The End of Decency: Tories to Make Disabled People Work Unpaid for Their Benefits

2.12.12

What is wrong with the people of Britain? For two and a half years now, the Tory-led coalition government has been waging war on the most vulnerable members of society — the disabled — and hardly anyone seems to care. In order to cut the welfare bill, the government is paying a fortune to Atos Healthcare, a French-based multinational company, to conduct reviews of disabled people in order to find them fit for work, whether they are or not.

This process, which necessitates cruelty and indifference on the part of the assessors, is hugely stressful for the people subjected to the reviews, and has contributed to hundreds of deaths since it was first introduced (also see here and here for links to some harrowing stories).

I have been campaigning against it for the last two years — see, for example, my articles, Today the Tories Took £100 A Week from Some of the UK’s Most Disabled People: How Can This Be Right?, RIP Karen Sherlock, Another Victim of the Tories’ Brutal, Heartless Disability Reforms, Doctors Urge Government to Scrap Callous Disability Tests, Where is the Shame and Anger as the UK Government’s Unbridled Assault on the Disabled Continues? and Call Time on This Wretched Government and Its Assault on the Disabled.

Now the government has come up with a new plan, which dovetails with its treatment of the unemployed in general, in which young people, primarily, are being forced into “workfare” arrangements — in other words, are being made to work for their benefits on placements, which, shockingly, are often with multinational companies. This ought to be unacceptable, but it appears to be a logical extension of the culture of employing people as unpaid “interns” that plagues the workplace, even though it takes things a step further, making people work for nothing for companies they have no interest in, rather than in fields they actively want to pursue.

Apart from a short probationary period — say a month at most — no one should be taking advantage of the unemployed to pay them nothing — or to make them work for around £1 an hour — and yet this is now becoming the norm, a world in which the unemployed have become a source of insultingly cheap labour, and sanctions are imposed for any failures by the unemployed to jump through the required hoops and, if necessary, be corporate slaves.

The government’s clampdown on the unemployed has always been one of its most hateful policies, as there is no excuse for punishing people for being unemployed during a recession, when there is only one job for every five claimants. That remains the case, and it is depressing to realise how successfully the government has managing to sell a message that the unemployed are all workshy scroungers to the public, whose appetite for hating the poor and vulnerable is as reprehensible as their political masters’ cynicism and disdain for those less fortunate than themselves.

From tomorrow, according to the government’s new plan, workfare is to be rolled out for the disabled, as Shiv Malik explained in an important article for the Guardian on Friday, which I’m cross-posting below.

Particularly noteworthy, I thought, are the passages pointing out how the mandatory work programmes are complete failures — successful only in transferring taxpayers’ money to private companies like Emma Harrison’s discredited a4e — even though they continue to be taken up enthusiastically — by London’s mayor Boris Johnson, who wants 18-24 year olds to work for three months unpaid, and in Derbyshire, where 18-24 year olds will be made to work for six months unpaid to secure their benefits.

Also significant, in relation to the unemployed, is the Department of Work and Pensions’ claim that the unpaid work should be “of community benefit.” This might sound acceptable, but it is clear that it is a ruse, that private contractors are being brought on board without scrutiny, and that, in fact, there will be no attempt whatsoever to police what happens — a recipe for disabled people dying in unsuitable workplaces while being exploited by inappropriate employers.

Also deeply shocking — perhaps the most shocking aspect of the whole sordid story — is the DWP’s confirmation that “the work placements do not have any time limit.”

No time limit? Is that for real?

Please read the article below, and then get involved. Tomorrow (December 3), please join other campaigners in a day of remembrance for the victims of Atos and the government, and please urge your MP to sign the Early Day Motion put forward by John McDonnall MP, which states:

That this House wishes to record the case of Mr Brian McArdle who, having suffered a blood clot on his brain, was left paralysed on one side, unable to speak properly and blind in one eye and yet was summoned to an Atos work capacity assessment, before which he suffered a further stroke and was eventually informed he was to lose his disability benefits; notes with sadness that Mr McArdle died from a heart attack the day after his benefits were stopped and that his 13 year old son Kieran wrote to Atos to tell the company that their assessments ‘are killing genuine people like my dad'; and appreciates why disability campaigners like Susan Archibald are calling for the suspension of Atos assessments, and why Jim Moore and other campaigners are calling for 3 December to be a day of remembrance for all Atos victims.

