Tagged: welfare state

Attlee, labour colonies and the welfare state

thelearningprofessor

Clement Attlee Clement Attlee

In 1920, a thirty-seven year old university lecturer published a book on social work. Clement Attlee, later to become famous as Prime Minister of the 1945 Labour Government, had spent several years after graduating at Oxford serving charities in London’s East End, most notably as secretary of Toynbee Hall. Like most men of his background and generation, he was commissioned in the Great War, and was one of the last to be evacuated from Gallipoli.

I was reminded of Attlee’s book when reading Georgina Brewis’ terrific study of student volunteering in Britain. Brewis shows that the university settlement movement of the late nineteenth century was part of an emerging student associational culture in which voluntary social service started to develop some of the forms of professional social work. She also, incidentally, demonstrates the disproportionate significance of women in the movement.social worker

Attlee’s book can be understood as part of the transition from…

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Is this How Jobcentres Operate? Beyond Belief Barely Covers it…..

 

> From experience, I’d say its EXACTLY how Jobcentres operate…

Ipswich Unemployed Action.

From written Parliamentary Evidence just out (Hat tip  NB).

John Longden –Personal Adviser

A Statement on events witnessed by me at Salford Jobcentre Plus and Rochdale Jobcentre Plus between 2011 and 2013

Summary

1.0              Managers at both district level and in the local office created a culture which encouraged staff to view the customer (benefit claimant) as an obstacle to performance. The Jobcentre operations became wholly performance led. Sanctions of customers were encouraged by managers daily, with staff being told to look at every engagement with the customer as an opportunity to take sanction action. I was personally told by a manager to “agitate” and “Inconvenience” customers in order to get them to leave the register. The staff performance management system was used inappropriately in order to increase submissions to the Decision Maker and therefore to increase sanctions on customers. Senior HR managers condoned this behaviour by refusing to issue…

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Hunger and food poverty are sweeping the North East, inquiry told

Hunger is sweeping the region and the austerity-driven Government is relying too heavily on volunteers to help – that was the message food poverty investigators heard yesterday.

Members of the all-party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty were at the centre of a packed room at South Shields’ St Jude’s Parish Hall to find out why there is a rising tide of foodbank use here.

The touring inquiry, which meets with policy-makers in London next, heard how foodbank use has tripled since 2008 in some areas. Calls are now ringing out for the Coalition to act.

> They have acted.  The state we’re in now is exactly what they wanted. It must be – they surely couldn’t be so stupid as to think that austerity and cuts would result in anything else.

Could they ?  I don’t know which I’d find worse – malevolent intent or incredible ignorance on that scale.

Bishop Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, has been campaigning on the issue. When asked if the church is being asked to step in where the welfare state previously had, he said: “That is undoubtedly true.

Even with the welfare state it is good that, as a society, we do things that enable us to care for each other, but it is certainly true that the church and other men and women of goodwill are picking up things that we never thought would be necessary two or three years ago.”

The Reverend Roy Merrin, of Grange Road Baptist Church in Jarrow, said: “Politicians themselves need to recognise their responsibility and not look to the voluntary sector for sticking plasters for what are structural problems in our society.”

Peter MacLellan, director of the Trussell Trust’s County Durham Foodbank, said: “I think it is a scandal. I’m encouraged by people’s generosity but of course we should not have to do this.

“I think there will always be a need for foodbanks but the scale we have them on at the moment is nonsense.”

Jean Burnside, chief officer for South Tyneside Churches’ Key Project, said it gave out 26 food parcels in 2008, but last year was called on for 339 and so far this year had given out 222 packs.

There has been a massive increase,” she said. “There is a variety of reasons for that, including the Bedroom Tax, benefit sanctions and high unemployment.

“I want these politicians to know what it is like here in the North East.

“The Government needs to know that the system isn’t working. There have been so many cuts and the people at the Department for Work and Pensions can’t provide advice for us so what chance do our clients have? Something needs to change.”

Veteran Merseyside MP Frank Field is leading on the inquiry and will now hold a series of meetings in London on food poverty across the UK now.

He said he had been shocked by the scale of the problem in the North East, also describing it as a “scandal”.

