Mayor’s research finds 10 years of social security cuts hit disabled Londoners hardest 

New research for the mayor of London has shown how 10 years of government welfare cuts and reforms have “discriminated” against disabled Londoners.

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The mayor of London has written to work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd to ask her to reverse a series of government social security cuts, after his report showed the dramatic impact on disabled Londoners of 10 years of welfare reform.

Labour’s Sadiq Khan (pictured) told Amber Rudd in his letter that the assessment of the combined impact of the government’s tax and social security reforms showed disabled households in London had been “hardest hit” by the cuts.

He said in comments released alongside the report that the government’s “regressive” policies had discriminated against disabled Londoners, although he did not accuse the government of discrimination in his letter to Rudd.

Researchers, commissioned by the mayor, carried out a cumulative impact assessment (CIA) of years of tax and benefit changes on adults in London.

Ministers have repeatedly refused to carry out their own CIA, even though the Equality and Human Rights Commission published such research itself last year.

The mayor’s research found that, by 2021-22, households in London that include a disabled person will have lost an average of £1,910 a year, compared to households with no disabled adults, who are expected to gain an average of £300 a year.

Households with both children and a disabled person will receive an average of £3,760 a year less than they would otherwise have received if the government’s reforms had not been introduced.

The report found that poorer Londoners will experience a drop in their incomes, while richer Londoners will see their incomes increase as a result of the government’s policies.

The analysis includes changes brought in through the coalition’s Welfare Reform Act 2012, and the Conservative government’s Welfare Reform and Work Act four years later, as well as a series of finance bills.

These changes include the introduction of universal credit and personal independence payment (PIP), the benefit cap, the bedroom tax, cuts to housing benefit, the benefits freeze, and the cut of nearly £30 a week for those in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance, as well as increases in the minimum wage and the personal tax allowance.

Results from The Survey of Londoners, another piece of research commissioned by the mayor, published last month, showed disabled Londoners struggling with food insecurity, fuel poverty and overall levels of satisfaction with their lives.

The survey showed a third of disabled Londoners (34 per cent) experiencing low levels of food security, with one in four not able to keep their homes warm in the winter, and only just over a third (38 per cent) reporting high levels of wellbeing.

In his letter, the mayor told Rudd: “In this letter I particularly want to flag the extent to which disabled households in London have been hardest hit by cuts to the welfare benefits system.”

He asked Rudd to reverse a series of government cuts and reforms because of their impact on disabled Londoners, including the WRAG cut, the benefits freeze, and the bedroom tax, and to order a “complete redesign” of the PIP assessment process and the work capability assessment.

And he said he was “extremely concerned” about the impact on Londoners of the rollout of universal credit. He added: “I do not want to be in a society where the most disadvantaged are put at risk of poverty or destitution. “With disabled Londoners more likely to be struggling with food security and fuel poverty, you need to act now to stop putting disabled Londoners at even greater risk.”

But despite his letter, and a new pilot project to support low income families, the mayor released no details of any new plans to address his concerns about the impact of the government cuts on disabled Londoners.

Ellen Clifford, a disabled member of the mayor’s equality, diversity and inclusion advisory group, said: “I am very pleased that this report has now come out because it provides an evidence base for what we know from lived experience is happening, namely the disproportionate impacts of welfare reform and tax changes on the poorest in London.

“It supports the picture presented by data from the recently published Londoners Survey which shows disabled people and children in households with disabled adults experiencing significant economic and social inequality.

“Only 18 per cent of respondents who are disabled and long term out of work report high or very high satisfaction with their lives, with nearly half (46 per cent) scoring themselves in the lowest life satisfaction category. “That is immensely sad and the result of nearly 10 years of policies that have punished disabled people in receipt of social security.

“I welcome the response by London’s mayor in writing to Amber Rudd calling for policy changes that will exempt disabled claimants from measures that are contributing to loss of income and impoverishment.”

A spokesperson for the mayor said he was “extremely concerned about the impact the government’s welfare reforms have had on disabled Londoners, as shown by the Survey of Londoners and City Hall research”.

