending to save money.  So Iain Duncan Smith did what he always does when he doesn’t get his own way.  He had a tantrum.

This petulant temper is why it has been tactically useful at times to portray him as a conniving and brutal architect of death and hardship. This approach no doubt even contributed to his recent flounce.  The truth though, is that he’s not that clever.  He’s worse than that.  Iain Duncan Smith is a bungling fucking idiot on a mission from God.  And like all zealots before him, so convinced has he been that he is treading the one true path that his eyes, and heart, have remained closed to the consequences of his actions.  Consequences that have been tragic.  Consequences that have included the state’s bureaucracy driving some of the UK’s poorest citizens to their deaths by placing intolerable and unsurvivable pressure on those already living fractured lives.  He has not been called a killer for nothing.

But to view his actions as the work of a mere power-crazed murderer fails to see the entire horrifying picture.  Which is that amongst think-tanks, charities, self-appointed experts in the welfare-to-work industry and even the Labour Party – perhaps most of all the Labour Party – Iain Duncan Smith’s views are not extreme.  There is a consensus amongst these respectably clad vermin, even if not all would have the stomach to play out their ideological beliefs to their logical conclusion – as Iain Duncan Smith was proud and happy to do.  This consensus believes that poverty is an individual failing not a structural problem.  That it can be cured by fixing poor people, not society.  That all it takes is hard work to prosper under modern capitalism and so it is right, natural and unavoidable that our entire lives should be a competition – we must constantly strive, every day, to reach the next rung on the economic ladder.  That happiness is just around the corner if we work hard and do the right thing – and if we don’t then we must be punished, to help steer us on the path to prosperity.

It is, they imply, a competition everybody can win if we all just pull our socks up and put in the hours.  But competitions don’t work that way, especially when they are rigged by private schools, elite universities, inherited wealth and structural unemployment.  A lottery where everyone wins means sharing the spoils amongst us all.  The capitalist class have no intention of ever doing that.  Their ideology is a sham, a crude self-deception to wash away their guilt and justify their greed.  And they are all fucking in it together.

None of this gets Iain Duncan Smith off the hook.  He is a truly nasty man.  A devious bigot, a liar and a calculating plotter without the intellect to back it up.  A proper fucking wanker who needs kicking round a pub car park – not that it would teach him anything,  it wouldn’t, but it would be nice to see him bleed for a change.

Like most of his fellow Tories, his own privilege shielded him from any understanding of what he was really creating.  He seems to think that a benefit sanction – removing the only means of survival for those without work or savings – is just a mild rebuke, a welcome jolt as he put it to encourage people to try a bit harder.  In the world of Iain Duncan Smith money never runs out, so how could he understand what it really means to have nothing at all.  Why would he understand the devastating and debilitating consequences of extreme poverty.  How anguish, hunger and intolerable stress demolishes people.  That destitution means spending the day thinking about where the next meal is going to come from, not updating your fucking CV.  His reckless reforms have been like a doctor injecting cyanide into the veins of his patients and then being appalled when they die.  Then thinking the dose must be too low, they need more poison, to incentivise them back to health.  To help them learn.

Of course the likes of George Osborne have been only too happy to exploit this moral shield that, until now, had masked the cruelty of his government to the dwindling number of genuine conservatives in his party.  Those who believe in God, and charity, who put a penny in the box for the poor and pat cripples on the head.  The ones who don’t want to upset the vicar and only torture kittens when they are absolutely certain no-one else is watching.   Iain Duncan Smith’s social justice facade was the perfect cover for Osborne’s class war.  Austerity appeared to map perfectly to an insistence that those with nothing can be taught not to be poor anymore by making them poorer.  It worked, for a while.  When Osborne pulled the strings IDS danced.  But the Chancellor under-estimated one thing about Iain Duncan Smith – his incessant need for power and status.