The economy needs to be run differently and we need more jobs at the bottom and the people to do them,” he said.

“We are hearing about low wages, benefit delays and benefit sanctions and some people not getting their benefits at all.

“People don’t want this to be a long-term solution, they say they don’t want foodbanks to exist.”

> Frank Field – why do I not trust the bugger ?  A member of the advisory board of the free-market think tank Reform, and of the generally conservative but also pro-freedom of speech magazine Standpoint.

In May 2008, he said that Margaret Thatcheris certainly a hero” and that “I still see Mrs T from time to time – I always call her ‘Mrs T‘, when I talk to her.

Although there have been attempts to get him to defect to the Conservatives, they have been without success (possibly he thinks Labour is moving to the right anyway, so why bother).

In 2008, Frank Field was named as the 100th most-influential right-winger in the United Kingdom by the Telegraph.

Field supports the return of national service to tackle growing unemployment and instil “a sense of order and patriotism” in Britain’s young men and women.

Field is a practising Anglican, a former chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, and a member of the Church of England General Synod.

Field believes in reducing the time-limit with which women can have an abortion,and in stripping abortion providers such as Marie Stopes of their counselling role and handing it to organisations not linked to abortion clinics. 

Oh yeah – I remember now why I don’t trust the bugger.

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  04 July 2014

PCS – Campaigning against attacks on welfare ?

Attempts by the government to make the poorest and most vulnerable pay for a crisis not of their making were condemned at PCS DWP group conference.

The group’s first motion this morning (19 May), proposed by Mandy Priest of DWP Dorset branch and seconded by Glasgow benefit centre branch, opposed the “implementation of a system based on punishment”.

> The “implementation” ? Bit late opposing the implemention – its been with us for several years !  As PCS’ DWP members must be aware.

The motion also said the “widest possible campaign across the trade union movement” was needed to defeat the government’s attacks on benefit claimants.

> The government’s attacks, certainly. But it’s DWP staff who implement them.

Gerry McMahon from Glasgow benefit centre branch said: “The welfare state has been under attack in Britain for many years. Huge cuts have been made that make life on benefits much harder.”

Gerry highlighted the fact that a group of religious leaders have said that hunger is now a national crisis and said our union needs to take up its welfare campaign “like never before“.

Nick Parker, from our Lincolnshire and Rutland branch, called for a united campaign involving “as many people as possible to defeat attacks on welfare”.

Tony Church, speaking on behalf of the group executive, said: “In the 90s John Major, the Tory prime minister, said we were living in a classless society. It was a lie then it’s a lie now. The current coalition goverment is probably the most  divided ever.”

He said that welfare reform was just another name for screw the poor.

 

The motion instructed conference to campaign for:

  • Fair, decent levels of benefit
  • The repeal of the Bedroom Tax and benefit cap
  • A mass council house building scheme
  • The abolition of the work capability assessment
  • The abolition of workfare and removal of the sanctions regime
  • A publicly-run, fair and decent social security system as part of a welfare state based on people’s needs.

The motion was passed unanimously.

> Fine words. But will PCS DWP members refuse to sanction people ? Not send people to workfare ?  They could make a start, right now. They probably wont, though.

Source – PCS Union website,  19 May 2014

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/pcs_comment/index.cfm/campaigning-against-attacks-on-welfare

PCS Union and ‘Help To Work’ changes

> You might find these extracts from the PCS union website of interest regarding the latest ‘Help To Work‘ nonsense….

This circular provides an update on the new increased conditionality regime from the end of April, and advice for PCS branches.

The Government is introducing increased conditionality measures from 28 April 2014 for JSA and lone parent claimants, and for or UC claimants from summer 2014. Although some measures will be phased in up to December 2014.

> “some measures will be phased in up to December 2014” – at the very least, I should think. I suppose this refers to the fact that the scheme is launched before they’ve actually got anyone on board to run it.

Advisers have now been re-branded as “Work Coaches” and Job search review/Assistant Advisers are now to be called “Assistant Work Coaches”.

> If in doubt, give everyone pointless new titles – it may give the impression that you are doing something. Work coaches – I ask you ! I really hope the ex-advisers are cringing at the prospect.

