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Vote for your life – “dramatic”, "life-changing" cuts are coming

“Dramatic” and “life-changing” benefits cuts will be imposed if the Tories are running the country after 7 May, Iain Duncan Smith has warned.

They could include taxing DLA, PIP and AA, axeing contribution-based ESA and JSA, cutting the work-related activity component of ESA to 50p, cutting carers allowance numbers by 40%, and making people pay the first 10% of their housing benefit.

For many, these will be life-threatening cuts, rather than life-changing ones.

But claimants are in a position to prevent them happening.

And it won’t take a miracle.

In fact, just an additional 5% turnout by working age claimants could have a dramatic and life-changing effect on IDS and his plans instead.

But a higher turnout won’t happen by itself. Labour are too frightened of the tabloids to try to rally claimants. Many of the major charities and disability organisations have been scared into silence by the Lobbying Act. And the media has little interest in benefits cuts, other than to applaud them as a good thing.

So it looks like it’s up to ordinary claimants to make sure as many other claimants as possiblandrew marr interviews IDSe understand the threat they are facing.

Dramatic cuts
IDS told Andrew Marr last week he didn’t become a minister to make “cheese-paring” cuts. Instead he has ‘dramatic’ and ‘life-changing’ plans for claimants.

And the tool for those dramatic changes is £12 billion of cuts to benefits in the space of just two years.

So far, we only know where £2 billion of the cuts will come from – a freeze on working age benefits. But the Conservatives are refusing to say where the other savings will be made.

Hit list
A document leaked to the BBC, however, set out some of the cuts the Conservative party are considering, including:

  • Taxing DLA, PIP and AA.
  • Abolishing contribution based ESA and JSA entirely, so that only claimants who pass a means test can claim these benefits.
  • Cutting the number of people getting carer’s allowance by 40%.
  • Limiting child benefit to the first two children.

There are other proposed cuts too, including replacing industrial injuries benefits with an insurance policy for employers, regional benefit caps and changes to council tax.

Not enough cuts
But all of this will still not be enough.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS):

“If all of these were implemented, the total saving would be likely to fall well short of the missing £10 billion per year that the Conservatives intend to find by 2017–18”

So, what else might be in the firing line?

Housing benefit and ESA cuts
We know that pensioners benefits are protected. And JSA costs such a tiny amount compared to other benefits that further cuts there would make little difference.

Cuts to housing benefit are one possibility that the IFS have highlighted, however, as this makes up a large and growing proportion of the benefits bill.

The IFS have estimated that making everyone pay the first 10% of their housing benefit would save £2.5 billion over two years.

Another extremely strong contender is to cut the work-related activity component (WRAC) of ESA to just 50 pence.

We know that the Conservatives are keen to slash the WRAC, because they’ve considered doing it before.

Cutting the WRAC wouldn’t save huge amounts, probably less than £1 billion a year.quote: these are life-threatening cuts

But combined with cuts to housing benefit and all the other cuts listed above, it would probably be enough.

What you can do
Is this all nothing more than unnecessarily distressing speculation? After all, we don’t know what cuts will be made until – and unless – the Tories are elected.

But by then it will be too late. As Andrew Marr said in his interview with IDS, if the Conservatives won’t tell us which benefits will be cut, sick and disabled claimants will have to expect the worst:

“What I’m saying to you is if I was on welfare, if I was on disability benefit and I was told that you were taking £12 billion out of the budget, I would really need to know before I voted was I going to be hit. Or if I didn’t know that, I’d have to be assume that I was going to be hit.”

IDS, Osborne and Cameron have all now said no details of the cuts will be given before the election. So there’s no time to lose.

Clearly, the most important thing is to make sure you are registered to vote and then actually vote for a candidate who can keep the Tories out, if that’s possible, in your constituency.

But there’s more.

Above all, alert other claimants and carers to the dramatic threat they face – because many people still have no idea how huge £12 billion in cuts in two years really is.

And then try to persuade them that voting isn’t a waste of time. Because it is no longer true that all the parties are the same.

Here at Benefits and Work we have no trust for either of the major parties. But Labour, unpleasant as they undoubtedly are, don’t drool at the thought of cutting welfare in the way that the Tories do.

And the £7 billion savings Labour say they plan to make are very much smaller than the Conservative cuts. Even if every single pound Labour saved was from cutting benefits, instead of from other measures such as raising taxes from the wealthy, it would still amount to just over half the benefits cuts the Tories have guaranteed.

