The Work Capability Assessment is indefensible. It needs to be scrapped. The full extent of the distress and damage it has caused may never be fully known, but all who understand, or who have not got a blindly ideological commitment to it, now say it needs to be stopped.
Pope Francis, Catholic Social Teaching, and UK politics
As Pope Francis arrived in the USA his biographer, British journalist Paul Vallely tweeted, "The Pope said on the plane what I said last week in politico.com - and what he said after Evangelii Gaudium “It’s not Marxism. It’s classic Catholic social teaching, as developed by previous popes.”
As a new Shadow Cabinet takes shape, the economy promises to become the most fascinating area of policy debate. Since 2010 we have had an Opposition which hardly dared to challenge the austerity agenda, or the rewritten version of events which was used to justify it.
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.