This is a man who truly believes himself to be magnificent despite his meagre talents.  Who will happily tear his own political party in two, for the second time, to place himself as the great man of history in control of dramatic events.  Whether his obsession is Europe or social security reform makes little difference as long as he is at the centre of any chaos he creates.  Vain he may be, but he can take the criticisms, the insults and the fact he can’t hang around in a pub car park for too long these days, as long as he can convince himself that he is important.  Despite his claims to be compassionate he loved the thought of the poor being forced to scurry around like lab rats whilst he prodded and poked to see how much they – we – could take.

His grandiose schemes like the Work Programme and Universal Credit have been the props on which this fragile self-belief depended.  Without them he is just another grubby Tory, cutting disabled people’s benefits and whining about the poor.  That is not enough for Iain Duncan Smith.  That is why he resigned.  If he doesnt get to be the messiah then he doesn’t want to play anymore.  Good.  Bring on the next cunt.

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Does The End of Social Security Lie Behind Osborne’s Savings Hand Out?

gideon-osborne

Osborne wants the tax payer to help his kids buy a house, but there is much more to it than even that.

At first glance George Osborne’s Lifetime ISAs look like just another give away to the better off.  At the lower end of the scale they represent a generous subsidy for those who can afford to put money aside to buy a home – savings of up to £4000 a year will be topped up by a 25% hand out from the state.  For rich kids it’s a bit of free money, a tax payer funded discount for their first luxury apartment.  Osborne can afford this generosity for his own class after all.  Subsidies for the poorest tenants, forced to pay eye-watering rents that can only be met by housing benefits, have been slashed and slashed again over the last five years.

But there are real warning signs that this scheme is more ominous then just another tranference of public funds from the poor to the rich.

The use of personal savings accounts as a replacement for the social security system has long been an ambition of free-market extremists desperate to eradicate any form of social spending.  As the Think Tank Review website reminded us last year, the Adam Smith Institute proposed Fortune Accounts way back in 1995.  The suggestion was that individuals should pay into a pot of money to fund any future periods of sickness or unemployment.  More recently the right-wing Policy Exhange called for the establishment of MyFund accounts in an astonishing report that did not just demand personal savings accounts to replace unemployment benefits but also suggested that the money could pay for “access to private sector employment support services”.  They want us to pay for our own workfare.

There is ample evidence that government ministers are already considering some form of savings or insurance based social security system.  A public sector consultant recently blogged about a meeting – sponsored by health insurers BUPA just by the way – with comedy toff Lord Fraud held at the Reform think tank.   According to the report the Minister for Welfare Reform raised the question of “why do employers insure against sickness absence and why don’t individuals?” .

As Think Tank Review point out, Iain Duncan Smith has already made his feelings clear in an interview with the Daily Telegraph shortly after the last election when he said: ”We need to support the kind of products that allow people through their lives to dip in and out when they need the money for sickness or care or unemployment.”

At present this is not how George Osborne’s Lifetime ISAs will work. Initially the government top up will only be available for those putting down a deposit on a house or once someone reaches 60.  If the money is withdrawn for any other reason the government subsidy will be removed and a 5% fee will be charged – to teach you a lesson.

This is likely to change however.  Budget documents say that: “The government will consider whether Lifetime ISA funds plus the government bonus can be withdrawn in full for other specific life events in addition to buying a first home.”

When Universal Credit is fully introduced and all out of work benefits replaced with a single payment then any personal savings will reduce entitlement significantly.  Those with assets of £16,000 or more will not receive any benefits at all whilst savings of just £6000 will mean the level of payments start to be reduced.   It is unclear whether Lifetime ISAs will be included in the savings  threshold, although there is little reason to believe they won’t be.  This means that for many young people their Lifetime ISA will end up covering periods of sickness or unemployment, not buying them a home.  Of course most better off young people – not long into their working lives and earning enough to be able to save – don’t think they will ever be long term sick or unemployed.  That’s why Osborne has started with middle class kids.  Ask anyone, they are the easiest to mug.

For those in precarious zero hour jobs, on temporary contracts or with wages so low that saving for anything is near impossible, then Osborne’s accounts are worthless.  The problem is that the experiences of the poor don’t count.  Once it becomes normal for the children of the chattering classes to have a tax payer subsidised nest egg then anyone who couldn’t afford to save will be condemned as irresponsible.  They will need to be forced to save, with some form of mandatory scheme.  Or they will be left to starve and it will be their own fault. This is what lies behind the Chancellor’s savings give-away. It is a first small step towards the complete eradication of the welfare state.

