Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/747/15923
More attacks on benefits...
On 8 January Parliament voted to limit increases in benefits to 1% rather than by the rate of inflation as they had previously been.
Cutting the link between prices and benefit rises is effectively a huge cut to future benefits because people will be able to afford less with the money.
Iain Duncan Smith, minister for work and pensions who is driving the attacks, said it would be 'absurd' to raise benefits by inflation (currently officially 2.2%).
He said it was unfair because benefits are paid by the taxes of those who are working who are not seeing their wages increase by inflation.
But contrary to the government's talk of 'shirkers' the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has shown that this change will affect the benefits of far more working people than unemployed (7 million compared to 2.5 million).
This was just a day after the changes to child benefits came into force. Households where one person earns over £50,000 will see their benefit cut and over £60,000 will see it stopped altogether. The IFS has worked out that these families will lose an average of £1,300 a year.
...all based on lies
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has published research which shows government and media attacks on 'scroungers' are based on lies.
On average members of the public think 41% of the welfare budget goes to the unemployed. This 'fact' is used to justify attacking the unemployed as scroungers.
In fact the figure is 3%. And, with huge job cuts, any of the "hard-working taxpayers" of today could be denounced as the "work-shy scroungers" of tomorrow.
Alongside the massive tax dodging of firms like Vodafone and Starbucks, the amount of benefit fraud is even more miniscule.
The public has been led to believe it is 27% of the welfare budget. The figure is actually less than 1%.
Compared to the legal and illegal expenses claims of MPs most benefit fraud is tiny. All this has not stopped the Tories of Westminster City Council from floating the idea of cutting benefit for people they deem too fat. And next week people they deem too thin or too tall no doubt.
People in work are being asked to approve attacks on the unemployed because they 'get too much money'.
However, one of the questions in the TUC survey was about the benefits entitlement of an unemployed couple with two children aged six and ten.
The imagined figure was £147 a week, when £111 is the real figure they would be entitled to. But the amount that those surveyed thought the couple would actually need to live on was £202 a week (excluding housing costs).
The old adage would seem to be true. Figures can't lie but liars can figure. The Daily Express contained headlines "a new ice age", "a cure for cancer" and "the economy is booming" in the same month. Why on earth believe it when they tell you 80% of benefit claimants are frauds?
The TUC has done a good job in commissioning this research. Now what are they doing about that general strike they promised?
In The Socialist 9 January 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
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Socialist Party workplace news