PCS has concerns that the department does not have adequate resources in place to cope with the new levels of work. The new measures appear to be aimed at ‘frustrating’ claimants off benefit, something the DWP was recently criticised for in the recent select committee report into the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare state.

> ‘frustrating’ claimants off benefit’ – well yes, we’ve already figured that out. The trouble is, there’s no use PCS  moaning when so many of their  members seem quite happy – even enthusiastic – about enforcing these tactics. Now they’re really going to find out what ‘work‘ is all about.

SR13 Conditionality

This covers five elements of Day One Conditionality, Weekly Work Search Reviews, Quarterly Work Search Interviews, English Language Requirements and Increasing Lone Parent Conditionality.

An additional 12 minutes has been assigned to the initial new claims interview to complete the day one conditionality and English language requirements.

Day One Conditionality

Claimants using JSA Online will receive a message outlining Day One Conditionality Claimants will be required to demonstrate “positive job-seeking behaviours” from day one of their claim to benefit.

Day One Conditionality introduces an expectation for the claimant to create a Profile and Public CV in Universal Jobmatch; or create a CV and email account that can be used for employment purposes, if the claimant is not yet able to create a profile and Public CV within Universal Jobmatch.

These requirements and can be mandated by issuing a Jobseeker’s Direction, Conditionality is subject to a phased introduction between 28 April 2014 and 31 October 2014.

Increasing Lone Parent Conditionality (ILPC)

From April 2014 changes will apply to lone parents who are entitled to Income Support (IS); or claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)

Currently lone parents who are entitled to IS must attend regular Work-focused Interviews (WFIs) once their youngest child reaches the age of one. From April 2014 the frequency and duration of WFIs for this group of claimants will be determined by Advisers.

Work Related Activity (WRA) is also being introduced for ESA (WRAG) and IS lone parents with a youngest child aged 3 and over. From 28 April 2014 an easement in regulations has been introduced to prevent more than one sanction being applied in any two week period

Weekly Work Search Reviews

Weekly Work Search Reviews are subject to a phased introduction between 28 April 2014 and 31 October 2014. This applies to 50% of the live load, excluding Work Programme participants and claimants receiving support from the Help to Work Package. Claimants should be selected at Work Coach discretion. Claimants may be moved on and off Weekly Work Search Review. The 50% ratio is reviewed and monitored across each District.

English Language Requirements

A screening aide will be available to assist Work Coaches in identifying claimants whose English language speaking and listening skills are below E2. Once identified, the Work Coach will mandate the claimant to a provider assessment, using the Skills Conditionality referral process.

If any Day One Conditionality activity is appropriate to the claimant but their English Language is a barrier to them completing it, the English Language barrier would need to be addressed first. The DWP recognise that individual claimants will learn at different speeds, often with varying starting levels of spoken English. The average length of time they take to complete English Language Training is expected to vary between 7 and 20 weeks.

Quarterly Work Search Interviews

Twenty minute Quarterly Work Search Interview are being introduced to review the claimant’s jobsearch activities in the previous quarter, including updating the Claimant Commitment and widening jobsearch activities.

> Widening jobsearch activities ? Dont like the sound of that much…probably means having to apply for even more jobs you know you wont get in order to hit increased targets.

Help to Work (HtW)

Equal numbers of claimants are expected to be assigned to each of the three Help to Work Package measures:

> The word ‘assigned’ appears to suggest that we wont have any say in what we get stuck with. No doubt our Work Coach will have targets for each option and you’ll just get stuck with whatever they’re not meeting their targets on.

Mandatory Intervention Regime

This is the current support for claimants who have completed the Work Programme. The first 8 weeks of the Mandatory Intervention Regime (MIR) is known as the Assessment Phase. During this 8 week phase Work Coaches can decide to place the claimants in Daily Work Search Reviews or Community Work Placements. Claimants can only be allocated to Community Work Placements or Daily Work Search Reviews during the Assessment Phase

> Work Coaches can decide to place the claimants – yep, you dont get a choice.

Daily Work Search Review

The claimant will be required to attend the Jobcentre daily for up to 13 weeks to review jobseeking activities of the previous day and provide a labour market declaration signature.