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The Devil Really Is In The Detail: Homelessness Services and Women’s Refuges Face Wipe Out

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George Osborne’s luxury home. Paid for by the tax payer.

A vicious cut buried in this year’s budget document makes a mockery of George Osborne’s pledge of more money for homelessness charities.

The Budget Red Book confirms that from 2017 additional funding in the housing benefit system for homeless people’s hostels and women’s refuges will be scrapped completely from April 2017.  Payments to cover rents in the supported housing sector will be reduced to the Local Housing Allowance rate for that area – which can be less than £50 a week for those under 35 in some parts of the UK.

This is the culmination of a long-running row which began way back in 2012 when bungling toff Lord Fraud announced moves which would lead to the closure of every homelessness shelter and refuge in the UK.  The DWP soon backtracked on these plans and the homelessness industry slipped into collective denial until last year when it was re-announced that supported housing rents will be capped from 2016.

After unanimous protests from homelessness and domestic violence charities the government appeared to back down again, putting back the change for one year and announcing a review of funding for supported housing.  Today George Osborne pre-empted that review and –  with a sneaky bribe which will no doubt go to the largest and most obedient homelessness charities – has condemned huge numbers of the poorest and most marginalised people to street homelessness.

Funding supported housing through the benefits system allowed those providing that housing to use their own expertise and experience in helping to rebuild often shattered lives.  Now they will be expected to go cap in hand to the government, and funding will be directed at those organisations prepared to kow-tow to government policies, such as workfare, benefit sanctions, deportations and compulsory happiness lessons.

The budget documents ominously confirm that there will still be a review of the supported housing sector before the cut takes place.  We’ve just seen what these look like after the recent consultation into disability benefits.  Almost every response from disabled people and charities was completely ignored and the government did as they chose – which was cut vital disability benefits for over 600,000 people.

The entire homelessness sector, along with women’s refuges, young people’s hostels and the wide range of other supported housing is now on death row.  Homelessness charities have long faced criticism for not fighting for homeless people and instead pursuing petty obsessions about the price of strong lager, beggars  or trying to close down soup runs.  Now they are fighting for their own futures.  It will take more than petitions, whining and cosy meetings with ministers as the so-called big players negotiate their own survival, to save the homelessness industry.  It will mean homelessness organisations getting out on the streets with homeless people, tenants, benefit claimants and all those facing housing insecurity,  It may mean forgoing charitable status to fight this government – hardly a controversial arrangement, neither Amnesty or Greenpeace are charities.  And most of all it will mean a confrontational, disruptive and ferocious movement to drive this current crop of Tory toffs into the fucking sea.  Then we can have their houses.

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A Nasty Little Cut That No-one’s Talking About Will Demolish Social Housing For The Young

demolition

The destruction of social housing will not happen overnight, although it is likely to be largely gone within a generation or so.  Tenants with serious health conditions or those over pensionable age are probably safe for now as long as they die quickly enough.  When they do, and their properties become empty, then new legislation means the most expensive will be sold off.  Alongside increased Right To Buy sales, this will see the number of social houses available plummet – potentially by as much as 95% in one Central London borough.  Meanwhile fixed term tenancies will ensure that anyone who gets a council house is less likely to keep it for life meaning the flow of houses for potential sale is now embedded within the system.

But even these measures are not enough to ensure that the end of social housing happens as quickly as possible.  Something also needs to be done to lock the next generation out of socially managed homes.  So in last month’s Autumn statement George Osborne quietly slashed Housing Benefits for those under 35 who are eligible for social housing.

The Shared Accommodation Rate was first introduced by Labour who casually decided that anybody under 25 in private rented housing should only receive enough Housing Benefit to pay for a room in a shared house.  This was later extended by the Tories to all those under 35 with completely predictable results.  An early evaluation of how landlords were likely to respond to the move discovered that many were introducing policies of not letting to anybody under 35 at all –  whether in work or not – due to fears they would be unable to meet the rent if they became unemployed or took a pay cut.  Despite this shocking report, the cut went ahead as planned and no further evaluations have been carried out.  Street homelessness has risen to record levels since the policy was introduced.

