Election 2015 – how you really can make a difference
- Category: Latest news
- Created: Tuesday, 07 April 2015 15:00
Claimants face life-threateningly harsh cuts to their benefits if the Conservatives win the general election.
But the battle is currently such a close one that just an additional 5% turnout by working age claimants could ensure that the Tories have no chance of being the largest party.
However, you only have until 7 May to alert as many claimants as possible to the threat they face and convince them that voting isn’t a waste of time.
Below are some suggestions to get you started, please feel free to leave more in the comments section below.
We’ll be adding updates to this page right up until election day, so please do visit again.
Register to vote by 20 April.
If you aren’t already registered, you can register online here
Encourage other claimants to do the same. Voting to keep the Conservatives out of government is the only certain way of preventing life-threatening benefits cuts.
Warn other claimants how “dramatic” the Conservative cuts will be - in a nutshell
The most worrying cuts, in a nutshell, may 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%,
- making people pay the first 10% of their housing benefit.
Warn other claimants how “dramatic” the Conservative cuts will be - in detail
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.
However, a document leaked to the BBC 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.
- Replacing industrial injuries benefits with an insurance policy for employers,
- Introducing regional benefit caps.
- Making changes to council tax.
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”
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.
But combined with cuts to housing benefit and all the other cuts listed above, it would probably be enough.
Remind claimants about the cuts and changes that have already been made
Coalition cuts and changes include:
- Introducing the bedroom tax.
- Limiting contribution-based ESA and JSA to one year.
- Forcing claimants off DLA and onto PIP, causing massive waits for benefits for seriously sick, disabled and terminally ill claimants
- Abolishing council tax benefit so that most claimants now have to pay some council tax out of their other benefits.
- Changing the way benefits are uprated annually so that claimants get less.
- Limiting working age benefits uprating to 1% for three years.
- Introducing the household benefits cap.
- Abolishing most of the social fund, forcing claimants into the hands of payday lenders
- Abolishing the Independent Living Fund
- Forcing millions of claimants to move from IB to ESA when the system couldn’t cope, resulting in massive backlogs in ESA assessments.
- Changing the appeals system so that it is now much harder to challenge a benefits decision.
Challenge the belief that there’s no difference between the two main parties
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) article ‘Comparing the parties’ spending plans’
written in January of this year, Labour would need to find spending cuts or tax increases of £7 billion.
The Conservatives would need to find cuts of £33 billion. And they have already said that £12bn of this would come from welfare cuts, though they refuse to say which benefits will be hit.
Even if every single pound Labour saved was from cutting benefits, instead of from raising taxes from the wealthy, it would still amount to just over half the benefits cuts the Tories have guaranteed.
So, for benefits claimants, the idea that you couldn’t put a fag paper between the two main parties just doesn’t make sense anymore.
There is a massive difference.
Point out that claimants can make a big difference to who wins this election
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.
In our article ‘Could claimants choose the next government?’ we show that working age claimants hold the balance of power in enough marginal seats to potentially decide who governs Britain at the next election. And our figures don’t even include tax credit claimants. If they did, claimants would be seen to have even greater power.
Spread the word every way you can
Hammer home the message about just how harmful the Conservative cuts will be.
- Write to your local paper warning claimants about the cuts
- Use Twitter and Facebook to spread the word
- Post comments in forums and below articles
- Ask disability charities you have a connection with what they are doing to inform their service users about proposed benefits cuts
- Above all, talk to people you know
Millionaires are giving the Conservatives massive amounts of money to buy advertising on Facebook and push glossy pamphlets through letterboxes in marginal constituencies. They are trying to buy themselves another five years of favourable treatment and fabulous wealth.
But even bankers and hedge fund managers can’t buy the persuasive effect of a conversation with someone you know and trust, who has the facts to hand.
So, go through the information on this page and then start talking – you may wield more influence than a millionaire.
Come back and tell us what you’ve done or give us your suggestions
We don’t claim to have all the answers. So, please do give us your suggestions about how to persuade more claimants to vote. And do come back and tell us about what you’ve done and how it went – you may encourage hundreds of others to do the same.