Tory Record on Welfare Is Shameful – They Are Cold, Cruel and Callous

Sometimes Sputnik readers object to my regular depiction of the Tories…

…As a cruel, cold and callous bunch of self-obsessed millionaires and billionaires, determined to maintain their powerful status and privileges by any means necessary through manipulation of the mainstream media to promote a narrative conducive to their mean spirited and anti-working class, anti-poor and anti-public services policies.

Those objections are always noted but never seriously considered because my depiction is both fitting and accurate. That truth in relation to the welfare benefits budget was illustrated graphically in Parliament last week.

My own Constituency MP, Chris Stephens of the Scottish National Party (SNP), expressed the anger of his constituents and the whole of Scotland when he revealed that the number of full time staff employed to pursue alleged benefits cheats is 500 more than the number employed to pursue tax cheats despite the former representing a tiny percentage of the overall budget while the latter results in the loss of between £35 billion and £120 from the public purse.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) admits that the gap between what should be collected in corporation taxes from big businesses and top rate income taxes from powerful billionaires and millionaires is a minimum of £35 billion a year and rising, while more detailed analysis from accountants and tax experts puts the figure at nearer to £120 billion. Yet in the last financial year the number of staff employed by HMRC to pursue the wealthy tax dodgers fell from 1046 to 961. Over the same period the number of staff employed to pursue alleged benefits fraud stayed constant at 1400.

Tories Only Interested In Attacking the Poorest In Society

These statistics expose graphically the skewed priorities and political chicanery of the Tories in power over the last decade. In order to create the fiscal opportunities for top rate tax cuts for their millionaire friends and corporation tax cuts for big businesses, so less of their obscene profits are subjected to taxation to pay for public services the Tories have waged war against the poor and demonised benefits recipients to justify massive welfare benefits cuts and harmful benefits caps.

At every opportunity top Tories cast those in receipts of state benefits as shifty, dodgy, lazy and undeserving. Phrases like ‘benefits dependency’ were deployed regularly and the general public was encouraged to be suspicious of anyone in receipt of benefits. UK wide advertising on the TV, radio, buses, trains and other public spaces communicated the sinister ‘We’re Watching You’ message and free hotlines were established encouraging the general public to ‘Shop A Cheat’.

Benefit Recipients Disgracefully Demonised

A frenzy of scepticism was whipped up against anyone in receipt of benefits. It was all a cruel and conscious strategy which made it politically acceptable to announce the harsh benefits cap reducing the income of the poorest in society, impose the callous bedroom tax hitting those on housing benefits and disabled hard, and introduce a draconian sanctions regime alongside rigged ‘fit for work’ tests and pathetically inadequate ‘capability assessments’. The fact literally thousands of citizens died shortly after being deemed ‘fit for work’ highlights how spurious and medically ridiculous the tests were.

The Tory demonisation of benefits recipients relied heavily on their hired liars throughout the print and broadcast media to find and sensationalise any single instance of fraud to misinform the general public and persuade them that rare exceptions were actually the general rule. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) commissioned a widespread opinion poll from YouGov several years ago which illustrated just how successful the Tory and Mainstream Media campaign to distort reality in relation to benefits and welfare payments is.

Public Deliberately Deceived on Welfare and Benefits

When asked how much of the total welfare budget goes to the unemployed the average response from the general public was 41%. The actual percentage which goes to the unemployed is only 3%.

When asked how much of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently the average response is 27%. The actual amount of the welfare budget which is claimed fraudulently is 0.7%.

When asked how much a couple with two kids in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) receive the average response is £147 per week. The actual amount paid in JSA to an unemployed couple with two children is £115 per week, a whopping 30% less than the public believe.

When asked how long JSA recipients claim the benefit for the general public believe 50% claim for over a year. In reality less than 10% claim for more than a year.

So the public is cynically and consciously misinformed by Tory propaganda parroted by useful idiots in the press and broadcast media to believe those on benefits and particularly the unemployed are cheats, receiving too much for too long and usurping most of the welfare budget. It is all complete and utter pish but try convincing people in your local pub or social club who have been fed the mainstream media bullshit for years and you will find constant and clever lies are easier to promote than the truth in the midst of campaigns designed to demonise minorities.

Punish the Poor but Pamper the Rich

The Tories get away with employing more people to pursue miniscule benefit fraud than massive tax evasion because their targets are always the poor and powerless not the rich and powerful. More money is paid by mistake than fraudulently claimed yet the public is still whipped up to believe benefit fraud is a big issue. Meanwhile up to £120 billion in unpaid taxes by the massive corporations like Google, Amazon, News Group Newspapers, Boots and loads more companies is not vigorously pursued and wealthy individuals get to pay as little or no tax as they want without fear of being brought to justice as the Tories are more concerned with the minions than the millionaires.

The Tory record on benefits is utterly shameful. While they attack the poorest and most vulnerable and make it more difficult to receive much needed assistance, literally billions goes unclaimed. A detailed Report last year revealed the atrocious gap in entitlement which the Tories refuse to tackle. Almost nine million families and individuals are missing out on means tested benefits to which they are entitled. Just under £22 billion lays unclaimed.

Where are the TV adverts, Radio broadcasts, technicolour posters in public places advising the public that millions of citizens are entitled to Pensions Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, JSA, Council Tax Support and Child Benefit amongst other benefits which simply lie unclaimed? Instead of positive and enthusiastic benefits up-take campaigns which could improve the lives of ten million people, the Tories prefer negative, misleading and deceitful campaigns to create a poisoned atmosphere for those through difficult circumstances who are forced to claim and rely on benefits. They should be ashamed of themselves but without a heart or any social conscience such shame is not felt by them.

No Apology for Depicting Tories as Cold, Cruel and Callous Bunch

The decade long assault by the Tories on the lives and character of benefit recipients has caused untold hardship, pain, suffering and well over one hundred thousand premature deaths. The fact the United Nations was compelled to send a Rapporteur to the UK to compile a damning Report on government welfare policy should never be forgotten and always thrown in the face of pious Tories who speak about compassion and society. That UN Report last year accused the UK Government of gross and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights, and is perhaps the most damning indictment of Tory welfare policies to date. To those who question my regular depiction of the Tories as a cold, cruel and callous bunch I invite you to read that damning Report in full or even just the overview and you will discover why I dismiss so readily your criticism of my detestation for the Tories and all they represent:

“The United Kingdom, the world’s fifth largest economy, is a leading centre of global finance, boasts a “fundamentally strong” economy and currently enjoys record low levels of unemployment. But despite such prosperity, one fifth of its population (14 million people) live in poverty. Four million of those are more than 50 per cent below the poverty line and 1.5 million experienced destitution in 2017, unable to afford basic essentials. Following drastic changes in government economic policy beginning in 2010, the two preceding decades of progress in tackling child and pensioner poverty have begun to unravel and poverty is again on the rise. Relative child poverty rates are expected to increase by 7 per cent between 2015 and 2021 and overall child poverty rates to reach close to 40 per cent. For almost one in every two children to be poor in twenty-first century Britain would not just be a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster rolled into one”.

Posted in Articles, Tommy Sheridan's Columns.

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