30 March 2013
the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature but by our
institutions, great is our sin”
Charles Darwin’s words have a solemn resonance for this coming Monday when the misery of the poor will be made very much worse by changes in welfare benefits.
The Guardian’s own survey indicates that 3.7 million people will be hit by these cuts , losing £28 billion in all over the next 5 years.
Ten years ago , Tory MP Michael Portillo participated in one of those 2000’s “reality “ TV programmes called My Week My World .
Its purpose was to see how politicians fared coping with the jobs and lives of everyday people.
Mr. Portillo’s task was looking after 4 young children and also deputising for their mother as a classroom assistant and working in ASDA as well.
All of this had to be done within a family budget of £80 a week.
Mr. Portillo said that his week’s work “was harder than anything he had faced in the Commons.”
years on, there are no Tory politicians undergoing a similar fate on TV
as Michael Portillo did, to familiarise themselves with the hardship
that the legislation they pushed through Parliament will plunge many
into as from Monday.
While they remain silent, from the other side of the green benches of the Commons comes an idea from Labour MP Frank Field who was once was once given the task by the incoming Blair Government to “think the unthinkable “ on welfare.
He is calling on social landlords (councils, housing associations) to brick up" doorways and "knock down the walls" as an act of defiance against the Tax.
Field bases his method on the practice of landlords in the 17th.
century in response to the government of the day imposing a tax on
Both landlords and tenants bricked up the windows.
The political road to Monday has passed through familiar Tory territory of making society more unequal.
As from Monday , tenants of social landlords who have a “spare” bedroom in their home will see their housing benefit cut by 14 per cent, and cut by 25 per cent if they have two or more “spare” bedrooms.
In contrast, the same day sees the start of a new financial year during which millionaires can look forward to their share of the £3billion tax cut they will receive from the Tory-Lib Dem Government.
In the past full year the number of foodbanks in the UK has doubled while City banks came under public pressure not to defer huge bankers’ bonuses to the new financial year so that they could enjoy the cut in the highest band of tax from 50 to 45 per cent.
As the think tank Resolution Foundation showed that millions of people in Britain hovered on a “financial precipice “, RBS , Royal Bank of Scotland , faced penalties of £400 million for fixing the Libor exchange . The bank had set aside £250 million in bumper bonuses for its investment bankers. RBS is a majority publicly-owned bank.
In bleak economic times such as the present the politically mean-spirited will provide the simplistic message that most poverty results from a lack of personal responsibility.
Real life says otherwise.
To take just one example, research published by The Scotland Institute last December showed that 18 per cent of people working in Scotland live in poverty.
That is almost 1 in 5 of the working population who go out to work each working day - certainly not the characteristics of the feckless.
Be in no doubt that as from Monday , many vulnerable individuals and families will be hit by a further attack of punitive cuts.
Share on Facebook