And he said the mayor would “continue to push the government to reverse the effects of its policies and ensure disabled Londoners are given support”, for example through his new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, and setting up the equality, diversity and inclusion advisory group.

He said the mayor was also “working closely” with Transport for London on “continual access improvements to London’s transport network”; investing £75 million in specialist, supported housing for disabled Londoners; and working to boost the incomes of those in fuel poverty through the Energy for Londoners programmes, with priority groups including disabled people.

And he said he was promoting a better understanding by employers of disabled people’s experiences of application, assessment, selection, employment and progression in work through the Good Work Standard.

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Benefit Rules Forced 500 Women To Reveal They Were Raped

The so-called ‘rape clause’ exempts women from the DWP’s controversial two-child benefits cap.

Five-hundred and ten women have been forced to sign the controversial “rape clause” in order to be exempted from the two-child benefits cap, new figures reveal.

Two years ago ministers controversially capped at two the number of children parents could claim benefits for. The government argued that benefits claimants “should face the same financial choices about having children” as working families.

Women who had given birth as a result of rape were exempted – but they had to reveal their assault in order to avoid the cap. The so-called rape clause was branded “traumatic” and “immoral” by campaigners.

Fury as new figures show majority of parents hit by DWP’s ‘cruel’ two-child benefit cap are in work

SNP MP Alison Thewliss – who has campaigned for the end of the benefits cap – said the data “paints a bleak picture” of families suffering as a result of the policy. “All of these women have been put in a position where they’ve had to tell a stranger that their child was conceived as a result of rape or coercion, just to make ends meet,” she said. “Of course, it’s likely that the actual figure would be much higher if women weren’t forced to go through this daunting process.”

Meanwhile, the data showed that since the policy was introduced, 161,000 households had been impacted, with 97% now not receiving benefits for at least one child. It means that 592,000 children now live in families hit by the cap – almost a quarter of whom live in households with five or more kids.

The figures from the department of work and pensions come on the same day that dozens of academics signed a letter to The Times calling the two-child limit “simply one of the most damaging changes to the social security system ever”.

“The two-child limit breaks the fundamental link between need and the provision of minimum support,” they wrote. “It implies that some children, by virtue of their birth order, are less deserving of support.”

With an extra 300,000 kids expected to be pushed into poverty by the cap by 2024, the policy “means unprecedented cuts to the living standards of the poorest children in Britain”, they added.

Responding to the data, Alison Garnham – chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group – said: “In the UK we would never turn a third-born child away from school or hospital. How can it be right to deny the same young children the support they need to enjoy a childhood free from poverty when their family falls on hard times?

“The two-child limit undermines family life and leaves children without support in their vital early years, when the foundations are being laid for their future development. The government should lift the two-child limit to help all children thrive.”

Earlier this year, the government scrapped plans to retroactively slash benefits for families with more than two children born before April 2017.

Following a backlash from MPs, work and pensions secretary abolished the planned policy, saying it was “not right”.

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3am on the streets of Oldham, and there’s nowhere for the homeless to go

In the second part of our series chronicling life in austerity hit Oldham, Politics and Investigations Editor Jen Williams spends the evening with the volunteers of the Street Angels project – and finds kindness, sadness and a ravaged safety net.

Volunteers from Oldham Street Angels offer a place for those in need to get food, drink and clothes from a base on Hunters Lane

It is past midnight in Oldham town centre, Saturday night bleeding into Sunday as drinkers noisily drift from pub to club. Tucked just off the main drag, Rev Jean Hurlston and her tight-knit group of volunteers are sober, in both senses of the word.

Volunteers at her Street Angels project, set up to support public services by helping people who get into difficulties in the town centre at the weekend – either because of minor injuries, fights, homelessness or general drunkenness – are worried.

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Their paramedic, Gemma, has just found an elderly homeless man out-of-it on the streets. Jim, not his real name, had popped in earlier on for a brew and some cake, as many of those sleeping rough in the town do, for warmth, sustenance or company. He hadn’t really said much before shuffling back out into the night.

