Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

Home Forums Discussion Forum Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019 Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

Kim Sanders-Fisher

The other day there was a hopeful sign of realism from this Tory Government who appear so determined to strangle the life out of ordinary working people in this country, but it was soon discounted as a costly delusional fantasy. Whoever had boldly floated that balloon of bailout, it was soon burst by Ministers griping about how an unconditional payment of £500 to those who test positive for Covid, allowing them to isolate, would simley encourage fraudulent claims. We, the British public, are not entitled to question the squandering of grotesque amounts of unaccountable public funds paid out to the real benefit fraudsters in the UK by this Tory Party with their billions in bribes to buddies: payback, rewarding the donations and support that enabled this corrupt cabal to secure their highly suspicious ‘landslide victory’ in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Still ‘no questions asked;’ when will we finally Investigate that dubious result, that has led to so much more corruption? The Tories now feel free to function beyond scrutiny and the law!

The hastily denounced ‘mad’ idea of that £500 payment was investigated by Ben Chu in the Independent Article entitled, “Should everyone with a positive Covid test be given £500 to self-isolate?” He says, “The government has rejected the idea of giving automatic payments to Covid sufferers to encourage them to self-isolate. But what other financial options are there, if not this, for minister to encourage adherence to the rules? In response to the concerns that many people are failing to self-isolate for 10 days when they get Covid, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has apparently been pushing for the government to give a one-off and automatic £500 payment to everyone who displays a positive test. The prime minister’s spokesperson says the government has ‘no plans’ to adopt the policy and sources at the Treasury seem to think it is a ‘mad’ idea.” But, Chu asks, “should ministers be resisting the proposal? What other financial options are there, if not this, for the state to encourage self-isolation?”

Chu says, “It’s important, first of all, to consider whether a lack of money is the reason for the lack of compliance with the isolation requirements, or (just as dangerous) a hesitancy among some to get tested in the first place. We have no definitive evidence to support this, but a large-scale study by researchers at King’s College London in September 2020 did find that low adherence to isolation requirements (just 18 per cent reported doing fully self-isolating) was associated with financial hardship. And it’s a reality that our Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) regime is among the least generous in the world at just £95.85 a week, only a fifth of average earnings. A survey by the Trades Union Congress also published last September found 43 per cent of workers saying they would not be able to live on the current levels of SSP for 10 days. And that’s assuming they would qualify for it. SSP is only available to those who earn an average of £120 per week and to those who are formally employed, leaving out the roughly 14 per cent of the UK workforce which is self-employed.”

Chu reports that, “The government did introduce special Test and Trace Support Payments worth £500 last September, but they are only available to people on benefits and who cannot work from home. Councils have been given discretionary pots of money to distribute to those formally ineligible for the £500 payments on a case-by-case basis, but these pots have not, in many cases, been large enough, meaning that in parts of the country a majority of applicants have been turned down. Indeed, information from councils shows three quarters of all the 49,877 applications in England were rejected in the final two months of 2020. ‘The amount of money local authorities got was not dependent on the number of infections in their area, it just depends on the typical formula for giving out money,’ explains Mike Brewer of the Resolution Foundation. So it’s at least highly plausible, if not likely, that a lack of state financial support is discouraging self-isolation and, indirectly, exacerbating the spread of the epidemic.”

Chu asks, “But is this particular £500 automatic scheme proposal the right way to change the balance of incentives? Some have noted the cost, which could run into hundreds of millions of pounds a week at the current rates of positive tests (more than 280,000 over the past week). But it’s vital to consider the benefits too. If the payments helped the state to suppress the virus sooner, these payments would be dwarfed by the economic benefits. In the Office for Budget Responsibility’s downside scenario from November long-term UK economic scarring from high economic restrictions until the middle of this year is 3 percent of GDP or around £60bn. Medium restrictions until Spring would result in no scarring at all. If isolation payments help the government suppress the disease more rapidly and reopen the economy sooner this will almost certainly be an investment that will pay for itself many times over.”

