The Impact of a £20,000 Benefit Cap

Posted on September 15, 2013 by Gareth Morgan

“George Osborne is considering a further lowering of the amount households can receive in benefits as Tory MPs press him to reduce a newly-imposed cap by another £6,000.
A limit of £26,000 a year was imposed on claimants yesterday, but the Chancellor is facing calls to take a harder line from backbenchers who want it cut to £20,000 as part of a post-election assault on welfare spending.”

The Times, July 16th 2013

“Chancellor George Osborne is considering lowering the benefits cap by a further £6,000, one of his aides confirmed to Inside Housing today.
The Treasury will base a decision on whether to make the further cut depending on the effectiveness of the current benefit cap, which began its national roll-out on Monday, in reducing the welfare bill.”

Inside Housing July 17th 2013

I was surprised by how little reaction there was to the floating of this idea when it emerged in the summer. The existing cap will have caused distress to those 40,000, according to government estimates, households affected by it; many many more would be affected by such a reduction in the maximum amount of benefit, if this suggestion went ahead.

For the existing cap, I have modelled the effect on housing affordability of its introduction for every area in Great Britain, looking at a range of family sizes for zero to six children and using local rent figures for social and private housing in appropriate sized homes in each area. I did this for both the current benefit system and Universal Credit (Northern Ireland isn’t included in the tables as details of the Universal Credit scheme introduction there are still uncertain). You can download those tables from this site.

With that work as a basis, I have repeated the exercise to see what the effect of a £20,000 cap would be; and they would be devastating.

Firstly, let’s look at the current cap. Table 1 shows the effect of the current cap on different family types.

This table shows how much benefit without housing costs differently composed families are entitled to. You can see that as families grow larger they qualify, unsurprisingly, for more benefit. That means, assuming that they need this money entirely for all their non-housing related expenses, there is less potential benefit left for paying rent. Indeed a couple with 6 children is already capped, with £24.49 taken off their benefit before any rent is taken into account. A couple with 5 children will have a maximum of £41.53 from Housing Benefit, or £41.22 from Universal Credit, help towards their rent.

Table 2 shows what would happen with a £20,000 cap.

With this cap, a couple with 4 children will be over £8 a week short before they pay one penny in housing costs. The detailed tables show that a couple with 3 children, who will have just over £57 a week maximum help with their housing costs will not be able to find a 3 bedroom property anywhere in Great Britain for that amount, at LHA level or local social rent. A couple with 6 children would already be capped by almost £140 a week before they try to pay any rent.

I hope that if this outrageous suggestion reappears, and it may as party conference season starts this week, that the detailed tables, which map actual local housing costs for every local authority and LHA area, may help those who will be opposing it.

See Gareth Morgan’s welfare reform blog and papers at http://blog.cix.co.uk/gmorgan

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Everyone will have heard the shocked tones of Obama, Kerry and others, declaiming that “we cannot allow such behaviour”, referring to the chemical attack in a suburb of Damascus. It seems there has been a sudden and dramatic change in the US with regard to the use of chemical weapons, if you look back over their history….
 
Who Will Intervene?

Germ War: the US Record

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

The United States has deployed its CBW arsenal against the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Haitian boat people and Canada, plus exposure of hundreds of thousands of unwitting US citizens to an astonishing array of germ agents and toxic chemicals, killing dozens of people.

The US experimentation with bio-weapons goes back to the distribution of cholera-infected blankets to American Indian tribes in the 1860s. In 1900, US Army doctors in the Philippines infected five prisoners with a variety of plague and 29 prisoners with Beriberi. At least four of the subjects died. In 1915, a doctor working with government grants exposed 12 prisoners in Mississippi to pellagra, an incapacitating disease that attacks the central nervous system.

After World War I, the United States went on a chemical weapons binge, producing millions of barrels of mustard gas and Lewisite. Thousands of US troops were exposed to these chemical agents in order to “test the efficacy of gas masks and protective clothing”. The Veterans Administration refused to honor disability claims from victims of such experiments. The Army also deployed mustard gas against anti-US protesters in Puerto Rico and the Philippines in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1931, Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, then under contract with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations, initiated his horrific Puerto Rico Cancer Experiments, infecting dozens of unwitting subjects with cancer cells.At least thirteen of his victims died as a result. Rhoads went on to headof the US Army Biological Weapons division and to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission, where he oversaw radiation experiments on thousands of US citizens. In memos to the Department of Defense, Rhoads expressed his opinion that Puerto Rican dissidents could be “eradicated” with the judicious use of germ bombs.

In 1942, US Army and Navy doctors infected 400 prisoners in Chicago withmalaria in experiments designed to get “a profile of the disease and develop a treatment for it.” Most of the inmates were black and none was informed of the risks of the experiment. Nazi doctors on trial at Nuremberg cited the Chicago malaria experiments as part of their defense.

At the close of World War II, the US Army put on its payroll, Dr. Shiro Ishii, the head of the Imperial Army of Japan’s bio-warfare unit. Dr. Ishii had deployed a wide range of biological and chemical agents against Chinese and Allied troops. He also operated a large research center in Manchuria,where he conducted bio-weapons experiments on Chinese, Russian and American prisoners of war. Ishii infected prisoners with tetanus; gave them typhoid-laced tomatoes; developed plague-infected fleas; infected women with syphilis; performed dissections on live prisoners; and exploded germ bombs over dozens of men tied to stakes. In a deal hatched by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Ishii turned over more than 10,000 pages of his “research findings”to the US Army, avoided prosecution for war crimes and was invited to lecture at Ft. Detrick, the US Army bio-weapons center in Frederick, Maryland.

In 1950 the US Navy sprayed large quantities of serratia marcescens, a bacteriological agent, over San Francisco, promoting an outbreak of pneumonia-like illnesses and causing the death of at least one man, Ed Nevins.

A year later, Chinese Premier Chou En-lai charged that the US military and the CIA had used bio-agents against North Korea and China. Chou produced statements from 25 US prisoners of war backing him his claims that the US had dropped anthrax contaminated feathers, mosquitoes and fleas carrying Yellow Fever and propaganda leaflets spiked with cholera over Manchuria and North Korea.

From 1950 through 1953, the US Army released chemical clouds over six US and Canadian cities. The tests were designed to test dispersal patterns of chemical weapons. Army records noted that the compounds used over Winnipeg, Canada, where there were numerous reports of respiratory illnesses, involved cadmium, a highly toxic chemical.

In 1951 the US Army secretly contaminated the Norfolk Naval Supply Centerin Virginia with infectious bacteria. One type was chosen because blackswere believed to be more susceptible than whites. A similar experiment was undertaken later that year at Washington, DC’s National Airport. The bacteria was later linked to food and blood poisoning and respiratory problems.

Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida were the targets of repeatedArmy bio-weapons experiments in 1956 and 1957. Army CBW researchers released millions of mosquitoes on the two towns in order to test the ability of insects to carry and deliver yellow fever and dengue fever. Hundreds of residents fell ill, suffering from fevers, respiratory distress, stillbirths, encephalitis and typhoid. Army researchers disguised themselves as public health workers in order photograph and test the victims. Several deaths were reported.

In 1965 the US Army and the Dow Chemical Company injected dioxin into 70 prisoners (most of them black) at the Holmesburg State Prison in Pennsylvania. The prisoners developed severe lesions which went untreated for seven months. A year later, the US Army set about the most ambitious chemical warfare operation in history.

From 1966 to 1972, the United States dumped more than 12 million gallonsof Agent Orange (a dioxin-powered herbicide) over about 4.5 million acresof South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The government of Vietnam estimate the civilian casualties from Agent Orange at more than 500,000. The legacy continues with high levels of birth defects in areas that were saturated with the chemical. Tens of thousands of US soldiers were also the victims of Agent Orange.

In a still classified experiment, the US Army sprayed an unknown bacterial agent in the New York Subway system in 1966. It is not known if the test caused any illnesses.

A year later, the CIA placed a chemical substance in the drinking water supply of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Washington, DC. The test was designed to see if it was possible to poison drinking water with LSD or other incapacitating agents.

In 1969, Dr. D.M. McArtor, the deputy director for Research and Technologyfor the Department of Defense, asked Congress to appropriate $10 millionfor the development of a synthetic biological agent that would be resistant” to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease”.

In 1971 the first documented cases of swine fever in the western hemisphere showed up in Cuba. A CIA agent later admitted that he had been instructed to deliver the virus to Cuban exiles in Panama, who carried the virus into Cuba in March of 1991. This astounding admission received scant attention in the US press.

