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Election 2015 – how you really can make a difference

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.


#6 Jim Allison 2015-04-12 21:29
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.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the party’s approach to balancing the books will be one of the “heart as well as a brain”, by being honest with voters about who will be asked to contribute more and where cuts will fall.

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.
+3 #5 frances ball 2015-04-08 13:23
After watching Cameron interview on TV he answered a question from a disabled woman who specifically asked whether he would change DLA cuts, etc. He bent towqrds her and assured her he would not affect DLA, following this interview i watched the bit debate also on TV. When he changed what he was saying and would not confirm or deny his plans. This was following leaked documents which showed he had looked at these benefits. This to me makes him a LIAR. Your article also renewed my belief that Tory are the worst party to take us onto the next government. at 62 years old I looked back over my life, as a young mum, then as a full time worked, and now as disabled and going into retirement. Every time my life has struggled guess who was in government Tories!. So please people get out there and vote. You can apply to your local government for postal voting if you cannot physically get there. I will make the most of my Mobility car and ensure I get there and anybody else in my vicinity that wants a lift. Because I believe TORU are the be voted out by the disabled, the unemployed, the carers, the UNWANTED OF UK NEED TO VOTE NO TO TORY!
+2 #4 Ben 2015-04-08 12:07
In the '97 election, one constituency changed hands with a majority of just 12 votes.

How would you feel if the party YOU wanted to win missed out where you live by just 12 votes - or even fewer? It happens!

+2 #3 tintack 2015-04-08 00:19
This is interesting:


Has there been anything on the BBC about this? I've seen other people online saying that there hasn't. If so, I hope it's because it came too late for today's news and will be covered tomorrow.

If the BBC simply ignore it, there is no way they could claim to be impartial, given that (a) the NHS is one of the biggest issues in the election, and (b) they gave a huge amount of coverage to the letter from ultra-rich businessmen which backed the Tories.

Hopefully Labour will highlight this letter and use it against the Tories. They'd be fools not to - in such a tight election it could make a real difference.
+3 #2 bubs 2015-04-07 22:26
If you are ill or disabled and cannot get out then register for a postal vote, you still have time. This is the first year I have done this and it is simple to do, just go on line and look up your local elections office, they will have address , email and phone number.

I have been spreading the world to vote Labour as this is the only party that has a chance of beating the Conservatives. any other vote will be a wasted vote. I hav'nt voted for years I became disillusioned with all of them, this year I will be voting and voting for Labour with my postal vote.
+2 #1 tintack 2015-04-07 16:18
One of the most useful things we can do is look at the results in our respective constituencies in 2010, and try to use that information to make an informed judgement about who has the best chance of keeping the Tories out where each of us lives (unless that's UKIP, which it won't be in any but a tiny handful of seats).

Ideally I'd like to vote Green, but they have no chance where I live. Labour do have a chance, so I'm voting for them, albeit without any great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, voting for the party whose policies we most approve of is a luxury we don't have at this election.

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