Chu then raises the point Tories, obsessed with the meager potential for benefit fraudsters, simply cannot bear to contemplate. He writes, “However, some have wondered whether a one-off £500 payment could create perverse incentives. Given the size of the payment relative to average wages (the median weekly average salary was £585 in 2019), some low earners might, conceivably, be tempted to deliberately expose themselves to the disease to secure it. Whether this would be a large problem, given the serious health risks, is debatable. But if we accept, hypothetically, that it is a danger, what other options are there?” In a typical stubborn Tory refusal to accept reality, driven by selfish elitist greed, the very thought of assisting the undeserving poor is anathema to them. The PM would rather squander all of that borrowed Covid cash on ‘Tallyho Harding’s’ dysfunctional Test and Trace program, that still doesn’t work, or he could announce another ‘world-beating’ moonshot fiasco: Tories will ‘cut off their nose to spite their face!’

Chu examines an alternative saying, “One possibility, as recommended by the Resolution Foundation, is allowing firms to put workers required to self-isolate on the furlough scheme, where the government picks up 80 per cent of the wages up to a £2,500 a month cap. Yet the problem here is that a minority of employers seem to be unscrupulous. Research by the Royal Society for Arts found that many workers had been pressured back into their workplace, and one in 10 of those doing insecure work, such as zero-hours contracts and agency or gig economy jobs, reported they had been to work within 10 days of a positive Covid test. So relying on employers might in itself be hazardous. There’s also the problem that only formal employees can be furloughed, leaving out the large population of self-employed.” To this Tory Government, unconditionally shelling out more money to employers would be far more palatable, despite the risk of fraud or the possibility that they will further exploit their staff through ‘fire and rehire schemes.’

Chu reports that, “The trade unions have been calling for most of the past year for the level of SSP to be considerably raised. This would help improve financial incentives, but it would probably not be sufficient on its own as this scheme too is administered by employers. A comprehensive scheme to support self-isolating workers would clearly need to support both employees and the self-employed. The simplest method of reaching the latter, in the end, might be simply to make the Treasury funds available to councils to distribute £500 to those deemed to be in need unlimited. ‘It must be possible to devise something between the current very restrictive [system] and payments to everybody’, says Mr Brewer. What frustrates analysts is that it’s taken the government so long to start addressing what has been a glaring weakness in the system for almost a year. ‘The annoying this is that it’s January now, it’s been going for 10 months and the government hasn’t given this any more thought than they did in the first week,’ says Mr Brewer.”

The Tories will never stop skimming off the cream while leaving the rest of the milk to sour. The reality of the Pandemic, not just Covid, but any pandemic, is that those deemed unworthy of care and support will establish a fertile breeding ground for a resistant highly infectious mutant strain capable of decimating the entire population. That has always been the Achilles heel in the US with its lack of access to affordable Healthcare, compulsion for forcing people to work while sick, threadbare social safety net and high levels of poverty, homelessness and destitution. The decade of Tory austerity sought to emulate the US by instituting all of the most serious critical flaws that leave their population so vulnerable; luckily Covid hit before they could manage to fully privatize and sell off our NHS! Forcing people to work while sick remains a driving force in the UK crisis; the Tories have yet to complete the dismantling of our social safety net, but they had certainly prioritized this agenda before the pandemic disrupted their plans.

Early on in the Covid crisis, the elderly in Care Homes were deliberately exposed, a vulnerable sector of the ‘economically inactive’ population was considered ‘expendable’. While the PM lied about ‘putting arms around’ our seniors in reality they were left trapped, neglected and abandoned by the state, because the Government knew their ‘Holocaust in Care’ would cull this sector of pension collectors from the benefit roster! Younger people struggling with disabilities, still in receipt of legacy benefits like Employment and Support Allowance, represented another ‘expendable’ prime target for the Tory ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ as these benefits were not uprated. Not that it wasn’t necessary and long overdue – it’s still a mystery to me why the Tories hiked Universal Credit by £20 a week. I think they were concerned that their dirty little secret about the amount not being sufficient to live on was about to be felt by a much broader segment of the population and they feared a huge backlash, but they still retained the five week waiting period.

This sounded like uncharacteristic generosity when Rishi Sunak was first splashing the cash, but it barely compensated for the years of frozen benefits while the cost of living continued a steady climb. Now it’s proving harder to shake loose from a temporary uplift as it would plunge recipients into greater poverty than is already proving unsustainable; under intense pressure from all sides the Government have begrudgingly allowed piecemeal extensions to the increase. In the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour to force vote on Universal Credit as PM hints planned cut will go ahead,” Sienna Rodgers reveals that, “Labour is set to force a vote in the House of Commons on Monday over the impending cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits that will cause families to lose over £1,000 a year amid an ongoing pandemic.”