Also keep an eye out for the Twitter hashtag #wowpetition, which stand for “War on Welfare.” There’s also a website here, where various campaigners are currently finalising the wring for a new e-petition, to be launched soon.

Sick and disabled braced for enforced work-for-benefits programme
By Shiv Malik, The Guardian, November 30, 2012

Welfare claimants could be forced to work without pay and be stripped of benefits under scheme starting on Monday

Wayne Blackburn was born unlucky — his mother’s umbilical cord got wrapped around his neck, starving his brain of oxygen. Now his legs don’t work.

“Imagine the worst cramp you’ve ever had,” he says. “That’s in both my legs 24/7 … I literally walk a few steps and I’m in agony.”

Blackburn, 36 has degenerative spastic diplegia, a type of cerebral palsy. He knows he will have a good day when he gets four hours of sleep. On a bad night he screams in pain and between the tears he hardly sleeps at all.

He’s no scrounger, he says. Until 2009, Blackburn, from Nelson, Lancashire, was in work. After marrying his girlfriend he wanted to provide for her so he took a job in retail that involved being on his feet.

“For a time I was quite successful at it,” he says. “[But] it made me a lot worse. I did that for just under two years.” Though he would like to return to a job, Blackburn says he is in the worst physical condition he has ever been and is permanently dosed on multiple painkillers.

Without any physical examination, Blackburn says, the Department for Work and Pensions put him on employment support allowance (ESA) and in the work-related activity group (WRAG), for those soon to be back in employment.

Like tens of thousands of others in the WRAG, Blackburn feels that the assessment process is desperately flawed and that he should not have been put into that group because there is no way he can take a job at this time.

Despite this, in just a few days, Blackburn may be forced to work without pay whether he likes it or not.

On Monday, the government will allow private back-to-work companies and jobcentre case managers to force Blackburn and more than 300,000 sick and disabled welfare claimants into unpaid work experience for an unspecified length of time.

Also from that day — the UN’s international day of persons with disabilities — if those in WRAG who have illnesses ranging from cancer to paralysis to mental health issues do not comply with such instructions, they can be stripped of up to 70% of their benefits and forced to live on £28.15 a week.

According to the latest figures, between 1 June 2011 and 31 May 2012 there were 11,130 conditionality sanctions applied to ESA WRAG claimants. The average length of such sanction is seven weeks.

Blackburn says he is now “petrified”. “They could call me in on Monday and say ‘right, you’ve got do to this, this and this’. And if I don’t, they can sanction me and that scares me … it makes me so nervous, it makes me physically sick.”

Mandatory work exists for those who are not sick. Tens of thousands of unemployed people have passed through four weeks’ unpaid placements on the mandatory work activity (MWA) scheme.

More have passed through the work programme, which this week was found to have utterly failed to meet its benchmark targets to get the long-term unemployed back to lasting employment.

The MWA scheme also does not work. The DWP’s most recent study is clear about its efficacy: it has zero effect on increasing people’s chances of getting a job. Nevertheless, the idea of forcing those on benefits to undertake weeks and months of unpaid work has spread. In August the London mayor, Boris Johnson, announced he was using European social fund money to force 18- to 24-year-olds to commit themselves to 13 weeks of unpaid work.

A few weeks ago Derbyshire job centres said they would be making their 18-24 year olds work for six months unpaid as a condition of their benefits.

Leaked this week, the DWP memo that permits those who are sick and disabled to also be forced into unpaid work is clear: “It has now been agreed work programme providers will be able to use mandatory work placements as another measure through which to help ESA WRAG participants move closer to the labour market.

