Dave’s moral crusade to cut welfare

Dave the CrusaderCan’t find employment and dread the fortnightly grilling down the job centre? Can’t afford the bedroom tax so have to rely on food banks to get you and yours through the week? At the end of your tether because you’re waiting an age for the appeal against your Work Capability Assessment decision, which found you fit for work when your doctor and consultant both have prescribed nothing but rest? Well, chin up. These humiliations all come from a compassionate place. You see, Dave’s on a mission. A moral mission. Continue reading

Judges overturn ATOS work capability assessment

Three cheers for the courts and mental health activists, none for the politicians and the Department of Work & Pensions. This week three judges ruled – as we all knew, but it required the courts to make it the law of the land – that the Government’s prescriptors, regulations and guidelines used to assess whether disabled people were eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) disadvantage people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism.

What prompted this to happen? Not a change of heart by Atos Healthcare – heaven forbid – but a judicial review brought by two anonymous claimants with mental ill-health problems. Continue reading

Welfare reform: give the public the facts, not go along with Tory lies

Labour’s recent slippage in the polls is partly because of the excessive timidity in declaring what the party really stands for, but also because of the way that Labour has been worsted over welfare reform. This reflects the Blairite Tendency’s efforts to out-right the Tories in playing to public prejudices over benefits – a contest it can never win without turning Labour into a Tory party mark II – as well as a deep unwillingness to stand up and fight for the facts if it might risk unpopularity.

So far from courting popular favour by this tactic – the focus group approach – it actually alienates public opinion because of the perceived dishonesty. Yet the Tory position on welfare is so riddled with misrepresentation and lies that it ought to present Labour with an open goal. Continue reading

A brief history of Victorian welfare reform

Back in the 1830s, the Tories and the forerunners of the Liberal Democrats were of one mind concerning the need for sweeping reform of Britain’s horrendously expensive welfare provision.

Not only did the Speenhamland System constitute a direct incentive to indolence, but with the public finances in disarray after a series of ruinous military episodes in other countries, such generosity was patently unsustainable in the long run. Continue reading

Welfare reform: now Ed’s on side, keep the pressure on

In October 2013 the biggest change to the benefits system since 1945 will begin. The changes are profound. Over 1 million people will be affected in the first 6 months alone and by the time the new system is fully in place, in 2017, it will be relied on by as many as 6 million households – 19 million people.

The Government has announced that in order to promote fairness between those in work and those receiving benefits, from April 2013, benefit payments for individual households will be capped at around the average earned income after tax and National Insurance for working households.

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