The general public’s loathing for austerity policies and their cheerleaders is no secret. Indeed, it was partly responsible for the downfall of former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith. Smith was succeeded by Stephen Crabb, almost the forgotten man in the job, who only lasted 117 days before resigning after a ‘sexting’ scandal. Crabb managed to keep his post longer than disgraced (and now former) England manager Sam Allardyce, but not by much.
Crabb was replaced by Damien Green and, so far, we’ve heard relatively little from him. He’s flown under the radar far more than the disgraced Crabb and the loathed Smith, but his voting record says welfare claimants are simply in for more of the same. Speaking of his voting record, let’s take a look at his last five years.
2011 was a quiet year for welfare state’s latest hatchet man. On March 9, Green voted in favour of introducing Universal Credit (IDS’s work of genius and general disaster). He also voted in favour of the bedroom tax and supported both again on June 15.
2012 was a little busier. On February 1 he voted against people who have been sick and/or disabled since their youth receiving a rate of ESA similar to the contribution-based rate for people previously in work. He also voted against increasing the 365 day limit for receiving ESA to 730 days. He also voted against exempting cancer patients from the 365-day limit. Not finished there, Green voted against setting the lower Universal Credit rate regarding sick and/or disabled children and young people at a minimum of two-thirds of the higher rate.
And the hits just kept on coming.
On February 21 he voted against proposed exemptions from the bedroom tax. On November 21, presumably as an end-of-year treat, he voted to cap the maximum total weekly benefit entitlement at £350 for single people and £500 for couples.
On to 2013…
On January 21 our new, caring, sharing Secretary of State voted to cap the annual raise in a number of benefits at 1% instead of 2.2% in line with the retail price index. Which made for a nice little stealth saving for the Treasury while making claimants themselves worse off. On February 27 he voted in favour of the ‘under-occupancy penalty’ cutting the Housing benefit for social housing tenants with what were deemed ‘excess bedrooms.’ Then, on December 12, voted in favour of the bedroom tax again.
2014 would be similarly caring and sharing…
Of February 11 he voted against halting further welfare and spending cuts. He also opposed running an impact assessment to find out exactly how policies he was supporting influenced poverty and inequality. Fast-forward to November 26 and the dreaded bedroom tax rears its ugly head, a head that Green pats and rewards with a vote to keep the under-occupancy penalty while also opposing freezing energy bills. Green rounded off his thoroughly sterling service to claimants on December 17 when he again voted in favour of the bedroom tax and to cut Housing Benefit for anyone deemed to have excess bedrooms.
2015 would be better still…
On June 4 he voted not only in favour of proposed spending and welfare cuts, but also to support the replacement of Trident. Yes, the welfare of claimants and the sick and disabled was less important than replacing nuclear weapons.
On September 15 he voted for proposed cuts to tax credits, cuts voted for again on October 20 and October 27. Speaking of October 27, that was the day he supported the proposed tax credit cuts, vote to remove the ‘work-related activity component’ from ESA AND the ‘limited capability for work’ component from Universal Credit, again voted for the benefit cap AND to freeze a number of work-related benefits. Oh, on December 18 he also voted in support of the proposed Universal Credit cuts.
2016 has seen more of the same…
On January 6 he voted in support of cutting Universal Credit for many people who are currently in work.
On May 26 he voted to repeal the Human Rights Act.
And, on July 20, he voted for cuts in Housing Benefit to vulnerable claimants living in supported accommodation despite having stated in a written Ministerial response dated September 15, 2015 (the same day he voted to support proposed tax credit cuts) that:
‘Supported accommodation plays a vital role in the lives of many vulnerable people.’
Mr Green, supported accommodation DOES play a vital role in the lives of many vulnerable people. It appears, however, that your support for welfare claimants, the sick and the disabled is the same support that a noose provides to a condemned convict.