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10 lies we're told about welfare

(85 Posts)
ttosca Thu 04-Apr-13 14:53:16

Has someone made Jim Royle a policy adviser? Millions are being made poorer while we're fobbed off with porkies

Welfare reform, my arse. Has Jim Royle parked his chair, feet up, telly on, in the corridors between the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions? Employing him as adviser can be the only explanation for the utter rubbish that boils forth from this government on welfare.

Who else could have dreamed up the bedroom tax, a policy so stupid it forces people to leave their homes and drag themselves around the country in search of nonexistent one-bedroom flats?

That one has to be the result of too many hours in front of Jeremy Kyle (no offence) with the heating on full and a can of super-strength lager. It seems as if that is how this government views ordinary people: feckless and useless – poor, because they brought it on themselves, deliberately.

Maybe the cabinet is confused. Twenty-three millionaires in the one room can get like that. But do you know what, enough. Let's call this government's welfare policy what it is – wrong, nasty and dishonest.

Off the top of my head, I can list 10 porkies they are spinning to justify the latest stage of their attack on our 70-year-old welfare state.
1. Benefits are too generous

Really? Could you live on £53 a week as Iain Duncan Smith is claiming he could if he had to? Then imagine handing back 14% of this because the government deems you have a "spare room". Could you find the money to pay towards council tax and still afford to eat at the end of the week?
2. Benefits are going up

They're not. A 1% "uprating" cap is really a cut. Inflation is at least 2.7% . Essentials like food, fuel and transport are all up by at least that, in many cases far more. Benefits are quickly falling behind the cost of living.
3. Jobs are out there, if people look

Where? Unemployment rose last month and is at 2.5 million, with one million youngsters out of work. When Costa Coffee advertised eight jobs, 1,701 applied.
4. The bedroom tax won't hit army families or foster carers

Yes it will. Perhaps most cruel of all, the tax will not apply to foster families who look after one kid. If you foster siblings, then tough. But these kids are often the hardest to place. Thanks to George Osborne and IDS, their chances just got worse. And even if your son or daughter is in barracks in Afghanistan, then don't expect peace of mind as the government still has to come clean on plans for their bedroom.
5. Social tenants can downsize

Really, where? Councils sold their properties – and Osborne wants them to sell what's left. Housing associations built for families. In Hull, there are 5,500 people told to chase 70 one-bedroom properties.
6. Housing benefit is the problem

In fact it's rental costs. Private rents shot up by an average of £300 last year. No wonder 5 million people need housing benefits, but they don't keep a penny. It all goes to landlords.
7. Claimants are pulling a fast one

No. Less than 1% of the welfare budget is lost to fraud. But tax avoidance and evasion is estimated to run to £120bn.
8. It's those teenage single mums

An easy target. Yet only 2% of single mums are teenagers. And most single mums, at least 59%, work.
9. We're doing this for the next generation

No you're not. The government's admitted at least 200,000 more children will be pushed deeper into poverty because of the welfare changes.
10. Welfare reforms are just about benefit cuts

Wrong. The attack on our welfare state is hitting a whole range of services – privatising the NHS, winding up legal aid for people in debt and closing SureStart centres and libraries. All this will make life poorer for every community.

Some call these myths. I call them lies. We are being told lies about who caused this crisis and lied to about the best way out of it. But I know one thing to be true: this government's polices will make millions of people poorer and more afraid. To do that when you do not have to, when there are other options, is obscene. That's why I'm backing union Unite's OurWelfareWorks campaign in its efforts to help highlight the truth about our welfare state.

Lazyjaney Tue 16-Apr-13 23:50:59

Surely though, the biggest Welfare myth going around at the moment is that the total spend, and it's growth, is affordable now and into the long term?

Only when that is faced will it be possible to have a sensible debate IMO

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 01:11:02

Are you saying that the myth is that the spending is affordable, or isn't? It's not clear.

It's a matter of priorities - we seem to have plenty of money to bail out the banks, spend on nuclear weapons, and finance a tax cut for the rich. We can even conjour up £10 million just at the drop of a hat. Just to stick with the figure of £10 million - we weren't able to find this a a coupld of years ago when libraries were forced to close. According to this table this would have financed 44 libraries i.e. equivalent to those libraries in Somerset and Oxfordshire listed for closure in Somerset and Oxfordshire.

I went to Florence with my parents in the seventies. We saw beggars in the streets. "We don't have beggars in the streets in our country" we said, "we do better than that". Fast forward to the 1980s, 90s up to now. Beggars in the streets.

