Fool Me Thrice

I was going to do a straight reblog of the articles today on Osbourne’s Tax Credits cuts, but I had too much to say about the matter; things that haven’t generally been picked up on in the media.

The article in the Welfare Weekly (as found by the excellent site ‘DWP Examination Reloaded: https://dwpexamination.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/tory-tax-credit-snatch-and-grab-will-hit-millions-of-struggling-families/) states that:

An analysis of official Government figures by the union Unison, found that two in five of all working households with children will lose as much as £3,000 a year from next April.

And a quote from Frank Field:

“Tory MPs will be under siege from their constituents” when they discover the Chancellor “intends to cut their wage packets on average by £1,350 a year”, he says.

Further UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“The huge loss of income – of between £1,000-£3,000 a year – will have a devastating impact upon the millions of family budgets that have yet to recover from the living standards crisis.

People really don’t follow the news – at least, not the sort of news where the negative implications of government policies, and how they will affect them personally, are discussed in detail. I quite often mention the odd important thing to my carers and friends, and they just haven’t heard it: the ‘Sun Newspaper’ is hardly the informative media of the day. When that paper tells people how well off they’re going to be due to the ‘Living Wage’, they’ll believe it of course: what a shock they’re going to be in for!

From April, as detailed above, Tax Credits recipients will lose between £1000 – £3000 per year; obviously, the less you claimed in the first place, the less you have to lose, and some will receive no tax credits at all.

It’s not so long ago since I was claiming Tax Credits as a disabled person; it effectively added about 30 – 40% to my part time income. In the 90’s I claimed ‘Family Credit’, which doubled my income. Had those cuts occurred back then, it would have been devastating. Working part time meant that I would receive the maximum tax credits, so I would have lost over £3000 per year.

That £3000 was not spare change; fair enough when I had children and the value of the supplements was much higher, it would equate to a family holiday, and trips on the train to go and see friends. But also the replacement of household things and clothes, and the ability to buy nutritious good food. One year we went on holiday, and one year we spent money on replacing things or decorating. I had to be careful of course, but at the end of the year, there was no money actually spare.

Who could afford to lose £3000 a year? I would say that even lower ‘middle income’ earners couldn’t possibly afford a £3000 a year pay cut; it goes without saying that those at the bottom in terms of income, absolutely cannot afford to lose £300 per month, not even £100.

Whilst even those losing smaller amounts will struggle, it is particularly those who cannot work more hours – the disabled and single parents working part time – that the cuts will affect severely. If you’re fit and able, it is possible that you might find extra hours to supplement the loss, but not these groups.

But there is an added aspect to all of this that the media has so far overlooked – the fact that it’s a triple cut and a perfect poverty trap: firstly, the tax credit cut itself; if they try to increase their hours the tax credits will reduce again; tax credits will reduce in April 2016 due to the so-called ‘living wage’. The only actual way of escaping it is to work full time, but even full time workers cannot run a household on one wage. This has been the case for many years now; you need 2 incomes at minimum wage to manage financially.

For most lower waged families, every penny is spoken for; even losing £50 a month will result in utilities being left unpaid, so it doesn’t take much to imagine what the affect of losing £300 per month would mean to a disabled person or single parent. Had it have been me, I wouldn’t have been able to pay the money up front for my taxis to work (paid back by Access to Work at the end of each month), and other work journeys by train that were not funded by anyone. I would have had to drastically cut the amount of food and coal that I bought, and even then, I still don’t think I’d have enough left to live on. It is in sharp contrast to the tax breaks given to middle income earners and the rich; losing a few thousand here or there means nothing to them.

There’s an old saying you’ve likely heard of, that is attributed to different people, but I like Stephen King’s version of it best:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.

Osbourne has fooled the public concerning tax credits thrice over, but conversely there is NO shame on the benefit claimants. Osbourne and the elite have so much, but they’re prepared to take – for themselves – what little means poor people have as well: SHAME on YOU ‘sirs’!

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