This year will witness the greatest changes to the modern Welfare State since it’s inception in 1948, with the abolition, change or ‘capping’ of almost all benefits; be it Incapacity benefit to Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments, cuts to Tax Credits (TC), Child benefit (CB) and Housing benefit (HB), the freezing of Job Seekers Allowance (JSA); and not forgetting the introduction of Universal Credit.
All of the changes have been carried out under the guise of the old system being open to abuse with both CB & HB ‘encouraging large families’ according to Jeremy Hunt in his time as Culture Secretary http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11490294. JSA, ESA & DLA encourages idleness and fecklessness claims Iain Duncan Smith http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2010/21st-century-welfare/foreword-by-the-secretary These alterations and cuts are also veiled in promises of how the new system will ensure benefits reach those in most need.
Strangely these claims rang a bell somewhere in the back of my foggy drug muddled mind and a quick Google search gave me “The practice of giving child allowances… was seen as encouraging large families while the alleged generosity of outdoor relief was seen as benefiting the feckless and reducing the resources available to the deserving poor“; the only difference being this came from a piece written for those studying Victorian Britain! http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/bsurface_01.shtml
Similar arguments included The original Poor Law of 1563 which required parishes to ensure the old, the young and the sick were given food, clothes or money; “…were also challenged on the grounds both of mismanagement and inefficiency and its alleged cause of rapid population growth“. Sound familiar?
For me, the worst thing about the current situation is despite our knowledge of the depths of Social problems the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 led to, with riots & extreme poverty today’s Tories seem short sighted enough to want to re enact it.
I personally can see little or no difference to what Thomas Carlyle in 1839 wrote “The New Poor Law is an announcement … that whosoever will not work ought not to live. Can the poor man that is willing to work always find work and live by his work? A man willing but unable to find work is … the saddest thing under the sun.
For the life of me I can not understand why a group of people, educated at some of the supposedly best schools and universities think it’s good idea to fall back on Policies that are tried and tested and have FAILED?! Why do they cling to terms like Feckless, Idle and Scrounger when referring to those of us responsible for working in the very industries that made them their wealth?
I can only surmise today’s Tories feel they are above, one of their more celebrated members who wrote in 1845 “Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by different breeding, are fed by different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws … THE RICH AND THE POOR.” Sybil, Benjamin Disraeli in 1845