I looked at the budget yesterday and I just... I keep looking at it to see if maybe it's less bad than I first thought, and no, I notice something else that is also bad.
The reports aren't paying as much attention to the bits I follow, but there's a lot in them.
The thing reported earlier about ESA is true, the WRAG is having payments cut a lot
, flattened to match JSA. The BBC is reporting that as a £30 cut, but for people under 25 it's actually a £50 cut, per week. ESA is being cut by either 30% or 50% depending on age.
Most reports can't follow all those acronyms and refer to the WRAG as if it's primarily about work, preparing for. The BBC calls it 'the working element of ESA'. And if that's so, why not make it just like JSA? And that's exactly what I saw coming when they changed the names.
ESA is not
just like jobseekers. The WRAG is for people who might, conceivably, become able to work in a couple of years
. It's for people who right now cannot work. Wasn't JSA set with a mind to incentivising people to work? How do they think being poor is going to incentivise people to be less sick?
ESA was set at a level people needed
Sick and disabled people have to pay some towards their care, as well as having higher expenses because of stuff like being stuck at home all day using electric and having trouble regulating their own temperature and needing food to be easy and a bazillion things like that.
The money to do that comes out of benefits.
Except now the benefits have been cut, so it can't come from there.
And this isn't the first cut, or indeed the half dozenth. Cuts all over.
Disabled people are being screwed over so very thoroughly.
Benefits for families are being limited to the first two children, starting with children born after this policy starts. Sound fair? In the land of not ever changing! The government rhetoric is all about how people on benefits should face the same choices about affordability that people in work face, that people on benefits should know they can't afford more than two children.
What, so this policy is only aimed at the lifelong workless? FFS. Anyone, at any income level, can get sick and suddenly be unable to work. If they happen to have previously calculated that three kids is perfectly affordable, oh look, now they're on benefits and can only afford to feed two of them! Now they'll have to make a different choice!
How the hell are they supposed to make a different choice then
Kids exist. They persistently exist, at least in any civilised society.
If the government is only going to feed the first two what exactly do they think will happen to the third and subsequent?
This is a policy that on current numbers would affect 870,000 families, according to the BBC.
That's at least 870,000 children the government has decided don't need to be fed.
And housing benefit is now for over 21s.
Apparently they're wrapping it in fiddly deals or conditions or something. We know how that goes. As soon as there are conditions there are targets set to catch people out breaking said conditions, and then there's homelessness.
The benefits freeze applies to ESA, yet the BBC confidently reports that disability benefits are excluded. This is what successive governments have bought with their rebranding, the main benefit for disabled people doesn't ping reporters as a disability benefit. A benefits freeze of course means a real terms cut, year on year, for the rest of this government.
I would once again point out that ESA was set at a level people needed to live, but this government doesn't care. They talk about 'fair'. Fair is measured relative to averages, regardless of need.
Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in their promise of a 'living wage', which is now going to 'plot a course to bring the new rate up to 60% of median wages'.
They've rebranded the minimum wage, called
it the living wage, yet set it rather below the current
living wage. Remember living wage equals money required to live? They've set theirs lower than that.
"The London living wage, based on the cost of living in the capital, is already £9.15
an hour – roughly the level Osborne expects his new minimum to reach in five years’ time." £9.65 in London and £7.85 elsewhere, but this rebranding is only up to £7.20. And that living wage is calculated taking into account benefits that are being cut, so the real living wage is immediately going to be higher.
With the cuts in other areas the exact people this new minimum will apply to will still be worse off.
What they've done is specified an amount they expect people to live on, regardless of reality.
But hey, increased minimum! Yaay! (no, proper yaay, minimum should be living wage, progress would help)
Except it now only applies to those over 25.
People under 25 are screwed. Multiply screwed.
Massive cuts to disability benefits, framed in ways that don't involve putting a % label on them, named in ways that multiple sources are confidently declaring disability benefits safe cause it's only ESA WRAG that's being cut.
A whole stack of moves that leave people under 25 up the creek and paddleless.
And benefits cuts that decide there's such a thing as too many children, and once there's more than two the government just don't have to care.
Welcome to the next five years.