The fabric of Britain as we know it is being ripped apart. So much is changing, almost behind our backs, we haven't got time to notice what is happening to us. And it is happening fast.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Benefit Scroungers - What Can We Do?

I live in one of the UK’s richer areas and I have become used to hearing about the dreadful benefit scroungers and bloody poor people causing all this global economy crap, but on a recent visit to my family who live in one of the poorest areas of Wales I was staggered to hear the same old myths being peddled there too.

My family live in the Rhondda Cynon in South Wales. An area of high unemployment and lower than National Average Wages.

In the 1980’s the area was brought to its knees when the coal mines were closed and thousands of jobs were lost. There were no efforts made to provide these people with new employment opportunities and the “generations of benefit claimants” culture was spawned.

After dinner and having a nice chat with my elderly disabled aunt (who receives a carer allowance which is paid to my cousins to help look after her. Uh-Oh!) the conversation turned to the economy and the cuts.

My aunt stated that “the problem is all those who don’t want to work, the ones who are playing the system”.

I think my jaw dropped a little bit – yes, the problem with the UK economy is surely the 2-3% of all claimants playing the system, (TUC statistics 2011) not the banks, not the greedy big businesses intent on paying as little into the society as it can possibly get away with…no, it’s those bloody scroungers getting benefits.

I pointed out the £1.7bn is lost to benefit fraud per year pales in comparison with the whopping £20bn in unclaimed benefits.

I then pointed out that while the poor are fighting one another over the scraps, the rich just keep on getting richer and – to my eyes – ever more arrogant. Let’s have a little look at the deferment for taxation on Private Jets as an example of the sheer arrogance and “two fingers up” attitude of the ConDem government.

In George Osbourne’s Autumn Statement he announced that private jets will be exempt from the airline passenger tax (which comes into force in April 2012) until 2013. This essentially means that families flying to Spain for a week’s holiday will be paying the increased tax, but a person who owns a Learjet won’t have to worry about that pesky little payment for a further year.

A treasury spokesperson said:

"One of the things businesses say is that they need more time when we make changes to adapt to the transition"

Yes, it does take a bit time to get used to a change in tax, I sympathise – but wait! Hang ON! Shall we have a look at the changes being made to welfare payments for those people who are terminally ill? You know – actually dying?

Back in September, before the Welfare Reform Bill had even completed its parliamentary stages the DWP sent thousands of letters to ESA claimants warning them of changes to their payments. Changes such as – you’re not getting anything if you have been claiming ESA for 12 months. Full Stop. The End.

I don’t notice much of a “need more time when we make changes to adapt to the transition” in that letter. If you’ve been ill and on ESA for 12 months in April 2012, and the government have their way then that will be it. Finished. No more money for you – you disgusting cancer patient scrounger.

So back to the family chat. As my loved ones spluttered, I frothed. I frothed beautifully if I do say so myself. I told them about the slave labour which is the Workfare programme  leading my uncle to ask, “What? They work for Tesco – who pays their wages?”

The answer came: “The taxpayer!”

I told them about freezing of the basic and 30 hour elements of the WTC for three years – while inflation keeps going up. So that’s working families attacked – not the “benefit scroungers”.

One of my cousin’s friends (let’s call her Jane) has a daughter who was born prematurely and suffers with a terrible lung disease. During the general election she campaigned pretty hard for the Conservatives. I asked her at the time why on earth she was going to vote for a party that were likely to cut the benefits she received. She told me that she thought the tories would sort out the scroungers which would mean she would get more benefits herself, as she can prove that her daughter is very, very ill and that she simply cannot work as the little girl needs constant care.

I asked my cousin how Jane is and she’s already lost £400.00 per month as her daughter failed the testing criteria. Her hospital admissions have dropped you see, and so because Jane has managed to get her daughter’s condition to be more stable, this has resulted in a loss of income which is completely crippling the family financially.

My cousin told me that Jane had confided that a small part of her wonders if it would be better if she just let her little girl get sicker just so that everyone in the family can eat.

Seriously. What the actual FUCK?

I digress. As I frothed away, I realised that my family (who are not ignorant people by the way) were completely unaware of most of the cuts and proposed cuts – they were shocked at the attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

Why? Well, I think that most of what is happening is under the radar. The opposition are losing the media battle (big surprise) and while the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun are talking about the benefit thieves and glossing over the reality they’re doing the government a huge favour.

Think about it, newspaper owners (Murdoch, Dacre, Desmond for example) have a vested interest in keeping the rich rich, and they clearly couldn’t give a toss about the people who actually spend their money on the toilet paper they call journalism.

