The benefit cap, the political Trojan horse of welfare reform
Of all welfare reform policies, the benefit cap has resonated most strongly with the public, and gained most support from across the political spectrum. As a headline policy it has been easy to explain and to promote. When politicians asked, 'why should people get more on benefits than others get by working?', people tended to agree. Why should they?
The unquestioning acceptance of, and deference to, market forces may have reached its peak, with an educated young blogger aspiring to have the opportunity to live in a slum, if that's all that market forces are prepared to allow him.
Benefit sanctions - overused, harmful and unjustified
David Clapson died with no food in his stomach, three weeks after his Jobseekers Allowance was stopped due to a benefit sanction. David, a 59 year old diabetic who had served in the Army and cared for his late mother, was desperately seeking work when he fell foul of the sanctions regime. The DWP said,
"Sanctions are only used as a last resort for a tiny minority who don’t follow the rules.."
Benefit cuts may not be as popular as we're led to believe
We are constantly being told that the British public has swallowed the 'scroungers and skivers' rhetoric about benefit claimants, and is broadly in favour of welfare cuts. Any politician who opposes these cuts is widely portrayed as unrealistic and unelectable. But what if that is not true, and the public's attitude is actually far less harsh than the Westminster bubble would have us believe?
George Osborne, the Budget, and the truth about ESA
When announcing a huge cut to Employment Support Allowance in his budget speech, George Osborne managed to pack so much that was misleading into only six sentences, it really merits some close analysis.
Budget: don't be young, poor, or disabled, and don't have a third child
The idea of a compulsory National Living Wage sounds very attractive, and will no doubt grab most of the budget headlines. But as ever, the devil is in the detail, and there will need to be some careful calculations before we can decide just what this means for people.
Open letter from Catholics to Iain Duncan Smith - update
By Bernadette Meaden and Virginia Moffatt
We thought long and hard about writing an open letter to Iain Duncan Smith. As a way of trying to influence government policy, this method would certainly not be our first choice. We believe in focusing on policies, not politicians. But we also believed we had reached the point where to appeal to Mr Duncan Smith as an individual, and to make a strong public show of concern, was necessary.
Punishing disabled people to make reality match a flawed theory?
In the New Statesman, 25-year-old Rosie Fletcher recently wrote, "Disease isn’t like a gas meter. It has no notion of economics. It doesn’t switch off because you’ve stopped putting money in. This isn’t some kind of elaborate con I’ve been running … Cutting my benefits won't get me back into work. It will make my life smaller, more stressful. It will make me sicker."
When the poverty figures were published last week, many people were surprised that they did not show a significant rise. Particularly for people active in their communities, the figures did not seem to reflect the hardship they are seeing.