THE BLOG

The Worse Osborne Performs the Nastier His Policies Become

27/06/2013 15:11 BST | Updated 27/08/2013 10:12 BST
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Allowing someone to claim unemployment benefit only three days after losing their job quite obviously did not crash our economy and is not holding back the long-awaited recovery.

What else to conclude, however, from George Osborne announcing yesterday yet more ways of turning the screw on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society?

This new policy to extend to seven days the time before claiming is actually even worse than it seemed at first, as it becomes clearer it will not just relate to jobseeker's allowance but universal credit, including housing, disability and other family benefits and tax credits.

Add in the fact universal credit will be paid monthly in arrears and you can see it will simply drive more people into debt and despair at precisely the time when they deserve all the help we can give.

This policy alone, Osborne said, is designed to cut £250million a year from the welfare budget. Another £100million a year will apparently be "saved" by requiring jobseekers to sign on every week instead of fortnightly.

The only way savings are possible here is through an increase in the number of people moving off benefits.

That would be fine if they were going into work. But the department admits it neither knows nor cares what happens to 40% of the people who stop claiming.

With yesterday's announcement of a further 10% cut in the DWP's budget, this is not about increasing support for people who find themselves without a job, it is about cutting it.

When the Tories say they are getting "tough" on welfare they now mean anyone who has lost their job as a result of the recession caused by bankers' greed and failed government policies.

It is cold, naked aggression towards those who have the least from a millionaire chancellor who, as heir to a family fortune and title, epitomises the true something-for-nothing culture.

All the more galling that on the Today programme this morning, Ed Balls couldn't bring himself to oppose the seven-day extension. One Labour MP disgracefully even tweeted that people should save up a week's wages in case they lose their job.

Osborne may claim our economy is coming out of intensive care, but it was his government that knocked the life out of it in the first place.

The plan also announced yesterday to hold down public sector wages for decades to come by ending pay progression - which will add fuel to the teachers'strikes and protests by my union's members today - is further evidence that this failed chancellor is punishing the least culpable for his mistakes.

In fact, it seems that the more austerity is proved to be monumentally failing, the nastier his policies become. And no amount of carefully-placed burgers in publicity photos can disguise this ugly truth.