Gemma has now found him barely conscious on the streets and is whispering to Jean in a low, worried voice.I have been here for the last few hours, watching as the team hand out hot drinks and bowls of chilli, taking the various tragic stories they hear in their stride. But now they don’t know what to do.

Jim appears to have fallen over but is suffering from no obvious injuries or mental health crisis. Yet at nearly 70 he is vulnerable, one of the town’s drifting population of street homeless often more associated with Manchester next door.

Gemma manages to get enough information from him to learn that his last house was in Rochdale, so they make an early-hours phone call to Rochdale council. No, they say. He’s not ours. He’s originally from Oldham.

The volunteers then try Oldham council’s out-of-hours service. No, they say. He can come in tomorrow morning, but they have nothing for him right now. He slumps silently in a chair as everyone wonders aloud what to do next.

Rough sleeping may be a more visible problem in the city centre a few miles away than in its peripheral towns like Oldham, but the gaps in the system are just the same. Although Jean, the Dean of Oldham, set up Street Angels in 2011 as a general support service for Saturday nights, it gradually evolved into a drop-in for the town’s homeless.

I listen as two men, probably not older than 40, share gallows humour over a coffee. One, who says he became homeless after a relationship breakdown, has been sleeping under a railway arch. When he applied for housing, he received a letter – he says – informing him he was not a priority as his current housing situation ‘is not a threat to his health’. They laugh darkly.

Volunteer Peter Russell, 26, is all too familiar with the scenario. A few weeks ago he was helped off the streets by the project, ‘the first place I’ve ever asked for help’. “I think there’s just a break in the system,” he says of the path to destitution. “With zero hour contracts, it’s hard for people to keep their home.

“I was living in my house six years and getting into debt and arrears and becoming homeless, paying them off then going back into them… It was the month’s difference that always set it off, when you lose work and go onto benefits. “I feel for people in that situation.”

Peter speaks with quiet anger of the spiral he and others have found themselves in. “It’s trying to keep a rhythm, trying to keep things flowing,” he says of juggling rent with wages. “I’ve worked on the markets, I’ve worked cash in hand doing walls and flagstones, painting, bakeries, I’ve just had to keep a bit of a flow up.”

Sometimes, though, that just gets too much, he says. “I’ve had it a few times over the years since I was 16. “You’d have work, then everything has come to a crash, work, family, health, one after the other. I don’t have much family and I definitely don’t choose to ask for help.”Eventually he landed up on the streets. Even then, he was working, but in the end it was unsustainable. “While I was homeless, I still had my job over at JD.

“I was still doing my 12-hour shifts. I struggled to sleep through the day and also do my work. I didn’t really have a great Christmas with the weather. It became harder to hide it for work. Luckily they had showers there but people were realising I was staying back to have a shower when everyone else was rushing off. It became noticeable.”

Now in temporary accommodation, he says he wants to give back by helping out at Street Angels. Jean says the project has ended up being focused more and more on destitution, although Gemma – who is funded by the NHS – also takes a huge weight off emergency services by patching up revellers and keeping them out of A&E.

“The biggest thing is the rough sleeping and homelessness,” she says, adding that Universal Credit and other benefits issues are a common cause. “That’s why we started to say: how can we respond in more of a strategic and meaningful way – and that’s when we set up the drop-in.

“We were going round the town and bumping into people who were begging and we’d say ‘do you want us to bring hot drinks’? And we’d go back and find they’d moved on.

“We decided to go out and invite people to come in so they can have a hot meal, clothing, conversation. “The first thing you do is welcome them. It doesn’t matter what they came in for. Often you find out why and people sort of open up as they get to know us.”

While she admits the charity is undoubtedly plugging gaps in the system, she does not see that as a negative thing. “There are people who will say we shouldn’t be doing it, we’re propping up failing services,” she says. “But actually I think we should be doing it, because we should practice what we preach. It’s about linking with the civic community, local voluntary sector, faith being real.

