Tuesday, 2 April 2013

IDS - that £53 comment

Sad to say that as much as I struggle with our political parties at the moment (and let's be honest, who wouldn't) I not only find that there is little to separate the ConDem coalition from it's ComThem opposition (the party formally know as 'Labour') I do wish people would portray them properly.

The latest example of this is that poor man's champion (not) being the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), who is a firm supporter of the changes that are occurring within, and to, our welfare system.

That the man thinks that many of these changes are fair is something that will be responded to when the hustings come a knocking but the reporting of IDS' engagement with David Bennett (thanks to the BBC's 'Today' programme leave a little to be desired. The issue surrounds Mr. Bennett's question, 'Could you survive on £53 a week?'

The reply was, 'If I had to I would.' It was not, 'I can live on £53'

The 'having to' and 'can' are two very different kettles of caviar; people might be able to exist on £53 a week but they certainly cannot live on it. I have to say that I doubt whether IDS would be able to match his current lifestyle on £53 a day but should he, like so many I work with, find himself out of work and having to live on benefits he'd have no choice but to to make it work, for like those upon whom he is legislating by means of the changes, he would have to!

I am worried that we will let this gross misreporting fuel a backlash that vilifies the man and draws attention away from the realities, which (in case you have forgotten) are:

The bedroom tax which hits those of a working age who receive housing benefit (including those whose partners have cancer, who are parents of handicapped kids and many more besides).

The reduction of legal aid (an essential for those who have not to be represented and afforded the same rights as those who have!)

The changes from council tax benefit to a locally run council tax support

The below inflation cap on  tax credits and working-age benefits

The new independence payment which replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

The overall benefit cap for those who are of working-age people

The Universal Credit system

People on benefits who have a history of struggling to manage money will soon find themselves faced with them receiving benefits which they will need to pass on, and for some who have addiction problems (drink, drugs, gambling) this may well see them in arrears with their rent and heading towards being homeless.

Let's stop jumping on the crass reporting of the newspapers; diverting our fire at shadows created by the press and let's start making a focussed and structured stand for those who HAVE to live on £53 a week.


Revsimmy said...

Although I agree with you that focussing attention on one individual may be diverting attention from the wider issues, I do think that it is perfectly fair to challenge IDS (and others) about how much they REALLY understand about what this is doing to very vulnerable people. "If I had to I would" may be simply a statement of fact, but whether IDS actually understands what surviving (hardly living) on this level of income I rather doubt. In spite of Edwina Curry's claim the IDS has been unemployed for a brief spell after leaving the army, I rather suspect that there were r3esources available to him which are beyond the wildest dreams of most peope in this situation. To be honest, I suspect most of us would find a way of survivng this situation for a week or two at a time, but coping for a much more extended period must be dire. My perception (along with a lot of others) is that these decisions are being taken by people who have NO idea what the individual consequences will be. It is the already powerful using that power to make the powerless even more so.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

The problem is that IDS has done the government a great favour by taking the limelight and pushing the real issues into the waste bin. Even the chat shows are ignoring the real people and their plight and engaging in the politics of envy rather than seeking what is right and just!

Bummer isn't it?~

And yet seems all so familiar from the stuff I encountered from the Con Them side of the fence some twenty years back )same politics and methodology - different parties in power!

Ravi Holy said...

Ravi Holy As one of the muppets you're fed up with (!) I still think he said what he said having read this!

Emma said...

All I know is that they want my mum on a back to work scheme!

Vic Van Den Bergh said...


But the focus has to be what he, and the rest of the parliamentarians are doing, not shouting about the man. Wrong issue - standing for the people is surely what we should be doing!!

Wrong focus

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Indeed Emma,
same as when I was working with those on benefits and/or long-term unemployment some twenty years back!

All about statistics, misrepresentation of reality and flawed thinking

Emma said...

I think they've found her a nice position as a draft excluder in one of the council offices

Vic Van Den Bergh said...


We had a chap who'd gone blind - sent him for a driving instructor assessment as he'd held a driving licence for many years before losing sight!

Can't print his or my thoughts or the comments of the assessor when he turned up with white stick and guide dog!

Numbers not people - bl**dy frustrating!!!

Anonymous said...

A quick clean up of message from 'anon':

It doesn't matter whether he said it or not, he and the government are still wrong)!

[expletives deleted ;-)

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Indeed they are but playing into the class war stuff is to alienate many. We need to made a reasoned stand rather than a kneejerk response.

Use facts to confound the foolish and duplicitous and remember that there is no political party who can stand detached from this - they are as guilty as each other ;-(