The current UK government are marching forward in their dismantling of social support networks, while increasing the pressure on the poorest, the most vulnerable, the disabled. Vast swathes of society are being crushed – how long before this reaches the point of the destabilisation of our society?
In today’s Guardian respected academic Ray Jones writes on the privatisation of child protection social work. Elderly care and children’s residential care have long been taken over by the private sector. Some local authority social work is already contracted out to small independent social work companies. It won’t take much to extend this to more ‘front line’ roles. Social workers take note.
It doesn’t need any referencing to know that our education system is well underway to being privatised through PFIs, Academies, Free Schools. It doesn’t need any referencing to know that our NHS is being back-door privatised, this hits the news headlines so often.
In the meantime the impact of cuts are being felt, and felt hard.
The irony is, it’s private businesses, large and small, in the form of those whose staff receive tax credits due to low wages who are the real beneficiaries of the welfare benefits system. Private landlords might feel the impact of cuts if tenants default on their rent and they have to go through evictions processes, but until now they too have been beneficiaries of the benefits system.
Local authority housing tenants are to lose their right to a home for life, having their tenancies reviewed at least every five years and facing the possibility of eviction if they are deemed not sufficiently in need of social housing, dependent on an income based means test with no apparent consideration for social or family needs, the availability of private rented housing, or the stress and disruption forced moves will cause. What incentive does that give to take care of or improve your home or your community? What opportunity does that give for ‘estates’ to mature and provide a secure base for younger families? For those who do remain in social housing, rent caps will be removed for anyone earning above a certain level, increasing their rents to the same as the private sector in their area. What incentives do either of these measures give to people to get work or promotion if it means potentially losing their home or having their rent massively increased?
Instead of having the desired effect of motivation into work, benefit sanctions, alongside insecure job contracts, zero hours contracts, enforced part time working, threats to cut tax credits before implementation of a ‘living wage’, have seen a rise in mental health problems, avoidable deaths, poverty, food banks, and local authorities having to provide pauper funerals as well as a rise in the use of S.17 (CA’89) funding to make up the shortfalls caused by cuts in welfare benefits and sanctions.
In the autumn Spending Review, following sustained political pressures, George Osbourne made a great show of reversing planned cuts to tax credits in advance of the implementation of a new ‘living wage’, but still hit the poor and vulnerable with other cuts such as to housing benefits such that some suggest they will be even worse off than if the cuts to tax credits had gone ahead.
In true Tory style, instead of recognising that government policies and cuts are causing the problems they are trying to ‘cure’, the government have continued to blame the poor for their own plight, and, in the March 2015 Budget, introduced CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) as a condition for continuing to receive benefits while job hunting.
What all this represents is a worrying move away from personal individualisation and a forced conforming to what is considered by the government as a desired ‘norm’. This in turn is reminiscent of what happened in Germany under the Nazis leading up to the start of the Second World War.
This in a climate where the police have only just staved off crippling budget cuts, which will undoubtedly resurface again later. Then, if they succumb to the pattern so far, once the police have been incapacitated by budget cuts and privatised as underperforming, there will only be the Army left to deal with a destabilised society.
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