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The Cruelty in Osborne’s spending review

Something happened during Osborne's Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday.

It took a while to sink in, as these things often do.

But a government who had previously at least paid lip service to "protecting the most vulnerable" clearly couldn't bring themselves to pretend any longer that we're "All in it together".

Firstly, the overall welfare spending cap. What does this mean? (And remember, this is Labour policy too :(

By including "Disability Benefits" this government of the privileged elite broke any remaining link between social security and need.

Let's remember for a moment. Disability Living Allowance (currently being replaced with Personal Independence Payments or PIPs) Is a NON-MEANS TESTED benefit, paid to cover the EXTRA costs of disability. Based on an assessment of NEED, anyone with a significant illness or disability that limits their ability to take part in society on the same basis as anyone else is entitled to claim.

You may be in work or out of work, rich or poor, DLA is based on none of that.

For the sake of tax, DLA is not counted. For the sake of housing benefit or tax credit, DLA is not counted. It is an entirely independent amount to cover - let's say it again - the EXTRA costs faced by sick or disabled people.

Make no mistake. Including disability benefits in the overall welfare spending cap ends any pretence that the cross party support for DLA and a non-means tested disability benefit has gone.

It will mean that entitlement to sickness or disability support is based on COST not NEED. It will break an agreement that has held for decades. It will mean there is no longer any guarantee that NEED will lead to an award.

And the second mean, nasty little detail : Making anyone who becomes unemployed wait 7 days before they can "sign on" for unemployment benefit.

Oh sure, if you live in a stately home, sit in line for a baronetcy and expect a £30 million inheritance, this might make perfect sense.

But who claims "The Dole" or "Job seekers allowance" (JSA) as it's been known for some time. Not bankers or lawyers or MPs.

In reality, there is a cohort of workers, trapped in a cycle of poorly paid, low skilled work, zero hour contracts and few if any employer rights. They tend to work for 3 months here, 6 months there, before work that may be seasonal or cyclical rejects them back to the jobcentre. There is no ability to save or work their way up. They tend to live hand to mouth, payday to payday. When the contract ends, there is nothing in reserve.

Waiting 7 days, means 7 days without food. 7 days without nappies. 7 days without rent. 7 days without heating or lighting.

Sure, if you earned 40k or even 80k you can manage for a bit. You probably got redundancy. You might have a network of contacts who can suggest a new job. You don't tend to be knocking at the jobcentre door at 9am on a Monday morning.

No, it's only those in the most desperate need who are forced into "signing on". Only those who can't find other work. Making them wait 7 days won't suddenly magic up a job. It won't suddenly make people more resourceful and determined. The threat of imminent starvation tends to make people fairly resourceful and determined in the first place.

This won't affect those the government assure us have been "languishing on benefits" uninterested in work. Nope, they'll already be claiming.

It will only affect those who really need help. All poxy £60-odd quid a week of it.

If anything proves how little this government know about the people who's lives they're playing with it is this mean, nasty, ill thought through, cruel little policy. It will help no-one and hurt those who until moments ago were working. Or in government speak, "doing the right thing"

It will starve their children, push their mothers and fathers to foodbanks and charity, force proud men and women to beg.

Sorry, but there's only really one word. You utter bastards.

From Sue Marsh


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