Every 4 weeks the claimant’s attendance schedule must be changed.

Claimants are entitled to reimbursement of travel costs incurred to attend additional WSR. To enable claimants to attend Daily WSR, it is accepted that payment in advance, particularly in the form of weekly bus / rail travel tickets and passes may be appropriate.

> Every 4 weeks the claimant’s attendance schedule must be changed – ???

Community Work Placements

External provision will consist of a work placement that is of benefit to the community for up to 30 hours a week and supplemented by up to 10 hours jobsearch. If the claimant is still in receipt of JSA/UC after six months they will be transferred to MIR.

> If the claimant is still in receipt of JSA/UC after six months they will be transferred to MIR. – where your Work Coach can decide to place the claimants in Daily Work Search Reviews or Community Work Placements. Back to square one, in other words.

PCS Concerns

Although a meeting is planned for 24th April, PCS has not yet been consulted over key issues such as appropriate resourcing and the health and safety risk assessment.

There should also be consultation with trade union sides at district and local level, as well as consultation as part of the risk assessment process. PCS has pressed that this is made explicitly mandatory; given reports received that district management are going ahead with changes without engaging with the unions.

The Group Executive Committee (GEC) has raised concerns over the department’s capacity to deliver the additional work and cope with the increased footfall of up to 60%. 620 WSD staff will be leaving Job centres in June through the VES scheme with no one to replace them.

> Oh dear, oh dear… more claimants, fewer staff. Can anyone see the flaw in this plan ?

However DWP believe that current staffing levels are appropriate, as jobcentre staffing was due to be reduced by 10% which matches the numbers needed to deliver SR13 and HtW. The re-grading of the CSM post also delivers a significant cost saving. The GEC have pressed DWP for more staff, and believe jobcentres are at a crisis point in terms of staffing, workloads, safety and space.

The introduction of further attendance brings in an even stricter conditionality regime. The GEC is deeply concerned for the safety of PCS members facing the brunt of the public’s anger at this policy.

> Damn right !

Reports have been received that attendance times should be changed on every occasion, in order to ‘frustrate claimants off benefit’ which bears a resemblance to the hotly denied and lambasted ‘Botherability’. Group Officers need to be informed if this message is being relayed in offices, reps should challenge management locally and escalate.

> A different time every day ? you can just imagine the planning meeting – “hey guys, how could we make this situation even more chaotic ?

PCS opposes further attacks on benefit claimants

PCS believes that SR13 and HtW are not intended to offer further help to claimants, as the introduction of further mandation and attendance is clearly aimed at trying to set claimants up to fail. It is part of the politically motivated agenda the Government has of vilifying benefit claimants, rather than offering genuinely tailored support.

The DWP received criticism from the Select Committee in January over their off-flow target based approach, however, these new measures are politically driven policy which civil servants have been instructed to implement.

> But they don’t have to implement them. The old ‘Nuremberg Defence’ (I was only obeying orders) was never a valid one. But for fuck’s sake – PCS, YOU ARE A UNION. YOU CAN TAKE ACTION. Stop your members taking it out on the ‘customers‘ and take on the government instead. You may need to grow a spine first, though.

PCS campaigns against the stricter benefit and conditionality regime, we believe our members are best placed to help benefit claimants when they are given adequate time and discretion to truly identify the support needed, not by fostering hostility through draconian and punitive practices.

> So do something about it !

Branches are asked to ensure they are fully involved in consultation and the risk assessment processes, and issues are appropriately escalated. The introduction of the new measures should be phased until October and December 2014 to ensure there are appropriate resources and systems in place. There should be no ‘big bang’ approach. Risk assessments should be used to identify for a potential increase in CSMs and G4S security guards.

> a potential increase in CSMs and G4S security guards – hey, more government cash for G4S… now who would have expected that ?

Source:      PCS website      24 April 2014

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/department_for_work_and_pensions_group/dwp-news.cfm/help-to-work-and-sr13-conditionality

The welfare state: Charity that wounds?

Could too much compassion in the welfare state hurt the very people it is supposed to help?

> How would we know ? Its never been tried….

Ed Miliband suggests that might be the case.

