The Comprehensive Spending Review has now been published, and, as we feared, the poor are going to suffer most. The people who have most need of support are having the rug pulled from under their feet. Even the Institute for Fiscal Studies says the cuts are unfair!!! Although Clegg, predictably, says this is 'complete nonsense'. Of course, the rich and the bankers are going to be as protected as ever.
Which is worse - the cuts to benefits for the sick and disabled, or the cuts to Housing Benefit?
This is the position about Disability Benefits - what was previously Incapacity Benefit, and is now known as Employment Support Allowance, WILL BE STOPPED AFTER A YEAR.
ESA was brought in to replace incapacity benefit and supports people who are unable to work because of ill health or disability. These cuts mean that people who moved on to ESA and who previously worked will only be able to claim it for one year. At the moment, there is no time limit and people can claim ESA until they find another job.
After one year, people with assets, savings or partners who work will no longer receive benefits. Single people with no assets may be able to qualify for a means-tested safety net, but everyone else will have to manage on their husband or wife's salary – no matter how low it may be – or dip into any private savings they may have.
The change will affect hundreds of thousands of people, as 1.7 million Britons have moved from incapacity benefit to ESA. Many of them are likely to have been put on the contributory version of the benefit.
Critics said the announcement penalised people who had paid national insurance contributions for years precisely to cover them in the eventuality that they are unable to work through sickness or incapacity. They also said that the decision would make it much harder for disabled people to find jobs.
(Anna Bawden, Guardian, 21 Oct 2010)
Do they think anyone who is too ill to work is going to make a miraculous recovery after a year? Or, more likely, the Old Etonians hope they will die off, so as not to have to feed these useless mouths.
The cap on Housing Benefit is another attack on the poor - again, those in most need are the hardest hit. There should instead be a limit on THE AMOUNT OF RENT THAT PRIVATE LANDLORDS ARE ALLOWED TO CHARGE.
On top of the widely-publicised cap on housing benefit to the equivalent of a four-bedroom property, an overall limit on benefit receipt and the limiting of Employment and Support Allowance, Chancellor George Osborne has announced that local housing allowances will be calculated by taking an average of the lowest 30% of rental values in the locality, rather than an overall average. He also raised the threshold whereby a single person with no dependants would only be entitled to the equivalent in housing benefit on a single room in a shared property from 25 to 35.
(Information from BBC Wales, 22 Oct)
There used to be a Rent Tribunal, which was able to control rents - this seems to have been phased out years ago, leaving people at the mercy of the market. The intention seems to be to drive poorer people out of London, as it is already almost impossible to find affordable accommodation, and the new measures will make it worse. (Although presumably some of us will have to stay there to work for the rich, so that we can clean their toilets, scrub their floors and look after their kids....although I suppose we can come in from our ghettoes on the night bus).
These are two of the concerns I wanted to discuss - I haven't even STARTED on the threats the education and the arts!! But just briefly - the Arts Council of England has suffered a 30% cut,
and national museums a 15% cut.
We have to start the protest and fight back now!!
We can start by going on the protest marches on 23 Oct.
Coaltion of Resistance about the Protest March.
Assemble: 11am, RMT HQ, Unity House, Chalton Street, Euston, for a march to the anti-cuts rally at Congress House
RMT London Transport Region are organising a march to the TUC to support the TUC’s anti-cuts meeting. We are organising together with NUT, FBU, NSSN and CWU members and others. We are seeking support from all other unions, community organisations and individuals. Please come along and oppose the ConDem cuts.
Assemble at RMT HQ, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD at 11.00am.
Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=148201075219859
March to TUC, Great Russell street, London WC1B 3LS where rally will be held from 12 noon.
Invited speakers include:
•Christine Blower (NUT)
•Billy Hayes (CWU)
•Bob Crow (RMT)
•Matt Wrack (FBU)
•Linda Perks (UNISON)