Yesterday I read about George Osborne’s “war on welfare” and on the face of it some of the proposed measures seemed reasonable but as we all know with politics, particularly the rather hateful brand of politics favoured by Osborne and the Tories, there is always more than meets the eye. Out of all the conditions in Osborne’s “tough love” scheme for the unemployed one leaped out at me as particularly spiteful, or maybe that should be more spiteful than the others. Osborne will implement a mandatory intensive regime for claimants with underlying problems such as mental health, drug addiction and illiteracy. This will be further punishment for the most vulnerable in our society. What form this “intensive regime” will take hardly matters as it will just subject the people who are already at the fringes of society to further harassment. Instead of acting out of compassion the government again passes ignorant judgement on a section of society being made the scapegoat for all our economic woes.
This morning when I was driving, I passed the Gear Projects in Gloucester and it reminded me what amazing work is done in our community by volunteers, helping those that need it most. This kind of project is in stark contrast to the rhetoric of the Tories. It also reminded me what hardship we have on our own doorstep, hardship and poverty that doesn’t get enough coverage. This prompted me to look at their website and I have copied these startling stats;
In 2012 GEAR Projects supported:
- 948 individuals
- 100 new people every month
- Making over 13000 different attendances
- 768 people had consultations with the doctor,nurse or healthcare assistant
- 10200 consultations in all underlining our commitment to health
- 90% with history of offending
- 90% given benefits advice
- 95% suffering the effects of poverty
- highest number of attendees on any one day was 123
- 300 individuals given help to secure accommodation
- 2 specialist move on houses operated to near capacity
- 156 people given outreach support whilst sleeping rough
- over 60 were referred by our project work staff to psychiatric services
- 20 people were re-connected at their request (from Dublin to Eastern Europe)
I urge you to check out the GEAR Projects website and I also urge you not to take at face value the disingenuous statements of the government and the lazy and hateful generalisations perpetuated by people like George Osborne.
And I thought we in America were bad. That’s about what I would expect from our government. They wonder why some of these people don’t have money to support themselves and I am wondering if it’s because there isn’t any money left after all the money hoarding going on.
Opinion in the UK has become very polarised on this subject. The current government is doing its best to simplify the argument, to make out that everyone on benefits is lazy and is in some way cheating the system etc. It is a shame that politics and running government always seems to be about pandering to the worst aspects of human nature, whipping up rabid support for hateful and simplistic policies. And as you point out with all the huge companies avoiding paying billions in tax, it still somehow always ends up being the ordinary folks that get the blame!