1) Council Tax Support cut sees over 600,000 now living in fear of bailiffs and court summons
Following a cut in council tax support, 600,000 people have now been summonsed to court and 87,000 are being pursued by debt collectors, because they cannot find the extra £127 on top of rising living costs and other cuts to benefits.
Those affected are some of the poorest people in the country and only gained the council tax support following means-testing which proved they could not afford it.
Council tax benefit was slashed last year by £500m by Eric Pickles and has been dubbed the new poll tax.
2) Nigel Farage squirms when challenged on £2m expenses claims, on ‘Have I Got News For You’
UKIP leader, Nigel Farage appeared on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You last week and was rightly challenged on his previous boastings of £2m worth of expenses claims. Farage replied “And who was it that brought up the issue of £2m and me and taxpayer’s money? Denis Macshane,” to which Ian Hislop pointed out “Yeah, he’s in jail, but you’re not.”
3) Iain Duncan Smith’s speech “Getting Britain Working” branded out of touch, and not a reflection of the true conditions
Iain Duncan Smith’s speech last week was banging the same drum, once again suggesting there is a culture of welfare dependency that needs to be tackled and avoiding facts such as most people on benefits are in work. Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, responded to the Work and Pensions Minister’s speech in the Huffington Post, and called out Iain Duncan Smith’s lack of understanding and false reflection of what is really happening. Read the full post here.
“The picture he painted is one hugely at odds with the lives of the millions of ordinary people who are supported by benefits in the UK – many of whom are in work, but on low pay, caring for others, need care themselves or have lost their jobs.”
4) Sue Townsend dies aged 68
The author of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend, died last week after suffering a stroke at home.
Townsend had tackled and written on the welfare state and it’s effects on the people it is meant to help, including the below extract from a piece she wrote for the Observer in 1989, on her own experiences and how she was left destitute.
“The DSS offices are not given enough funding, their staff are poorly paid and are driven to distraction by the amount of work they have to do. There is frequent turnover of staff. Morale is extremely low. Working with desperate people all day is very dispiriting; their unhappiness rubs off on you. For the sake of self-preservation you develop a thicker skin, you come to regard the claimants as the enemy. Because they are inarticulate in the presence of articulate officialdom, you do not respect them and habitually talk to them as though they are of lower intelligence than yourself. You are frightened of them, and all your communication takes place behind a glass screen. The furniture they sit on is screwed down because, in the past, this furniture has been thrown at you.
“They offend you in their poverty, you despise their clothes and their shoes. Some of them smell and have disgusting personal habits. That is why it is impossible to allow them free access to the lavatory; why they must queue up and ask for the key.
“Nobody goes to a DSS office to ask for state benefits if they are well and happy and employed. Nobody needs to. There is no need to have vile surroundings and seemingly uncaring staff as a disincentive.
“People down on their luck deserve the best: beautiful surroundings and well-paid professional staff to help them out of their difficulties. Why not train thousands more social workers and let them sit in on claimants’ interviews? Most social problems could be helped or prevented if people had more money and practical advice. The present benefits system is unfair, inefficient, and totally unprofessional; which is why millions of people do not claim the benefits to which they are legally entitled.”
5) Worldwide Wave Of Action continues
Join in. Do something – big or small. Be part of the change.
“Dear future generations….I will do everything I can, with all my heart, body and mind, to help create a world that works for everyone and all life. The time is now!#WaveOfAction“
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass