The nonsense of ‘trapped on benefits’

In the debate today on the government’s ‘Welfare Uprating Bill’, which will cap benefit rises at 1%, I had to relisten to a statement by one of the Tory MPs, because it contained such patent nonsense that it’s hard to believe even a Tory MP could say it with a straight face.

The MP in question, Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, said

..the nub of this whole argument is, if we allow benefits to increase by more than salaries, then that increases the number of people on benefit who are trapped in poverty and unable to afford to actually go out to work.

Gareth Johnson MP, bollocks-talker extraordinaire

As an avid politics-watcher and ardent believer in social justice, I hear many things that make me want to spit, or make my jaw drop (or occasionally both at the same time, which is a messy business!), but this is right up there at the top of the Premier League of idiotic comments.

My ears didn’t deceive me – Mr Johnson really did say what you just read. In a few hours time it will be on Hansard for all to see.

Do you see the idiocy of this? Mr Johnson, stripped of the misleading language, is arguing that some jobs pay so poorly that people will only do them if the government limits benefit rises – but he’s going further. He’s saying that they will only be able to afford to do them if the government limits benefit rises.

Does the salary of a job paying poverty wages (and they are poverty wages, because he’s just said giving people benefit rises that will give them higher income than doing the job would) get higher because benefits are lower?

Clearly not. The salary will still be the same, and will still only buy the same amount of food, clothes, rent etc (and an ever-dwindling amount in these days of above-inflation rises in the cost of fuel, transport, food and pretty much everything else).

So not increasing benefits traps people in poverty. Forcing people to do jobs that don’t pay enough to live on increases poverty – even if you make benefits lower so that they’d be even worse poverty.

Increasing benefits does not ‘trap people in poverty’. It might just force employers to pay a decent wage in order to find people to work for them.

Which is what should happen – and exactly why the Tories don’t want to increase benefits.

Sadly, Mr Johnson merely exemplifies the ideology and twisted thinking of his party, including ministers. Don’t be fooled by the spin and the rhetoric. The very word ‘Tory’ comes from an old Irish word meaning ‘bandit‘, and they haven’t ‘changed their spots’.


  1. Hi.

    Just to let you know that I have 50 hours leave left to take by the end of March. But there was only 19 hours available. Told today I have lost 30 hours leave!!! Is that right. Oh, and it’s my fault for not booking them earlier!! Grrrrr. Any advice.


    Sent from my iPhone

    1. 🙁

      Did you join the union as had discussed? If so, I’d turn to them as a first port of call – they should be able to help if anyone can. Good luck!

  2. This is like the mendacious rhetoric that accuses sick and disabled people of being “feckless stock” who are “parked” in their homes and “festering” due to being “trapped on benefits”. (All of which would be actionable hate speech if used against any other minority) .

    Leaving aside the fact that around 60% of disability benefits recipients actually *do* have jobs (until they are stripped of of DLA support and Motability vehicles and forced back home) – a large proportion of us have degrees, diplomas, skills, and decades of experience, and would be instantly “job ready” and back at work tomorrow – if only cures for our conditions could be found.

    The kind of *support* disabled people who are capable of returning to work need, is *FINANCIAL SUPPORT* – to cover the added costs of transport, mobility aids and other adaptations. What we *don’t* need is the Tories’ version of ‘support’, which consists of bullying and threats from jobcentre staff, suicide-ticket benefit sanctions, and now the humiliation of graduates being forced to attend courses in basic literacy and numeracy under threat of our pittance of ESA being cut (a scam currently operated by the workfare pimps who charge taxpayers millions for “teaching” accountants to do sums).

    [IMHO the main purpose of disbled “workfare” is to break the minds and wills of the campaigning disabled in order to finally silence us, and kill those who hold out against suicide. Forced labour has been a tactic used against prospective critics, by every previous totalitarian dictator from Hitler to Stalin to Mao Tse Tung.]

    Disabled workers also need more effective anti-discrimination protection. Demonising groups of people as ‘fakes’ and ‘scroungers’, oddly seems to make employers more prejudiced, not less, and there is indisputable evidence that disclosing a workfare placement on one’s CV is even more damaging than having a criminal record.

    Chronic physical limitation, chronic pain, and being forced to subsist on less than one sixth of their former earnings (in many cases much less), is not a lifestyle choice. Why would any sane former nurse, police officer, or manager, willingly do this?

    The bottom line is that those disabled people who don’t work, ARE TRAPPED AT HOME BY THEIR CONDITIONS, AND BY THIS GOVERNMENTS ABUSIVE POLICIES – not by any masochistic addiction to poverty and social stigma.

    If the government wants us back to work half as much as we ourselves would like to go, IT IS ABOUT TIME THEY STARTED USING THE BILLIONS SQUANDERED ON WORKFARE RESPONSIBLY, TO SUPPORT THE NHS AND FUND VITAL MEDICAL RESEARCH, INSTEAD OF THROWING THE CASH AT THE ENTIRELY USELESS ATOS, which at best use low-grade medical workers to rubber-stamp the diagnoses of hospital consultants. OR THE UTTERLY FAILED WORKFARE PIMPS, which have a failure rate of almost 99% in terms of forcing severely ill and disabled people back into jobs.

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