In 1980, hundreds of Haitian men, who had been locked up in detention camps in Miami and Puerto Rico, developed gynecomasia after receiving “hormone” shots from US doctors. Gynecomasia is a condition causing males to developfull-sized female breasts.

In 1981, Fidel Castro blamed an outbreak of dengue fever in Cuba on the CIA. The fever killed 188 people, including 88 children. In 1988, a Cuban exile leader named Eduardo Arocena admitted “bringing some germs” into Cuba in 1980.

Four years later an epidemic of dengue fever struck Managua, Nicaragua.Nearly 50,000 people came down with the fever and dozens died. This was the first outbreak of the disease in Nicaragua. It occurred at the height of the CIA’s war against the Sandinista government and followed a series of low-level “reconnaissance” flights over the capital city.

In 1996, the Cuba government again accused the US of engaging in “biological aggression”. This time it involved an outbreak of thrips palmi, an insect that kills potato crops, palm trees and other vegetation. Thrips first showed up in Cuba on December 12, 1996, following low-level flights over the island by US government spray planes. The US was able to quash a United Nations investigation of the incident.

At the close of the Gulf War, the US Army exploded an Iraqi chemical weapons depot at Kamashiya. In 1996, the Department of Defense finally admitted that more than 20,000 US troops were exposed to VX and sarin nerve agentsas a result of the US operation at Kamashiya. This may be one cause of Gulf War Illness, another cause is certainly the experimental vaccines unwittingly given to more than 100,000 US troops.

JEFFREY ST. CLAIR is the editor of CounterPunch and the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of NatureGrand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. His latest book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

This essay is excerpted from Jeffrey St. Clair’s book Grand Theft Pentagon  

The lies the coalition tells (and repeats and repeats), and Labour’s silence

Vox Political

Vox Political reblogged a post on the Skwawkbox blog yesterday, identifying a commonplace tactic used by members and supporters of the Coalition government.

It works like this: You make an assertion in the media that will harm your opponents, even though you have no evidence to back it up. You argue your case vehemently, refusing to accept any alternatives to what you are saying. And when the evidence comes in and it’s against you, you say it is a stitch-up and continue claiming both the moral and factual victory.

This is what the Conservative Party has been doing, loudly and continually. Look at its record on the NHS and on social security reforms and you’ll see that this assertion is supported by fact. Now, more factual evidence has arrived to undermine other Tory claims.

In spite of this, the Labour Party presents the appearance of an organisation torn by inner…

View original post 2,121 more words

Letter to Mark Hoban

The SKWAWKBOX

Another regular reader of this blog has jumped in to send a brilliantly-worked, challenging email to Work & Pensions minister Mark Hoban, who has been responsible for some ridiculous, condescending, deeply dishonest letters about his department’s performance recently.

The email stands on its own, without further input from me – except to say don’t hold your breath for any response, and if one does come then expect more evasion, obfuscation and outright lies:

Dear Mr Hoban,

 
Thanks to the concerned efforts of a blogger I follow (Swawkbox blog) I’m aware of a written response you made to David Rutley MP to a question about welfare reform. I’m also aware that you sent exactly the same response to an entirely different question from another MP, Simon Kirby.
 
I couldn’t fail to notice the irony of this situation in which two totally different questions elicited identical letters. The irony is contained…

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“Shout louder”? Labour, your voice should be audible from Space!.

“I do not think it is realistic, or that it helps us to solve the problems before us today, or that it contributes to saving our system or our democracy to work ourselves up into a frenzy over deficits or increases in the debt while at the same time failing to take account of the enormous gains that have been made”

Think Left

Forgotten (or ignored) wisdom

From Alittleecon

We seem to have forgotten (or ignore) so much of what we should already know. Here’s former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Marriner Eccles talking about the false equivalence of household and government debt in 1938 (p5)*:

“Isn’t it about time that we learned this simple truth? Is it so hard to understand that when an individual owes money he generally owes it to another individual, but when a nation owes money it owes it to itself? When an individual pays a debt, he pays it to someone else. When a nation pays a debt, it pays it to its own people. Now, this doesn’t mean that a nation can go on and on piling up debt or that any amount of expenditure and taxation is justified. The point is that we get into wholly misleading con­ceptions if we make the old mistake of confusing the matter of in­dividual solvency with…

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The lies and misconceptions have to be revealed