In a recent speech he drew on the ideas of a sociologist – Richard Sennett – who said compassion had the power to wound.

One of the Labour leader’s closest aides – the shadow minister Lord Wood – says that Sennett has made a “deep impression” on Miliband.

If the language sounds a bit academic, the reaction to Sennett’s theory at a South London woman’s group called Skills Network is anything but.

In a couple of rooms beside a railway line, women gather for training, moral support and shared childcare.

Many are single parents, some do not have permanent homes.

Most rely on the state. None trusts it.

“We are patronised by all these people that are supposed to be there for us,” says Onley.

“Anyone of official status comes to visit a family you’re almost on edge, even down to midwives after you’ve had a baby,” adds Hannah.

They are not merely sceptical of the state’s professionals, they see them as a threat.

One mother explains her experience of being visited by social workers.

They always have a tick register in their purse and they take it out,” she says. “All these things are useless. Nothing is changing my life. In fact they’re wasting my time and their time.”

The feeling for some is not of disenchantment, but outright hostility.

Onley says: “Because you’re given something does that mean we should just lie there and take whatever you give us and don’t argue about anything or ask any questions?

“People need to be treated as equal human beings.”

Sennett blames that attitude on the way the state works. He has written: “Charity itself has the power to wound; pity can beget contempt; compassion can be intimately linked to inequality.

> Yeah, but the biggest problem surely is not too much compassion – its not enough compassion.

Like the lack of compassion that enforces benefit sanctions that drive people to poverty and crime. Like the lack of compassion that claims that people at death’s door are fit for work.

The danger here is that the likes of Milliband (just another neo-liberal, after all) will use dodgy concepts like “too much compassion being bad for people” as a basis for more cuts.

And perhaps any sociologist who thinks “Charity itself has the power to wound; pity can beget contempt; compassion can be intimately linked to inequality”, wants to wait until they’re actually reliant on it before they start talking bollocks.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s the World at One programme, Wood says Labour is interested in the idea that inequality is partly about the gap in respect and power between the state, and people on the receiving end of its services and benefits.

In embracing some of Sennett’s thinking, Wood suggests Miliband intends to do things differently from the way previous Labour administrations have behaved.

Here’s the difference with maybe Labour parties of before,” he says. “In addressing inequality you can’t just have a central state that adds up the ledger of who is doing well and who is doing not and just sort of reshuffle money around and ask people to fit certain categories that the government’s devised.

“You’ve got to think about shifting power back down as well as thinking about inequality in a deeper sense.”

> I’ve read that several times. It still seems to say exactly nothing…

That sounds a little like the critique of Gordon Brown’s attempts to deal with child poverty: that he was merely redistributing money to nudge people over a statistical line so they were no longer classed as impoverished.

Wood – who worked for Brown – does not repeat that criticism.

Pressed for examples of how his concerns translate into policy he highlights plans to hand control of parts of the work programme to some towns and cities and ideas about giving people more of a voice about where housing is built and how it’s allocated.

He argues that responsibility for policy needs to change so people affected by decisions feel they have a say.

Labour’s opponents will say that this is vague stuff.

The government argues it already understands the problem.

Ministers say they are changing the culture for benefit claimants, making their responsibilities clearer, and giving social housing tenants control of their own housing benefit.

Others will simply reflect that a focus on getting people off benefits and into jobs would sidestep many of these issues. With public money tight, officials would need to think carefully before skimping on the scrutiny they apply to the way funds are spent.

> If you wanted to be really radical, you could accept that the number of unemployed is around  five times greater than the number of vacancies, and you will never get a quart into a pint pot.

Then, when you’ve got your head around this fact, then you might want to start thinking about where we go from here.

But until politicians can be honest enough to admit what the rest of us know – that there will always be more unemployed than jobs – then we’re never going to get anywhere.

Sennett is – unsurprisingly – pleased that Miliband embraces his thinking, but he doesn’t easily fit the mould of a “Miliband guru“.

He votes for the Green party and describes Miliband as “not a particularly charismatic politician” who may never have the chance to implement his idea.

And if Miliband does want to reshape Britain’s relationship with its welfare state, it won’t be easy.

In South London Hannah reflects on her encounters with its professionals.