In a savage and strategic move, George Osborne is now extending the Shared Accommodation Rate to the social housing sector* and the results will be devastating for those under 35.  The Shared Accommodation Rate in Sunderland is just £45 a week.  That is the most that a single person under 35 and without children can claim in Housing Benefits in the region.  In Outer East London it is £73.62, whilst in Birmingham it is just £56.77.

The average ‘social rent’ for a one bedroomed council or housing association flat in England is £76 a week. These kind of rents are being phased out however and replaced by so-called affordable rents, which on average cost £117 a week – far above the amount soon to be available in Housing Benefits for younger claimants.  This means it will not just be the private rented sector that under 35s on a low income are excluded from, but social housing as well.

This drastic cut means that three scenarios are possible.  The first is that council and housing associations could cut rents for those under 35.  This is not likely to happen.  Social housing rents are largely controlled by legislation and the recent 1% cut will not come close to making up the shortfall.

Another option is that social housing providers will attempt to bring rents down by splitting up larger properties amongst several young people – or that they will turn to the private sector to provide shared accommodation for young people in housing need.  The problem with this is that many of those under 35 who are eligible for help with housing are care leavers, people with mental health conditions, or those who have been through the hostel or women’s refuge system.  Often, though not always, these are people who have had difficult lives.  Shared accommodation is unlikely to be suitable for a young victims of abuse leaving care, domestic violence survivors or former rough sleepers. And few private sector landlords will be happy renting to gangs of young marginalised people, some of whom may display what social workers like to call ‘challenging behaviour’.

The third option is that these groups will be placed in temporary or supported housing, forever.  Or at least until they are 35.  This will be hugely expensive, but Osborne might even have that covered.  According to the charity Homeless Link the shared accommodation rate will also apply to those in supported housing such as women’s refuge’s or hostels for the homeless.  Rents in these kinds of accommodation are eye-wateringly high to pay for support staff, with the cost of this currently met by Housing Benefit.  If this benefit is cut then anywhere providing supported or temporary housing for those under 35 will close.

Homeless Link report that the government claim they will avoid this by exempting supported housing from the cut using Discretionary Housing Payments.  This is the sticking-plaster money given to local authorities in an effort to alleviate the worst of the homelessness caused by government policies.  The key word is discretionary – local councils are under no obligation to spend a penny of this money. Without legislation to ensure these payments go towards supported housing then any Tory council that decides they want to close every homeless person’s hostel or women’s refuge in their region will be able to do so at the stroke of a pen.

Of course there is also a fourth option, which is that young people will simply be left to fend for themselves.  This will mean the most troubled and alienated young (and not so young) locked out of housing completely or forced to remain in an abusive family environment or relationship.  Or left to freeze on the streets.  Perhaps George Osborne thinks they might as well get used to it.  Because with social housing being made both unworkable and unaffordable then a lifetime of homelessness and desperate housing insecurity threatens the next generation like never before.

*The Shared Accommodation Rate will only apply to those under 35 without children who sign a tenancy after April 2016 and the cut will then not be implemented until April 2018.  It will not apply to existing tenants.

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What a fucking shambles, the rise and demise of Community Work Placements

Iain-Duncan-Smith-poutIn 2013 the government published an evaluation of the Community Action Programme.  This workfare pilot scheme involved sending long-term unemployed people to work without pay for six months for charities or so-called community organisations.  It was one of several workfare programmes introduced in a flurry of activity after the 2010 election as Labour’s forced work schemes were shut down at huge cost to be replaced by Tory forced work schemes.  As the evaluation later found, the Community Action Programme was a disaster.

Despite attending full time forced work for six months the programme had no impact on whether people were able to secure paid work.  Even unpaid workfare placements could not be found for half the participants, whilst there was some evidence of claimants transferring to sickness benefits as they were too unwell to carry out full time physical work.  So shit were the results from the evaluation that many assumed it would be abandoned, including apparently Iain Duncan Smith who was unusually quiet about the future of the scheme.

