Friday, 26 July 2013

Would you credit it?

A few weeks ago I completed my Tax Credit renewal form and returned it to HMRC. Last week two identical letters landed on my doormat from HMRC. Good, thinks I my renewal confirmation; though not sure why exactly they needed to send out two mailings.

The first envelope I opened contained a 6-page letter with a summary for 2013-2014, whose figures made no sense; but went on to looking back at 2012-2013.

The second letter, only 4-pages, was full of conflicting information. At one point implying I owe them over £800 from a miscalculation, on their part.

Hardly an esoteric piece of knowledge guarded over by the Masons; or some Rosicrucian secret locked away in the bowels of the Vatican lest it leaks out and wreaks havoc upon humanity. It's a tool and it can be found by Googling 'HMRC tax credit calculator on the bleedin' Internet!

Today I brought the letters into work and asked a work colleague who works as a benefits' adviser (tax credits are included in his working brief) to take a look at the letters. Sometime later, he came back to me and said it was his belief that HMRC had made an error in their calculations; he even highlighted where he thought the errors had occurred, advising me to contact the revenue for a breakdown of the credits.
After an interminable wait an HMRC officer answers the phone. Of course I offer my NI number, as is customary; but matey waves this away asking me what the call is about.

Me: "It's concerning two contradictory letters I've received from your organisation in connection with my tax credits."

HMRC: "How are they contradictory?"

Me: "Well, one letter tells me I owe HMRC money; while the other states I'm owed money from HMRC. The amounts I owe also change from page to page; and the figure you have for my income for 2012-2013 differs, upwards, by over £500."

HMRC: "Can I have your NI number, please?"

Me: "The one I offered you at the start of this conversation? Yes, here it is Y* ** ** ** D".

HMRC: "Just hold the line..."

A few minutes elapse and matey's back:

HMRC: "The letters we sent out are not contradictory. The figures do add up. What exactly is your problem?"

Me: "Well to start with, could you explain why after around May/June 2012 the credits I received fell from over £140 per week to around £28 per week. I know the 50+ premium was discontinued in April 2012. But the drop seems excessive. Hardly an incentive for disabled people to work."

HMRC: "The 50+ premium finished years ago. And as I've said the figures in your letters all add up and are self explanatory."
Me: "Ok, then how much do I owe HMRC? Is it £703.42 as stated on P4 letter 1; or is it £812 as stated on P3 of the second letter? Why are you working on a salary inflated by over £500 for 2012-2013?"

HMRC: "Didn't you get a pay rise in April? You see, we calculate salaries upwards for the following year in order to eliminate overpayment."

Me: "Before speaking to you I ran these letters by a co-worker who deals in benefits' advice, including tax credits which I know aren't strictly a benefit. He thinks the figures are wrong."

HMRC: "Does he work for HMRC?"
Me: "No, he's a benefits' adviser."
HMRC: "In that case he wouldn't understand the figures."
Me: "Eh?"

HMRC: "He won't understand our calculations. You should only concern yourself with the final figures on Page 6 of letter 1 as this is what you will be receiving  "

Me: "Oh, ok. Before I go mate, are there any jobs going in your office? Because it looks as though I'm going to have to come and work for HMRC in order to understand how my tax credits are calculated!"

The irony is that HMRC has a tax credits calculator on its own website; which is the tool my co-worker uses. Indeed he used the HMRC calculator to estimate my credit; and believes HMRC has made a mistake. Looks as though I'm going to have to lodge an appeal.  


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

In the name of the DWP, PwC and Atos...

The DWP has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to look into improving the performance and, no doubt, image of Atos. They are asked

“ provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality    assurance processes across all its health and disability      assessments*. In addition, and in the longer-term, increased provider capacity will ensure that a greater focus on quality can be        achieved alongside enabling the number of assessments the Department requires to be delivered.”

Back in 2006 Remploy engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers ostensibly to look at ways of improving their business, but in reality to sign a protracted death warrant of the Remploy factory system.

For years the consortium of trade unions at Remploy had been petitioning both the company and governments to review the whole of Remploy to bring its business structures and methods up to date. Trade unionists knew that Remploy needed a branch and root reassessment of the industrial sectors within which it conducted its business.

When they engaged PwC the unions approached the accountants offering to put forward the trade union side; the unions also offered a well thought out and costed alternative business plan.

When it presented its findings it was evident they had ignored the input from trade union Remploy members; and had targeted the views of a minority of workers who, for whatever reasons, were not happy at Remploy. Both the company and government chose to use these skewed testimonies as proof that all Remploy factory employees were crying out to be mainstreamed.

As for the business plan, this was totally disregarded.