“If a work programme provider identifies a suitable participant and ensures the work placement is of community benefit, they can mandate them in the usual way.”

The DWP confirmed with the Guardian that the work placements do not have any time limit.

The phrase “for community benefit” is oblique; since February the DWP has stopped answering freedom of information requests about where people are being sent to work – even when instructed to do so by the information commissioner – because it fears the MWA scheme will collapse under the weight of public protest if details are released.

Under further questions from the Guardian the DWP has admitted that although placements are meant to be for community benefit, private, profit-seeking companies can participate in the scheme.

The DWP said: “Although the department does not rule out the possibility that placements in the private sector could meet the requirement for placements to be of benefit to the local community, it is likely that the majority of mandatory work activity placements will be outside the private sector.”

Ingeus Deloitte and Seetec, two of the larger companies involved in administering MWA, have refused to comment on whether they are forcing unemployed people to work for private companies but said they abided by the “community benefit” rule.

This month, one of the biggest charities known to be involved in MWA, the British Heart Foundation, said that it was pulling out of the programme. The charity said it was offered cash incentives by private companies running the programme if it took on jobseekers. The BHF refused such payments, as it would have meant the charity being paid while its volunteers — in desperate need of a job — worked for no pay in return.

“Our involvement in work programme schemes has always been about finding people who want to work in our shops, rather than providing a source of income for the charity. As such, we tell BHF staff to decline payments from agencies” Retail Director, Mike Taylor, said.

Ingeus and Seetec said they did not offer inducements to organisations for taking on unpaid jobseekers.

The DWP said it was not troubled by this practice: “We pay providers to find us placements, it’s up to them what arrangement they make with organisations who will take someone on.”

The new policy of involving sick and disabled people in mandatory work activity has raised similar concerns at Cancer Research UK, which is also pulling out of mandatory schemes from the new year. “We have made the decision to no longer offer any ad hoc local arrangements for anyone on the mandatory work activity placement scheme from 1 January 2013,” said Simon Ledsham, director of trading.

The disability charity Scope, which has taken on unemployed people on mandatory placements under a set of internal practices, is now urgently reviewing its involvement and may also pull out.

“People that do work experience in our shops tell us they really value the chance to learn retail and customer service skills, build confidence and get used to being in a working environment,” said chief executive Richard Hawkes.

“But these developments raise some very serious questions about providing work experience placements for people who have to undertake the activity as part of the Government’s back-to-work scheme.

“We are carrying out an urgent review into whether it remains the right thing for us to do to offer work experience in this particular context.”

Shadow employment minister, Labour’s Stephen Timms also told the Guardian that the new policy of mandatory placements was “a recipe for disaster”.

“We know that a large group of people declared to be capable of returning to work are in fact not.  Forcing them into mandatory jobs is a recipe for disaster”, Timms said

“Ministers need to focus first on fast and fundamental reform, and to get the basics right.”

Explaining the policy, employment minister Mark Hoban said: “Some people on sickness benefits haven’t worked for a long time or may not have had many jobs, which will make it harder for them to find work in the future.

“Work experience is a very good way to increase someone’s confidence and get them ready for their move into a job when they are well enough.”

The minister added: “People on sickness benefits who do all they can to improve their chances of moving back into a job have nothing to worry about.

“They will get their benefits and we will do all we can to help. But in the small number of cases where people refuse to stick to their part of the bargain, it’s only right there are consequences.”

Note: For more of my photos from the protest against Atos Healthcare on August 31, see here (and here).

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

53 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Thank you, Andy.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Walt Sawyer wrote:

    The modern day equivalent of the workhouse

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Paula Helliwell wrote:

    One of the things I will never ever forgive Tony Blair for is that his ego led us to electing a Tory government , other things too but for this countries vulnerable people it is inhuman

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    well said, Andy…though simply not enough are screaming this where it’s needed most. Where the hell is the supposed Opposition???