Then came the 2013 Tory Party conference.  Whilst Iain Duncan Smith was reduced to announcing a small scale pilot scheme in his speech, George Osborne stole the limelight by pledging a vast £300 million ‘Help To Work’ programme including forced community work for long term unemployed people, for six months, without pay.  And so the Community Action Programme was renamed Community Work Placements and set to be inflicted on all of those leaving the Work Programme.  As ever it would be overseen by private companies from the welfare-to-work sector.

It was clear that Community Work Placements would be shambles as soon as the tender documents were published.  An analysis of the proposed payment structure by Private Eye found that it could be more profitable for welfare to work companies to keep people on workfare rather than encouraging them to take up short periods of real work.  This of course didn’t bother the welfare-to-work sector, who were more concerned with the requirement that if they could not find somebody a placement then they would have to provide 30 hours of work related activity themselves.

Traditionally this has been achieved by herding people into a room containing a couple of out of date newspapers and a broken computer and ordering them to stay there for 30 hours a week.  Even this costs money though, at the very least someone has to be paid to sit in a back office all day playing Angry Birds whilst pretending to supervise the inmates.  And not only did the welfare-to-work companies have to provide this activity, but they wouldn’t be paid anything until they found someone a placement.  With the previously mentioned pilot showing that placements could only be found for half of participants then this was not the kind of DWP gravy train the workfare industry has come to expect.

Very few of the usual welfare-to-work sharks chose to bid for Community Work Placements, and those that did, such as Learn Direct, had little experience of running schemes of this scale.  But there was one firm who were very keen to get back in the Government’s good books.  There was just one problem.  At the time G4S were banned from carrying out government contracts due to being  investigated after the security tagging fiasco.

The companies set to run Community Work Placements were supposed to be announced at the beginning of March 2013.  This announcement never came.  It was not until mid-April that the DWP informed those who had bid for contracts whether they had been successful, and two weeks later before they bothered to tell the public.  The investigation into G4S was closed on the 9th April.  On the evening of the 28th April, the day Community Work Placements were due to begin, it was finally admitted that G4S would be running the placements in most areas of the UK.

This delay meant that the scheme was long behind schedule, but those opposed to it were very much on the ball.  First dozens, then hundreds of charities signed the Keep Volunteering Voluntary statement pledging not to take part in this or other workfare programmes. Demonstrations were called by Boycott Workfare and other groups, whilst even previously enthusiastic workfare advocates like the Salvation Army said they would not take part in a scheme lasting so long.  The problem of securing enough placements was getting worse.

Over the next year and a half thousands of people were sent to work, without pay, for six month stretches.  Yet there was no word from the DWP on whether any of these participants had gained real jobs as a result of the Help To Work programme.  There still isn’t.  It was not until last month that any performance figures for Community Work Placements were made available at all and these neglected to include job outcome rates.  What they did tell us is that less than half of all people referred to the scheme had actually started a placement.  Which was hardly surprising.

Last week George Osborne scrapped Community Work Placements in his Autumn Statement document rather than admit in his speech that his much fan-fared Help To Work initiative had been a flop.  The truth is that these placements didn’t help anybody except the charities and community organisations who benefited from up to 20 million hours of forced unpaid work.  There have been no statistics made available on how many people have had their benefits sanctioned for refusing to take part in this embarrassing and exploitative mess.  Bungled schemes like this carry real human consequences, consequences that can be tragic.

Referrals to Community Work Placements should end in March next year although it is likely to start being wound down now.  It is in no-one’s interests to keep this charade going, not even G4S who for once are probably not making any money, or at least not much.   Workfare, on this kind of scale, is expensive.  Far more expensive than just leaving people the fuck alone.  The DWP spends nearly twice as much on admin, Jobcentre salaries and payments to welfare to work companies then they do on actually paying people the pittance of Jobseeker’s Allowance.  But don’t expect them to have learnt their lesson.

