What We Learned Last Week (06/05 – 12/05)

kamsandhu —  May 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

1) Sanctioning a job seeker is something to ‘achieve’ and reducing someone’s benefits is a ‘positive outcome’

After a closer look at a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request in 2011, specifically the guidance documents to Jobcentre Plus (JCP) revealed scandalous instructions. As Sqwawkbox puts it, “You only achieve something you’re aiming for – if it’s accidental or negative (in your eyes), you don’t ‘achieve’ it.”

Read more here.

2) A lesson in courage

After reading this powerful piece in the Guardian I started to wonder – What would my Nan think if she were alive to see this new age of austerity and would she share the views of Harry Leslie Smith? Although number of WW2 casualties was enormous, the 90 year old veteran says it didn’t matter because the cause was just. “I am no longer sure if the dead would agree that their lives were worth the price of today’s society,” he wrote. Despite my Nan’s Conservative leanings, had she been presented with an honest and balanced account of the reasons we are in debt, who is being made to pay for it and to what extent, she would feel ashamed. And that is RealFare’s blanket goal.

This is a bit of a spoiler. But if it gets you reading what comes before, it was worth ruining the ending:

“There is one thing I am certain of: had the politicians and business mandarins of today been in power in 1939, they wouldn’t have had the bottle to fight Nazism. There would have been no Dunkirk, no Battle of Britain, no Finest Hour. Our leaders today on either side of the house would have allowed the lights across Europe to grow dim, because after all that would have been the cheapest and most prudent solution to Hitler’s tyranny.”

Read it in full here.

3) ‘Living Wage’ benefits employers too

The coalition increased the Minimum Wage by 12p to the current £6.31 an hour but even so, there are currently some 900,000 people in the UK with jobs who need Tax Credits to afford to live. The ‘Living Wage’ is calculated in line with the cost of living in the UK, and stands at £7.45 outside of London and £8.55 in London.

Increasing the minimum wage to the ‘Living Wage’ comes with its own range of benefits for both employer, employee and the welfare system, including:

  • Better staff morale

  • Lower staff turnover and greater retention of staff, increasing quality and staff knowledge

Read the others here.

4) Help with legal fees is no longer available for welfare cases but there’s still time to oppose 

At the same time the new credit system and harsh cuts to welfare came in, so did benefit claimants’ ability to appeal the decisions. And it’s no coincidence, says Mike Goold of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers who calls it “a calculated ideological assault by the government because what they’re doing is, at the same time as attacking benefits and taking away benefits from people, also taking away your ability to challenge those decision,” and leaving people with no legal assistance to say to the courts, ‘That’s not right’. He said at the Benefit Justice Summit 2 that if Chris Grayling’s further proposed cuts of £220 million were to go through, Legal Aid will be “decimated”. Save UK Justice has more information and the argument against the implementation. 

The Ministry of Justice consultation, called ‘Transfoming Legal Aid’, closes on June 4th so if you want to oppose the proposals, you have until then.

5) Only two companies listed on the FTSE 100 have no subsidiaries in tax havens while companies like Barclays and Tescos have hundreds.

Tax avoidance by corporations and evasion by the rich costs the state £95 billion a year. Yet the Bedroom Tax means welfare benefit claimants (obviously the poorest in society) are being forced to squeeze out an extra £20, £30, £40 a week. And it’s now being suggested that pensioners should return their bus passes. Now a report by Actionaid reveals that 98 out of the FTSE 100 with 10 having headquarters in a tax haven. The charity said that they’re not accusing these companies of tax avoidance or evasion, but that their “tax haven habit shows need to tackle a hidden shows need to tackle a hidden obstacle in the fight against global poverty”.

Read more about it in the Guardian


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