Tag Archives: social security

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 42 Comments

Towards a Liberal Democrat policy on social security

 

When I mention to friends that I have recently visited a Jobcentre, Citizens Advice Bureau, and interviewed the homeless it tends to raise a few eyebrows. However, all these visits and interviews have been fieldwork for the Liberal Democrat Working-age Social Security Working Group which recently published its consultation paper. Chaired by Jenny Willott, and comprised of a cross-section of LD members, our FPC remit has been clear: ‘The group will take evidence and consult widely from both within and outside the party’.

Fieldwork has proven enormously helpful to us in terms of understanding the nuances of the benefits system. For example, interviews with homeless people reveal the difficulties associated with applying for Universal Credit without the benefit of a bank account (needs a permanent address). These problems are not insurmountable but they do introduce additional difficulties which need to be considered when formulating policy.

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

Is the Basic Income Guarantee an idea whose time has come?

Way back when I was first involved in politics, the ideas that everyone should have a basic income and that tax and national insurance should be integrated were mainstream SDP/Liberal Alliance ideas.

The Greens have in recent years been the only party to advocate such a change but during the General Election, Natalie Bennett was unable to convince people that it was affordable.

This week, think-tank Reform Scotland has come up with a costed scheme to give every adult a basic income of £100 per week and every child £50. The authors, Liberal Democrat Siobhan Mathers and Scottish Green candidate James Mackenzie, acknowledge that there would be a cost, around £2 billion in Scotland, £12 billion across the whole UK and that personal taxation rates would have to rise by about 8%, but that nobody earning under £26,000 a year would be worse off. However, with 2 children, a £100k household would be over £1200 a year better off

It’s certainly radical, with those on lowest incomes gaining and those on £100,000 without children being around £2,200 a year worse off, but isn’t that what a progressive tax system is supposed to do? There is a question, though, around whether a £100k household needs to be mae £1200 a year better off courtesy of the state.

The report argues that there are seven big advantages of such a scheme:

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Why IDS is still in his job is revealing of Conservative attitudes to social security

Iain Duncan SmithWhen Andrew Lansley’s health reforms ran into trouble – and his inability to take with him the public or those working in the NHS proved toxic – David Cameron reshuffled him out of harm’s way. Jeremy Hunt was brought in to make nice to the health sector and patients.

When Michael Gove’s education reforms started to run before they could walk – and his inability to take with him the public or the teachers proved toxic, especially in marginal constituencies – David Cameron reshuffled him out of harm’s way. Nicky …

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Challenging the myths about benefits claimant – an inspiring video from an Oxford charity

Liberal Democrats generally despair about the attitudes in the media towards people who claim benefits.

I’m sure that most of you reading this will be inspired by this fantastic video from an Oxford self advocacy charity run by and for people with learning disabilities. My Life My Choice got some people to share their stories and challenging some of the myths people have about people on benefits. It’s very moving. Please share it all over social media. I think we probably all have friends who believe the myths and they need to see it.

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Tribunal justice – do our Parliamentary Parties ‘get’ it?

Brighton Spring Conference unanimously supported a motion on justice in social security tribunals – a critical issue as welfare reform begins recalibrating everyone’s social security rights and entitlement, and specialist legal aid advice to challenge decisions disappears. This is the fifth time Conference has debated and challenged the Government’s legal aid reforms. In Sheffield 2011, I summated an access to justice motion criticising the Ministry of Justice’s outline proposals, in Birmingham, autumn 2011 and again in Brighton 2012 I proposed amendments to welfare reform motions calling to reinstate legal aid for welfare rights, whilst in Gateshead an amendment

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 17 September 2009

Good morning. Today we remember the deaths of Hildegard von Bingen, and, centuries later, Laura Ashley; and today’s birthday girl is Tessa Jowell.

Two big stories

A surprising number of newspapers seem to be leading with a story about how soon, we will all have the right to register with any GP we choose. I struggle to see why that’s made so many front pages.

Instead, my picks are the Independent’s story about racism in the US, with President Carter weighing in on opposition to President Obama’s current policy platform:

After lurking near the surface of political discourse in America

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