Disgusting

tax_evasion_v_benefit_fraud_-_full_size

By Dan Vevers

“That’s because Labour wouldn’t let the job centres advertise them.”

This – though I’ve paraphrased – was David Cameron’s pathetic, weasel-worded explanation for the explosion in food banks his government has presided over, during his recent Battle for Number 10 interview with Jeremy Paxman. He was lying. He was lying wilfully. In the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s analysis on this subject, the number one reason for the use of food banks is benefit sanctions and delays.

This inhumane regime is literally driving people to their deaths.

A father, Benjamin Del MacDonald, who “doted” on his five-year-old daughter, was driven to suicide in East Lancashire after his benefits were stopped last November.

The same month, a woman who suffered from chronic back pain – and founded her own charity for others suffering from chronic pain – killed herself after the DWP threatened benefit withdrawal and also demanded thousands of pounds from her in backdated benefits. On the day the results of the inquest into Julia Kelly’s death were announced, Iain Duncan Smith called taking people off benefits an example of “Conservative compassion.”

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Army veteran and diabetic David Clapson who served during the Troubles, died in Stevenage last July with no food in his stomach, £3.44 in his account, and an out-of-credit electricity meter. He was unable to keep his insulin chilled as a result. He died of diabetic ­ketoacidosis.

Sheila Holt from Rochdale, who had suffered from severe bipolar disorder since childhood, was forced into the Work Programme in 2013. She was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in December of that year, after the pressure from the Work Programme led her into a manic episode. Later she had a heart attack that put her into a coma and caused brain damageShe died last month in hospital.

A man Irvine Welsh described as “the poet laureate of Leith”, Paul Reekie, committed suicide only a month after the Coalition Government came to power, after his housing benefit, along with the incapacity benefit he claimed for severe depression, was stopped.

These are just five examples from a heinously long list. The DWP has carried out “60 peer reviews following the death of a customer” since 2012. Some customer service that is.

The Conservatives are not planning to disclose where the £12 billion of further welfare cuts they have proposed are going to fall. Five weeks out from an election and they aren’t even willing to lie about it. They’re just not telling.

Cameron spoke of cuts to welfare as though they were the only option. Nuclear weapons we’ll never use and maintain purely for prestige are more important than society’s most vulnerable. A train line is more important than society’s most vulnerable. Cutting tax for people earning millions is more important than society’s most vulnerable. Burning through cash to bomb what is now a hell-hole, Libya, was more important than society’s most vulnerable.

But it’s worse than merely not helping them. They’ve actively fucked them. Benefit sanctions that kill. Nearly a million on foodbanks. The slave labour of Workfare. The closing of all Remploy factories. Their complicity, their participation, in the right-wing press’ demonisation agenda, against anyone who’s not from round here or has fallen on hard times.

The costs of benefit fraud are completely dwarfed by those of tax avoidance and evasion. It’s like being a shopkeeper, getting your till emptied by professional thieves, then rounding on the kid who nicked a couple cola bottles out the pick ‘n’ mix.

The City of London – and ridiculously, deliberately convoluted UK tax laws – are a huge part of this epidemic. Yes, it’s an international problem. But as The Economist put it in 2013:

“The City of London, which pioneered offshore currency trading in the 1950s, still specialises in helping non-residents get around the rules.”

Everyone knows this. Some call the Square Mile the “tax haven capital of the world”. They are the international problem – at the very least, a huge part of it. They, along with the politicians they bankroll. George Osborne’s tokenistic £5 billion target for new anti-tax avoidance measures – only 5% of the black hole avoidance and evasion is estimated to generate – would have more credibility had it not come from a man who, as an MP, recommended “legal” tax avoidance to a caller live on national television.

But no, it’s welfare that’s the problem. That, and funding for local councils. These are the only two areas besides their own Government departments the Conservatives can possibly think to cut – social security and core local services.

Iain Duncan Smith can’t tell us where exactly, though – at least, not until the Tories are safely back in power. The same despicable man whose disastrous tenure as leader of the Conservative Party was backed by the pro-Apartheid Springbok Club, while his campaign for leader was vice-chaired by the father of Nick Griffin, Edgar Griffin, a believer in voluntary repatriation for ethnic minorities. The same man who ignored the food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, for a year while they asked for an audience to talk about child poverty, but instead then met JP fucking Morgan to brainstorm the issue. The same man whose Damascene conversion to social justice in Easterhouse in 2002 was revealed as the cruellest and most shallow demagoguery when he actually got a chance to do something about it.

Not even this well-practised forked tongue deigns us worthy of a lie. It’s none of our business where they cut. Although DWP leaks suggest restrictions on Child Benefit, tightening eligibility criteria for the Carer’s Allowance, and most ludicrous of all, taxing Disability Benefit. Taxing a benefit. You read that right.

But these are just ideas, we’re assured. I mean, sometimes I get the idea I’d like to watch PMQ’s, but then I remember I’d rather eat my own eyes. However, does anyone think for a nanosecond that the Tories we’ve seen over the last five years – diluted by the Liberal Democrats, let’s remember – would balk at a single one of these proposals?

I am no fan of Labour. They invented the benefit sanction. They laid the groundwork for the bedroom tax. Their complete complicity in the Thatcherite media narrative dominating UK politics is beyond depressing. I am very glad to have the SNP to vote for instead. That said, I’d infinitely rather have a shitty Labour government than the unbearably cruel hypocrites and liars in the Conservative Party.

I was taught that looking after your most vulnerable was the mark of a civilised society. We are not a civilised society. The privileged and comfortable might scoff at that, but the families of people who’ve killed themselves in desperation, because of a benefits system designed to make their lives a misery of stigma and hardship – I don’t think they would.