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 01:11:54

Sorry repeated a few words there.

niceguy2 Wed 17-Apr-13 09:44:32

In principle you are right. It is a question of priorities.

In practice it isn't as simple as that. Let's take 2011-2012 since it's the last year figures are readily available for and a good illustration. I'll even use the Guardian for the figures which is hardly a right wing rag.

We currently have a deficit of around £120bn. source

Now look at what the government is spending Govt spending by dept

As you will see, welfare makes up the largest piece of the pie by a significant margin. With health and then education.

So...I'd be very interested in seeing where you believe we can cut back and save £120bn? Which departments do you deem are totally unnecessary and should close and which do you think should cut back to fund our welfare bill? Since it's all about priorities isn't it, I am interested in seeing where your priorities are.

Lastly even the Guardian notes that ' anything less than a billion is really not that much in government terms' In that context £10million for a one off single event isn't anything to get het up about. It's the equivalent of saying "I earn £2k a month and am spending £3k" then you getting pissed off at me because I bought a Freddo for 10p. The elephant in the room isn't the 10p, it's the grand a month I'm overspending by.

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 10:29:07

if you dig into those figures though - substantial spending is on pensions, and housing benefit which mostly goes to those in work. Non of this fits in with the 'welfare scroungers' picture which we are having rammed down our throats, of three generations of families who have never worked, or single teenage mums who get pregnant just to get a council flat.

I believe we should attempt to stimulate the economy. The Bank of England has created £375 billion to date in quantitative easing, effectively out of nothing. They bought assets in the form of government securities from non-banking financial institutions e.g. pension funds, and in doing so they created Central Bank reserves on behalf of the commercial banks. Those commercial banks could 'on-lend' to small business to stimulate the economy, but they are not doing so.

Prof Richard Werner, Southampton University, has suggested that the Govt. funds its deficit not by selling Gilts, but by entering into loan contracts with Commercial banks, which could be done at a lower interest rate than would be paid on Gilts. This would increase the money supply, which would enter the real economy via Govt. spending, stimulate the economy and kick-start bank lending and borrowing. He predicts that it would generate a recovery within 6 months to a year.

So no, it's not as simple as that.

niceguy2 Wed 17-Apr-13 10:44:19

I agree on your point about welfare scroungers picture. There is of course a small hardcore minority who are milking the system but in the grand scale of things it is peanuts. Not saying we shouldn't tackle them, we should but in my view it is disingenuous to suggest they are responsible for the deficit.

On your point regarding QE, i don't think it has been a particular success for the man on the street. It's been better at shoring up confidence in bank balance sheets which I guess you could argue is good for the nation.

But I do wonder if the government couldn't just set up a scheme to lend directly to small businesses instead? Or create a temporary quango? We do desperately need to stimulate the economy to inject more confidence but not at the cost of taming the deficit.

The reality is that there is no way at all to solve our deficit without growth. Extra taxes, lower public spending are both required to slow the amount of debt we're accumulating but ultimately we need to boost growth to boost tax revenues but more importantly a government who doesn't then spend it. Because that's how we got into this mess in the first place.

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 11:05:12

QE probably hasn't been a success for the man in the street because the banks have chosen not to lend.

I wouldn't agree with a government which doesn't then spend, but substitute that for a government which spends wisely. Priming the pump to kick start the economy, if you like. Once you stimulate the economy you would lift many people out of welfare, and it could go then go back to being a safety net.

Your old-fashioned Tory like Harold McMillan had lived through two wars and a Depression, and he didn't choose to dismantle the welfare state of the 45 Labour govenment. There was a realisation that Depression wasn't good for the country. Something that Cameron, Osborn and Co could do with learning.

As far as getting into the mess the country is in, we could argue loud and long as to the causes, I suspect, but I am pretty sure that it wasn't the disabled people who are bearing the brunt of the present cuts who caused it.

niceguy2 Wed 17-Apr-13 11:23:59

The welfare state is hardly being dismantled. It's at best had a bit of a tightening up. If you look at how much money is still being spent versus saved, it's barely anything. Even IDS is now admitting they are merely slowing the rate of increase rather than decreasing spending on benefits.

As for your last comment, we hear this from every group. We didn't cause it. Make the bankers pay, they caused it. It's a childish argument. I expect the 'it's not my fault' line of logic from my 6 year old.

The government has massively overspent money we didn't have. We as an electorate voted the government's in so we have collective responsibility to pay off the debts they ran up in our name.

