David Cameron has been accused of trying to “bribe” pensioners while saddling younger people with government debt, after he promised to maintain state benefits for all old people.
Mr Cameron said his 2010 promise to preserve winter fuel allowances, free TV licences and bus passes regardless of pensioners’ income would last as long as he remains prime minister. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have promised to restrict the winter fuel payments for better off pensioners.
But critics accused the Conservatives of playing a cynical “generation game” to woo the “grey vote” because the over-65s are the most likely group to vote in May’s general election. Pensioners’ perks cost about £3bn a year and the Tories have pledged to find a further £12bn cuts in welfare if they remain in power.
Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute for Economic Affairs, said:
“Politicians must stop trying to woo elderly voters at the expense of other generations. The elderly cannot remain immune to public spending restraint and abolishing these benefits would help ease the burden on the working age population.”
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said:
“It’s hard to shake the suspicion that austerity stops at 65. The extraordinary debt that politicians have racked up will weigh very heavily on our children and grandchildren, and continuing these policies into the next parliament will only add to that potentially back-breaking burden. Politicians must stop attempting to bribe certain voters with special favours, show some backbone, and think about the long-term health of the nation’s finances by means-testing or abolishing these unaffordable benefits.”
Speaking in Hastings, Mr Cameron claimed that Labour’s plan to withdraw winter fuel payments from pensioners paying the 40p rate of tax would save only £75m a year. He said the Government’s decision to raise the age at which people qualify for the state pension would save more than half a trillion pounds.
The Prime Minister added:
“I don’t think we should break the system of having benefits for pensioners for such a small saving when you are giving up such an important principle and such a reassurance to people in our country.”
“Comfort, independence, companionship, health – these aren’t luxuries; they’re what people who have worked and saved all their lives deserve. The fact is, if something happens to you when you’re old, or to your income, you can’t as easily change your circumstances as younger people can.”
Source – The Independent, 24 Feb 2015
Reposted from Mirror on line
… and this is it isn’t it; the reality of tory cuts from social care putting further strain on the NHS which is already suffering from… yes you’ve guessed it, tory cuts.
Anyway the tories don’t care about that because most of them are millionaires so they can pay for private health care in their dotage and you can all go and play on the motorway as far as they are concerned.
A home-care worker today reveals she quit her job because she was only allowed to spend 15 MINUTES a time with frail pensioners.
Whistleblower Gillian Demet says she was left with no choice but to resign from Sevacare who provide more than 4,000 care workers nationwide.
Miss Demet, 62, said the cruel rule was putting patients’ lives at risk. “Where is the love, compassion and care that…
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This articlewas written by Patrick Butler, social policy editor, for The Guardian on Thursday 18th December 2014
Poverty charities and councils have warned that the government’s refusal to guarantee funding for local welfare schemes will force low income families in crisis to turn to food banks and loan sharks.
The government announced in January that it would no longer provide £180m central funding for local welfare assistance schemes operated by English local authorities after April 2015, triggering a cross-party revolt by Conservative MPs and council leaders, Labour councils and charities.
It is believed that the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, attempted to secure £70m for local welfare to announce in Thursday’s local government finance settlement, but was blocked by the chancellor, George Osborne.
The local government minister Kris Hopkins told the Commons on Thursday that there would be no additional funding for local welfare, although he encouraged councils to make further formal representations, raising faint hopes that the government may revisit the decision in February.
Local welfare provision offers emergency help for a range of vulnerable people who fall into unexpected crisis, including women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pregnant mothers, care leavers, pensioners and people suffering from chronic physical and mental health problems.
Some in Whitehall are understood to be concerned that cutting local welfare will provide additional fuel to critics who argue the government does not care about poverty. A cross-party report on food banks this month urged the government to protect local welfare assistance, saying food bank referrals would increase if it was not reinstated.
Hopkins said that although there would be no new funds for local welfare, ministers would outline a notional figure of £130m in the overall grant allocations to councils – a cut of £50m – although this would not be ring-fenced, meaning councils can spend it on other services.