A new Health and Work Programme is due to begin in 2017.  Once again this will be contracted out to private companies although there is some suggestion that local councils are also to be invited on board the workfare gravy train.  It is likely, although not certain, that this programme will make use of the ‘black box’ approach – meaning welfare-to-work companies having the power to mandate claimants to any activity they choose, including workfare.  Until then those on the current Work Programme can still face forced work under the same arrangements.  Plans have also been announced to compel all those under 21 to carry out unpaid work experience for private companies or be sent on community workfare.  Workfare isn’t going anywhere yet, although that should not stop us celebrating this important victory.

It is an open secret that Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne despise each other.  The lives and futures of benefit claimants now appear trapped between a clash of two egos.  Osborne thought he could do workfare better than Iain Duncan Smith and has been humiliated.  In revenge he seems to have turned off the vast sums of tax payer’s cash that were being used to pay for Iain Duncan Smith’s endless crazy schemes.  What this means for the future is anybody’s guess.  Millions of people are now at the mercy of two warring politicians.  Both believe in a nasty ideology that claims unemployment is caused by unemployed people – and increasingly that sickness and disability are caused by unemployment.  They just disagree on the best way to torment and punish claimants for their perceived sins.   The future is far from rosy for the poor, but in the chaos that is to come there will be more opportunities than ever for collective action to defeat and destroy this bullshit for good.

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Not All Terrorists Carry Guns, But The Deaths From Osborne’s Cuts Will Be Just As Real

osborne-littleIt is hard to conceive how a Chancellor can look at people surviving on just a few pounds a day and decide it is them who must have their incomes cut to pay for a financial crisis caused by the rich.  What kind of fucking human being would do that?

These are people who may be struggling with a serious health condition, newly unemployed steel workers, the precariously self-employed or those on the lowest pay. These are to be the likely victims of the latest round of economic terrorism that George Osborne is set to inflict in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.

Be in no doubt, this is terrorism.  Millions of people are now living in a state of stark and permanent panic as reckless Tory cuts strike randomly, demolishing lives, putting homes at risk, endangering health and tragically driving some to suicide. The callous assessments for disability benefits alone have led to 590 people taking their own lives researchers recently revealed in a report that should have brought this Government down.  Yet it was greeted with little more than a murmour.  The UK establishment, in all its guises, cares no more about the lives of the poor than the Isis death cultists cared about those they mercilessly gunned down in Paris last week.  A welfare state that destroys lives whilst masquerading as a safety net is the perfect weapon of class warfare.  The victims kill themselves, or disappear without trace under the burden of desperate poverty.

Such is the carefully constructed poverty trap that there is now almost no chance of escape.  There are just under 2 million people in the UK who are unemployed, and a further two million who don’t have a job and want one but do not meet the strict criteria of official unemployment.  Add to that a couple of million sick and disabled people or lone parents who are now being ordered to endlessly search for jobs. There are just 740,000 vacancies according to the Office for National Statistics.  If every one of those was filled tomorrow there would still be millions looking for work.

Not that finding a job will help the poorest as housing costs soar and in-work benefits are demolished.  Only if you can climb to the ranks of the so-called squeezed middle will you perhaps be able to grab some quality of existence, and even if you get there you’d better not get sick, become disabled or lose your job.  And you won’t ever get there.  Try walking into a Jobcentre and saying you’d like to re-train as a plumber or take an IT course that will actually get you a job rather than just teach you how to turn on a fucking computer.  When they’ve stopped laughing they will point you in the direction of a private training company, who want thousands of pounds, and for which there are no students loans available.  Even then, if you manage to raise the money, the Jobcentre may order you to leave to attend full time workfare instead.

Those who have had benefits sanctioned for missing a meeting, or failing to attend workfare, now survive on around £41 a week – and only then if they qualify for Hardship Payments. Those under 25 who are looking for work will fare little better with a weekly income barely over £50 whilst the older unemployed receive just £73.10.  Some of these claimants will be paying the Bedroom Tax, as well as Council Tax out of that sum.  Others will be frantically trying to make up rent payments to cover Housing Benefit shortfalls as private rents soar and benefits intended to pay them are capped and frozen.

