The return of former embattled home secretary, Amber Rudd, to the frontbench is definitely a pragmatic choice from Theresa May. With her Brexit negotiations coming close to her demise, one of her original supporters has been appointed to lead the Department of Work & Pensions in a bid to overcome the notoriety surrounding Universal Credit. May’s Brexit talk continues to dominate the headlines but is certainly a deflection for the Conservatives when the country’s knee-deep into its worst poverty crisis in years.
The Universal Credit scheme was heralded by Iain Duncan Smith at the Conservative party conference in 2010. Its aim was to bring working-age benefits to low-income families in a simpler form whilst also being committed to incentivise people to enter the workplace. The truth behind the new benefits plan has been unravelled and has seen heavy consternation from across the political spectrum.
The many who will receive these benefits are going to be far worse off than they are now. An expected 2.1 million claimants, particularly families with young children, will lose around £200 a month from the new scheme. With 14 million people in the country living in poverty-stricken areas, 4 million of them being children, this is a merciless attack on those already struggling to make ends meet. With Brexit in tatters, rising poverty and an exponential housing crisis, how can the country hold anymore faith in a party who leads this debacle? Especially when they have failed to address the deep-rooted issues with their decision making.
In October, former Work & Pensions secretary, Esther McVey, was quoted as saying “some people could be worse off on this benefit”. McVey clearly hasn’t been presented with the statistics. If she had, Universal Credit and its misery would have been thwarted immediately before disaster struck, but instead it is being tested in many parts of the country before the official rollout begins next year.
The class divide and the social reawakening in the country caught the eye of the United Nations. Their rapporteur on human rights has recently conducted a report on the effects of the Tory’s austerity measures. In a highly political and unambiguous conclusion, Philip Alston blamed the incumbent May and her Cabinet for pushing for “social re-engineering” in the world’s fifth-largest economy. It is evident in all their policy decisions. Chancellor Hammond announced in the latest budget that earners who take over £50,000 a year will receive a tax cut. Meanwhile, the less fortunate who work just as hard will be left worse off.
It is very difficult to comprehend what is happening. The right continues to impose tough measures on those at the bottom of the pecking order, whilst the small minority who live with decadent wages and pensions lap up further wealth and affluence. Yes, maybe austerity was needed to assist the country in recuperating from financial crash under New Labour. But why do the rich have little responsibility when helping those in dire need.
Under Thatcher, we saw the working-class further disillusioned with an 18-year Tory reign. That all came crashing to a halt with the election of Tony Blair. However, we are now seeing the same happen again in a déjà vu manner. However vulgar Universal Credit may be, and how much condemnation it receives, it should not produce shock. The Tories have failed the masses before and they will do it again.