Rebuilding the Benefits system at #Lab18

The comrades in Lewisham Deptford have amended their welfare state/benefits motion.

Supporting those in need: rebuilding the welfare state

We note

  1. the 8 August ONS figures showing that improvement in life expectancy has virtually stopped.
  2. the 6 August Child Poverty Action Group report on how Universal Credit’s flaws are leading to low-income families arbitrarily losing as much as £258 a month!
  3. the July Resolution Foundation figures showing the poorest third’s incomes fell last year, even before inflation.

The situation is shameful. We must reverse the drive, accelerating since 2010, to make welfare less and less about supporting those in need and more and more stingy, punitive and coercive.

Neither Universal Credit nor the existing framework (JSA, ESA, etc) are good. We must redesign benefits in close consultation with recipients, workers and their organisations.

This must be part of a wider anti-poverty program, with a goal that by the end of our first term foodbanks disappear.

We commit to

  1. Ending the benefit freeze; uprating with inflation or earnings, whichever is higher.
  2. Reversing all cuts/reductions; increasing benefits to afford a comfortable, not minimum, income.
  3. Entitlement conditions that are straightforward, inclusive and available to all, including migrants (scrap ‘No recourse to public funds’).
  4. Paying benefits for all children and dependents.
  5. Abolishing all sanctions.
  6. Scrapping Work Capability and similar assessments.
  7. Relevant health issues being addressed using medical professionals with appropriate knowledge of individuals’ conditions and disabilities.
  8. Delivery by paid public servants via networks accessible to everyone, including provision of face-to-face support for all who need it. Reversing DWP cuts and privatisation.
 …

Disgrace

Yesterday, Labour’s Leadership let itself, its members and its supporters down.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith has instructed his civil servants and their private sector agents to break the law. 20 years ago, the Minister would have resigned, and why not? It’s not as if he didn’t mean to illegally threaten job seeker allowance claimants with loss of benefit if they didn’t take ‘work placements’, in effect working for free. …

Short & Sweet…

In the Independent, in an article headlined, “Voters ‘brainwashed by Tory welfare myths’, shows new poll”, Frances O’Grady, the TUC General Secretary, said,

“It is not surprising that voters want to get tough on welfare. They think the system is much more generous than it is in reality, is riddled with fraud and is heavily skewed towards helping the unemployed, who they think are far more likely to stay on the dole than is actually the case. Indeed if what the average voter thinks was true, I’d want tough action too.

“But you should not conduct policy, particularly when it hits some of the most vulnerable people in society, on the basis of prejudice and ignorance. And it is plainly immoral to spread such prejudice purely for party gain, as ministers and their advisers are doing, by deliberately misleading people about the value of benefits and who gets them.”

The article looks at what people think the cases is in terms of benefit levels and what actually happens…

All this on the day Child Benefit for higher rate tax paying families is stopped. A note for Londoner’s…the higher rate tax starts at £42,835, this is beneath the London average wage of £48,000. Not true….the claw back starts at £50,000. …