PwC had a wrecking brief from the company (with government complicity); and instead of providing independent advice in relation to improving Remploy's factory business opportunities, thus securing the future employment of thousands of disabled workers, they recommended closure.   

Seven years on I read that PwC is being called upon " provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments." Assessments carried out by no less than the government's favoured hatchet company, Atos.

It is then hardly surprising that I fully support DPAC and ilegal's exposé of PwC; and the condemnation and cries of 'Whitewash!' made by people whose experience of Atos eminently qualifies them to exercise such a view.

PcW and their ilk are masters of spin; they lie to live. They have transformed the discipline of professional services into a dark art. Pay them enough and they'll get HMRC off your back; they'll turn water into water and charge you for wine; they'll get rid of thousands of bothersome disabled employees by expedient misrepresentation.

*This is all about the rehabilitation of Atos; the most basic of cosmetic surgery.

PwC will not be interested in seeking out Atos' bad practices; nor its unethical treatment of sick and disabled people. Come on, be serious. That'd cost a fortune and involve a seismic shift in the ethos and ethical standing of Atos. No, this'll be a PR exercise par excellence.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Talking Shops are not Work Shops

Workshops where people sit around yapping and jawing is a particular pet hate of mine.

Once upon a time I worked as a joiner; and the place I worked was called a workshop, or wood mill.

So, if the place does not resonate with the thrumming of machines humming or the yammering of hammering, it ain't a workshop; it's a talking shop!

Don't be taken in by Tory propaganda

Remember the sell-off of British Rail, which began with the Railways Act 1993; and culminated with Railtrack being hastily privatised in May 1996, the last piece of wrecking legislation carried out by the Thatcher/Major governments who sold off and privatised most of the country's utilities and state owned industries.

From 1979 on British Rail was set-up to fail with a programme of underinvestment and a calculated propaganda campaign softening it up for privatisation. And when it came the organisation was broken up into over one hundred separate companies. The effects of this fragmentation still resonate through the industry today as we're faced with a confusion of ticket prices, the highest rail fares in Europe and a higher public subsidy than when the railways were in the public sector.

Protesters bring their message to Parliament earlier in 2013

Do you get feelings of déjà vu when reading and listening to the news stories coming out about the NHS? Since 2010 there has been a ratcheting-up of bad news stories concerning the NHS. Of course poor practices and failing hospitals are newsworthy; and the public should be aware of what is happening with the service that delivers most of our country's health care. However, the constant drip-feed of negativity concerning the NHS is a prelude to the carve-up and sale of our NHS.

British Rail became the by-word of a poorly delivered service; thus allowing its dismantlement and sell-off. Disabled people became synonymous with benefits fraud and scrounging; thus an easy group for the government to target with cuts. So now the NHS is receiving the softening-up process. When it is ready the ConDems will turn to the horror stories and bad news events that it is helping to create, and present the NHS as a failing structure in dire need of the direction only the private sector can deliver.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Success of Failure

“Atos is now spinning out of control and it is costing the taxpayers millions to clean up the mess."

Well, so now we know what career path to take. It would appear that the best way to get on in a neo-lib society such as ours is to become a banker, Atos or join the ConDem government, as we now live in a time where failure by those at the top of the tree is rewarded handsomely.
But, worry not if you can't manage to be a banker, Atos or a ConDem minister, you could always opt for the equally lucrative positions of being Vodaphone, Amazon, Philip Green, Starbucks or a plethora of successful tax dodging bastards.


The Second Amendment is a Coward's Charter

Hopefully Obama can weaken the National Rifle Association's power. Somehow make a dent in the apparent hold the NRA has over the consciences of too many Americans.

Of course the NRA play the Second Amendment like a finely tuned fiddle. Yet, there must be women and men of intellect who can articulate the argument against the, supposed, right to bear arms.

If they can't win this particular fight; then laws must be  put in place that punish misuse of lethal weapons to the Nth degree. These right-to-own-a-gun-and-use-it citizens must be inculcated through the axiom, that with rights come responsibility.

Sorry for the rant. But just how many more Trayvon's is it going to take before American's say 'enough!' Just how many more school kids are to be murdered in their classrooms before this Second Amendment is exposed as the cowardly killers' charter it is.

Duncan-Smith to Appear in Front of DWP Select Committee in September

"I can confirm that IDS will be appearing before the Work and Pensions Select Committee on Wednesday 4th September where he will be asked questions about the DWP’s Annual Report and the Department’s use of statistics."

And? This is hardly anything to get excited over; I'm certainly not pinning my hopes on Iain Duncan-Smith caving-in and blubbering "It's a fair cop guv. For gawd's sake go easy on me, cos I've a wife, kids and a dodgy reputation for half-truths, mendacity and downright dishonesty to support".