 

“What do you do for the town? It’s more than the service. It’s about looking inwards, it’s about looking outwards.”At about 2am a young man comes in while the team is still wondering what to do about Jim. He asks for a sleeping bag but they’ve run out, so he takes a Soreen bar, one of many regular donations from Chadderton FC.

They offer him a duvet, but he shakes his head. “Nah,” he says quietly. “The wind just rips through it.”

At nearly 3am, the team comes to a decision. There is nowhere for Jim to go apart from A&E, despite there being nothing really wrong with him. They know that once the hospital realises this, they will almost certainly discharge him – but at least he will be safe and warm for a few hours.

He doesn’t have any money or a mobile, so they write him a note with the number for Oldham’s housing team and slip it into his pocket with £2.50 for the following morning, before preparing to order a taxi.

“Look at that face, how much character there is in it,” says Jean, quietly, as the team sit and look at him. “A life well lived.” As I leave, they are waiting for the cab. I walk out into the dark 3am air and drive back to Manchester, feeling guilty, hollow and lucky all at once.

Since this article was researched in April, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has agreed to extend its night shelter scheme – ‘A Bed Every Night’ – throughout the rest of this year, including in Oldham.

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Brazilian TV interviewed UK food bank staff ‘because they felt sorry for them’

Oldham was a test-bed for Universal Credit where the hated benefit was initially launched in the autumn of 2013

Foodbank manager Lisa Leunig

A Brazilian TV crew interviewed volunteers at a food bank ‘because they felt sorry for them’. That’s one of the stories from a special report on the affects of Universal Credit on a town that piloted the much-maligned system.

The launch of the controversial scheme in Oldham in Greater Manchester, in late 2013 has seen families fall into extreme poverty. Food bank volunteer Diana Walsh told the Manchester Evening News that staff ‘often see grown men in tears because they can’t believe they’re here’.

Demand at the pub-turned-foodbank increased 10% last year and in the year to December, Oldham housed nearly 400 children in temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfasts. Two thirds of those now coming into the town’s food bank for help in 2019 are in work.

 

As part of a special report Zoey Stansfield spoke about how the area is still struggling to adjust to the six-in-one benefit. She said: “It’s not just about people ‘on benefits’,” “Universal Credit (UC) includes working tax credit. Which means they’re working. “We have had nurses coming in. There’s not often an acknowledgement that you could be working and claiming UC.”

Due to demand, the food bank expanded into the former Three Crowns pub a couple of years ago. Instead of gin and vodka there are now thank-you cards pinned behind the bar.

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Diana said: “One lady came in here today, her brother-in-law had died and his wife couldn’t cope. “She’d taken six children into her home but she couldn’t get any benefits for them at all. With her own, that’s eight children in a two bed house. “She hadn’t got bedding or anything for them. Social services are involved but it’s going to take a few weeks, so what’s she going to do?

“There’s no emergency provision. We are the emergency service. But we are not government funded.” Diana, notes the ‘sheer embarrassment’ she felt when a film crew from Brazil visited to interview them about poverty earlier this year, ‘because they felt sorry for us’.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham and Saddleworth East, says ‘not a week a goes by’ without her office seeing at least one distressing case related to the benefit. In recent weeks she has raised in Parliament the case of Sally, a single mum who escaped an abusive relationship, only to have her UC docked by £400 due to her circumstances changing.

June, who has a two-year-old daughter and works for the police, told by the JobCentre that UC would pay 85% of her childcare costs but still waiting for the money six months later, having had to pay upfront.

In another case, Amanda, a single mum with ‘significant’ mental health problems who was sanctioned for failing to fill in an online review, days before giving birth.

The Department for Work and Pensions said that the reasons for people using food banks are ‘complex’, and that Universal Credit is a ‘force for good with 2.2 million people now being supported by the benefit.’ COMPLEX MY A$$

“It gives people financial help if they’re unemployed, low-paid or unable to work. People can get their first payment on day one of their claim as an advance and we continue to make improvements”, a spokesman said.

