Friday, 27 March 2015

Tory Cuts: As Bad as we Feared

 When the Chancellor, George Osbourne, refused to detail in the budget what observers estimated as £12Bn of cuts required for his plans for the next parliament to work, we all knew the likelihood was the Tories were going to trash disability benefits again. Those cuts have now leaked, and they are everything we feared.

The proposed cuts (with 'savings' per annum where known) are:

Industrial Injuries Compensation Scheme: companies to be made to pay instead. Of course this then puts the onus on the injured party to sue their employer when they refuse to pay out. They're supposed to use an insurer, but consider the history of Unum Provident and their 'disability denial mills'. £1Bn

Carer's Allowance to be restricted to people eligible for Universal Credit. 40% of carers to lose eligibility at a stroke. £1Bn

Contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Contributory Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) to be means-tested, meaning 300,000 families losing £80 a week (and then you get to a year and lose everything through time-limiting). £1.3Bn (Edited to add:) The Institute for Fiscal Studies have pointed out this effectively means the abolition of cESA and cJSA, all unemployment claims will be treated on basis of the means-tested basis of Income-Based ESA or JSA, meaning your National Insurance contributions mean nothing.

Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance to be taxed. £1.5Bn

Council Tax Support merged into Universal Credit.

Child Benefit only for first two children. £1Bn

Regional Benefit Caps to be introduced. Cameron already wants to cut the maximum benefits payable from £26,000 to £23,000, under this proposal only those in London would get that amount, the rest of the country would get less. (And to be fair to the Tories, Labour's Ed Balls is in favour of this one, though many Labour MPs aren't).

The comments in the BBC article are worth noting.

IDS's spokesman: "Officials spend a lot of time generating proposals - many not commissioned by politicians. It's wrong and misleading to suggest that any of this is part of our plan."

BBC: "The leaked documents were prepared by civil servants and commissioned by Conservative Party officials."

I think that's BBC-speak for 'Liar, liar, pants on fire!'

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