Cllr Andy Hull, Labour-run Islington council’s executive member for finance, called the decision not to provide local welfare funding “an early Christmas present from the government for loan sharks and payday lenders.”
He added: “This safety net supports families to stay together, helps people sustain their tenancies and keeps kids out of care. It is a lifeline, not a luxury. Now, thanks to the government, it lies in shreds.”
The Local Government Association said almost three-quarters of local authorities will abandon or scale back local welfare schemes unless they receive government funding. Two county councils, Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire, have already closed their schemes.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:
“In the long-run tax payers will foot a higher bill if low-income families can’t stop a one-off, unforeseen expense from becoming a full-blown crisis – and the human cost will be high. For mothers leaving violent partners or youngsters moving on from homelessness or care, the schemes can make the difference between managing or not.”
Helen Middleton of the Furniture Reuse Network, whose member charities work closely with councils on helping low-income families, said the decision showed the government had “no real understanding of the levels of poverty in this country”.
Homelessness charity Centrepoint said young homeless people used local welfare schemes as a vital safety net:
“It’s completely unacceptable that young people who have fought to turn their lives around after facing homelessness are once again left to sleep on floors for lack of something as basic as a bed.
“Ministers must look carefully at responses from councils to this announcement and consider whether their proposal really reflects the level of poverty in many of our communities.”
Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said:
“The government’s decision to reduce annual funding from £172m to £130m will make it harder for councils to support vulnerable families facing a crisis. The requirement that town halls fund their schemes from within existing budgets may create a postcode lottery for many families in poverty.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 18 Dec 2014
Bowls players fear long-established North-East clubs could be forced to close under council funding cutbacks.
Durham County Council has written to club bosses saying it is unable to sustain its current financial support for the 30 public facilities across the county – and asking local enthusiasts to take over running their own facilities “as an alternative to closure”.
But club bosses say the £5,000 they say they have been offered as a one-off payment to cover start-up costs such as buying machinery is nowhere near enough and their ageing members are unable to do the manual work needed to maintain their greens and pavilions.
Bowls is vital to keeping pensioners active and socially engaged, they argue, with the 30 clubs having hundreds of elderly members between them.
One club leader, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s terrible. We pay our rates and some of that goes to leisure.
“To ask someone in their 70s to cut greens two or three times a week, the health and safety would never have it.
“Everybody’s upset and thinking their club could fold. For the smaller clubs, there’s no way they’re going to stay open.”
The cash-strapped council is facing Government funding cuts of more than £200m and Simon Henig, its Labour leader, has repeatedly said every service must be reviewed.
The council manages around half of the bowls facilities across the county and, since the letter went out, two summits have already been held to discuss their future.
Consultation will continue until September, although clubs considering taking over running their facilities have been asked to express an interest by today (Monday, June 30).
The council hopes to reach “in principle” decisions by the end of August and have new arrangements in place by next spring.
Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director for neighbourhood services, said consultation was ongoing and no decisions had yet been made.
The authority would provide business advice and planning, Mr Collins added, and consider making start-up grants.
“Early feedback has been encouraging with many clubs receptive to the proposals as they have an understanding of the difficult financial decisions the council is having to make and also have a desire to see the clubs continue to operate.
“The solutions may include local partners or clubs working together,” he said.
Previously, the council has handed over the running of leisure centres, community centres and a golf club to volunteers.
Source – Durham Times, 30 June 2014
The number of in-work Housing Benefit claimants now stands at over 1.049 million, the highest figure on record. In May 2010, when this Government weren’t elected, the number claiming this benefit was just over 650,000.
