Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Five things the Conservatives don't know about their own welfare reforms (but really should)

Image by Marc Moz

1. If there is a link between welfare reform and the boom in food bank use

Everyone else seems pretty certain with a mountain of evidence from academics, churches and charities finding the two are linked. The Tory led government however carried out no research of their own and dismissed other studies. Instead they made wild guesses about why people may be turning to food banks in ever increasing numbers. Michael Gove surmised maybe poor people are unable to manage a budget, and Lord Freud guessed maybe people just like free food?

2. What happens to people after they are sanctioned

There is no official information whatsoever to show how many people drop out of the benefits system after their money is stopped. Despite record numbers of people facing sanctions for often minor reasons such as being late for an interview, the Conservatives have no idea what happens next.

An Oxford study which found half a million people may have disappeared from the benefits system without finding work following a sanction was dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions who said “It looks to be partially based on unreliable data." However they have no data of their own to show what is actually happening.

3. The cumulative impact of welfare reform on sick and disabled people

People with long term illness and disabilities have been hit particularly hard by austerity over the past five years. A petition organised by campaign group War on Welfare (WOW), calling for an assessment of cuts to the sick and disabled, attracted more than 100,000 signatures securing a debate in the House of Commons. But... the government ignored this and said an assessment would be 'impossible' to do. Here's WOW's opinion on that.

Even though the Tories admit they don't know what the overall impact is, they are still willing to go on cutting. There are plans for an extra £12 billion to be axed from the welfare budget if they get re-elected.

4. Exactly where those £12 billion of welfare cuts will come from

Documents leaked to the BBC revealed the £12 billion would be found by restricting carers allowance and taxing disability benefits among other changes. The Tories denied this but when asked where the £12 billion would come from said... we haven't decided yet.

5. When Universal Credit will be rolled out

Who knows when this will come in. Universal credit, the brain child of Iain Duncan Smith, has been hit by delay after delay. The new benefit which will merge six existing benefits into one will affect eight million people in the UK but so far computer glitches and poor management have been blamed for its slow progress.
It is expected to be rolled out across the country by 2017 although even Iain Duncan Smith doesn't know if this will happen.

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