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 11:34:57

niceguy2 - I would hope you had the decency to admit that the people bearing the brunt of the cuts, the sick and the disabled were not the main cause of the current depression?

Welfare state not being dismantled? Thousands would disagree with you.

We didn't actually vote the government in, remember? Cameron didn't win the election.

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 11:47:12

It can be argued that the big banks caused it. They do have the ability to create money out of nothing. Did they spend it wisely? No, they chose to gamble it on derivatives rather than invest productively.

Regardless of the cause: there are people like Prof Werner who have put forward sensible suggestions as to how the solve the problem. Cameron and Osborn don't seem to want to know this.

niceguy2 Wed 17-Apr-13 11:57:17

Everyone is affected by the deficit problem. I don't see a single group which is unaffected. Now you could argue that the sick & disabled are bearing the brunt. And it's a view I share some sympathy with. But where does the money come from to maintain the welfare system as-is? You never answered my question earlier. Where would YOU take the money from? It's alright saying "Oh it's not fair" but when the money isn't there, it isn't there. Pointing to a few million quid here & there is ignoring the elephant in the room. We need to save over a hundred BILLION every year.

Our system of government has been in place for donkeys years. Are you saying this govt is illegitimate because it did not get over 50% of the votes? Because that has never happened. I think the Tories got close once in the 1940's with 49% of the vote. Getting over 50% is simply unrealistic. Again it is a simplistic argument which neatly ignores the reality in which we live.

Yes we have a coalition government. But whilst that is rare in the UK, it is almost the norm across Europe. Most European countries run coalition government's as a matter of course. Often with wafer thin majorities. Are you saying those are not legitimate government's either?

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 12:19:57

I did answer your question. It wasn't the answer you wanted: create wealth by stimulating the economy, thus avoiding cuts.

The Tories have got in before with less than 50% of the vote, but have had a majority of seats and hence won. That's as a result of our current 'first past the post' system. Plenty disagree with the system, but that is a debate for elsewhere.

Did I mention legitimacy? I reminded you, that Cameron didn't win, (unlike Blair, or Thatcher). Most other European countries afaik have various proportional representation systems which lead to coalitions. This is one reason we get given for not having PR.

They (Cameron/Osborn) didn't put these policies in their manifesto. Cameron managed to stitch up a coalition to enact the policies they have decided to implement. You can't therefore state that we voted them in, because no-one did.

You could discuss whether the LibDems/Clegg should have gone along with these policies and whether this is what LibDem voters would wish for, but again that's a discussion for elsewhere.

niceguy2 Wed 17-Apr-13 12:53:33

Ah so what you believe is that we don't need to make cuts. Just keep borrowing until some magical day when economic growth will save us. Personally I believe a combination of both is best.

If a man is in debt, is the best way forward to keep spending and hope that someday in the future he will get a payrise to wipe out his blatant overspending?

The problem is that unless we actually make some cuts, noone would take us seriously that we are going to be more prudent.

As for policies, it was the position of all three major parties that cuts would be made. None of them were specifying exactly where those cuts would fall. None of them had the guts to put their todger on the table so to speak on that one. But we all knew cuts were coming. The only difference was the size & speed of the cuts.

LaVolcan Wed 17-Apr-13 13:16:35

You are determined to put words into my mouth. Where is stimulating the economy necessarily equated with borrowing? However, I did talk about bank borrowing and lending: there is borrowing to finance investment, which will create wealth. Is that wrong?

Since we are going for the simplistic arguments: if a man is in debt, does he keep spending and hope that he gets a payrise, or does he make cuts, or a third alternative, does he look for ways to create extra income? In reality probably a bit of each.

Now let's carry on with the simplistic argument, our man has a good idea for a business, his business plan is sound, but he lacks start up capital. Good or bad? He goes to the bank and they say, 'No dice chum, we are not lending money' and the business never gets off the ground. Or do they say, 'yes, your plan seems sound - these are our terms for a loan'?

Another question - can something as complex as the economy be compared with individual actions? Governments can create and print money, individuals can't.

niceguy2 Wed 17-Apr-13 22:55:33

Sorry LaVolcan, I think you are missing my point. We are ALREADY borrowing £120 billion every year. Given your earlier statement that we should avoid cuts, you are therefore saying we should continue to borrow to the tune of £120 billion a year until a undetermined time when our economy will not only recover but produce enough taxes to pay our debts back.