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    David J. Clarke wrote:

    Unbelievably Dickensian. Disability as a ‘dishonourable state caused by a lack of moral virtue’. The re-introduction of the Workhouse cannot be far off.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Dejanka, Walt, Paula, Ruth, David and everyone who’s been liking and sharing this. As the former US Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey said in his final speech in 1977, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” It’s sadly impossible to imagine those words emerging from the mouth of a single senior politician these days …

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    And Ruth, your point about Labour’s spinelessness is hugely important. Obviously what’s happening is that austerity is the only game in town, and no one wants to revive Keynesian approach. That should change, when everything George Osborne and the Tories do only ends up costing more in borrowing costs as the country becomes more and more entrenched in an economic death spiral, but we never hear anything from Labour about genuine alternatives – what government expenditure we should really get rid of, what taxes we need to claw back from the rich tax evaders and tax avoiders, how to create jobs, how to manage the creation of an affordable standard of living, which includes a considerably less inflated and greedy approach to property. Just a few ideas to be starting with …!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I shared the article, andy. I pointed out that the open-ended nature of the mandatory work period worries me. Given the recent announcements that austerity will not end until, I think, 2018, there is a good chance that at least some people forced onto this scheme will never find work or be able to seek it. There are suggestions that this slavery is what some bosses and politicos want. I’ll see if I can find the link to this claim.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Here we are, Andy. I will admit that I’ve suspected this for several years, and not only about the UK.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/27/austerity-british-elite-george-osborne-mervyn-king

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    They are an absolute disgrace, George: “When all the options are bad, they [the British elite] would much prefer to go with the orthodoxy that has served business well in the past.” They’re idiots still living in Thatcher’s 1980s, wreaking untold damage because they haven’t realised that what Thatcher “liberated” in the 80s was the unfettered, deregulated greed that came back to haunt us in the economic crash of 2008, and from which we cannot recover until we change our way of thinking.
    The Tories’ policy – to napalm the state so that people are ground into the dirt and can be employed for f*ck-all – is not only morally repugnant, it’s also a really stupid fantasy. No one’s coming to town with jobs, because there aren’t any. Far too many people simply don’t have the money to take part in a society run solely on shopping and debt, the 24/7 consumption and materialism that sustained the pre-crash bubble. They were all living on credit, and then the banks stopped lending.
    We are being destroyed by malevolent amateurs, and the only thing that will stop them is for everyone who isn’t rich and leeching off others to wake up and fight back.

  11. Thomas says...

    When the crime rate goes through the roof,and the rich have to have bodyguards just to go out without being mugged or worse, that might make the MPs see sense. Anyone who has ever had pins and needles knows, to get rid of it, you get the blood back in by a bit of stomping/banging, you don’t restrict the bloodflow. If one was to give the millions given to the banks to the ordinary people of the UK, it would go back into the economy within days. True…a bit might be stolen (but to use it the crooks would need to spend it) some might be saved, but most would go into the economy again.

    If need be, I will go back to living with my parents as I did when I was a child, but I’m not going to do workfare when I haven’t done any crimes to earn and deserve such workfare. Even back when there were many jobs around I got very few offers and many of those were scam attempts. No non-scammer would want me now.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    My only quibble, Thomas, although I haven’t met you, is my assumption that somebody might want to employ you, under different circumstances. At present, however, it is disgusting that, having abdicated all responsibility for actually stimulating the economy, with unemployment still near record levels, and with far too many people in part-time work that doesn’t actually pay enough to survive, the Tory-led government is engaged in forcing anyone not officially employed into workfare, which ought to be a crime, as no one should be working, beyond a few weeks’ trial period – perhaps three months max – for nothing, or for the equivalent of £1 an hour.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Beebs Tweet wrote:

    Its a sad day, that the British have to come to tolerate these horrific implementations. Most who are seriously ill will die. Whats the difference between a gun shot and this? This is repulsive and obscene. It has to STOP.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Beebs, I agree. Too many people don’t care, but gradually, I think, they will wake up. By then, however, far too much damage will have been done. It is extraordinary the way that so many people have become depoliticised throughout my lifetime, and now seem unable to think themselves out of the trap they’re in – a self-obsessed world in which they cannot apparently comprehend that their leaders lie to them and steal from them, and it is not the fault of the poor, the disabled or immigrants. Ironically, the focus of people’s disgraceful hatred has only shifted from immigrants to the “workshy” and/or the disabled because the Tories’ immigration policy is pretty much the same as the BNP’s. It is a truly wretched state of affairs in the UK right now.

