Tag: benefit cuts

The Rich Get The Carrot And The Poor Get The Stick

The juxtaposition and double standards in our society between those at the top and those at the bottom is stark. The gap between the rich and poor continues to increase to the extent that the top earners in the footsie 100 companies’ earn a massive 183 times more than the average earner [1].

The argument of some of those who attempt to justify this massive discrepancy is that the top of society have to be incentivized in order to increase their performance. That’ll be news to the bosses of the publicly subsidized privatized railways and loss making banks whose performances in many instances are found wanting.

Nevertheless, those at the top are invariably given inducements to work better. But that rule of thumb never seems to apply to those at the bottom. Why don’t we try, as Jeremy Corbyn has proposed, “a bit of quantitative easing” for the poorest instead of the richest [2] so that the former will be incentivized to kick start the economy?

But to do so would be an admission of defeat and would therefore undermine the ideological consensus that exists between the New Labour hierarchy and the Tory establishment. If there are good and well paid jobs for people to go into, it would mean that the Tories proposed introduction of their inappropriately named “boot camps”, would not be necessary.

Chris Grayling, the Tory welfare spokesman, has stated that these “boot camps” are in reality compulsory community service programmes for young welfare claimants aged between 18 and 21 aimed at improving work discipline and giving them basic skills to get a job [3].

The term “boot camp” is intended as a soundbite whose aim is to give reassurance to the Tories’ natural constituency of middle England Daily Mail reading voters that they intend to come down hard on “benefit scroungers”.

Why does the establishment always appear to give the impression of using the “stick” approach when it comes to inducing a prescribed behaviour among the poorest in society, whilst the rich are incentivized with the carrot?

If you were to look beyond the headline, the boot camp proposals are, to a limited extent, likely to be beneficial to young people who have difficulty with numeracy, literacy and basic communication skills. But that’s as far it goes. The boot camp idea, in other words, is necessary but not sufficient.

What the concept does not address is the fundamental issue relating to the lack of government investment in proper training and apprenticeship programmes that lead to the opportunity for stable, skilled and well paid jobs, thus giving hope to our young people instead of alienating them.

The Tory language is invariably about “toughness” and “coming down hard” on young people as opposed to the language and policies of hope. Not so for the richest in society who are always offered the “carrot”..

Death By Too Many Cuts

News that the Conservative government in Britain have delayed the publication of deaths caused by their cuts to welfare appear to be a slap in the face to the 220,000 people who signed a petition insisting that the Department For Work and Pensions (DWP) release the numbers in full under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOI) initiated by campaigner Mike Sivier through his blog.

The delays are opening the government up to the claim made by their critics that the numbers will be fudged. Although actual death figures were published in 2012, the DWP, in a ten page letter, have appealed against the release this time round, insisting that the new ‘standardised’ methodology represents a more accurate picture.

The fact that the Information Commissioner watchdog ruled the actual numbers figure should be made public, would suggest that DWP want to hide behind the standardised version. It’s the former not the latter figure that is pertinent to Mr Sivier’s FOI request:

[The standardised version] is not what I requested. It is not what anybody wants. In this context, is it any wonder that so many people are signing the petition?. This claim about ‘high standards’ is motivated by another claim, that the actual number of deaths could be ‘misinterpreted’ if it comes into the public domain. But the Freedom of Information Act is motive-blind. Without being able to hide behind any specific exemption, such as the plan to publish the number of deaths later (allowed by section 22 of the Act), the law says only two requirements must be satisfied: Does the DWP have the information? Yes it does. And can the DWP publish it within the legal expenditure limits? Yes it can”.

By shifting the focus away from the actual figures (the basis of Mr Sivier’s FOI request), the DWP is seeking to avoid scrutiny and the government are clearly trying to hide the devastating impacts of their benefit regime.

The last figures that were released by the DWP in 2012, showed that 1,300 ESA claimants died within six weeks of being placed in a ‘work-related activity’ group between January and November 2011.

A string of families have come forward to say their relatives died after being found fit for work.

Mark Wood starved to death in David Cameron’s constituency four months after his benefits were cut – weighing just 5st 8lbs when he was found.:

Ex-nurse Jacqueline Harris, 53, took her own life after she was ruled fit for work despite having slipped disks in her back and severe pain.

And mum-of-three Elenore Tatton, 39, died of a long-standing brain tumour just weeks after she too was ruled fit for work.