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Sunday, 16 April 2017

The colonisation of 'lifestyle choices' in the name of 'welfare reform'

All too frequently in matters of 'welfare reform' that are really about the privatisation of the welfare state, we hear that poor people are poor because they/we have made 'poor lifestyle choices'.(1) The reality is more that the 'key decision makers' are completely ignorant at best, calous liars with their own agendas -- leading to huge lobbyist salaries for likeminded global corporations -- at worst.

An example of this is given in the false promises of Disability Minister Penny Mordaunt in persuading fellow-Conservative MPs to back new legislation that cuts to Jobseekers Allowance levels the amount of money people in the [sickness and disability benefit] Employment & Support Allowance Work-Related Activity Group have to live on each week.(2) These are people who are so disadvantaged by sickness or disability that they require more financial support to compensate for reduced chances of getting waged employment, while those advocating this cut in benefit level claim that the real problem is this group's lack of 'incentive' to do paid work.

As Disability News Service reports:(3)
... Penny Mordaunt had ... promised fellow MPs on the work and pensions select committee in November (pictured) that she was working on a package of measures to “mitigate the £30”, which she said would be in place “before April”.(4)

Facing fierce criticism over the cut, Mordaunt told the MPs that she was working at “ensuring that someone’s outgoings can be managed”, and at reducing their “non-work-related costs”, such as energy, broadband and phone bills.(5)

She told them: “I know what I need to do and I have put a large amount of resource in the department behind it, and I can only repeat that the more reassurance I can give on this the better.

“I am not in a position to outline chapter and verse, but I hope to be soon, and I very much understand what I need to do.”

She also said that she was “talking to energy suppliers, mobile phone companies and broadband suppliers”.

But when Disability News Service (DNS) asked this week what Mordaunt had managed to achieve in the four months since November, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) suggested that her only success was ensuring that new WRAG claimants would be told by their jobcentre work coaches how to secure the cheapest BT telephone tariff....
[A Department for Work & Pensions Spokesperson] declined to comment when asked if working with businesses “to harness the power of technology to ensure disabled consumers are better informed about the accessibility and inclusivity of products and services available” was another way of saying that Mordaunt was helping businesses to market their products to disabled people.
So, essentially, such bad government can be regarded as colonising disadvantaged groups for the benefit of global capitalism.

Understand 'the benefits jungle'

By contrast, London Green Party is hosting an event on Sunday 23 April toward helping caring people better understand 'the benefits jungle':(6)


An information, casework and campaigning base about Universal Credit, the bedroom tax, benefit caps and cuts for disabled people. You can book your free place any time now.

The main speaker will be Barb Jacobson, who is a benefits adviser and coordinator of Basic Income UK and member of the board of Unconditional Basic Income Europe.

Background docs are on https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Mueihb7UdXJfgH91zjGYR7Cr-NWOzmghKGXPkkpfyHQ/edit?usp=sharing

Date and Time

Sun, April 23, 2017
2:30 PM – 5:00 PM BST


Chadswell Healthy Living Centre
Lower ground floor, Chadswell Flats
Harrison St (off Grays Inn Rd)
View Map

Though hosted by London Green Party, the event is open to non-Green Party members and members of other politicall parties who want to help people get what they require from the benefits system and to make the benefits system serve vulnerable people more than global corporations.

Even if we do not ourselves do casework as such, for whatever reason, we can gain insights that help us campaign better for social and economic justice.

Link references

  1. https://uk.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=%22welfare%20reform%22%20%22lifestyle%20choices%22&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-100&type=newtab
  2. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/exposed-mordaunts-false-promises-on-wrag-cut-mitigation/ 
  3. ibid.
  4. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/mordaunt-working-on-urgent-plans-to-reduce-living-costs-ahead-of-wrag-cuts/ 
  5. http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-pensions-committee/disability-employment-gap/oral/44058.html 
  6. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/london-green-parties-understanding-the-benefits-jungle-tickets-33261650492

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