  15. Tom says...

    Andy,
    Thanks for posting this. I was going to try and post some new angle in a response. But I’m stuck. So I’ll leave it at that.

  16. damo says...

    id like to say i was supprised ,shocked,horrified even …but im not this is to quote you andy the horror of life in modern uk and wot a load of shit it is if your not one of the wealthy torie,s or wealthy ..TRAITOR..new labour elites this is it and your right until there is a whole new way of thinking and doing and being and liveing things for those who are at the so called lower end of society will only get much worse we will have the starveing in the streets ooops sorry dear we already have that it frightens me this whole 21st century culture of extream greed and cruelty anything for money litteraly anything we as a nation never used to be like that all those who died in the 2 world wars for this country must be spinning in there graves…wot happened

  17. damo says...

    when people finnaly do wake up i would not wont to be a torie or bankers or any of there cronies or creeps as there litteraly gonna be hanged in the steets and good riddens to bad rubbish ,lol,lol

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom. I’m glad I covered so much ground!

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Damo, it’s bleak, that’s for sure. There’s a minority of us – probably a sizeable one, if push comes to shove – who believe in decency, but we’re up against an entire system in which all the main political parties and many of those who claim to be religious, are actually greedy, self-absorbed, smug and vicious, in a genuinely disturbing manner.

  20. DAMO says...

    did you see the papers showing that cunt george osbournre …smirking..smirking andy smirking..like its some kinda joke he,s rolled out another disasterous budget the rich top 10 percent are not even gonna notice a tax rise ooh hang on they might as we all know how miserly and mean the super wealthy are the,d split a happenny in two,lol not he,s hammering the bottom 10 per cent .were protected to a certain degree in london you can allways hustle a pound or two here but up north and the rest of the country its desperate realy desperate people are litteraly going hungry they havent anything and this is 21st century briton,lol,lol,lol and osbourne thinks its funny thinks its a joke that snyd little bastard alonge with cameron and jhonson need to be kicked and punched from one end of this country to the other,lol

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    I absolutely agree, Damo. Yes, it was disgusting to see George Osborne smirking and enjoying it, with his face full of fat that he could live on for weeks if he was suddenly as poor as the poorest of the citizens he’s decided to kick repeatedly rather than looking out for. It’s going to be a hard winter for a lot of people, through no fault of their own, just the malevolence of the scumbags masquerading as our leaders.
    I’ll be writing something on this very soon …

  22. damo says...

    yeah he does enjoy it andy the sniverling peanut cocked little maid,lol he and his class of males if you could call them that are the types who have never been able to measure up to most other men,lol,lol and now they are in power there tackeing revenge its gonna get a lot worse andy here in acton were allready seeing dickensian levels of poverty and squalor ..the fat in giddions face will keep him alight for hours when he and his chums are burned at the stake,lol,lol

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I keep meaning to do some research, Damo, to find out what drives them in particular – rivalry with brothers, not being loved by their parents … The ruling classes are often psychopaths, unable to feel empathy for others, because of their loveless upbringing, but some of them then want to rule the world – or destroy it – and we should know what that extra driver of madness is.

