Prior to Channel Four’s ‘Benefits Street’ being aired last night (6 January 2014), the tabloid press had primed its readers, with plenty of articles such as this one from the Daily Express, laden with Iain Duncan Smith-style rhetoric: ‘broken Britain, scroungers, workshy, burden on society’, etcetera.
UK chancellor George Osborne is using divide-and-rule tactics to try to push through further cuts of around £25 billion over two years by 2017-18. This includes £12 billion in social security reductions. The poorest will be worst affected but, if he gets his way, many others currently struggling to cope with sharply rising prices and rents will be hit.
In an important new paper from the Centre for Wefare Reform (http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org), leading independent disability campaigner Kaliya Franklin, part of the Spartacus network, carefully analyses how government policy has undermined the objectivity of the medical assessments on sick and disabled people used by the private medical firm ATOS.
When the government speaks of 'recovery' (which may well turn out to be a bubble largely supported by consumer spending, inflated house prices and private credit), it is worth asking, 'what is being recovered by whom?'