Another Five Years of Hell. WK 10: Tory Bloodletting Begins!
Another Five Years of Hell!
Week Ten (Tory Bloodletting Begins!)
(The war to destroy the legacy of Bevan & Attlee, to protect and support the most vulnerable, sees yet another true blue Tory bombardment commence!)
Although the Tory budget was on the 8th of July 2015, it took 24hrs to digest the full impact of the detail that I am sure these true blue mad dogs were hoping us mere Plebs would miss. Unfortunately for Chancellor Osborne even us lowly servants to the upper ruling class can use a bloody calculator, after all everyone that has a phone has one on it! As Osborne read out his budget to Parliament, much of which had already been leaked, off to the side you saw Ian Duncan Smith, the murderous Minister of the DWP, shouting and stomping his feet, waving clenched fists in the air like a madman, having some form of orgasmic seizure of joy on hearing Osborne speak. It is the type of display that you really want to see from a guy tasked with looking millions of people needing the support of the State for one reason or another. IDS’ display was sickening as he was effectively was celebrating in the most outrageous of ways, in our house of democracy, Osborne’s attack to further destroy the legacy that was created by Bevan & Attlee. Osborne spoke of fairness to those working and was in turn disparaging about those needing to use the Welfare State that was founded with the aim to support and protect people when they fell on hard times, when life’s cruel twists left them needing the protection of the state, when one’s health condition left one unable to work or maintain employment. Yes there are abusers of the system, as there are of any system, for example MP’s that abused the allowances system which resulted in some being imprisoned for the most serious ones. However, the approach implemented by IDS, and supported by the entire Tory party, is to treat everyone needing the support of our country through the Welfare State as some form of parasite, people who are less than human, are to be treated as low life, to be hated and not cared for, to be vilified and not supported, to be met with suspicion as social outcasts rather than seen as vulnerable individuals and families that warrant compassion and empathy. It would seem the values of compassion, empathy, care and support of the most vulnerable in society was now part of an era that the Tories had decided they would not afford any longer:
Here lies the Welfare State, murdered by Tories as they would rather pay for nuclear weapons than support our own people – may it rest in peace!
The main features that had IDS dancing like some ghoulish clown with evil intent was Osborne’s announcement that this bunch of Tory abusers were going to increase minimum wage, starting with it going to £7.20 and going up to £9 by 2020 – Sounds good on face value doesn’t it? However, the responsibility for this falls on the businesses and most businesses that pay minimum wage do it because that is literally all they can afford, for good staff if you could pay more you would as they are worth it. But we also have to consider that 1.5 million people are now on zero hours contracts under the Tories, a tripling of the pre 2010 level. To put wages up is a huge responsibility for smaller businesses but also for larger business whose wages bill is in the hundreds of thousands of pounds every month. Putting the hourly rate up of the minimum wage to £9 an hour has a massive effect on these already huge wage bills, nearly £2,000 a year extra for full time staff. But what people don’t realise is that to push up the minimum wage by so much has a domino effect and pushes up everyone else’s hourly rate too. To compensate many companies will increase the level of zero hours staff considerably, reducing the set contracted hours staff, and where possible to freeze wages to prevent future escalation of wages.
Increasing the minimum wage to about £7.50 is great and helps people enormously but to hike it to £9+ is punishing for businesses and will double the amount of people on zero hours contracts and increase unemployment, as many smaller firms may be pushed into bankruptcy when you also remember the other changes the Tories have sneaked in. The example that springs to mind is all businesses regardless of size and staffing levels, even if you only employ people on a zero hours basis, a casual basis, have to set up pension schemes for employees and the employer has to contribute to the pensions. Business will have to match fund contributions up to about 5% of annual salary, so if the employee puts in 5% of pay into the pension scheme, then the employer will have to match that sum. This is again a huge hit for the smaller businesses that operate using casual staff such as University Students, people with children, people who cannot commit to regular hours, etc. It will reduce employment opportunities in my opinion and I have employed many thousands of staff over the years, I really do understand the impact of these headline grabbing, “didn’t we do well” policies. The reality is that this is a slow, insidious attack, pushing more and more expenditure away from the state and onto businesses, and they call themselves the party of commerce, like hell they are. They have pushed pension responsibilities onto businesses, there are plans to make companies offer compulsory health insurance on the same basis that is done in America, but the real kick in the pants is they put up the minimum wage (as per above) and then take away Tax Credits, state funds that helps people transition to employment! They announced that not only will they restrict tax credits to only two children, they will freeze the level of all benefits for 4 years, so people will get less and less in real terms. The impact was assessed by an independent financial think-tank and they estimated that people are actually going to be worse off even with the hike in the minimum wage – 13 MILLION PEOPLE will be financially worse off and all the lowest paid in the country already. Again the think-tank crunched the numbers and estimated people could be as much as £2,000 a year worse off by 2020! But the bad news doesn’t stop there, the Public Sector employees will also have wage rises frozen to 1% for another 4 years and have been subjected to no pay rises in many cases since 2010. Under the Coalition many nurses went without a pay rise for the last 4 years, so this will be 8 years in total where wages actually diminish in real terms! The Lib Dems got what they deserved in their betrayal of the people and I have a feeling Tories will be next.