  24. damo says...

    i think they get of on being cruel,it turns them on in some sick way id say that most of them were narsistic malignant sociopaths,and if your one of those you realy are fucked up,when i take the dog to ravens court park in the dead zone of the torie flag shit bourogh of hammersmith and fulham [witch used to be a labour flagship bourogh were everything was shared ]you see these torie types slithering about allways with a sneer on there faces ill give you an example of wot there like there playing ball with there dog [allways some dim pedigree]my dog will run over tail wagging wanting to play she,s an elderly mongrel instead of just letting the dog play they snatch the ball away and put it in there pocket and shoot me a dirty look as soon as i call her away out comes the ball …its how they are these subhumans ,mean minded,spirited,petty,cruel ..why are the like that not all of course but most

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Starved of love, Damo. That’s what it’s about, I reckon. Institutional cold-heartedness. Plus we’ve now had 35 years of the official policy being that making as much money as possible is the only point of existence, so that our Etonians no longer even pay lip service to any notion of the greater good; they’re all just Gordon Gekko with a cut-glass accent.
    Great commentary on their behaviour in the park, by the way.

  26. damo says...

    lol thanks andy but its true there just so mean and spitfull god if you poured boiling water down there weasel necks the,d piss out ice cube..the c..ts,lol,lol

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, we’re turning back the clock, and who knows where we’ll stop? Back in the dark ages, I reckon, with Osborne bludgeoning peasants to death in his fields …

  28. SB says...

    The indifference to these evil [I don't use that word lightly] policies reminds you of certain well known regimes of the last century.
    The sheep believe the drivel printed in the gutter press that everyone on IB is a fraud because THEY WANT TO believe it. People do love to see people get a kicking as long as it’s not them.
    And they don’t want competition for their fuckin jobs anyway in many cases.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, SB. Great to hear from you. I don’t use the word evil lightly either, but it’s true. People are either relatively powerless, and fixated on kicking those who are already down, or they are exploiting those who are down – through renting properties, for example – while kicking them simultaneously. These are, I believe, two of the three main models of living in contemporary Britain, the third consisting of those being kicked, and, like you, this wretched situation makes me furious.
    Today I was cycling through London wondering how to change things when everyone who manages to have a bit of spare cash is immediately investing in exploiting other people through property. I passed an estate agents in Borough, where the going rate for one-bed flats was £400 or £500 a week – that’s £20,000 to £25,000 a year, more than the majority of working people earn, and yet, instead of doing anything about it, Cameron and his crew of butchers want only to make sure that those who can’t secure a mortgage have as much of their income as possible taken away from them in rent – or in abominable part-rent, part-buy scams.
    It’s disgusting, and yet hardly anyone wants to talk about it, because they’re either involved in ripping off young people and families who aren’t rich enough to buy, or they wish they were.
    This really has become a dirty, scummy country, particularly in the last 15 years.

  30. Sue says...

    Wake up Britain over 3/4 of the welfare budget goes on pensions but as the government would not dare to cut pensions rightfully so. They need to force more people into work and for longer. Including the sick and disabled which is appallingly evil. Even if the jobs were there and the disabled were willing to do them with employers happy to employ and protect them. They also claim that we shall all be living longer well not the sick and disabled surely. For every one in six persons who may live to be 100 and remain fit the others will die much earlier or before even collecting a state pension. People today are not generally now as fit as those who were living in the 30’s 40’s etc. So living that long will become rarer not more common as claimed. This would also solve the problem of elderly care needs increasing. I am the only person to realise this. Also should a sick or disabled person manage to secure then hold down a job, this would then be used as evidence to prove their abilities to cope so their D.L.A or P.I.P will then be withdrawn or cut. I already have evidence of this happening already unfortunately. These problems can be solved l believe by making tax avoidance a crime and simplifying the tax system (ie) anyone earning say £30,000 pay 30% tax. Then G.B becoming a member only to the E.U. Putting M.Ps’ on a fixed salary with very limited expenses. Also immigration needs sorting l am with U.K.I.P on this one though l do not agree with everything they say on other issues. The Tories are a party for the rich and privileged only and will as always only act to protect their own interests they will never have to face up to the real hardships the masses will have to endure in the future no matter what ever happens to them. Rant over.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the comments, Sue. Very good to hear from you.

  32. Sue says...

    Is there any political party at all at this moment that we can actually trust to do and say the right and fair things? at the moment l think not.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    I think you’re right, sadly, Sue. The Labour Party is being presented with a huge opportunity to reinvent itself, but seems unwilling to seize the opportunity, apparently. I don’t know where the Keynesians are, but if the Labour leadership decides only to shadow the Tories and be slightly nicer advocates of savage austerity then we’re clearly all doomed, as Osborne’s policies are only driving us into an economic death spiral.

