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How Can A Government That Spends Billions On Mass Testing Quibble Over Helping The Low Paid?

(115 Posts)
PippaZ Tue 19-Jan-21 08:27:21

I've pinched the Waugh Zone headline because I don't think I can put it any better.

When politicians appear to defend the bureaucracy of a system rather than the needs of the public, they can sound tone deaf. When that defence involves matters of life and death, they risk coming across as robotic at best, callous at worst.

We have just seen the Government challenged, and thankfully six MPs have voted against plans to cut the Universal Credit £20 per week uplift. This is a non-binding vote but has, at least, shown some Tories have a conscience.

However, there still test and, 'if we've got time', trace. Dido Harding expects 90% of the massive £22bn budget would go on testing, not tracing. And the bulk of the new tests would be lateral flow tests and, we are told, that 900 staff from consultants Deloitte are working for Test and Trace, at an average cost of £1,000 a day.

As well as stopping the £20 a week uplift, which we now know makes even some Tory MPs uncomfortable, Sunak surely has to face the issue of people not self-isolating because of money worries.

Large numbers of low paid or self employed are not covered by the £500 payment and yet, knowing many of these people may then feel they have to work, no one has attempted to solve this - so the spreading continues for the want of £500. The horse shoe nail of the pandemic.

Hetty58 Tue 19-Jan-21 09:01:00

All through this pandemic, people have continued to work with symptoms, of course.

Nobody is really going to stay at home, risking financial ruin, for the benefit of the wider public.

People have bills to pay, children to feed. People won't 'self isolate' when they return from abroad will they?.

Nobody checks either!

The government are just being two-faced, as usual, still trying to project a good image. It isn't working.

We wouldn't have the worst infection rates in the world if our (laughable) restrictions and lockdowns actually worked, would we?

Alegrias1 Tue 19-Jan-21 09:11:21

We don't have the worst rate of infection in the world.

According to Worldometer we are number 25, on cases per head of population. Sweden, Portugal, Netherlands, USA, Israel and others all have higher rates than us.

Posting incorrect information does nobody any good and just makes people more worried than they need to be.

MaizieD Tue 19-Jan-21 09:20:22

No, we just appear to have the worst no. of deaths per million...
There's some sort of disconnect between these two 'statistics'...

Alegrias1 Tue 19-Jan-21 09:24:33

Nope - number 8 by deaths per million. Italy, Slovenia, Belgium and others all higher.

growstuff Tue 19-Jan-21 09:26:38

Hands up here! I'm one of the people who benefits from the £20pw up lift, which combined with the temporary scrapping of the minimum income "floor" for the self-employed, means that I've been able to claim just over £80 a month plus a reduction in my council tax for the last few months. I won't be able to claim after April because I'll receive state pension, which is more generous.

It's made a huge difference to me, even though it hasn't compensated for my lost earnings. I've been able to dip into savings, but most people claiming UC don't have that cushion. I live extremely frugally, but I can't live on the amount the government thinks I should, even with the £20 uplift. I've also been able to carry on with some work behind my computer screen and have no human contact, but most people on low incomes can't do that either.

Much of the reporting about the pandemic is, in my opinion, a smokescreen. Vaccinations aren't going to be the magic wand. The government really needs to concentrate on the people who have been hit hardest, including those on zero hours contracts and those working in the arts. Not only would supporting them better result in people staying at home when they're infected, but It would also avoid some of the worst financial fall out.

The mantra at election time was about "levelling up" and people need to hold the government to what it promised. It's not about HS2 and handing out contracts for bogus retraining to mates. It's about listening to the concerns of real people and not trying to play pathetic political games, such as calling the debate yesterday a "stunt" or trying to demonise those needing free school meals as people who would waste money on crack.

growstuff Tue 19-Jan-21 09:27:18

Alegrias1

We don't have the worst rate of infection in the world.

According to Worldometer we are number 25, on cases per head of population. Sweden, Portugal, Netherlands, USA, Israel and others all have higher rates than us.

Posting incorrect information does nobody any good and just makes people more worried than they need to be.

