Tag Archives: benefits

Lessons from Finland on Universal Basic Income

Piles of money. Photo credit: czbalazs - http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1236662Aditya Chakrabortty, a Guardian Columnist, recently travelled to Finland to interview a man who’s been part of a Universal Basic Income trial. The scheme gives 2,000 randomly chosen people, who were already receiving unemployment benefits, £493 a month unconditionally. The scheme will finish properly at the end of 2018 and no official results will be published until then, but there is anecdotal evidence from a number of interviews conducted with people chosen to take part.

One such person is Juha Jarvinen. When asked by …

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Benefit Cuts Will Increase Child Poverty

A new report just released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that benefit cuts will increase child poverty, especially in the North East and in Wales.

Absolute child poverty would increase by 4%, and three-quarters of that would be linked to the freeze to most working-age benefits and limiting of tax credits and universal credits to two children. Using forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, combined with current benefit plans, the study shows child poverty will increase in each English region and nation of the UK.

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesman, Stephen Lloyd MP, says

These figures from

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An end to benefit fraud – the Liberal way

…the plan we are advocating amounts essentially to this: that a certain small income, sufficient for necessaries, should be secured to all, whether they work or not…

Bertrand Russell, Proposed Roads To Freedom, 1918

There are two types of benefit fraud going on. There’s the sort that the Daily Mail and various populist TV shows enjoy making a song-and-dance about. Then there’s the more prevalent fraud, with targets to deny people the money they and their families need to live, to “sanction” them on flimsy pretexts, to require people with mental and physical disabilities to undergo lengthy and stressful appeals processes.

Providing a small unconditional income to everyone in society addresses both of these frauds – and incidentally means that much of the demeaning, embarassing, arbitrary, and extremely costly assessments can be scrapped.

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Migrants’ benefits debate is a proxy channel for xenophobia in some quarters

“EU referendum: David Cameron wins Theresa May’s backing” – reads the Guardian headline this morning.

Hello? Theresa May is the Home Secretary! It is incredible that her backing for Cameron on this is presented as some sort of surprise. What the Prime Minister does should automatically have the backing of the whole cabinet. Are we saying that there are cabinet ministers who do not support the Prime Minister on his referendum stance?

The cabinet’s support for the PM on a crucial national matter appears to be in question. This is quite an extraordinary state of affairs.

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Disgraceful attitude to mental health disguised by the warm words of Iain Duncan-Smith

Listening to Iain Duncan-Smith can be enough to send anyone to sleep. He drones on and one can be lulled into thinking he is being quite reasonable.

However, behind his warm words, there is a chilling attitude to disabilities and particularly to mental illness.

He seems to be saying: There must be something you can do if you are suffering from depression.

And: If we start cutting your benefits, that’ll act as a little nudge to push you gently into work.

Blimey. What planet does he live on?

Having had a little experience of mental illness and those suffering from such long-term disabilities, I have to say that none of this washes.

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Opinion: Tory plans to curb benefits for obese people and addicts is the opposite of enabling people to get on in life

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through charity work, in two different countries, it’s that imposing your moral code on other people simply does not work. Sometimes, people are going to do things that seem wrong, or misguided, or utterly reckless, to us. When they do, it’s our role not to judge them for it, but to give them the information they need to make their own informed choices.

That’s why I was so annoyed this week just past. In Spain, a colleague of mine told me that the media had whipped up frenzy around our organisation teaching young people to use condoms correctly. Meanwhile, back home in Britain, we have the Conservative party trying to push its own moral code through the benefits system. Both examples neatly explain what the problem is with moralising narratives in society.

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Steve Webb: Lib Dems will introduce “fair warning” for job-seekers who break benefit rules before sanctions imposed

webb 01The Lib Dems are taking advantage of the quiet weeks in August to drip-feed a number of new policies likely to make it into the party’s general election manifesto. Alongside reforms to police stop-and-search and fairer funding for Wales, Lib Dem work and pensions minister Steve Webb has outline plans to introduce a ‘fair warning’ before benefits sanctions are imposed against job-seekers who break the rules. The Guardian reports:

The Liberal Democrats will pledge in their general election manifesto to introduce a new “yellow card” system to give

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    Why does LDV not report the results properly with the votes cast? Just putting %%% is less than half the story. They are available easily...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 18th Nov - 10:41pm
    Arnold, that was a magnificent piece of prose writing, so well articulated, so reasonable, and yet so passionate and sad at the same time. It...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 9:08pm
    @ JoeB, I normally agree with Stiglitz but not this time. A two tier, or a multi tier, euro wouldn't really solve anything. In every...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 18th Nov - 8:51pm
    And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.
  • User AvatarGlenn 18th Nov - 8:49pm
    The cut price less sonorously Machiavellian British Kissinger, but only because he as a squeaky voice.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 8:46pm
    @ Andrew Melmouth, You could be right about John Lanchester. There are those who do understand what a complete cock up the introduction of the...