  34. Sue says...

    Sadly Andy you are spot on yet again yes seems that we are all doomed and going to hell in a handcart. Apart from of course those with the wealth and means to be able to cushion themshelves. Ooops! that wouldn’t be the ruling parties and their mates would it.

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly, Sue. Well, let’s keep trying to wake people up to what’s going on, before it’s all lost. I must admit that it’s the sleepiness of the general public – or their actual hostility to the most vulnerable people in society – that gets to me the most. Politicians, after all, tend to be dangerous and unprincipled, but, when I was growing up, people used to have spirit and the ability to understand when they were being oppressed. We need to get that spirit back!

  36. Sue says...

    Yes indeed! l am also concerned about the enormous gap there now is between the highest and the lowest paid.With obscenely paid salaries various perks and bonuses often for compete failure.This seems to have been getting bigger and bigger since the 80’s and l am wondering if this is just a small part of the whole problem.

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sue. Yes, the “entitlement culture” that Cameron and the Tories talk about is not poor people, but the rich, who are always special cases, it seems, paying themselves outrageous salaries, rewarding themselves for failure, and trying to avoid paying tax.

  38. Sue says...

    Too true plus many are already independently wealthy with a large inheritance or nice trust fund and fat pension to look forward too. Getting rid of the Grammar School has led to the country been run by a load of toffs who care little about the Serfs’ or Plebs’ of this world. Unfortunately the general public do not care what is happening as they understandably have enough of their own problems already. That is until they require some support for themselves. Plus they have been constantly fed on the scroungers, lazy, work-shy poison in the gutter press which has now stigmatized everybody who now needs to claim any benefits at all. Even if they have always worked before or still do. The abuse of these systems’ are actually very tiny but the impression given is that it is extremely widespread and rife. Yet the rich are often let of with all their various scams almost scott free. Any benefit fraud occurred is a just a very small drop in the ocean compared to what the ruling classes are actually getting away with. But they couldn’t possibly take any of the blame for any of this crisis themselves so had to look instead for a soft targets they could launch a smear campaign against first. Well its defiantly working as hate crime against the disabled in particular is at an all time high already. A job well done it seems. I am not against welfare reform but it has to be seen as fair and balanced first this is neither just pure evil.

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Absolutely agree, Sue. Thanks again for the comments.

  40. Sue says...

    Now the M.P’s want a £20.000 rise for themselves unbelievable what more proof do we need that they are not of this world?

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    An absolute disgrace, Sue, I agree.

  42. James says...

    We, The People, aught to be able to take the Prime Minister to Court to hold him acountable for these decisions, and their outcome on the sick and Disabled.

    I seem to recal a chap called ADOLF HITLER was accused of FORCING THE SICK AND INJURED TO WORK.

    Didn’t we fight a War to STOP HIM?

    Perhaps Adolf Cameron is TO YOUNG to remember that!

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, James. Adolf Cameron and his sick, privileged friends remember nothing, except their desire to hurt people. They are the worst form of scum masquerading as politicians that i have ever had to endure – and that’s saying something, as I grew up under Thatcher. Sadly, too, the people of this country appear to bed a lost cause. Petty, self-absorbed bigots washed clean of any political awareness.

  44. Sue says...

    Hi Andy me again can you try to explain to me why when the cost of the welfare benefit is so l hear to be about 25 million which is roughly about the same as the police bill so l understand. But then surely whatever is given in benefits is mostly taxed so in fact the treasury actually get a lot of this back, which would significantly reduce this figure if this was taken into account. Why has the government just announced that they are going to be spending 21 million on overseas aids and more untold millions on HS2 that only the wealthy will be able to afford to use. Also why we seem to set to be about to welcome possibly approx 70.000 new immigrates! and before you say l am racist l am not as both my parents were hard working immigrates who came to this country. I simply never spend more than l can afford and will always put my own family/people first l am a caring and compassionate person but wouldn’t any overseas aid be far more useful and helpful if given more on practical help and advice basis and not just money wherever possible.