I thought this thread was about Universal Credit.

growstuff Tue 19-Jan-21 09:27:59

Alegrias1

Nope - number 8 by deaths per million. Italy, Slovenia, Belgium and others all higher.

So what? It's not a bloody league table!

Alegrias1 Tue 19-Jan-21 09:29:22

It is and I'm sorry for derailing it. But I won't let misinformation go uncorrected when it is such an important topic.

Alegrias1 Tue 19-Jan-21 09:31:26

OK, really sorry but I'm going to defend myself here. If people say we're the top of the table for infections or anything else, and we're not, then it is misrepresenting the way we are dealing with this pandemic and I will continue to call it out. I am very angry with the way that this whole thing has been handled by the government but I am not going to let exaggeration stand unchallenged.

MaizieD Tue 19-Jan-21 09:31:36

But in answer to your question, Pippa, if we're going to have a government ideologically driven by minimal state spending on public services and benefits, while handing out cash left right and centre to their cronies and donors, then it follows that they will resist any attempt to increase state welfare, especially if the 'temporary' rise in benefit looks to become permanent through being implemented over a longish period.

growstuff Tue 19-Jan-21 09:33:33

Alegrias1

It is and I'm sorry for derailing it. But I won't let misinformation go uncorrected when it is such an important topic.

And I'd rather stick to the topic in the OP. It's irrelevant where the UK is in the rankings. This is about supporting people who are experiencing extreme difficulties and the government's priorities.

MaizieD Tue 19-Jan-21 09:37:15

I won't continue the statistics 'debate', Alegrias, just point out that being anywhere near the 'top' with infections or deaths is not a good look at all.

growstuff Tue 19-Jan-21 09:38:05

MaizieD

But in answer to your question, Pippa, if we're going to have a government ideologically driven by minimal state spending on public services and benefits, while handing out cash left right and centre to their cronies and donors, then it follows that they will resist any attempt to increase state welfare, especially if the 'temporary' rise in benefit looks to become permanent through being implemented over a longish period.

It will certainly seem like a cut when/if it comes to an end, especially before there are new jobs available. We haven't even come to the worst stage yet, which will be when furlough schemes end. I suspect Sunak knows that and realises how much welfare is going to cost for many years to come. There are people who are being affected now who can't just be dismissed as shirkers (or whatever the gutter press likes to call the unemployed).

PippaZ Tue 19-Jan-21 11:01:13

MaizieD

But in answer to your question, Pippa, if we're going to have a government ideologically driven by minimal state spending on public services and benefits, while handing out cash left right and centre to their cronies and donors, then it follows that they will resist any attempt to increase state welfare, especially if the 'temporary' rise in benefit looks to become permanent through being implemented over a longish period.

I think that is sadly very true Maizie. I have to admit I neither want the "individual sovereignty" of the far right government we have or the state owned and run of the far left. I do appreciate getting a mixed economy right is not easy but the idea that "what I have I will not share" is not even good for the right wingers with that creed. We here it often on here with the "I worked all my life" crowd who don't want to pay taxes or sustain a benefits system.

I notice, along with the attempted refusal to continue the uplift (followed perhaps by a U turn when they realise some in their own party feel uncomfortable with that) and the lack of insight into the need for all to get the £500 payment for staying at home in isolation, we are also to see a large rise in council tax - one of the most regressive taxes we have.

In growstuff's post of Tue 19-Jan-21 09:26:38, she says I've been able to dip into savings, but most people claiming UC don't have that cushion. I have long thought the un-cushioned are those who suffer the most. We so often hear on GN that people don't know how to budget, cook, etc., but this obviously comes from those who don't understand what it is to not have choice in so many areas of life.

I am sure mankind can overcome the pandemic and that countries can pull back again economically in the future as they did after the war but that was done in a very Keynsian way - even helping our previous enemies to recover and I just don't see this "ideologically driven" government being able to do that.

Where is the government that puts family and community first rather than the individual or the creed?

PippaZ Tue 19-Jan-21 11:01:33

Sorry it's such a long post.

growstuff Tue 19-Jan-21 11:04:05

Where is the government that puts family and community first rather than the individual or the creed?