Housing Benefit is probably the best indicator of how many people in the UK are poor. Available to those in or out of work, as well as pensioners, the only criteria are being a tenant on a low income and having low, or no, assets or savings. Even those with jobs on Housing Benefit will have a disposable income little higher than someone on out of work benefits, as the benefit is reduced as earnings rise*. All of the Housing Benefit bill goes to landlords, and the…
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Self-employment accounts for 44 per cent of the net rise in employment since mid- 2010, with pensioners, part-time workers and ‘odd-jobbers’ the fastest growing groups of Britain’s new self-employed workforce, the TUC says today, ahead of the latest employment figures published later this week.
The TUC analysis shows that despite self-employment being a relatively small part of the UK jobs market – just one in seven workers are self-employed – it has accounted for 44 per cent of all employment growth since the last election.
Workers aged 50 plus account for half the increase in self-employment, with self-employed workers aged 65 and over the fastest growing group in the labour market (increasing by 29 per cent since the end of 2010).
Over 40 per cent of all the self-employed jobs created since mid-2010 are also part-time. The TUC is concerned that many people are only taking this kind of work because they are unable to find good quality employee jobs which provide the stable employment they really want.
The TUC’s analysis also shows that the number of people starting their own businesses has fallen in recent years, in spite of rising self-employment. The biggest growth areas of self-employment since mid-2010 have been people working for themselves (up 232,000), freelancing (up 69,000) or sub-contracting (up 67,000).
The number of self-employed people who either run a business, or are a partner or sole director in one (positions usually associated with entrepreneurship) has actually fallen by 52,000. These figures show that rising self-employment is part of a wider shift towards insecure employment, rather than as a result of a growing number of people starting up new companies as ministers like to claim, says the TUC.
Self-employment has been going up steadily since early 2008, even when unemployment was rising sharply, and has increased even more in recent years.
The TUC is concerned that the growth of self-employment is at the expense of more secure employee jobs. Many newly self-employed workers do the same work as employees but with less job security, poorer working conditions and often less take-home pay, says the TUC.
Other forms of self-employment – for example selling goods online or registering as self-employed to do the occasional ‘oddjob’ – tend not to pay enough to make a decent living, says the TUC. Recent figures from Citizens Advice suggested that self-employed workers are as likely to have debt problems as unemployed people.
Self-employed workers also have no right to paid sick, holiday, maternity or paternity leave, redundancy pay or protection against unfair dismissal – a particular problem for self-employed workers who are sub-contracted to another employer.
The government is also planning to exempt most self-employed workers from vital health and safety protections in the Deregulation Bill currently making its way through way through Parliament.
Self-employed workers are often poorly paid, says the TUC. Recent Resolution Foundation research found that earnings from self-employment fell by a fifth between 2006 and 2010, while official figures published by Parliament found that the average annual income from self-employment is less than £10,000 for women.
The TUC is concerned that insecure work including self-employment, agency work and zero-hours contracts are becoming a permanent feature of the labour market, even as the economy recovers. The growth of casualised work is likely to continue to hold back wages, and prevent people from having the kind of secure employment they need to pay their bills, save money and plan for the future, warns the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Self-employment accounts for almost half of all the new jobs created under this government.
“But these newly self-employed workers are not the budding entrepreneurs ministers like to talk about. Only a tiny fraction run their own businesses, while the vast majority work for themselves or another employer – often with fewer rights, less pay and no job security.
“While some choose to be self-employed, many people are forced into it because there is no alternative work. The lack of a stable income and poor job security often associated with self-employment makes it hard for people to pay their bills, arrange childcare, plan holidays or even buy or rent a home.
“The economy is finally back in recovery yet people’s wages are still shrinking and many are unable to find stable employment. Until we see decent pay rises and better job security, working people will continue to feel that the recovery is passing them by.”
Source – TUC, 14 April 2014
Welfare cheats will face higher fines for duping the system and could even be forced to sell their homes to reimburse the taxpayer, under new attempts to tackle benefit fraud.
Ministers are set to announce a package of plans this week which will highlight a crackdown on fraudulent claims and outline action to be taken against benefit cheats.