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MPs demand PM reverses benefit freeze with rises of 4% a year

Cross-party MPs are calling for four years of rises above inflation to finally reverse cruel cuts under the Tories . They have demanded Boris Johnson reverses the cruel Tory benefit freeze by handing families bumper rises of 4% per year. A powerful cross-party group today calls for four years of above-inflation rises to make up for seven years of freezes and caps.

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The Work and Pensions Committee says Tory austerity has “steadily eroded” benefit rates by nearly £1bn more than planned and “very disadvantaged people are losing out”.

The MPs say frozen benefits should rise by CPI inflation plus 2% for four years from April 2020 – bringing them to what they’d have been if the freeze never happened. On current rates, that would hand families a 3.9% rise next year.

“The welfare safety net is not fit for purpose for people living on the breadline,”

“When the freeze ends in 2020/21, a substantial chunk will have been taken out of the incomes of some of the country’s most vulnerable households. “Simply lifting the freeze is not enough.”

The move would help millions of families on working-age benefits, including Universal Credit, who have been driven into debt and turned to food banks under Tory austerity.

But the new Prime Minister has refused to confirm he’ll even end the freeze next April – let alone raise rates above inflation. That is despite ministers previously saying the freeze would end in April, and Tory welfare chief Amber Rudd urging Mr Johnson to honour the pledge.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said two weeks ago: “It’s time to end the benefits freeze. Because otherwise with inflation up where it is, it’s too difficult for people on benefits that are effectively taking too much of a cut.”

Yet despite vowing to slash income tax for £80,000 earners, Mr Johnson said during the Tory leadership campaign: “I have probably made enough spending commitments.” Most working-age benefits were limited to 1% rises for three years from 2013 then frozen for four years from 2016.

Today’s report by MPs gives a scathing verdict on various reforms under the Tories, which they say are “pushing some people not only into poverty, but into hunger and destitution”.

The MPs write: “It is difficult to avoid concluding that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) simply does not understand the impact of its reforms on some of the most vulnerable people it supports.”

Their report calls for the DWP to “consider whether there is a case” for setting up an independent regulator of the benefits system. The MPs also urge a full fresh impact assessment of Universal Credit after ministers pumped in £1.7bn – less than the £3.2bn originally taken out of the system in 2015.

And they call for an independent survey of the extra costs of being disabled, to ensure disability benefit rates are based on evidence.

A Government spokeswoman said: “We’re helping people to improve their lives through work and ensuring those on a low income keep more of what they earn by increasing the National Living Wage and cutting taxes for 32 million people.

“There are more people in work than ever before and wages continue to outstrip inflation, but we recognise that some families need more support. “That’s why we’re investing £9 million in free summer holiday clubs and continuing to spend £95 billion a year on working age welfare to support families.”

SOURCE

 Homeless man left to die in bus stop ‘like trash on the road’

ImageA homeless man who was living in a bus stop has been found dead in east London. The bus stop in Dalston was cordoned off by police this morning and all of his belongings were later cleared away.

The man, who has since been named as Mustafa on social media, had used the shelter as his home for months. An ambulance was called on Friday as the man’s health ‘deteriorated’ during last week’s heatwave, but he was not moved and his lifeless body was discovered this morning, surrounded by his clothes, blankets and bags of food.

Ngozi Fulani, who runs the domestic abuse helpline Sistah Space, regularly checked up on the man and came across the tragic scene today. She said her ‘heart sank’ as she approached the police cordon. Ms Fulani had made a plea to Hackney Council just last week to intervene after seeing his health was ‘in decline’.

She said he was ‘allowed to die like trash on the road’ and his death should bring ‘shame on so many people’. She wrote on Twitter: ‘So many times I’ve begged Hackney Council to help him only to be told “he didn’t want help”. ‘Well clearly he did. He was vulnerable.’

Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said it’s ‘disgraceful that in the world’s fifth largest economy people are dying in the most desperate circumstances’. She told Metro.co.uk: ‘The Tories should be utterly ashamed of themselves. Their failure to tackle homelessness and ten years of austerity has left many people destitute.’

