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Tories cut welfare while MPs demand 32 per cent pay rise


The start of 2013 will mean even more cutting back for a lot of families as George Osborne announces further cuts to benefits and working tax credits. Sally Turner reports

The Coalition’s Welfare Uprating Bill caps a whole range of benefits at 1 per cent until 2015, also including statutory maternity pay and jobseeker’s allowance.

The Tories tried to use workers to back up the Bill by using figures that show “many working-age benefits” have risen by 20 per cent since 2007 while there has only been a 12 per cent rise in private sector pay.

Even if this is the case: just because bosses are cutting down wages to ensure higher profits doesn’t mean that those on benefits should receive the same treatment. The government should create more jobs so those who are able to work can and while doing so, and bosses should be forced to raise wages up in line with benefits, rather than have a race to the bottom.

The new Bill will reduce benefits by altering what their increase or decrease is based on. Currently benefits move in line with average wage movements, so if wages increase by x per cent, benefits will increase by ½ of x per cent. The change will mean that instead, consumer price index (CPI) will be used to decide the movement in benefits. The government are also attempting to alter retail price index (RPI), which is used as a baseline for wage negotiations, deliberating reducing it further to ensure wages can decrease further.

This change means that benefits will fall compared to increasing prices and the poor will get poorer. With more people losing their jobs everyday and the use of soup kitchens increasing massively, it’s difficult to see how a lot of families will survive.

Pigs’ snouts in trough

While this is going on we see in the news that MPs are demanding a 32 per cent pay increase because £65,000 a year isn’t enough, don’t you know? A survey revealed that 69 per cent of MPs – the very same people who are reducing wages and the minimum wage – believe they are underpaid.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“At a time when millions of workers are getting zero pay rises, the idea that MPs believe they deserve a 32 per cent increase is living in cloud cuckoo land. MPs should get real about pay; this shows they are totally out of touch with working people. How can they think that they deserve a 32 per cent increase when the rest of the country is being told to tighten their belts?”

Although Labour opposes the Bill, it only focuses on the 60 per cent of the benefit recipients who are in work, therefore tacitly accepting the argument that those who are unemployed deserve nothing and shouldn’t be helped out by the welfare system. Labour, funded to the hilt by the unions, repeatedly refuses to act as a tribune for the poor – that’s why we need a new party.

The underlying objective of this Bill is to depress all workers’ wages by slyly letting them know that there are thousands of unemployed people who could take their job if they step out of line or become involved in union action.

The real scandal about so many workers having to claim benefits or working tax credits to get by is that bosses who refuse to pay a living wage are in effect being subsidised by the taxpayer. And who pays the biggest portion of taxes? Why, the workers of course!

As well as voting and campaigning against the Welfare Uprating Bill, we demand Labour and the Union leaders fight for a minimum wage of £10 an hour and jobs for all.

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