Week 16: Villain – Iain Duncan Smith

by Jackie_South on April 19, 2015

Tory_VillainThe Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, earns our Villain of the Week award

There is a certain capricious callousness to much of this government’s approach to work and welfare: they do not care enough about the lives of those on benefits and low pay to bother to see what damage they are doing. As far as IDS is concerned, “work makes you free” (to borrow a phrase from history) and any work is therefore good whether or not it actually pays the bills.

We’ve had the Bedroom Tax (as IDS has decreed it should not be known), we have the sevenfold increase in the use of foodbanks (which the Tories’ claim is through better advertising, despite the fact they only give food to people on professional referral from other agencies), we have the punitive use of benefit sanctions where families are left without any income at all for weeks on end for crimes such as turning up a few minutes late for an interview, for not attending interviews they were never told about, for going to family funerals or through illness.

Then of course we have the financial impossibility of the Tories’ welfare cuts proposals: £12bn cuts without, according to Theresa May, impacting on either pensioners or the disabled. The total benefit bill for the unemployed not fitting either category – that is Job Seekers’ Allowance and Income Support – totaled only £6.5bn in 2014/15. Sure, you can add in their part of the housing benefit bill in as well (remember only one in eight of those in receipt are unemployed, so about £2.3bn), but then the complete abolition of any unemployment benefits at all for the able-bodied could only save a little under £9bn.

This week, we saw a new bit of dishonest New Speak from IDS. He wants to rename zero-hour contracts as “flexible hours”. For him, the only problem with zero hour contracts are the branding and all the employees on them are quite happy and would rather do without the inconvenience of having any certainly on how much they make make a week.

It is an almost unbelievable level of callousness. Let’s hope we are rid of this Marie Antoinette thinking for good in three weeks time.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Eddie Kaye April 20, 2015 at 3:07 pm

I fear Jackie, we may see the end of the Marie Antoinette thinking, but very little change in substance. An administration of either colour will carry on the populist rhetoric on welfare, law and order, immigration etc. In other words, getting tough. Callous words aside, the ‘playground bully’ approach on the weakest in society is an election card Labour is not above playing too.

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