What will they do with all those Mobility Scooters?

Welfare reform and Remploy Closures: The Double Edged Sword

What will they do with all those Mobility Scooters?

This government is an absolute disgrace – a non stop onslaught on the vulnerable. In the Autumn statement, benefits are limited to a 1% increase, effectively a cut, given an inflation rate of 2.8%, while simultaneously cutting corporation tax by 1% so the rich benefit. Continuing the deception about the structural deficit, Osborne, seeks to marginalise , stigmatise (1) and further exclude people who are unemployed, many of them suffering illness or facing life with a disability. Indeed, 60% of claimants are in work. This includes people with disabilities, who, with support, wish to take a full part in society. Nothing this government does makes any sense. But to say cuts in benefits are intended to encourage people to work is ludicrous if those are the very benefits which make work a possibility. If Osborne feels people need an incentive to work, why not ensure that there are jobs available for them, and raise pay? Osborne’s solution is to axe public sector jobs and cut pay in real terms. (2)

The Treasury seeks to take back around £2bn (3) (4) cutting the The Disability Living Allowance next year making it much more difficult for those with disabilities to remain independent. Next year, when the DLA is to be replaced by PIP. Some 280,000 people, those in most need will lose support. The allowance pays the extra costs of disability, in or out of work, for personal help, taxis or cars. The cuts will be shocking: 90,000 motability cars and scooters will be repossessed. Many people will therefore face needing to claim unemployment benefit because they are prevented from work.

Remploy Factory Springburn - geograph.org.uk -...

Remploy Factory Springburn – geograph.org.uk – 1190260 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hundreds more disabled workers at Remploy factories are at risk of losing their jobs under fresh closure plans, the government announced today. 
A further 875 employees, including 682 disabled people, have been told they face compulsory redundancy. 
Ministers announced earlier this year that a number of Remploy factories would close, arguing that the budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively. 
Thirty-four factories have ceased operations since then and are in the process of closing, but the future of a further 18 sites remained unclear. 
Some of the factories have the potential to move out of government-funded support, but others are set to close, ministers said today.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne called the move a “shameful act from a contemptuous government”. Phil Davies of the GMB union said: “This is devastating news for the disabled workers in Remploy and gives the lie to the chancellor’s claim in his autumn statement yesterday that the vulnerable would be taken care of by the government.”

Remploy Norwich picket front entrance this morning

Remploy Norwich picket front entrance this morning (Photo credit: Roger Blackwell)

Around the UK:

  • Workers at risk of redundancy are in 15 Remploy factories, with three automotive businesses in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby not included
  • The automotive textiles operation at Huddersfield is “not commercially viable” and the factory is proposed for closure
  • Staff at the furniture business based in Neath, Sheffield and Blackburn, the marine textiles business, based at Leven and Cowdenbeath and the CCTV business are at risk of redundancy if a buyer cannot be found
  • Three other Remploy businesses will be closed because they are not commercially viable and do not have any realistic prospect of being sold as going concerns – E-Cycle based at Porth and Heywood, front-line textiles based at Dundee, Stirling and Clydebank and packaging based at Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland (BBC) (5)

On our TV screens we see countless adverts from charities tugging at heart-strings (or guilty consciences) interspersed by News items stigmatising anyone who needs the support of others. Illness and disability can happen to any of us. It could prevent us working. Working people make contributions – National Insurance to protect them at times of need. What a shock it will be to find the door slammed shut.

Think Left calls for vocal action from MPs, and has responded to Labour’s recent document, Making Rights for the Disabled a Reality (6)

A review of the shocking process of The Work Capability Assessment was recently published in a People’s Review. (7)

“It is not enough for Government to say that the genuine claimant has nothing to fear. In too many cases, genuine claimants are not scoring any points in their initial assessment. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the contract that Atos is delivering. When the British Medical Association votes at its conference to say that the work capability assessment is not fit for purpose there is something wrong with the system.


When up to 40% of appeals are successful and there is no penalty for the company carrying out the assessments, there is something wrong with the contract. When there is no incentive for assessors to get the assessment correct first time, there is something wrong with the contract.

It is time for the Government to act, because there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole system.”

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work & Pensions Committee – 4 September 2012

This government, and their policies are based on lies. The policies are ideological by design, and justified by the need to cut the structural deficit, which has been exposed as a myth (8), yet is still reported as fact by the media. Meanwhile, David Cameron is making up his own statistics, and has been rebuked by a watchdog for claiming cuts have not been made to NHS budgets, when ONS statistics say otherwise. (9) He then continues to make the same lie during PMQs. On Education, Gove continues to privatise, and claims improvements without evidence, when his own research shows otherwise, policies based on deception. (10)

If any one of us stood in a court of law and lied, we would be in contempt of court. Yet in the very chamber where laws are made, we have been constantly subjected to deception by those who should be serving and protecting us – that is, after all the purpose of a government, isn’t it?

Make no mistake, deaths will directly result from government policies. Should we sit quietly awaiting tragedy? Why are Liberal Democrats allowing this government to continue (11) with policies to pass laws even more extreme than Thatcher? Isn’t it time for a vote of no confidence in this government? I think so.

