Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/737/15412
No welfare cuts
Benefit booze-ups are a Tory fantasy!
Sean Dempsey, Jobcentre worker
The welfare system has been in the news again this week with Tories threatening a further £10 billion in cuts to the welfare budget.
Debates among big-business politicians rage in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff as to what to do about the cuts in funding from Westminster.
The debates are not about resisting the Tory attacks, of course, just about where the axe should fall.
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has called for the removal of universal benefits and the reintroduction of the hated means test.
At Stormont, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein are at loggerheads about the Welfare Reform Bill's passage through the Northern Ireland Assembly.
This Bill echoes its Westminster counterpart, introducing changes such as stopping contributions-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA) after one year.
This will directly impact families trying to support someone with a chronic illness. Such families, with one wage earner, could easily earn too much to qualify for income-based ESA and therefore have to bear the cost of treatment with no government help, especially as the roll back of the NHS continues apace.
It is comforting for such families to know, I'm sure, that the Tory policy wonks are really earning their crust however.
Their most recent idea came ahead of the Tory conference in Birmingham, where test balloons were floated about controlling how benefits claimants spend their money.
Already this has gained interest from private companies such as Mastercard, who hope to gain a fat cheque for administering the scheme.
The object would be to prevent claimants spending money on alcohol or cigarettes or anything else which the government deems an inappropriate purchase for a benefits claimant.
This demonstrates the extent to which the Tories are lost in fantasy land. Jobcentre workers are ever more frequently dealing with people who are having to spend some of their £71 a week Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) on rent.
And they aren't renting palaces. One man I spoke to was living in a hostel and still had to use some of his JSA to top up his capped Housing Benefit.
That this man managed to feed and clothe himself, never mind travel to interviews with a smile on his face, was surprising enough.
Vicious slurs like this gratify the likes of the Daily Mail editorial staff, and outrage ordinary people by implying that in a time of hardship there are people who are living large while the rest of us struggle.
The only people living large are the super-rich and the Tory cabinet of millionaires. They must be stopped.
In The Socialist 10 October 2012:
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