Not that it has to be Labour that claimants turn to. There are other parties – most notably the SNP - which have a real chance to win seats in some areas of the UK and who don’t support big cuts to benefits.

Read our suggestions on how to fight back, possibly add your own and then make a start. Talk to people, contact your local paper, tweet, comment and write letters.

You can make a difference
And don’t imagine that your voice can’t make a difference.Bar chart:  Tory Majority 333, claimant count 6840 Lancaster Fleetwood

This is a very close election so far.

There will be many seats where the winner’s majority is in the low hundreds, some where it will be less than a hundred. Even a 5% additional turnout by working age claimants – amounting to perhaps 400 voters in many constituencies - could make the difference between Labour and the Conservatives being the largest party.

If you can convince a handful of people to vote and to talk to other claimants, you could genuinely help to change the course of this election.

Remember, you’re not trying to persuade hard-faced, right wing tabloid readers that cutting benefits is wrong. That undoubtedly would be a waste of time.

You’re talking to people who already know how painful the Coalition benefits cuts have been - because they’ve been hit by them.

You just have to persuade them that it’s not time to despair.

It’s time to fight back.

It’s time to vote for your life.


-1 #24 Christine Bryce 2015-04-21 13:24
..I have heard all of the parties manifestos now and I still do not see where voting in a Labour Government would be of any benefit for the disabled or ESA. I have heard no commitment from Milliband to stop slashing of benefits. In fact, he hardly alludes to it at all. So, who is not to say he would carry on with IDS's cuts?.....The Tories will not say where the cuts will be made till After the election....ver y shrewd indeed.I have however seen in print that they are looking to cut £ 3 billion from Disability alone..... Drastic, to say the least!.......Sa ying all of that, however, I am sick and tired of the Tories " austerity" measures, where most of the money saved on the defecit has been taken from the most vulnerable and the rich folk are having their tax REDUCED by 1%.....Looking after their backers just gets my hackles up!..
#23 canttrusthesystem 2015-04-16 15:26
I have been trying to 'pass the word on' etc., but am having a bit of a problem - can anyone clarify / confirm anything about the 'document leaked to the BBC' that is the main source of information about the majority of the proposed Conservative cuts? I'm finding it's quite hard to give it credibility at the moment. Thanks.
#22 Jim Allison 2015-04-12 21:46
Working-age benefits uprating would be capped at just 1% for two years under the Liberal Democrats, the party has announced today (Sunday).

‘Uprating’ is a term used to the describe the amount benefits are increased on an annual (yearly) basis.

The promise will be included in the party’s general election manifesto and represents a real-terms cut to social security benefits, raising a reported £160 million for the treasury.

David Cameron and the Conservatives would go even further, by freezing working-age benefits at their current levels for at least two years.

The Liberal Democrats would also raise £125 million by ending Winter Fuel Payments and free TV licences for higher rate taxpayers.

As well as targeting welfare, the Liberal Democrats say they would save £200 million by abolishing the Tory Share for Rights scheme. The scheme is aimed at small businesses and asks workers to give up some of their employment rights in exchange for shares in the company.

Other policies to be unveiled at the party’s manifesto launch on Wednesday, include reforming bedroom tax to provide exemptions for disabled people, greater restrictions on Capital Gains Tax exemptions and closely align dividend tax rates with marginal income tax rates for higher and additional rate taxpayers – raising a total £1.9 billion.

Nick Clegg said: “We have a plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, which means we will cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour.

“It’s a plan to protect our economy and invest in our schools, hospitals and public services… a plan with a heart as well as a brain.”

A recent poll by YouGov/The Sun (10 April) puts the Liberal Democrats on just 8%. The Conservatives are on 33% and Labour are two points ahead on 35%. UKIP and the Green Party are currently polling at 13% and 5%, respectively.
#21 Jim Allison 2015-04-12 14:37
I haven't heard anything of substance that if Labour were elected they would slow down, the more savage benefits cuts that IDS plans.

I worked for over 30 years in the welfare rights field ( now retired) When Blair first came to power in 1997 he got my vote.In some ways he was a good PM,a healthy economy and a poor showing by the Conservative Party, Labour won the 2001 election with another landslide. His priority for the second term was to increase the pace of public sector reform, which took shape in the bills on Foundation Hospitals, Academy Schools and university tuition fees. He also intended to call a referendum over Britain adopting the Euro, but events prevented this., thank God !