Errmmm ...

growstuff Tue 19-Jan-21 11:07:58

We so often hear on GN that people don't know how to budget, cook, etc., but this obviously comes from those who don't understand what it is to not have choice in so many areas of life.

I know and I've told myself not to be bothered by them. If anybody ever said any of that stuff to my face, I would have to resist the urge to punch them. As it is, they sometimes get the sharp edge of my tongue.

trisher Tue 19-Jan-21 11:08:23

Conservative MPon the radio this morning claiming Labour are "playing politics" with this Bill. Do you think he doesn't realise that's actually his bloody job!

Dorsetcupcake61 Tue 19-Jan-21 11:26:52

Thankyou PippaZ and growstuff for maintaining my sanity👍.
I think there are so many misconceptions about Universal Credid and benefits in general. For the past decade I have despaired at the callousness of large parts of society towards the most vulnerable members of society.
The whole concept of UC is supposed to be to make work pay. The reality is its impossible to survive on. The idea is it's so dire you will grab at any zero hour gig economy job to just live on breadline.
I suppose it's a bit of a step back in history to the workhouse. It was there if needed it but you would have to be without hope or choice to enter it.
I must admit there is a small but very spiteful part of me that almost relishes that those who may have disregarded the plight of the majority in receipt of benefits will get to see how it really when find themselves needing it due to current economic mess.

MaizieD Tue 19-Jan-21 12:04:47

What annoys me so much about the 'small state' ideology is that it is economically totally unsound.

Every penny that goes to the poorest in the country will be spent. It will be spent mostly on food and basic necessities. This money will be keeping retail businesses going, and, because of indirect taxes, such as VAT, most of it will return to the treasury by way of taxation.

On the other hand, we learn, for example, that Dido best mates with most of the tory govt past and present Harding's dire Test, Trace & Isolate operation is employing nine hundred consultants who are being paid one thousand pounds a day. (on a 5 day week that works out at an unbelieveable £260,000 pa) Now, no-one can convince me that that all of that money is spent in the day to day 'real' economy to the benefit of the businesses they purchase from, the employees of those businesses and most of it returning to the treasury. It will be spent on 'investments' which have no benefit to anyone except the small circle of wealthy people who garner more money through dividends and the buying and selling of equities. Or squirreled away in a tax haven, or in property... Most of this gives very little back to the treasury by way of taxation because it's not heavily taxed and because they know the avoidance dodges...

I must admit there is a small but very spiteful part of me that almost relishes that those who may have disregarded the plight of the majority in receipt of benefits will get to see how it really when find themselves needing it due to current economic mess.

I think you might not be the only one , Dorsetcupcake...

lemongrove Tue 19-Jan-21 12:15:15

Alegrias1

OK, really sorry but I'm going to defend myself here. If people say we're the top of the table for infections or anything else, and we're not, then it is misrepresenting the way we are dealing with this pandemic and I will continue to call it out. I am very angry with the way that this whole thing has been handled by the government but I am not going to let exaggeration stand unchallenged.

I don’t think you should have to defend yourself for telling the truth!

On the continuation of the £20 top up for the duration of Covid, perhaps by April things will have changed for jobs and the economy and won’t be quite as needed, or perhaps Sunak will be unveiling something else at the Spring Budget.

trisher Tue 19-Jan-21 12:19:47

On the continuation of the £20 top up for the duration of Covid, perhaps by April things will have changed for jobs and the economy and won’t be quite as needed, or perhaps Sunak will be unveiling something else at the Spring Budget.
So if you can't make ends meet just cross your fingers, believe in the Finance fairy and tighten your belt a bit more. Unfortunately the Tories will still be handing out big bucks to their mates for useless bits of tech and people at the bottom will still go hungry!

MaizieD Tue 19-Jan-21 12:21:48

I have seen on twitter that the £20 top up is to be extended until July. I'm looking for confirmation ATM.

MaizieD Tue 19-Jan-21 12:24:14

I suspect that that 'things that will have changed for jobs' by April will be that there are fewer of them around, what with Brexit sending a large number of businesses to the wall in addition to covid job losses...