It’s almost like having the crocodile smile,” she says.

“You see all the smiley teeth and you’re waiting for the bite to come and get you.”

Source BBC News  17 April 2014

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27066705

David Cameron Think’s He’s The Messiah – Poor And Disabled Left Waiting For A Miracle

 The life of PM David Cameron has just become a little bizarre. During his Easter Reception at Downing St, he reportedly said he was simply continuing the work of Christ when he launched the “Big Society” initiative of volunteering and civic responsibility.

“Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago, I just want to see more of it and encourage as much of it as possible.” Cameron said, adding  that the Government should seek to improve the “spiritual and moral state” of the nation and be unashamedly “evangelical”.

If that wasn’t bizarre enough, he then went onto compare himself to a company that unblocks drains. Offering his services to help the Church keep up its commitments to Jesus’ Big Society concept, he said: “If there are things that are stopping you from doing more, think of me as a giant Dyno-Rod”.

So has the PM, as one voter tweeted, “…gone mad”? Or is this the end result of what the PM has called a “difficult week” and why he had to fly off to Lanzarote? Either way, his bizarre comments do not reflect Coalition policy, and here is why.

 Dyno-Rod proudly state on their website: “Our priority is to deliver the best service we can, working to the highest standards – we know it’s what our customers expect”.
Unfortunately for Cameron, his coalition government has delivered the worst. Brutal welfare reform and spending cuts has seen living standards fall and the cost of living to rise. His priority is the wealthy – shown by tax cuts and bonuses. In addition, with George Osborne promising a year of “hard truths” and further spending cuts, people can expect things to get even tougher.

However, no matter how tough things get, the people of Britain can be assured that their suffering is all part of the continuation of Christ’s work – well, that is if Cameron is to be believed.

His assertion that he is simply doing God’s work is a refreshing change from blaming Labour, but his policies are far removed from anything Jesus ever said or did.

For instance, his claim that Jesus invented the Big Society cannot be found in any version of the bible. So, it would appears that Cameron, who claims to have a ‘strong faith’, hasn’t been reading his bible, or as he? Indeed, if Christ had created the idea behind the ‘Big Society’, that idea would have been very different to Cameron’s vision.

If Cameron is the Messiah that would make his cabinet – by default – the Twelve Apostles; who, according to scripture, were all early followers chosen to become Christs closest disciples, advance his kingdom and carry the Gospel message to the world. It’s not difficult to see the similarity between that and Cameron’s Cabinet – earlier classmates chosen to become close allies and so on. Ironically, the chosen disciples were neither scholarly nor had any exceptional skill. Indeed none were religious. Compare that, for example to Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, yet he only has a single degree in history.

That is where the similarities end. The bible has generosity and helping the poor as one of its major themes, stretching from the Old Testament to the New. Whilst Cameron has got the generosity part right with his tax cuts and bonuses for the rich, when it comes to helping the poor he has done nothing.

Cameron once said: “Let us look at the issue of dependency where we have trapped people in poverty through the extent of welfare that they have”.

Rather than helping, he has embarked on some of the biggest cuts to welfare support since the formation of the welfare state, which has led to a five-fold increase in poverty-stricken families turning to food banks.

Yet, Cameron is still insisting that he is helping. When the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, criticized the cuts to the welfare state which had left many facing destitution and hunger, Cameron responded by saying it’s “simply not true” and that welfare reform was part of his “moral mission” for the country. Moreover, in his response – written in The Daily Telegraph – he said:

“Our welfare reforms go beyond that alone: they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance. Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart, too, of our social and moral mission in politics today”.

In my view, Cameron’s policies are immoral. His long-term economic plan has created unprecedented demands on food banks, has subjected people who are disabled to degrading assessments and has caused unnecessary hardship and homelessness.

Yet he continues, ignoring the fact that his reforms are not giving new purpose, new opportunity or new hope. His disciple, Ian Duncan Smith (AKA – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) blindly follows. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he rejected claims that welfare reform will condemn thousands to a “Dickensian” way of life. Adding:

“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”.

The poor, sick and disabled are left waiting for a miracle and used as scapegoats for our country’s economic ills, whilst David Cameron’s government continues to look after the interests of the greedy and most richest – the same people, who some may argue, caused the ‘economic crisis’ to begin with.