It will also be announced that pensioners who fail to declare their full earnings from private pension schemes will be targeted as fraud investigators cross-check HM Revenue & Customs records.
Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said the reforms will potentially save taxpayers £50billion over the course of the Coalition’s five years in power.
> Hang on – the amount of benefit fraud is said to be a whopping 0.8 % – how much are these less than 1% alledgedly fraudulent claims worth each ?!
Or is IDS playing fast & loose with the figures. Again.
Meanwhile tax avoidance and evasion is estimated at anywhere from £30bn to £120bn.
He said the reforms ‘strike a fair deal between claimants and the taxpayer, help more people into work and help us build a strong society’.
> Claimants are taxpayers, taxpayers are claimants – I do wish he’d stop these crude divide & rule tactics.
Writing in The Telegraph, he said: ‘If you’d listened to the scaremongers, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were ripping up the welfare state and telling people to fend for themselves.
‘In fact what we are doing is returning the welfare state to what it was meant to be – a safety net, not a way of life.’
He said the number of people claiming the main out-of-work benefits was already down by more than 630,000.
It is understood ministers will now set about recovering debts owed by benefits cheats and will work with private debt collection firms in an attempt to recover around £414million of the money owed.
> …will work with private debt collection firms – ah, I think we can see where this is going…
> a new benefit fraud division set up in the Department for Work and Pensions to pursue those who make false claims – presumably they will work closely with the private debt collection firms, and on the general premise that anyone claiming benefits is probably out to defraud.
In addition, a publicity campaign will be launched to try and urge claimants to ensure their details are correct and they are not accidentally receiving too much money.
> How about if mistakes are made by the DWP ? Will the house of the person who made the mistake be at risk ?
Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘The incontrovertible truth is that we are building a system that makes work pay, is fairer to taxpayers and claimants, and sets the strong path for a better future for Britain.’
> Eh ? and sets the strong path for a better future for Britain. What is that supposed to mean ?
He also said the ‘revolutionary’ reforms which are ‘work-focused, responsive and economically literate‘ bring the welfare state into the 21st century.
The Telegraph reported how the Government spent £166billion on benefits and state pensions to more than 20 million people last year but ‘lost’ £3.5billion to fraud and payments made in error.
> Hang on – earlier we were told Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said the reforms will potentially save taxpayers £50billion over the course of the Coalition’s five years in power.
Well, for a start, they’re most of the way through those five years… is he going to instigate retrospective seizing of property or something ?
Even if it was for 5 years, £3.5 billion x 5 = £17.5 billion. Where does IDS get £50 billion from ? Surely he’s not anticipating making a big profit on seized goods and houses ?
Also, £3.5billion to fraud and payments made in error – payments made in error are not fraud, so the actual amount of fraud is smaller – probably much nearer the 0.8% normally quoted.
It seems that once again IDS is out with his sledgehammer to crack a nut, but probably the real intention is to spread his vile lies and bolster his reputation (what’s left of it) as a champion of the striving taxpayer against the skiving benefit fraudsters.
Mind you, while we’re on the subject…
Source – Daily Mail, 06 April 2014
It’s part of their culture…back in the 1980s I knew someone who worked for the DHSS (as it then was) but left precisely because she was always being told NOT to help people claim their full entitlements, only the barest minimum she could get away with. Things haven’t changed at all, except to get nastier.
Reposted from the Guardian Society
Millions of benefit claimants – who as a group fail to receive £5bn a year that they are due from the state – are being shortchanged by the welfare system rather than overindulged, a thinktank says on Sunday.
Rather than cutting benefits, ministers should seek to ensure that those on welfare receive their full entitlement, Demos says. Official figures show that one million people a year do not receive their full entitlement of housing benefit, equating to a failure by the state to pay out up to £3.1bn.
More than two million people a year do not apply for relief from paying their council tax bill, equivalent to more than £1.7bn in savings to the state. Meanwhile, the number of pensioners that were estimated to be entitled but not claiming…
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