Saturday, 4 May 2013

Universal Benefits?

You don't get something for nothing and this is never more true than the promise of a pension across the board worth £144 per week.

The first hangup is that by the time it is actual fact £144 will probably be worth £90 per week if that. You don't get something for nothing! Governments of any colour have used this ruse so many times, except perhaps the one voted in in 1945.  They really did try to put into effect promises they made on time.

Secondly what does “Universal Benefits” mean.  The fact is this is probably a clever way of demolishing many existing benefits to save the Exchequer a few billion here and there. Anyone with a ha'p'orth of sense knows that doing away with certain benefits means just that.  They will not be replaced by generous replacements.

So many will find themselves without help when and where it is most needed. If you don't qualify for certain welfare reforms then it will probably be goodbye to assistance you have relied upon for years.

No Government now, particularly in this time of austerity, is going to throw money around ad lib. So cutting out many benefits and replacing them with a universal benefit is a massive con. You don't get something for nothing. The idea put forth is that it will save time and money to coordinate the benefit system into one efficient whole. It will indeed save lots of administrative fees but lets not kid ourselves, saving working costs is the publicity gimmick; what it will really do and this is the real intent, is cut out many benefits to the disabled, those in need of social care and the unemployed and wait for it, pensioners.

Of course, Tax Credits have been a sleazy way of not raising the pension and kidding the hard up pensioners that they are in effect getting a rise. Of course they weren't, aren't and never will. All that was required was a decent rise in the State Pension; cheaper to administer and ethical but if one can shut up a few by claiming that those on low pensions can claim Tax Credits, its much cheaper in the long run than doing the decent thing and making sure the elderly get what they were promised all their working lives.

So £144 it is and by 2014, you can bet your bottom dollar (if you can afford it) that this magnificent £144 won't be worth £90.

The trouble is many decent honest folk are being taken in by this. This clever ploy has shut up the strident voices calling for a rise and obviates the necessity to keep up the argument.

This is a massive con trick and the Government know it and so would a Labour Government. The fact is the elderly, thanks to sly innuendo, are now regarded as an unworthy burden on society so there won't be a lot fighting our corner.

One can observe similar attitudes relating to our ex-service men. Those with deep and shocking injuries are now having to prove to a commercial company that they are unable to get or find work.

This unscrupulous attitude extends to the civil sector also. The Independent of 25th March 2013 reports of:

an amputee who cannot walk, struggles to talk and is brain damaged has been passed “fit for work” and had his benefits cut under government reforms. His incapacity benefits were cut by £440 a month and [he] has been left with £220 to pay his monthly rent, bills and food. The 50-year-old had received incapacity benefits, now known as employment and support allowances since 1993 when he had a brain tumour. He also had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2004 after contracting deep vein thrombosis.

Notice the change of description of benefit and what is worse, all this was monitored by ATOS, the firm the Government has used to monitor and control benefits.

You didn't vote for ATOS, neither did you vote for Group 4 another Government appointed agency but there they are having a huge influence on our lives concerning matters of need and handicap. These firms are probably “jobs for the boys”- nice little earners. What is even worse than these schemes and plots, for this is what they are, is that they insult our intelligence and that is really unforgivable.

Joan Grant

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