I've not even begun to discuss where you think the money should come from to stimulate the economy because in principle I agree with you on that one. My desire would be to see govt depts take a hit to fund investments rather than further borrowing or tax hikes. I suspect your solution would be different and involve more borrowing or taxing someone else.

can something as complex as the economy be compared with individual actions? Governments can create and print money, individuals can't.

I hate this logic. Firstly equating the economy with individual budgets is an analogy to illustrate a point. When I say somewhere is so small that there's not enough room to swing a cat, i don't expect the reply of "Well actually have you measured it? What size is the cat?" Nor am I seriously going to get a cat to swing.

Of course there are differences but I maintain that the differences in general are smaller than you'd like to believe. Yes government's can print money but that doesn't mean it is a good idea. In fact I'd argue QE in the long term is bad for everyone. Otherwise why doesn't the govt just print an extra £120 billion a year and be done with it? After all, noone wants to see the poor & needy suffer when there's such a simple solution right?

ttosca Sun 21-Apr-13 08:03:49

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

ttosca Sun 21-Apr-13 08:21:48

>...but more importantly a government who doesn't then spend it. Because that's how we got into this mess in the first place.

No, it really isn't. And making profoundly ignorant statements like this shows that you either have no understanding at all about recent history or economics, or you are simply lying to promote your own ideology.

"We're in the mess in the first place" as a result of a meltdown in the financial sector, which was running a huge pyramid scheme and gambling with 'financial instruments' of which they had no understanding, not to mention the outright illegal activity such as money laundering, rate fixing, and scamming customers.

It wasn't because the govt. spent too much on schools and hospitals and nurses that we've been in recession for over three years. It's beyond absurd to suggest this.

ttosca Sun 21-Apr-13 08:33:41


> Of course there are differences but I maintain that the differences in general are smaller than you'd like to believe.

Except you use this analogy only insofar as it suits your agenda. Your austerity-promoting ideas during the middle of a depression are like telling someone who has no job to sell their car and all their business suits in order to receive a quick windfall of money and pay back some debts.

Unfortunately, this will harm the persons finances in the long term if they need a car to get to work and can't get a job because they don't even have a suit for a job interview.

Anyway, we've been arguing this for over a year now. You've comprehensively been proven wrong by reality. Austerity Britain has given us a double-dip recession and possibly a triple-dip recession. Our economy is performing worse in terms of growth than most of europe. Unemployment is rising. Austerity has comprehensively failed.

The onus is on you to show how the failed austerity policies of the past 2 1/2 years will 'magically' (as you like to use the term) turn the UK economy around run than continue to sink us deeper and deeper in to recession.

How about some facts and comparisons with other countries, rather than just right-wing ideology of cuts as the basis for your arguments?

niceguy2 Sun 21-Apr-13 10:16:43

Funny isn't it Ttosca. All three main parties are saying that cuts are needed. The only debate between them is where the cuts should fall, how much and over what period. Every western nation I can think of is implementing austerity measures of varying degrees. From the deep cuts the PIIGS countries have been forced to adopt to the more subtle nip tucks from America. It seems no western country is advocating more borrowing as the solution. Even in America they are talking about how to tame the deficit and where to cut.

You are at times it seems the only one who maintains that we have no debt problem and that we should keep borrowing. In that context it certainly doesn't sound like it is me who isn't living in reality.

ssd Sun 21-Apr-13 10:27:15

niceguy, I think ttosca is showing you up here, you don't seem to have much of an argument when asked about facts

ttosca Sun 21-Apr-13 15:32:05

It’s time Osborne provided evidence for his disastrous economic course


Gideon needs to put his house in order, pronto.

That’s the message I’m taking from the fact that the previous article on this blog – Austerity programme proved to be nonsense based on a spreadsheet mistake – has become the most popular ever to appear here. More than 10,000 of you read it within 24 hours of publication.

Clearly, the fact that a principal pillar of his faith - the work by Harvard economists Reinhart and Rogoff – has been disproved, and by a student at a rival university, should have shaken his confidence. It is also ironic for a member of the Conservative Party to realise that they would have got their sums right, if they had done them the old-fashioned way.

But we’ve had no expressions of apology or acts of contrition from the Treasury. It seems Mr Osborne is determined to keep going, no matter what damage this causes.

I don’t reckon that’s good enough. I think he should be brought to account. So I have written him a letter, asking him to justify his position.

I reproduce it below. If you agree that it is time Mr Osborne put his cards on the table, you might wish to consider using it as a template for a letter of your own.