The 9/11 terrorist attacks became defining moments for Tony Blair and his legacy. He allied with the USA and President Bush over the need to confront militant Islamism, first in Afghanistan in 2001 and then, much more controversially , in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq.

During his terms in office, to the best of what I remember, he did little to help the cause of chronically sick and disabled people, nor did he repeal the legislation created by Thatcher in 1980 giving people the right to buy their council houses.

For those not aware of this when Councils build housing, they only get small amount of money from government, the rest is borrowed from financial institutions over a 90 years period, which means tax payers, including Council Tax payers are subsidising those who bought their council houses at discounts of up to 60%. This the main cause of the massive increase in homelessness and poverty today.

I certainly won't be voting Tory. However, Labour needs to get over it's message more strongly what they'll do as a party if elected to slow down the savage cuts to benefits leading to poverty and food banks. The problem with all the main parties is that they are
not open about their plans if elected.
+1 #20 Kaosgeneral 2015-04-10 10:51
You also forgot to mention that under UC tax credits are going to be hit hard as well
+4 #19 Bill 2015-04-10 07:42
Quoting Ian Pritchard

Good luck to you. I hope that your vote does make a difference where you live..

Actually Ian where we live has been strong Tory since the start of time and no other Party has any chance of getting in here. We are in the South of England where people of money live and the Tories will get back in again here without any shadow of a doubt.

However, that will not stop us trying to change things both locally and Nationally and in our humble opinion, that is what voting is all about.

We have both worked over 40 years but find ourselves reliant on Benefits to survive, and I mean survive, so I just hope that not too many people will give up so easily just because they live in an area where they are beaten before they start.

We cant afford to give up, we simply do not have that luxury because we live hand to mouth and do not know how we will survive another 5 years of Ian Duncan Smith.

We would love to vote for a Party we believe in but we cannot afford to vote simply to get some personal inner comfort.

Much as we dislike them, as we feel they have let us down over the years, we are praying, yes praying, that people will vote Labour as they are truly the only ones that have any real chance of keeping Ian Duncan Smith out of power.

For all of us who are totally reliant on our Benefits to stay alive, this Election is all about one thing and one thing only, and that is keeping the Tory Party out of Government.

Please, if you are reading this and you are in the same boat as we are, Please vote Labour.

Mr & Mrs Bill
+2 #18 Bill 2015-04-09 18:33
Quoting Christine Bryce

Also, the problem of living in a strong Tory constituency means that, voting Labour won't make a bit of difference,as the vast majority living in my neck of the woods are die hard Tory supporters...

Isnt that just too easy though Christine? Isnt that a ''I may as well just roll over and give up'' way of thinking?

How would anything in this world ever get changed if everyone thought like that?

+1 #17 Ian Pritchard 2015-04-09 17:26
Bill, I assure you that it's nothing to do with being able to afford it or being laid back about it.

I'm seething that we have a first past the post system that does not and probably never will reflect my vote. The conservative guy will win here - his majority is too large to hope otherwise. If the labour guy had the slightest chance of winning I would vote for him, even though I believe Labour has not had anything like a socialist agenda since shortly before Blair got to power.

The way I see it, in the absence of any real influence with my vote at least voting with my heart will give me some comfort, albeit cold.

Good luck to you. I hope that your vote does make a difference where you live..
+1 #16 Christine Bryce 2015-04-09 17:13
It is all well and good to say vote labour. the problem I have there is that they have not said how much they would cut benefits by?....Also, the problem of living in a strong Tory constituency means that, voting Labour won't make a bit of difference,as the vast majority living in my neck of the woods are die hard Tory supporters...
+2 #15 Bill 2015-04-09 17:03
Quoting Ian Pritchard

For the first time in my life Im seriously considering voting Green in the vague hope that it might just make the right wing tory who will be elected take a bit of notice about the Green policies.
Ian, clearly you are in a better position than we are as we cannot afford the luxury of voting for a Party of our choice.

I just wish that we could be as laid back as you seem to be about another 5 years of Ian Duncan Smith and his Welfare Cuts.

Good for you if you can afford to vote Green!

Mr & Mrs Bill
+1 #14 Ian Pritchard 2015-04-09 16:41
I live in a constituencey that has a large Tory vote, with labour a distant second. For the first time in my life Im seriously considering voting Green in the vague hope that it might just make the right wing tory who will be elected take a bit of notice about the Green policies.

