Friday, 4 January 2013

UK: Welfare benefits cuts frenzy grips ConDem coalition


The News Line: Editorial - http://www.wrp.org.uk/news/8254Benefits cuts frenzy grips coalitionTHE New Year has kicked off with a frenzied attack by both Tory and their LibDem coalition partners on the low paid, unemployed, the elderly, families with young children and even the overweight.

Leading the attack over the weekend was Tory benefits hatchet man Iain Duncan Smith who in a newspaper article attempted to portray all those low paid workers who rely on tax credits in order to survive as ‘fraudsters’ living off the fat of the land.

Tax credit, introduced by Labour, is nothing more than a state subsidy to employers paying poverty level wages, in wanting to end this Smith is not advocating pay increases but that workers and their families should simply starve.

To support his case Smith claimed that tax credits had increased by 58% – an independent check on the figures by Channel 4 News revealed the increase was actually only 8% – but accuracy and facts matter nothing to Smith when it comes to vilifying the working class and placing the blame for the economic crisis on the shoulders of low paid workers.

This orgy of hatred for the low paid from Smith was complemented yesterday by an attack on the winter fuel cost payment made to the elderly by the senior Liberal Democrat MP, Paul Burstow.

According to Burstow the £200 one off payment made every Christmas to pensioners should be means tested with the result that 80% would lose it.

In a period of sky-high rising energy bills this MP is seriously putting forward the proposition that 80% of pensioners, most of whom are existing on a hand-to-mouth daily struggle to keep up with escalating prices on a low pension, are wealthy enough not to require any help with fuel payments.

Burstow’s argument for cutting this vital benefit for pensioners is so that the money saved can be used to fund care for the elderly, in short it would be used to pour into the coffers of the private care home providers and make up the money they are losing as a result of local government cuts in funding imposed by the government.

If Smith and Burstow are whipping up a frenzy of hatred towards the elderly and the low paid then the Tory council of Westminster is trail-blazing an equally vicious attack, this time against the overweight.

The council has produced a report that it is actively considering implementing which states that anyone in receipt of benefit who is deemed to be overweight would have their welfare payment cut unless they attended gyms or swimming pools.

The report says: ‘Where an exercise package is prescribed to a resident, housing  and council tax benefit payments could be varied to reward or incentivise residents.’

This may sound completely insane but, as Westminster Council points out, it is entirely within their legal powers to force people into exercise regimes or lose housing benefit.

This attack comes on top of the cuts of 14-25% in housing benefit due to come in April.

Cuts that are taken in conjunction with steep rent increases will result in poverty, debt, evictions and homelessness.

Already councils in even the most affluent parts of the country are reporting sharp increases in homelessness forcing people into situations previously thought impossible – Cambridge authorities this week reported that in one cemetery the lids from tombs had been lifted and homeless people were sleeping in them.

The grim reality in Britain is that the unemployed, the low paid, the elderly and now the overweight are being blamed for the banking crisis and being told they must pay for it through all these cuts even if it means sleeping in tombs.

Finally HM Revenue and Customs have just told 784,000 families that they must either stop claiming child benefit or else pay a new tax to cover the cost of the child benefit payments.

There you have it. This government with its policy to save the bosses and bankers at any cost is the enemy of the people, all of the people, from the unemployed to the elderly to the homeless, to the working poor, to the workers on the average wage and to millions of families to whom child benefit makes all the difference.

They are all to be crushed by the coalition, to save the bosses and the bankers and capitalism.

There can be only one answer to this obscenity and that is to forcibly evict this government with a general strike and an uprising to go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.

 

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