I have never bought into the ridiculous ‘borrowed votes’ lie that the Tories used to con the British public into believing that former Labour voters were so fixated on Brexit that they had forgiven the hardship of a decade of hardship, deprivation and neglect to vote for Johnson. Rodgers reported that, “Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: ‘Under the Conservatives, families come last. The government’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic means Britain is facing one of the worst recessions of any major economy. ‘Boris Johnson’s decision to cut Universal Credit will hit millions of families who are already struggling to get by. There cannot be another repeat of the government’s indecision and mismanagement of the free school meals scandal. ‘The government must put families first during this lockdown and act now instead of waiting until the last minute. If ministers refuse, Conservative MPs have the opportunity to vote with Labour and give families the support they need to get through this pandemic’.”

According to Rodgers, “The plan for a vote comes after Boris Johnson hinted on Wednesday that the cut would go ahead. He told the parliamentary liaison committee: ‘I think that what we want to see is jobs. We want to see people in employment. We want to see the economy bouncing back. I think most people in this country would rather see a focus on jobs and a growth in wages than focusing on welfare. But clearly we have to keep all these things under review.’ He did not acknowledge that Universal Credit is received by people in work. There were 5.7 million people in receipt of the social security payment in October last year, of which 2.2 million – 39% – were employed.” In essence a significant proportion of Universal Credit is actually supporting Corporate giants in their exploitation of the workforce who subsist on pitance pay working zero hours contracts that do not provide a living wage.

Rodgers also highlighted another neglected sector, saying, “When Labour’s Stephen Timms raised the issue of legacy benefits not being uprated in line with UC during the pandemic, Johnson replied: ‘We want everybody to move on to Universal Credit. It’s a successful system.’ Timms had to point out that disabled people can receive a severe disability premium that is not taken into account by Universal Credit. For many people, moving to UC voluntarily would entail significant losses in income. As highlighted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, those who opt to make the switch instead of being moved by the government via ‘managed migration,’ which is paused during Covid, would miss out on transitional payments. The Department for Work and Pensions has repeatedly claimed throughout the pandemic that changing legacy benefits in the same way as Universal Credit was altered would be ‘more complex’ due to ‘old’ IT systems.”

Rodgers reports that, “UC was increased by Rishi Sunak in March due to Covid. Although the pandemic is not over, the uplift is set to end in April and the Chancellor will not confirm whether this will go ahead or not until the Budget in March. The Child Poverty Action Group has said the uplift is essential to ensure ‘low-income families with children receive the support they need’. The JRF has warned that another 200,000 children could be pushed into poverty. Polling in December showed that a majority of the British public support the policy of keeping the Universal Credit uplift introduced amid the Covid crisis and would like to see claimants continue receiving an extra £20 a week. According to the poll conducted by Survation for Unite the Union, 54% of UK adults believe that the increased standard allowance in Universal Credit should be extended beyond April, while 28% disagree.”

Rodgers says, “The research suggested that 40% of those who voted Conservative in the last general election back the policy of keeping the uplift and 70% of 2019 Labour supporters are in favour of the increase remaining in place. Labour demanded five urgent changes to the social security system in April, from converting Universal Credit advances into grants instead of loans to removing the savings limit and suspending the benefits cap.” Rodgers has included a list of who is sponsoring the Bill: Keir Starmer; Jonathan Reynolds; Anneliese Dodds; Angela Rayner; Bridget Phillipson and Mr Nicholas Brown. The full text of Labour’s opposition day motion reads: “Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit – That this House believes that the government should stop the planned cut in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit in April and give certainty today to the six million families for whom it is worth an extra £1,000 a year.”

In the December 2020 Labour List Article entitled, “Labour demands action as report shows ‘appalling’ rise in destitution,” Elliot Chappell details this shocking problem. He says, “Jonathan Reynolds has called on the government to provide more support for families struggling over the winter this year following the publication of a new report showing an ‘appalling’ rise in the number of people facing destitution. Responding to a report released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Labour frontbencher reiterated the party’s demands for urgent changes to be made to welfare to better support families facing hardship in the pandemic. The analysis by the charity found that destitution rose by 54% between 2017 and 2019 and that 2.4 million people, including over half a million children, were experiencing ‘extreme hardship’ before coronavirus hit the country.”