 By Jenny Howarth for the Welfare News Service (WNS).

Source – Welfare News Service  12 April 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/david-cameron-thinks-hes-the-messiah-poor-and-disabled-left-waiting-for-a-miracle/

Britain’s Richest MP slams welfare state but makes £625k a year in housing benefit

A Tory MP worth £110million is raking in £625,000 a year from his hard-up tenants’ housing benefit – despite blasting the “something for nothing” welfare state.

Richard Benyon – Britain’s richest MP – runs his vast property empire from a mansion on his sprawling country pile.

But last night he was accused of cashing in off the back of the very handouts his party pledged to slash – as it emerged a string of other Tories were doing the same.

Just last month the MP, 53, said: “The average household spends £3,000 per year on the welfare state. This figure had been rising inexorably and unaffordably.”

Mr Benyon has also attacked the Labour Party over payments and said: “Labour want benefits to go up more than the earnings of people in work. It isn’t fair and we will not let them bring back their something for nothing culture.”

He is a director of the Englefield Estate Trust Corporation Limited, which owns most of the land and property linked to his family.

It got £625,964 in housing benefit from West Berkshire council last year, more than any other private landlord in the area.

Eileen Short, of Defend Council Housing, fumed: “How dare Richard Benyon lecture us about ‘something for nothing’ when he is living off the poorest and milking taxpayers all the way to the bank?

“It’s not tenants who gain from housing benefit, but some of the richest people in Britain. They get richer at our expense – and blame us while they’re at it.”

Mr Benyon is likely to pull in thousands of pounds more from properties in other areas, too, as his firm owns 20,000 acres of land from Hampshire to Scotland and 300 houses in Hackney, East London.

His office refused to comment on the figures or confirm whether Englefield got more housing benefit from other councils. Buy-to-let landlords and property tycoons like him will bank a total of £9.2billion in housing benefit this year.

It costs more than £23 a week, or 29% more in housing benefit, for a council to house a tenant with a private landlord than with a housing association or social not-for-profit landlord, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Mrs Short added: “It’s time we stopped greedy private landlords living off housing benefit. Instead of subsidising them, we ought to cut rents not benefits, and invest in housing that’s really affordable. Let’s get these people off our backs.”

Our investigation, with the GMB union, comes after it was revealed yesterday that UKIP’s housing spokesman Andrew Charalambous was making a fortune off migrant tenants on welfare – despite leader Nigel Farage calling for a ban on foreigners claiming the cash.

The millionaire pocketed £745,351 in housing benefit from occupants, who he admitted included immigrants.

Our probe also uncovered a number of other Tories and donors who also bagged cash through housing benefit tenants last year –

Baron Iliffe’s firm got £195,072 from West Berkshire council. His estate is worth an estimated £245million. He and his wife have donated £50,000 to the Tories.

Peer Lord Cavendish benefitted from £106,938 in housing welfare last year from Barrow council in Cumbria through his shareholding in Holker Estates.

The Earl of Cadogan, who has given £23,000 to the Tories, has received £116,400 in benefits from Kensington and Chelsea.

And MP Richard Drax’s 7,000-acre Morden Estate got £13,830 from Purbeck council, South Dorset, last year. A Morden spokesman said: “We don’t comment on these things.”

On top of Mr Benyon’s haul from tenants, his family farms have also received more than £2million in EU subsidies since 2000.

Once a year the multi-millionaire – whose great great grandad was PM Lord Salisbury – hands out food to poor families as part of a 16th century tradition. He recently came under fire for scrapping plans to dredge the Somerset Levels. He was also criticised for claiming poor families wasted too much food.

Our investigation is based on Freedom of Information Act requests made by the GMB union, which has many members who rely on social housing. There are 1.8 million households on the waiting list for council homes. Despite ­Government pledges to tackle the welfare bill, the annual cost hit £24billion this year.

The DWP said: “Housing benefit provides a meaningful safety net for people, whether they live in social housing or in private rental properties, and it’s sensible that both of these options are available to people.”

Source – Daily Mirror,  24 Feb 2014