  45. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Sue,
    Here’s a Guardian graphic about welfare spending, which I found useful: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2013/jan/08/uk-benefit-welfare-spending#zoomed-picture
    I’m not sure how much returns to the treasury via tax, to be honest, but I think it’s significant, from the figures – esp. looking at how the £159bn benefit spending breaks down – that spending on the disabled, who are being hit so hard, is not a very big part of the overall bill.
    I agree re: HS2, and, for that matter, a lot of other big infrastructure projects that splash around budgets of billions or hundreds of millions when apparently we’re skint, but I’m not getting into the tabloid territory of overseas aid and immigration. Whenever issues like those come up, I prefer to point people to the phenomenal tax evasion of corporations and wealthy individuals, which, if tackled, could sort out all our economic problems. UK Uncut have a handy guide: http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/about/cuts

  46. Sue says...

    Thanks l found both of these interesting but the one on benefit spending failed to mention the enormous costs the D.W.P waste just on running there own departments which is many millions and based on either incompetence, errors or greed. The public are not being given all the facts about these cuts which clearly are planned to protect the select few. It is wrong on all sorts of grounds to target and stigmatize the sick, disabled, vulnerable or unemployed when it is very often through absolutely no fault of there own and certainly not a lifestyle choice. The deficit could be tackled really easily and quickly if only they stopped targeting all the wrong areas. But it seems they can not dare to upset their wealthy party donation providers at any cost.

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sue. Yes, I absolutely agree. I’d only add that there is a personal cruelty involved in these people and their desire to crush the most vulnerable. The Tories really are a disgrace on a human basis, and should be called out publicly on every possible occasion for their absolute betrayal of the principles of Christian charity, even though, I am sure, they all claim to be good Christians.

  48. Sue says...

    Yes and then on top of all this misery we now have the bedroom tax which may affect the disabled disproportionately yet again. Forcing even more into poverty and even more having to use food banks and also being stigmatised by welfare cards. What is the next step workhouses concentration camps, gas chambers?There seems no end the the depths this government which knows no shame will stoop to. All this is to shift the blame and to create a smokescreen to hide where the blame really lies. If any of this lot are Christians l hope that they all burn in hell.

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    Sue, I couldn’t put it better. This cruelty – and, crucially, the ways in which our fellow citizens are being manipulated to see the poor and weak as the enemy – is certainly reminiscent of the ways the Nazis operated, and, of course, there is the very real history of workhouses here in the UK, which is also a logical conclusion of the current policies. Like you, I cannot understand how these Tories are allowed to get away with claiming that they are Christians.

  50. joe says...

    companys like seetec etc should be shut down because they hate everybody, are con artists/scammers.

  51. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Joe. Yes, what we need is a government committed to creating jobs, not spending a fortune on rip-off firms that don’t actually find jobs for people. The A4e scandal was particularly illuminating, I thought, with that wretched Emma Harrison woman taking millions for nothing.

  52. Marcus says...

    Hi

    I agree with all this.

    I use to work for A4e as a temp, after graduating uni, in there head office. I did not have a clue what it was all about as i was simply wanting to fill the gap in before i went on to my career as a Sports therapist. It was full off aggressive sales type people and they were always banging on about that Emma women. The management would spend a day a week at her place in Cheshire. They always came back with stories of how amazing it was and how it was like something about of Hollywood. I always remember how there was a mention of Footballers in nearly every conversation and how they would all have parties at ‘Emma’s. I only realized years after what a greedy selfish parasitic organisation it was run by a greedy bitch. If i knew then i would never have worked for such an unethical set up.Interesting how Footballers are always around where greed, ostentatious wealth and decadence are flourishing. Footballers and those words go hand in hand.

  53. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Marcus. That’s a very powerful story. Thanks for sharing it.

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