Things cannot get any worse
By Joan Grant of the KUWG
The Tories said that they would make £12bn of cuts to social security, but would not tell us how. The one measure that we were told about was freezing benefits for 2 years. That saves £1bn. Reducing the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000 will save £100m a year. So that left £10.5bn of savings still to be found.
The Budget is just days away now. We still have not been told what is planned but the press are starting to discuss different rumours.
One of the rumoured cuts is to make everyone claiming Housing Benefit pay 10% of their rent. They well know but probably do not care that there are thousands of people who get £73 in JSA but whose rent is £250 a week. No one can afford to pay a third of such a low income towards the rent on a long term basis. People will get into arrears very quickly and then be evicted. The lives of people in the private rented sector are insecure enough as it is, without this as well. In a borough like Brent 100 people a week apply as homeless to the Council. A plan like this will just make things much worse.
The way to reduce the housing benefit bill is to have more social housing so that people are paying lower rents. However, one of the first things the Coalition did back in 2010 was to reduce the amount of money allocated to building social housing. Another short sighted move. Selling off housing association flats (which will ultimately end up in the hands of buy to let landlords) is another very bad policy.
The other possible cut that I have seen mentioned is to reduce the amount that people in the ESA-WRAG get from £102 to the same as JSA, i.e. £73. People currently in the ESA-WRAG face seeing their benefit reduced by £30 a week. In addition they may have to pay 10 % of their rent which could be £25 or more each week. So they face a dramatic reduction in their incomes
The Tories also plan to take away Housing Benefit from young people aged 18-to-25 who are receiving JSA. This is another pointless, petty and vindictive policy.
I have no wish to scare anyone as these proposals are just rumours at this stage. But there will be more cuts after the budget on Thursday, so we may as well be prepared.
I personally do not expect any meaningful opposition from Labour. They may even support these measures to show that they can take “tough decisions”. But I’d love to be proved wrong. Only Jeremy Corbyn was on the anti austerity march two weeks ago.
These cuts will affect millions of people. The only thing that we down at the bottom have is numbers. We have to find a way to make our voices heard.
And all of this is in stark contrast to the inheritance tax cuts for homeowners which will “cost” a £1bn.
I will do another blog next week after the budget, when we will know exactly what we are dealing with.