Not only has Osborne decided to freeze and limit Tax Credits, he also reduced the cap on how much benefits one can get, which will result in people being made homeless as housing benefit is included. By reducing the cap people wont be able to afford private housing and there isn’t anywhere near enough social housing. Back in the Thatcher era the Tories brought in a policy that gave tenants the right to buy their council property. This seriously depleted the social housing stock, so many council sold their housing stock off to Housing Associations which the Tory policy of ‘Right to Buy’ didn’t cover, preserving what social housing was left. Now the councils have very little social housing left that they manage and have waiting lists measured in decades but Housing Associations have over the years increased their stock. So what does Cameron and his blue blooded Tory beggers do to help ease the problem of soaring rents, reduced social housing stock, huge social housing waiting lists and Councils unable to build more stock due to Tory cuts, well they extended the ‘Right to Buy’ to tenants of housing associations too. This will decimate the remaining social housing stock (as I have previously written about) but it will increases business for the banks and the financial sector through increased demand for mortgages, so once again the people bankrolling the Tories have a windfall!
There was nothing in the Budget for the North East of England, strangely enough one of the few remaining steadfast Labour heartlands in England, but lots was mentioned about this “Northern Power House”, a favourite theme of Osborne. Unfortunately by this all-inclusive North of England phrase, Osborne actually means Leeds, Sheffield but mostly Manchester. North Yorkshire, Cumbria and the entire North East (several cities and millions of people) just don’t get included. Even in this time of continued ‘Austerity’, where the Tories want to spend a £100 billion on high-speed rail connecting Manchester and Leeds to London, the North East loses out. When asked why Cumbria, Northumberland, Lancashire, Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Cleveland & Redcar, Tees Valley, North Yorkshire, etc., lose out on the High Speed Rail Projects and the Northern Powerhouse Concept, Osborne said that all of Northern England would benefit. When challenged for some details he was as usual very non-specific, lacking in detail because he just doesn’t know. In essence you might as well rename Manchester as The Northern Powerhouse as this is the only area that benefits. However, just because the Tories say they will form this Northern Powerhouse, doesn’t mean they will, you can’t trust them, they would sell their own children to stay in power. It did cross my mind whether this was just a poorly disguised bribe to break away Manchester and the industrial Mid Yorkshire from its traditionally red Labour voters and have them move to being Tory blue with the promises of High Speed Rail, devolved power, combined resources of health and social care, etc. The changes promised, but not delivered as yet, would make the Northern Powerhouse the model the Tories want other areas to follow, increased autonomy, increased responsibility and less accountability to central Government. Sounds good, lead by a Mayor, similar to London under Boris, but there is no new money and it all rests on the ability of such ‘Supersized Authorities’ to have the skilled people in place to run such London sized population areas. For the Tories this is the chance to dump responsibility and shrink the money yet further that Local Councils get, it is not for good of the people at all as the Tories give not a fig for those outside South East and there is nothing new in this opinion.
So the Budget was definitely a real bust for 19 million people who will be worse off and the games Tories are playing will lead to greater confusion, greater poverty, homelessness, increased zero hour contracts and increased levels of debt. What would really make a difference for people returning to work or entering employment would be to simply pay childcare providers direct for up to three childcare places for up to three children. This would instantly make work affordable even without Tax Credits, and would enhance the Living Wage some of us have been campaigning for many years. Make the minimum wage regardless of age £7.50 per hour and have it increase by 25p a year for 5 years, as this would give businesses time to adapt, increase productivity and/or diversify. This also frames one of the other problems we have, Tories like to complicate things, under 18’s get this, under 21’s another amount, 25’s yet another, and I defy anyone to really understand Working Tax Credits as mistakes are forever being made leaving people in a position that they have to repay large sums when they are already in poverty or wouldn’t qualify for Tax Credits in the first place. So let’s simplify, make things clearer, make things more useful for the people such policies are aimed at – wouldn’t that be refreshing!!!
(Little did we know the budget was the sounding bell for the Tory attack!)
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