Chappell says, “Commenting on the report published by the organisation today, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary declared: ‘No child in Britain should be hungry or without essentials. The government must do more to support struggling families who are facing real hardship this winter. They must see sense and scrap the planned cut to Universal Credit, which will take £20 a week from six million families.’ According to the analysis from the JRF today, one in seven people – 14% – experiencing destitution were in paid work, and the phenomenon became more concentrated in the northern regions over the two-year period. The report identified inadequate benefit levels and debt deductions, particularly the repayable Universal Credit loan many people are forced to borrow to cover the five-week wait for the benefit, as key drivers of destitution.”

Chappell says, “Reynolds added: ‘We urge the government to end the disastrous five-week wait, which is pushing people into debt, as well as increase support for those on legacy benefits, such as carers and disabled people, who have had no additional support throughout this crisis.’ Claimants can apply for a Universal Credit loan to see them through the five-week waiting period for the benefit payments to begin. But this is repayable via deductions to the subsequent payments that an applicant receives. The number of people on the benefit has more than doubled over the course of the pandemic, with 5.7 million people in receipt of Universal Credit in October. Around 1.3 million claimants were issued with loans between March and June. Labour urged the government to make five changes to the social security system earlier this year, including scrapping the five-week wait. Food bank network Trussell Trust has called for a freeze to the deductions from payments.”

Chappell reports that, “Labour warned that recent figures, showing that half of all households visiting food banks have struggled to afford essential goods as a result of repaying debt accrued through the benefit, is a sign that Universal Credit is ‘clearly failing’. Commenting on the research released by JRF this morning, director of the organisation Helen Barnard said: ‘It is appalling that so many people are going through this distressing and degrading experience, and we should not tolerate it.’ She added: ‘We can and must do more. The pandemic has shown just how much we want to look out for each other in difficult times, but the sobering truth is that even before Covid-19 hit, the number of people in destitution was rising sharply.’ Barnard said the current welfare system is not doing enough to protect people and called on the government to confirm that the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, granted by the government in March, will not be cut from April next year.”

Chappell reminds us that, “The government raised the standard allowance for the benefit by £20 a week for a year. This resulted in an income rise of just over £1,000 per year, with the rate for a single claimant over the age of 25 up from £317.82 to £409.89 per month. But the measure is only set to last for 12 months and the increase is due to be cut next year. Despite calls from charities and Labour to retain the uplift, Rishi Sunak remained silent on the benefit during his spending review last month. The report released by the charity this morning is the third in a series of ‘destitution in the UK’ studies, published every two years by the foundation and undertaken by Heriot-Watt University. It consists of a survey taken at the end of 2019 and interviews with 70 people in spring 2020. A household is considered destitute when it cannot afford two or more of the essentials needed to survive, such as food and shelter.” We all pay into the system, but far too many are denied access to the benefits they have paid to sustain.

People tend to forget about all the time spent in work and paying taxes, that our benefit system is built on those funds, intended to function as an insurance policy that pays out when we require support for whatever reason including retirement. Lifting the tax free allowance doesn’t eliminate the universal burden of VAT, levied across the board on groceries and bills, that the poor are least able to pay. Due to ruthless austerity cuts and the cruel work capabilities assessments of Tory Governments this vital social safety net has been manipulated to inflict eternal poverty on the exploited working poor by trapping them in perpetual debt and destitution, regardless of how hard they work. While an appeal might claw back support money that should rightly have been paid, it remains a grueling process that some claimants sadly do not survive. We have allowed the alt-right to enlist the tabloid press in demonizing the deserving destitute as worthless scroungers, while obscenely wealthy ‘Elite Cheats’ trouser our society’s collective wealth!

Meanwhile powerful Corporate tax dodgers and the corrupt wealthy elite, who blatantly defraud the public out of billions, are able to negotiate a settlement that reduces the amount they have managed to cheat or embezzle from the system over a period of years. Why doesn’t the Government go after these really serious ‘Elite Cheats’ to recover huge bonuses paid out to CEOs right before they abandon their subcontractors, workers and pensioners? Infamous pension-pot pilferer, Philip Green will not be paying off his debt in full, but the people whose retirement fund he plundered will suffer the loss. The Government was still awarding lucrative contracts to Corporate giant Carilion right up to the point where it collapsed under the weight of excessive greed: a much needed Hospital languishes awaiting completion. The public funds this Tory Government continue to siphon off, to lavish on dysfunctional projects and corrupt supply chains, will cement their ruthless authoritarian regime in power for decades; we must derail that gravy train! DO NOT MOVE ON!