By a Guest Frother 

What can you do? 

You can challenge people who talk about the scroungers – chucking the fact in about the 1.7bn lost to fraud compared with the 20bn unclaimed.

You can stop buying or clicking online any newspaper which peddles these lies and distortions.

You can read the rest of this blog, you can sign the petitions, you can write to your MP.

You can Froth.

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  1. A brilliant post. I'm armed and ready to go.

  2. Quite often people choose to vote for the government that will do them the most harm. I first noticed this when I visited the Southern USA (Georgia) and met a rich white upper class who have one thing in common with the vast numbers of poor Georgians of all shades - they vote Republican. I've read various explanations for this but one that rings true for me is that people just don't like being told what to do or think by clever people. So whilst Al Gore could quote figures and facts til his dying breath, All Bush had to do was stand up and say "Well sure and I don't understand all your fancy figures but I know the American people/our armed services/veterans/whatever blah blah blah" (I paraphrase - mind you blah blah was a favourite of his...). And they voted for him in their millions. I fear England will return the Tories to power no matter what they do.

  3. I mean clever as in... "clever" - like "those damn evolutionists with all their fancy pants science" clever...

  4. Very well said, at the end of beggars belief that poor people think the Tories are doing the job. BTW, not just the usual suspects either, of late the BBC forn example in the form of John Humphreys, a previously respected journalist. The nasty Right is attacking the society (that my parents literally fought for) that, with all its flaws had achieved a good measure of decency for its members. Not just benefits, see also the privatisation of the NHS and the destruction of the education for all concept. I must put my hands up as one of those baby-boomers who enjoyed the fruits but did little to secure the same or more for successive generations. Mea culpa but doing what little I can now.
    David Warriet Edwards

  5. Great post - is it ok to link to Pat's Petition again? 7882 votes at the moment and we need it to reach 100000 for the government to even look at it. We can do this if we all work together. Link here

    Thank you - keep frothing x

  6. It's scary. My mum voted Tory because she was annoyed that people were better off on benefits than working and thought DC would sort that out.She didn't vote for them to cut the childcare element of working tax credit, slash disability benefits, charge parents for using the CSA etc She just wanted people rewarded for working hard.

    I think a lot of Tory voters would abandon them if they knew the truth. But they don't. My mum heard it all from me.

  7. Brilliant post. It shows all too clearly that while we are all busy bickering over who is the worst scrounger we are missing the important changes.

    Orwell had it right when he wrote 1984.

  8. The problem here is that Labour planned to achieve 20% savings across all deparments by focusing on welfare. And the cuts that did the most damage-ie the socialcare/local authority cuts- were done with cross party consensus thatthose areas should be targetted first and that those cuts should be made as political expedient. Meaning childrens services/social care not really as voterfriendly as grit and street lights. THe people hit were structurally invisible to political debate this year, and Labour went out of their way to appropriate any means of protest we had, and went out of their way to make sure the narrative never left special interest groups competing for goldfish like attention of prominent left. The people targetted this year are denied political representation and have to watch as this is seen as a labour/tory issue. I think this was a wonderful post I do- but I did want to add that the problem here is not just a tory one. Its an issue of political representation and basic equality for many.

  9. I voted for them too for the same reason as your mother Anonymous and I am shocked at the destruction that they are wreaking.

    However I don't know if any of the others would have done anything different. I'll keep frothing to anyone who will listen.....

  10. Many years ago the public were brought alive to the realities of homelessness and unemployment by tv programmes like Cathy Come Home and the Boys From The Blackstuff. Programmes like those wouldn't be shown today because the power of the media to inform was brought alive to future oligarchs - who consequently bought the lot so making sure that it couldn't happen again. Looks like it's working so far...

  11. I might remind everyone that in many cases the Tories are only carrying on policies set up by Labour. The Atos testing was put in place by them remember. Frankly, there aren't political parties these days, just a political class which seeks only to subjugate the rest of us.

  12. Having read the subsequent comments I suppose the thing that strikes me is that we all want to believe there is something better. When in reality, they are all just the same.

    Please keep frothing. The more people who wake up to this reality the more likely we are to affect real change.

  13. Frothers come in all political shades, Bill. Some are even in the filthy-rich 1% :D

    What we're seeing is a systematic transference of public funds to huge businesses. It started with Thatcher, probably, and was certainly continued by Blair.

    It's now stepped up to a bone-grinding level that will horrify anybody with an ounce of humanity (which, presumably, is why it's being hidden under a thick layer of misinformation.)

    Not all of those one-per-centers are happy about their huge tax breaks being paid for in human suffering. This is far from a party political matter, especially as the current opposition stands whimpering to one side.