Anyone seen this site? It's interesting http://38degrees.votematch.org
+4 #13 Drizzle 2015-04-09 14:31
Quoting Bill:
PLEASE..... even if you HATE them..... vote Labour, they are THE ONLY ONES who can keep the Tories out!!!!

Mrs Bill


I like the Greens too but, unless they've got a chance of winning in your constituency, voting for them is a wasted vote and just begging the Tories to get into power again and make the drastic cuts described above. You'll have done NOTHING to help yourselves (and the rest of us unfortunates).

If we had a different election system where every vote counted things would be different and we'd be free to vote for the party that best represented our views. As things stand though, our vote only counts to elect the MP for our constituency so voting for the Greens (or another minor party) in an area where they've no hope of winning is meaningless and a waste.

The most pressing need is to keep the Tories out AT ALL COSTS or the cuts described in the above article WILL HAPPEN. Labour might not be ideal but they're the ONLY party that can keep the Tories out of power and stop these cuts from happening.

Please use your vote wisely to keep the Tories out at all costs. Voting for the party most likely to beat them in your constituency (except UKIP who are even worse) is the best way to do this.
+6 #12 Ben 2015-04-09 13:12
In the '97 election, one constituency changed hands with a majority of 12 votes, and another with just 2 votes.

How would you feel if the party YOU wanted to win missed out where you live by just 2 votes - and you hadn't voted?

It happens!

If the majority had been just 1 vote, then everyone who voted would have cast that winning vote.

+1 #11 pusscatsmum 2015-04-08 18:48
Apologies Spoonydoc.
I did not belittle you or condem you for falling unwell at 16. Perhaps if you read my content you will see I did not condem you at all, moreover I stipulate that CB benefits for those who have paid in over the years are the benefits that should not be axed as we have paid into the system to help ourselves and others less fortunate.
-1 #10 Jennet Scarborough 2015-04-08 16:59
check out http://38degrees.votematch.org/ interesting stuff.
after you finish have a read though of "your question matches" to see what policies the different parties actually agree with, some of the answers may surprise you.

I'm voting Green, I believe they are the only party likely to actually make much of a difference
+2 #9 Bill 2015-04-08 16:29
PLEASE..... even if you HATE them..... vote Labour, they are THE ONLY ONES who can keep the Tories out!!!!

Mrs Bill
#8 Puccalove 2015-04-08 13:52
I'm voting Green.
+1 #7 David 2015-04-08 11:52
stop giving our money away to other country then within no time we will be back on our feet again, Cameron will only hold us down, get rid of Cameron he is crippling ENGLAND.
+7 #6 spoonydoc 2015-04-08 11:32
pusscatsmum, when you get sick and disabled is down to pure luck.
Do you look down on me because I became ill when I was only 16 rather than your 43?

As it turned out I was still able to go to uni and work for 8 years, before my progressive condition finally meant that I had to go on benefits, probably for life. So I did qualify for CR benefits, but as I did not have time to buy a house and although I have a fair amount of savings from my time in work, yes, I also qualify for IR benefits.

Should I, in turn, look down on the 16 year old, who, unlike me, was immediately too sick to have the same opportunity to go to uni and then work but instead had to claim IR benefits?

I don't think so. I think we should feel grateful for the time we were able to work, the longer the better. Would you really seriously rather have been ill since you were a teenager?

I'm not belittling your struggles or fears, but please think about what you are really saying.
For the record, I agree that abolishing CB benefiting wrong. it is something I will fight against with all the strength I have, even though it does not affect me personally.

We who claim IR benefits are not your enemy, nor are we to blame for your predicament. You are directing your anger at the wrong people. As a fellow disabled person, I am on your side. You should also be on ours.

P.S. I have not seen any proposals to restrict DLA or PIP to those on UC. The only change I have heard of is to tax it. I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.
+6 #5 Ian Pritchard 2015-04-08 11:12
Although I agree with what is being said here so far, I don't think we have time to go in to the rights and wrongs of it. If we want to keep the tories out then we need to take action. I don't have any truck with labour or the lib-dems either but they are the least worse of anyone with a genuine chance of power. Does anyone know of a leaflet or infographic that show the dangers of voting tory and teh benefit cuts they will bring in? It's time to start a letterbox campaign.

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