A woman who works in Beyond Retro behind the bus stop said he had been living there on and off for years. She said: ‘He’s been in the area a long time. He was here last year then went away for a few months in the winter. ‘Then he came back earlier this year. People have been offering him help, we have got in touch with the council.

‘We’ve had lots of people coming in asking what they can do and we see people leaving food and water for him all the time. She added: ‘There was an ambulance here just on Friday. They were out there for hours trying to get him to come in and get some help.

‘When I started working here a few years ago I would see him walking around and just the other day we were saying how we just don’t see him up and moving. He was always lying there. It’s really sad.’ Hackney mayor Philip Glanville said the council’s outreach team offered him a place to stay earlier this summer but they could not convince him to take up their support.

Homeless man left to die in bus stop 'like trash on the road'

He said: ‘Everyone at the council is deeply saddened to hear of the death of this man and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time. ‘No one should die on the streets of Hackney in these circumstances. I know this situation and the tragic circumstances surrounding his death have had a significant impact on the wider community and all also those who sought to support him.

‘Our rough sleeping outreach team had been working intensively with him, including making an offer of accommodation earlier in the summer. ‘Very sadly to date, and despite this and other support, we hadn’t been able to convince him to take up the services on offer and we were continuing to work with him to explore all options.

‘The team are deeply upset at his death – all of those working in providing our rough sleeper services care passionately about what they do. ‘Supporting rough sleepers, many of whom may be dealing with broader, complex needs, are not just about providing offers of support – it can take time to build up trust to support people to engage and consent to accessing the support they need.

‘Incidents such as this increase our resolve to continue to work to do all we can to support rough sleepers in the round. ‘I have asked that there is a full review of the case to ensure we can all be reassured that the support he received from all agencies was correct, and that any lessons that can be learnt are implemented.’

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Cash-strapped parents don’t eat so kids can eat during summer holidays

Cash-strapped parents go starving so kids can eat during summer holidays. Cash-strapped parents have been going without meals to stop their children going hungry during the school holidays, MPs have heard.

Not everyone can afford to eat

The Government was urged by the influential Commons work and pensions committee to extend support for families so they could all be fed. It came after the Mirror revealed that record levels of children would be going hungry during the long summer break.

Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said MPs had heard ‘profoundly distressing’ evidence from mothers who spoke of their struggles during the summer holidays.

The Labour MP has written to new Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd to urge them to take immediate action to help struggling families.

  • “We heard about parents going without meals and surviving on cereal just to make sure their children were fed,” he said.
  • “We heard about families being plunged into debt, just to get by. We would be grateful if you would consider the evidence we have heard, and reflect on what immediate action the Government might take.”

He urged them to extend a pilot scheme which supports children eligible for free school meals during the summer break.

Around 50,000 youngsters from disadvantaged homes will get free meals and activities inside schools after the Government quadrupled funding to £9m in a bid to tackle the crisis.

But charities have warned of a growing problem of holiday hunger as many families struggle to feed their kids at home. Separately, a survey by Unite the union today [WED] reveals that hated universal credit is causing thousands of children to go hungry.

More than four fifths (79%) of parents in a survey of over 1,000 claimants said they found it hard to make ends meet during the break. Many had fallen into debt or forced to rely on foodbanks or the help of friends and family.

The loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30 and £40 a week to parents’ outgoings. Over 80% of parents on UC also said birthdays and Christmas were particularly difficult times to make ends meet.

Almost 70% of mums and dads on the benefit had skipped meals and 52% said they couldn’t afford school trips.

Unite’s Liane Groves said: “Despite knowing how UC is forcing claimants into poverty, the Government is still intent on ploughing ahead regardless, pushing families to the brink of survival.”

A Government spokesman said: “We recognise that some families need more support. GOVERNMENT TRANSLATION: WE KNOW FAMILIES ARE STRUGGLING TO EAT, BUT WE DON’T GIVE A TOSS!

“That’s why we’re investing £9 million in free summer holiday clubs and continuing to spend £95 billion a year on working age welfare to support families.”

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TELL ME SUMMAT I DON’T KNOW!

