Socialist Worker

George Osborne’s petty welfare attacks mean more misery for claimants

Tory chancellor's latest round of benefit cuts attacks the poorest in society, writes Simon Basketter

Issue No. 2360

picture of the sign of a jobcentre plus building

Single parents of young children will be forced to look for work

Spite and scapegoating marked Osborne’s spending review.

He announced that total spending on certain benefits, including housing benefit, tax credits, and some disability and pensioner benefits, will be capped annually.

The Tories have already brought in a cap to limit any household to £500 a week in benefits.

But it’s not clear how the new cap will work.

The government can’t decree how many people will lose their jobs, become disabled or have their wages slashed and so become entitled to certain benefits.

On top of this the review contained £4 billion of nasty welfare cuts.

People who lose their job will have to wait a week before claiming out of work benefit.

That saves the Treasury

£745 million. But it’s also a petty act to make life even tougher for unemployed workers.

Those thrown on the dole will have to turn up at a job centre with a CV.

They will have to prove they have already looked for work to even make a claim.

Lone parents of three and four year olds will have to look for work or face benefit sanctions.

Non-English speakers could face benefit cuts unless they learn English.

This is racist, dog whistle politics. And it’s probably unenforceable—not least because the government has slashed English for Speakers of Other Languages teaching to the bone.

The government desperately tried to spin its cuts in a positive light.

It boasted of £50 billion of capital investment in 2015 saying this would take the total to

£300 billion over the decade.

But this is yet more public private partnerships. And it has all been announced before.

As is traditional, Osborne announced plans for increased broadband.

But it was revealed on the same day that the plans weren’t going ahead.

Osborne also promised a “major commitment” to new flood defences.

Yet he slashed the Department for Energy and Climate Change resource budget by 8 percent.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was cut by 10 percent.

Still, at least the spooks are winning—MI5 and MI6 got a rise of 3.4 percent.

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