  14. I'm well aware of what's going on regarding the transfer of funds from the public purse to private companies, that's the obvious consequence of this so-called welfare reform. All Atos does properly is effect that transfer of public funds into a multinational and one assumes from there off into tax havens it goes. We'll never get it back. No doubt the politicians involved will be richly rewarded for their assistance. Perhaps when a lot more people start dying the survivors will begin to realise what's actually going on. I'm a different kind of one-percenter, by the way ( and I fight back by building we do what we can :-) I will say though that what we're in is a centuries-old war that's just now becoming overt. In my view, we ain't seen nothing yet.

  15. Great post, but, a scrounger is not the same as a fraudster. 1.7bn might be lost to fraud, but there is also a lot given out (under the current rules) to people who simply don't want to work. We live in a poor area and there are plenty of two parent families with neither parent working because they are better off or not much worse off with both on benefits. It's totally disgusting what the government is doing to benefits for the needy and it beggars belief the destruction being done to the health service, education etc. AND it's astonishing that if there were an election tomorrow it's probable that the b'stards would get in again (for which I blame the press) but, the system does need a shake up. We'd love to lounge around looking after the kids all day, but we don't think it's the right thing to do, despite the fact that we're not much better off than we would be if neither of us worked.

  16. There may well be a small proportion of fraudsters claiming sickness benefits but there are NO scroungers on ESA and DLA. The genuine claimants need that income desperately in order to survive when their illness and disabilities prevent them from working.

  17. Fiona, people on benefits get less than the minimum wage. It's all very well adding housing & council tax credits on to their cash benefits but, in fact, those credits are also given to workers on low wages.

    There's no way anybody lives the life of Riley on welfare - unless Riley is a cheat. As the article said, less than £2bn is lost to fraud. Compare that with the £6.75bn tax discount given to Vodafone.

    If the country really wanted to balance the economy, it's go after the private jet owners and multinational corporations. So, evidently, it's not about that at all.

    Do you get Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credit, Fiona? You can wave goodbye to them. Likewise if anything happens and you or your family need care.

    It's all a bit wrong, isn't it?

  18. I have to admit even people who I would have thought knew better have been buying the rhetoric and nonsense. It has taken a lot of talking my part to convince people - one friend of mine works in pensions and she is convinced that there are loads of people on DLA or receiving benefit who don't actually need it. I had to be the one to remind her that just because she may be helping these people fill out the forms doesn't mean they actually receive the benefit - a lot of claims get rejected, even completely valid claims. For example, Sue Marsh who has been campaigning against the cuts has just been turned down by DLA. It's staggering:

    So froth away! Honestly divide and conquer seems to be doing its job, especially when people actually believe what the politicians are saying. We no longer have the luxury of "voting for the lesser evil" anymore. I know it seems to be policy to keep the head down and hope, but that's not something we can afford to do. The foundations are crumbling, and wishful thinking isn't going to save them.

    Carry on frothing.

  19. excellent post. typing 1 handed w sleeping child in arms so keeping it brief, but will be referring to this when discussing w DM reading relatives this Christmas.

  20. The cuts are excused by people who blindly beleive the 'we can't afford it' line. I expalined about how the cuts would affect my autistic children, to a relative- nay, my eldest's Godfather. He whined for about twenty minutes but teh summation of his argument was this: 'if they need that much help which we cannot afford then euthanasia should be invoked'. I ended up in a mess having panic attacks as a result of that conversation- my eldest has a high functioning form of autism (and should work, it is his more severely autistic brother that will not) and understood every word. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH PEOPLE'S EMPATHY? Why is it only about how it affects the new God that seems to be the self rather than any sense of community or even family?

  21. God, that's awful. An elderly relative of mine said much the same thing last week - luckily, not in front of anyone disabled (except me!!)

    Third Reich, anyone?

  22. Ethnic cleansing of the poor, sick and disabled the very people this government said had nothing to fear!!!! it`s like waiting to be exterminated. No one should accept these savage cuts lightly to welfare as how things are progressing anyone could easily land up on benefits how things are going. Totally unfair for Iain Duncan Smith to rile the newspapers up calling people relying on benefits scroungers this is not on many have lost their jobs through no fault of their own due to the present economical climate and this will continue it is hard and depressing enough wihtout being labelled a scrounger, where are all these jobs the government are keen to get people taking, I hardly call £53 a week unemployment benefit scrounging what on earth are you meant to do with that? the rich are getting richer and the poor are certainly getting very poor this government are causing untold misery and suffering

  23. Did the bankers get a little money from the government?


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