The Tories do not care about poor people or the NHS

Exclusive: Dominic Cummings expressed damning views of the Tory party in 2017 and now has key role in No 10.

Voters are right to think Tory MPs largely do not care about poorer people or the NHS, according to Dominic Cummings in comments that have emerged from two years ago.

Boris Johnson’s new senior adviser and a key architect of Brexit gave his damning view on Conservative MPs at a conference in 2017, where he said: “People think, and by the way I think most people are right: ‘The Tory party is run by people who basically don’t care about people like me.’

“That is what most people in the country have thought about the Tory party for decades. I know a lot of Tory MPs and I am sad to say the public is basically correct. Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people. They don’t care about the NHS. And the public has kind of cottoned on to that.”

Cummings is now integral to Johnson’s administration, which has a majority of just two and is relying on Conservative and DUP MPs to back his Brexit strategy of taking the UK out of the EU by 31 October – unless he suspends parliament to achieve a no-deal exit.

Ian Lavery, the chair of the Labour party, said it was a “staggering admission from the prime minister’s right-hand man”.

“As Dominic Cummings says himself, the Conservatives don’t care about anything apart from looking after their rich friends – whether that means selling off our NHS to American corporations in pursuit of a Trump trade deal, or giving tax cuts to big businesses while cutting public services. We need a general election and a Labour government to protect our health service from the likes of Boris Johnson,” Lavery said.

Proof that the Tories don’t care about the poor and disabled

At the Nudgestock event in 2017, Cummings said Johnson and Michael Gove, the co-leaders of the Vote Leave campaign who are now running the government, had recognised the dangers of being seen to go back on their pledge to give £350m a week to the NHS after Brexit.

He said the pair realised they needed to keep their promise on the NHS “not only from the self-preservation point of view but also from the political smart point of view; they understood the power of actually delivering”.

The adviser said Johnson was 99.9% committed to implementing the pledge when it was discussed after the EU referendum result.

Since becoming prime minister, Johnson has not repeated that promise but he has reportedly ordered that the delivery of cash for the NHS promised by Theresa May be speeded up so the frontline sees the benefit. An additional £4bn is due to be given to the NHS over the course of this financial year.

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On the £350m pledge, Cummings said at the conference: “Me, Michael and Boris had talked about this in private before the vote and actually on the day of victory in the Vote Leave office, so when Boris came in on Friday 24th and punched the air and whatnot, he and I walked into this little room, amid beer cans and craziness, and I said to him: ‘The first thing you do is say we are going to meet this promise.’

“And he smashed his fist down on the table and said: ‘Absolutely no question about it.’ And if Michael had not taken out Boris, and Boris had run as leader, I am 99.9% recurring – as sure as I can be about anything – that Boris would have said I will honour the promises we made in that campaign.”

During a stump speech on the leadership campaign trail, Johnson told party members the NHS needed to be reformed, and fired them up for a general election by asking them to be ready to “wallop Jeremy Corbyn”.

Asked by one party member what he would do with the NHS, Johnson said the health service was “not getting the kind of support, and indeed the kind of changes and management, that it needs”, suggesting he would aim to overhaul the service.

He said Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, had helped him get elected president of the Oxford Union as a student, and together they would “sort things out”.

Friends of Cummings said: “Dom was clear that he thinks the British public care most about leaving the EU and want more money for the NHS. And with this prime minister, that’s exactly what the public will get.”

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Shame of Britain’s 14 million people in poverty

Shame of Britain’s 14million people in poverty – and the disabled are hit worse, the shocking figures have sparked fresh calls for the Tories to end the benefit freeze.

Millions of people are trapped in persistent poverty

Almost half the UK’s 14million people in poverty live in a family with a disabled person, a damning study has found. The grim life chances for disabled people across the UK are exposed in today’s report by the Social Metrics Commission.

The report sparked fresh calls for the Tories to end the cruel benefit freeze. And it comes after the Mirror’s reporting on how thousands of disabled people are being wrongly denied the benefit Personal Independence Payment – only to win on appeal.

