Where are the conservatives when you need them to get tough on strikers, scroungers and shirkers?
|Laughing and smirking on the green benches|
At least in public these were the stated values of conservatives.
Move on to 2012 and the world looks very different. Owning your own home is a dream for many including the “strivers” with banks that will not lend and property prices still out of reach of even well paid people in many areas.
Many have either no pension or pensions with uncertain benefits including many professionals and well paid employees.
Millions of people are struggling to get on despite often working hard and as a society we face an ever increasing benefits bill.
It is becoming clear that much of the money we spend on benefits ends up in the pockets of scroungers and shirkers as an excellent paper from left leaning think tank Compass explains.
|Download the full compass paper|
To read the right-wing press you would imagine much of Britain had turned into the kind of place seen in the TV series Shameless where people live the life of riley scrounging on benefits partying whilst we work.
The facts however tell a different story with literally billions of pounds of the money we spend on benefits ending up in the pockets of buy to let landlords and in tax credits paid out to people actually in work as the paper explains:
So who are the real shirkers and scroungers? Big business is guilty of scrounging from the public purse on a monumental scale – often hidden behind a whole political economy rather than some drawn curtains. The billions of pounds in working tax credits paid out every year are not going to the unemployed but to workers to supplement their low income. It is making up the difference between low wages and the minimum necessary amount for families to live on – a living wage. As 29% of low-paid workers work in retail, this sector in particular is coming under intense scrutiny. A report by the Fair Pay Network found that despite collectively making billions of pounds worth of profits and paying their CEOs millions of pounds a year, none of the top four supermarkets were paying their workers a living wage. They could easily do this and still make huge profits at the same time. So why should they be able to scrounge off the rest of us?The same is true in the housing market where a staggering one in five of all families depends on housing benefit to survive:
One in five households in the UK rely on housing benefit to put a roof over their heads. Out of these households 87% are low and middle-income families and pensioners – the so-called strivers that the government pretends to support. Why is it that working people need housing benefit? It's the same story: the cost of living is not in line with income. The market has failed. Successive governments have tried to correct this failure by moving from an emphasis on building houses that can be rented cheaply to paying landlords directly to cover tenants' rents. But as 32% of housing benefit claimants rent in the private sector, this means the hard-working striving taxpayer is paying their tax directly into the pockets of private landlords enabling them to expand their property portfolios. Last year this cost the taxpayer nearly £10bn.So where are the conservatives now? The supporters of home ownership and reward for those working hard?
Well Boris Johnson is actually amongst those calling for a living wage. Why is it that people are paid so little that they cannot afford to put a roof over their heads and food on the table without state benefits even when working full time? Sometimes even with two adults working full-time.
But Cameron and Osborne rather than grappling with this issue are playing party politics with the poor. Suggesting real terms cuts in benefits as a political trap for labour and literally lounging on the green benches of the Commons laughing and smirking at how “clever” they have been.