Avaaz Petition for No Confidence vote. ( to be sent to Ed Miliband)

  1. CLASS: The Social State: Exploding the Scrounger Myth
  2. George Osborne goes for growth (by firing 10,000 civil servants)
  3. Disability Benefits to be Slashed
  4. Guardian: Paralympians Disabled Benefits Cut
  5. BBC News Remploy Factory Closures
  6. Making Rights for the Disabled a Reality (Think Left’s Response)
  7. People’s Review of Work Capabilty Assessment : pdf
  8. Osborne and Cameron’s Big Deficit Myth, Think Left
  9. Sky News: Government rebuked over claims about NHS spending
  10. Gove’s Selective Truth, Think Left
  11. Arguments that every Liberal Democrat would do well to hear, Think Left
  12. Disabled people ‘should work for less’, says Tory MP www.channel4.com
  13. Community Care More Pain as Osborne cuts an extra £44 m

I’m just angry at the government.


DanThom writes:

I’m posting this everywhere so sorry if you’ve read it before or know all of these ideas which are not really my own, I’m just angry at the government.”

How could we resist not giving a helping hand?  The unassuming DanThom says:

If the amount of money in the pockets of both the working and unemployed middle and working classes is held down or cut by greedy capitalists or an economically illiterate government then the private sector gets damaged. The Condems may try to hide or spin figures but demand for the goods and services of small businesses spirals downwards when money gets into fewer hands.

Infrastructure spending is good it creates jobs – however, partly paying for it by attacking the most vulnerable in our big society is not only morally wrong, it offsets a lot of the benefits that infrastructure projects can bring.

 No doubt we are in a hole; some policies could be very dangerous like going to the bond markets for more money. So is it time for some radical ideas?

 1) How about a modern debt jubilee as proposed by the economist Steve Keen? Perhaps this could work by giving every UK domiciled adult £10k of printed money on the proviso that any debts to the banks (loans, credit cards and mortgages) are paid first before spending on consumption.

 This would recapitalise the banks meaning that banks would be able to start lending to small businesses again. Small businesses would also benefit from an increase in demand because of increased consumption of those who are released from the burden of debt or who had no debts and are free to spend their £10K.

 The scheme could be audited by the banks as they would be the ones who would benefit from the increase in liquidity, and would know who has got debts that need to be paid. If you’re worried about inflation then perhaps this would be an ideal time to renationalise the energy companies and the railways to keep some of it under control

 2) If idea 1) is implemented then perhaps that would be a good time to raise the minimum wage? By getting employers to pay higher wages at the bottom less tax credits would be needed – “QE for the people” will boost consumption therefore it would be an ideal time to increase the minimum wage because any jobs lost will be offset by increased demand. Remember the more money in more hands is good for small businesses.

 3) How about a tax on land with planning permission? This will create jobs and growth. I’ve heard that planning permission has been granted for over 400k houses in the UK. The tax will speed up building and stop those who bank land waiting for the perfect time to maximise profit. It may even mean this kind of land falls in value, so the government or housing associations can buy the land cheaply and build affordable and social housing.

 4) Rather than forcing people (many of whom work) out of the south east in to areas where there are less jobs via the benefits cap perhaps a temporary social rent cap can be made that could be used to get capital for building social housing? This would involve creating a law that would force landlords of people on housing benefit to keep their tenants for a few years with a small cut in the rent they receive. This would create millions of savings on spending which could be used to build more social housing. Combined with idea 3) it could be very effective.

 5) How about stopping tax dodging and evasion? I wouldn’t normally call this radical but it seems that way at the moment. If you’re worried that tax inspectors just increase spending, how about employing them on commission? 

How about ending the multinationals tax avoidance scam? All companies should pay the same corporate tax rate on their actual profits, not hide profits with royalty payments to themselves via a subsidiary in a middle country that has lower taxes. Every country a company trades in should have HQ that pays corporate tax on its profit before sending their after tax profits back to the main HQ which for Starbucks, Google and Amazon is in America not Luxemburg or any other middle country scam.

6) Now if we get to grips with idea 5) perhaps we could put up taxes on the rich? How much money does a rich person need? How many jobs does their money employ? Currently lots goes into speculating on the stock exchange rather than creating jobs in the real economy. This hurts small businesses and the working class.

 7) Although personally I’m not convinced how about the Tobin tax/ Robin Hood tax? The banks are partly to blame for the crisis we are in, so they should pay more to fix it. Put a charge on every financial transaction this will raise billions for deficit reduction and infrastructure spending and has the added benefit of making the economy more stable. The downside/upside is the rich might run away to the likes of Singapore.

 I can think of more ideas but the rentiers won’t like them.

Great ideas … I could vote for DanThom’s manifesto!

I particularly like the idea of taking the railways and energy back into democratic ownership.  I would also be delighted to see Steve Keen’s debt jubilee implemented but not because it would help the banks to lend, but because the banks trade in ‘debt’ so that level of repayment of loans would curtail their risky speculative activities wonderfully.  DanThom is absolutely right to not want government to borrow from private banks/bond market.  But then why have we been doing so?  We are a sovereign nation and have the capacity to print as much money as we need… just as we’ve seen with the £375 bn of QE to buy back gilts.  Obviously, if there were full employment, printing money might be inflationary but currently we have enormous wasted capacity with 8m unemployed or under-employed.  It is the work of people that creates the wealth, not speculative ventures from the City and Wall Street.

PS. There is a tremendous opportunity for UE* in mitigating the effects of climate change – reducing energy demand and the microgeneration of renewable energy.  (* Unemployment Easing).

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