When Cameron talks about “finishing the job”, be afraid. Think what that means in relation to the people in our society who need help the most. There is only one word for this Prime Minister, this Party, this Government.

Disgusting.



Categories: Precarity

24 replies

  1. See Fraser Nelson the Telegraph today arguing that the Tories should make a positive out of the proliferation of food banks. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11511944/David-Cameron-should-not-be-afraid-to-talk-about-food-banks.html

    • Maybe they’ll privatise them,or offshore them along with their clients?
      The Camerons of this world are completely bereft of moral fibre and have no place in society,our society that is since they are in complete denial about any such entity.

    • Perhaps they will supply their clients with ‘fiat’ food?

  2. I regret not being a religious person and so cannot damn the Tories (and Blair et al) to hell. However, I will be taking note of the statistics in the sad article above and will challenge UK party supporters to justify them. Maybe this will open their eyes to the hell on earth they are putting innocent people through, up to and including driving them to despair and suicide.

  3. “Taxing benefits” ..that sums them up! Yes , be afraid of Tories “finishing the job” – then be angry – then get out and make sure that we get as many SNP politicians into Westminster as possible. I didn’t think I could feel more sick at heart than on the morning after the Referendum but reading this article has left me sickened and despairing that in 2015 we can allow this grinding down of the most vulnerable in our society. Time for a regime change – these tyrants must go.

  4. Disgusting, is not nearly a strong enough word.

  5. Sorry, Dan, if I’m being a little dense but I didn’t understand the context of the Cameron quote at the beginning. Labour wouldn’t allow foodbanks to be advertised in job centres?

    As to the rest of the article, I absolutely share your anger over the Tories’ – and Labour’s – draconian regime of benefit sanctions. I was working in Easterhouse at the time of IDS’s visit remember a few local folk believing he’d actually had his eyes opened. Sadly, as we all now know, the full revelation of his great epiphany was that the poor had too much money.

    Isn’t it strange how many devout Christians like IDS trumpet Jesus’ teachings as redolent with Home Counties’ Tory values?

    Plainly, he wasn’t the Messiah, just a very Tory boy.

    • Hi Drew,

      Essentially, Cameron’s argument was that because Labour didn’t allow job centres to advertise food banks, less people knew about them. He tried to claim the rise in food bank usage was partly due to the Tories abandoning this policy, and thusly increasing awareness of food banks.

  6. I loved the anger in this – it echoes mine.

  7. Not only content with sanctioning benefit seekers, they also compel them to call premium rate numbers to try and find the reason for non payment of the meagre handout.
    IDS – IAIN DUNCAN SMITH not to be confused with
    IBS – IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
    Although both extreme pain and discomfort to those unfortunate to be affected by the disease

  8. Saddest thing is it is so unnecessary. Benefits for the unemployed, disabled, ill are only a tiny part of the over all welfare bill and the difference between running a humane policy and one that pushes vulnerable people into impossible situations that at the most extreme they feel suicide
    Is the only way out is probably only a couple of billion at most. Undoubtedly it is better for most people to be in employment with the many benefits not just financial that this brings but to take this to mean that you should force people often with complex problems into employment and then punish them if they don’t cooperate is wrongheaded. In the long run a more humane policy that treated people better as well as causing less human misery would get more people into genuine jobs and might even be cheaper in the long run. A moral case does exist to encourage people into work but to remove morality out of how this is implemented is not good politics for any party not even the Conservatives

  9. “Finishing the job” or “only half way” I think we all know what those words mean.

  10. The main media still portray the less able as abusers of the system while the biggest abusers of the system pay their way out of penalties for bigger abuses.

  11. Bringing these stats of death and despair for the most vulnerable in our society is the only way to get through to the people of this country.These rules which are really a form of social genocide will eventually touch the lives of all working class families.We must let all who think” everything is rosie in the garden right now” know… that THEY are on these Evil B******ds lists,only a little further down than the sick and disabled that are being targeted right now.
    This lot think that these atrocities will be lost with the passage of time, but they had better not hold their breath. I say to them all…”You won’t always have the biggest stick”.

  12. Dear Scotland, take us with you, please

    Regards

    The North of England

  13. If the Tories get back into Government it will be by the votes of the middle and upper classes. The working class, benefit class, welfare class need to exert ourselves and make sure they don’t get in. We need a Gandhian revolution.

  14. A sick society, in denial, takes refuge behind its hypocrisy -while the Establishment takes advantage and wallows in it.

  15. Excellent article. Shame about the swearing. The Tories make me swear in private all the time, and Labour indeed. But I dont inflict that swearing on others. That said, the Tory government and IDS are murderers, pure and simple. They have driven people to suicide, they have driven many young men to crime and they have driven many young women into the sex industry. Horrible, horrible people suffices.

  16. Strewth, what a load of bleeding heart liberals, or should I of course say Snatchers.

    I could refute all the rubbish above 100x over, but will limit myself to just the one comment about the bogus UK disability stats. This taken from the WalesOnline’s website:

    “…more than half the population describing themselves as disabled in Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly…”

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/one-fifth-welsh-working-age-1799601

    Get real. A substantial %age of so called “disabled” and impoverished prefer hand-outs and State Aid to the active and rewarding world of WORK; and the current coalition government has been extremely successful in exposing the Welfare racket.

    I just hope the electorate will allow them, or the Tories alone, to continue the good work they’ve started.

  17. How can a mere Englander get ruled by Scotland? Its not independence we need in England it is a benign colonial government from Edinburgh to replace the cloned parties down here. I’m voting Green but I did help vote in one of the first SNP MPs in Argyll in the 70s when I lived there..

  18. “Tory plans to deny patients the right to refuse treatment are an assault on human rights”

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/peter-kinderman/tory-plans-to-deny-patients-right-to-refuse-treatment-are-assault-on-human-ri

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