Here it is:

The Right Honourable George Osborne MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer

HM Treasury

Horse Guards Road

London SW1A 2HQ

Dear Chancellor,

Following the revelation that a fundamental justification for your austerity policy has been disproved – the paper by Reinhart and Rogoff that was based on a mistake on a spreadsheet – I am writing to ask: What other documentary evidence do you have that supports your policy of economic austerity?

I am mindful of the fact that one of your aides is quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying “the suggestion that the case for dealing with fiscal deficits and debt rests on one paper is patently absurd” (, but this person did not provide any other examples.

It should also be noted that this aide added, “It remains the case that the majority of economists still back the government’s strategy.” I await proof to justify this statement as well. Perhaps it is worthwhile to remind you that, of the 20 economists who publicly backed the Osborne Austerity plan in 2010, only one was willing to publicly back it in August last year. Nine publicly disavowed you, and the other 10 had no comment or went on holiday (

Be advised that it will not be enough for you to discount the quotations above because they come from left-wing sources. As it stands at the moment, the situation is that your policy has no evidence to support it, nor does it have the support of expert opinion that is being claimed for it. Bear in mind that even the International Monetary Fund is criticising your policy, despite having been a staunch support in 2010.

You will recall that the Coalition came into being, nearly three years ago, for the specific purpose of bringing the economy under control. Your policy is the instrument with which this was to be done.

If you do not provide evidence to support its continuation, then what are we, the public, to think? That you are inflicting austerity on us – primarily upon the poorest of us – purely to shrink the state? To sell off the profitable parts to private industry, for the good of private bank balances rather than for the benefit of the nation as a whole? For spite?

If I were in that position, honour would demand an admission of the mistake and either an alteration of policy to one that is more likely to support economic growth (I understand alternatives are available) or – considering this government that was formed to fix the economy has spent three years doing the exact opposite – the dissolution of this administration and election of one that is better-equipped to make the best decisions, in the interest of the nation as a whole.

I look forward to your response.

niceguy2 Sun 21-Apr-13 18:59:20

niceguy, I think ttosca is showing you up here, you don't seem to have much of an argument when asked about facts

Sorry you feel that way. I'd have thought the facts were pretty much in the open.

Guardian borrowing data This first picture shows us that we have had a deficit for most of the last couple of decades but in fact it's been longer than that. In short we have been borrowing more money than we take in each year.

We have a total national debt of £1.2 trillion which to me is eye watering. source and we're adding to this each year rather than reduce it.

All main parties agree on the fact that we need to cut the deficit. I don't think anyone disputes that do they? I mean it's obvious the coalition do and Labour 'say' they will do it but are scant on the details but that's by the by. They are the opposition so they get that luxury.

So. The argument here which ttosca is referring that we've been arguing debating over to is whether or not we need austerity. What I'm saying is that in my opinion yes we do. As do the three main parties. Ttosca's opinion is that we do not need cuts and in fact we don't have a debt problem. Given we're clearly borrowing so much money each year, I think that attitude cannot be justified. I believe the sooner we deal with it, the sooner our kids will be better off. Ttosca's answer is to deny the problem and keep borrowing. Is anyone seriously saying that we can get out of debt without cutting anything and just keep borrowing? I just cannot see how anyone can see that as a sensible policy?

Now Ttosca likes to paint me as some right wing Tory boy who loves the rich and hates the poor. In reality I think I'm more right of centre than right wing. I believe in the NHS, state education, being in Europe and also welfare. What I don't believe is that we can continually spend money where we simply don't have it.

Lastly it really isn't my style to cut & paste long passages to justify my point. I will leave that to Ttosca. I find it very distracting and prefer to include links as above.

ssd Sun 21-Apr-13 20:53:16

so niceguy, do you think austerity is the answer, rather than ensuring legal tax avoidance is stopped and the bankers who caused the mess be brought to justice and the banking system changed to ensure it never happens again?

rather than cutting benefits to people who can't do anything about it?

ManateeEquineOhara Sun 21-Apr-13 21:12:07

Ttosca, I agree with you entirely. I am so angry that the poorest people are not only being made poorer but are being stigmatised and blamed for their poverty. If cutting the deficit was the real priority then welfare is not an area for big savings. Therefore I can only assume this government actually want people to hate the poor, and for the poor to become poorer still. There are so many lies being told in the media and by politicians themselves about welfare.

Fargo86 Sun 21-Apr-13 21:47:04

If bankers "caused the mess", who caused the preceding boom years? Not the bankers?

If people want to not be poor, they need to get off benefits. Nobody got rich on benefits, and by rationale, people on benefits are always going to be the poorest in society.

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