The report found 4.5million people are more than 50% beneath the poverty line – a proportion that has not changed since 2000/01. Overall there are 14.3million people in poverty in Britain, including 8.3 million working-age adults, 4.6 million children and 1.3 million pension-age adults.

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Seven million people, including 2.3 million children, have been in poverty for at least two of the previous three years. And nearly half (48%) of people in poverty – totalling 6.8 million – live in a family where someone is disabled.

The SMC said its findings highlight the scale of the challenge facing new Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who is pouring £1billion into No Deal Brexit plans and has pledged tax cuts for £80,000 earners.

SMC chairwoman Philippa Stroud – who leads the Legatum Institute think tank – said: “It is concerning that overall poverty has remained at almost the same level since the early 2000s, under governments of all colours.

“But it is also clear that beneath the surface there are significant differences in the experience of poverty among different groups of people. “Decisions made by policymakers can have a significant impact on who is in poverty and how deep and persistent that poverty is.

“These new findings highlight the urgent need for a more united and concerted approach.” The SMC’s 2019 report is an update on its 2018 publication proposing a new measure of poverty and analysing how it has changed since 2000/01.

The SMC defines its poverty threshold as people living below 54% of the median of “total resources available” – including incomes, liquid assets, and costs of items like housing, childcare and disability.

Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham slammed the Tories for cutting £40bn a year from benefits. She said: “No matter how you measure it, child poverty is rising and it should be an urgent priority for the new Prime Minister.

“Without action, it will continue to rise. This is one area where what governments do – and don’t do – makes a difference.

“Great progress on child poverty had been made but by cutting £40bn a year from our work-and-pensions budget through cuts and freezes to tax credits and benefits, the government has put progress into reverse.”

Dr Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children’s Society said: “Seeing a single child’s life blighted by poverty in modern Britain should be a scandal. “For 4.6 million children to be facing poverty according to this proposed new measure – and nearly three quarters of them to be in working families – is a national shame requiring urgent action.

“The new Prime Minister must commit to end the ongoing benefit freeze so that families can afford to pay bills and purchase everyday essentials.” LIKE HE’D GIVE A TOSS!!!!

A Government spokesman said: “We welcome the work of the Social Metrics Commission which shows that poverty has reduced since 2010, and we’re pleased to be working with them on a new measure of poverty which will help us target support more effectively.

“Tackling poverty will always be a priority for this Government. We want to build on our progress to ensure every family can thrive. That’s why we’ve raised the personal allowance to take 1.74 million of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether and increased the National Living Wage to provide the biggest pay rise for low paid workers in 20 years, while we continue to spend £95 billion a year on working-age welfare.

“Work offers the best route out of poverty and we’ve got record numbers in employment. Universal Credit allows those most in need to receive personalised support into employment.” SO IF YOU’RE SICK, TERMINALLY ILL OR DISABLED YOU HAVE TO SUFFER IF THEY CAN’T WORK THEN!!!

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BEDROOM TAX: “Catch 22”

Does anyone remember this lady’s plight?

If you can fit a bed in it, it’s a bedroom

she’s still waiting to go to appeal court.

The worst thing is: she’s stuck in a “catch 22” dystopian nightmare. Please allow me to explain: She’s a carer of her disabled son and has very little in benefits and has to pay bedroom tax on a tiny boxroom [click above link to see the criteria].

She can’t afford to move because of her very low income and the benefits she has to pay, i.e. bedroom tax, council tax etc.

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In her area, there is NO LONGER a social landlord and the rent’s start at £550 per month, so high rent AND YOU HAVE TO PUT A MONTHS DEPOSIT DOWN to move makes moving IMPOSSIBLE FOR HER.

You don’t have to tell me how expensive moving is, I am in the process of it right now, (we’re moving into a new build and they are well behind schedule) and so far it’s cost us an arm and a leg!

The Tories said that the Bedroom Tax was bringing fairness back into the system. Can someone explain to me how fair it is, when she has been priced out of moving? And she has to stay in a three-bedroomed house that is way too big for her needs denying not just her, but a family [with children] her home.

It makes my blood boil!