Any further cuts to Housing Benefits will be devastating and could plunge some into a negative income as unavoidable costs like rent, water and Council Tax leave them with no money at all, just a steadily increasing debt.  This will include the working poor who have little more to live on than those on the dole, making a mockery of Iain Duncan Smith’s claims that his reforms are making work pay.  Whether Osborne cuts Tax Credits, Housing Benefits, or child benefits this week will make little difference to those affected.  Their lives are earmarked for economic destruction however the Chancellor chooses to cut.

In the face of such an onslaught we have no choice but to fight back.  There is no slack in the social security system left at all – in fact there never was any to begin with.  Street homelessnes is already at record levels and the full impact of the last round of cuts has not yet been truly felt.  Gideon Osborne is playing a dangerous game that could leave millions with nothing left to lose and no futures to plan for.  The rich may sleep comfortably in their mansions tonight.  But there will be consequences, there must be, because one death was too many and we cannot allow this to continue.

As ever Class War are taking te fight direct to the pampered elite calling for a picket of George Osborne’s family business to coincide with his speech on Wednesday.  Meet outside Osborne & Little, 204 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 from 12-2pm on Wednesday 25th November. Spread the word.

Apologies for the extended absence.  Back to normal now hopefully.

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How George Osborne’s Minimum Wage Rise Will Mean Brutal Benefit Cuts For The Self-Employed

gideon-osbornePlans to raise the minimum wage will mean a brutal benefit cut for the lowest earning self-employed workers due to complex changes to in-work benefits.

When Universal Credit is fully introduced (stop laughing) then anybody who is self-employed will be subject to the ‘Minimum Income Floor’.  What this means is that when calculating in-work benefits, such as Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, the DWP will assume a level of income regardless of how much the self-employed worker is actually earning.  For most people this means that the rate of benefits they receive will be based on them earning the equivalent of the minimum wage for 35 hours a week.  This will apply even if they earnt nothing at all that month, potentially plunging people hundreds of pounds into rent arrears just because they’ve had a bit of a slow period.

So, as George Osborne is well aware, any rise in the Minimum Wage will prove devastating for the self-employed if they are not able to constantly improve their earnings to keep up.  Instead of it being an employer’s duty to pay the Minimum Wage, for the self-employed at least, it will be the worker’s duty to earn it.  Failure to do so will mean an effective cut to vital housing benefits as well as the replacement for Tax Cedits.

For five years the Tories have been happily encouraging low paid, precarious self-employment, not least because it helps bring the unemployment figures down.  Companies running the Work Programme have been handed pay-outs worth thousands of pounds in some cases everytime they encourage someone on the dole to become self-employed.  And now, having used a bogus fall in unemployment to help them win an election, the Tory Party are setting out to destroy this socially engineered entrepreneurship.

The median self-employed income in 2012/13 was £207 a week.  When the Minimum Wage rises to £7.20 these people will be assumed to be earning £252 a week for benefit purposes, leaving a huge shortfall unless they can increase those earnings.  Every time the Minimum Wage goes up again, they will be forced to try and keep up or face being unable to pay their rent.  For most, going onto unemployment benefits will be preferable to this kind of imsecurity.

Only the Tory Party could have produced a draconian system that means a rise in the Minimum Wage will prove devastating for the lowest earning workers.  They may talk the language of aspiration, but what they do shows a very different intention.  Rules are planned which will force social housing tenants to pay eye-watering rents if their earning rise above a certain amount.  Further Benefit Caps are on the way to force the poor out of big cities where the best jobs are.  Huge student fees and the abolishing of the Educational Maintenance Allowance have devastated the opportunities of the poorest youth.  And now they are coming for the self-employed, who are struggling to stay afloat, let alone prosper in an ever-more insecure jobs market.

George Osborne wants to put the working class back in their place, just like his idol Margaret Thatcher.  Unless you come from the gilded elite then don’t think about ever owning a house, getting an education, or setting up a small business.  Don’t get on your bike and look for work alongside the newly graduated rich kids in cities like London or Edinburgh.  Stay in your box.  Don’t complain.  Doff your fucking cap.  Stay poor. That is the real goal of Tory Party policy.

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