IDS will appear in front of the SC briefed-up to his shiny pate. His researchers will have him evading and dodging questions as though he's out for a stroll. And of course if this fails, as it will; Duncan-Smith will fall back on his temper; and bluster his way through in high dudgeon.

Anyway, as the saying goes 'lies, damned lies and statistics', undoubtedly IDS will twist and turn the stats around to suit his argument; and while those  who know Smith to be a vicious and duplicitous bastard there are still far too many people in the UK who are willing to accept the government line on 'runaway benefits payments and shirkers' causing all the country's woes.

"Is this the beginning of the benefits revolution?"

Direct actions in Scotland and around the UK have prompted the question: "Is this the beginning of the benefits revolution?"

From my precarious position, that is a wheelchair user employed on a short contract in the voluntary sector (which may or may not be renewed next April) and dependent on tax credits, DLA (who knows how I'll fare under PIP) council care package and ILF (up until 2015 at the latest), I would welcome a benefit's revolution today or tomorrow.

However, as a disability campaigner of some twenty years and a political observer of thirty-something years, I am not inclined to believe we are at a point anywhere near revolution in the UK.

While the numbers supporting the government's position on cutting the deficit via the lowest common denominator, namely targeting those who can offer least resistance and who after decades of softening up by way of vilification and demonization in the media, is falling. There are still too many people within our society who believe that the only way to become solvent is by slashing the debt; and the only way left to do that is through a reduction in state spending on benefits.

Another important factor in this equation is that we have a shadow cabinet in place who instead of leading the opposition to the slash and burn policies pushed through by the ConDems seems determined to employ the same tactics if and when they come into power. As long as Labour supports a programme of austerity cuts it is letting down its core of natural voters, as well as the floaters who are crying out for a sense of direction.

We are in grave danger of allowing the Tories back in 2015 for another five years. By then, or very shortly after, we'll find increasing numbers of people hit by ever more draconian welfare cuts; and then we may see the benefits' revolution.

Finally, these predictions are made with a heavy heart and feelings of great trepidation. For I'm very likely a candidate for the poverty programme. Therefore, I hope I am proved wrong on every point I've made here; and I intend continuing the fight to rid us of this oppressive bunch of vampire capitalists.  

Monday, 15 July 2013

Independent Living Fund

Independent Living Fund

Despite the press lies and the distorted stories
ILF doesn't mean we live like rich Tories;
No, it affords us a way into social inclusion
Rather than the loneliness of social exclusion.

Self directed support pays PAs to help me from bed
Toilet and shower me and make sure I'm fed,
Thus I am spic and span and I smell very clean
But without ILF I'd be home alone and unseen.

This life isn't that long and then we're dead
So existence must be more than just daily bread;
ILF payments goes some way to include roses
Not too much to ask from life, one supposes.

ILF means we can control and plan our own day
Choose how we spend it and who we can pay,
To assist us to go out and paint the town red
Then help us home safely and poured into bed.

Without ILF I may survive with just personal care
A PAs company for half-an-hour here or an hour there,
A life starved of the warmth that only friends give
An existence played out, as I only know how to live.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Rewards of Failure

You couldn’t fucking make it up. Of the WCA assessments that go to appeal ATOS loses 40%. In its tender for the PIP contract ATOS agreed to provide 700+ assessment centres; instead, they deliver 108, 15% of total. Do you know of any other company with such an appalling record that is still in business, let alone winning massive government contracts?

Once upon a time capitalists defended their right to make large profits under the guise that they were the risk takers. Where is the risk for banks when they’re bailed out by the state and still pay out obscene bonuses for failure; where’s the risk for ATOS when they can get so many assessments wrong and still be considered fit to take on other contracts.

These kinds of actions further reinforce the fact that we are taking part in a class war. The boss class (this includes the government) continuously fucking things up, yet going unpunished, in some cases such as ATOS actually rewarded; the working classes undergoing wage freezes, seeing benefits cut and taken away, losing our jobs and our services.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Even Guardian Correspondents Find Labour Wanting

Didn’t think I’d find 80% from the Guardian’s ‘Letters and Emails’ supporting trade unions over the parliamentary Labour Party. But, that is the case in today’s (Saturday 6th July) paper. And the other 20% (one letter) doesn’t write in support of labour.

The main themes of the other four letters focus on how the Right took over the party, and has used means fair and foul to ensure the Left is kept outside the tent; on “…Labour’s long, sad, slow metamorphosis from a people’s party to a bland, centre-right conservative group more concerned with popularity in middle-class marginal constituencies than in having any genuine beliefs of their own.; how rather than fearing ‘leftwing’ issues “… be it renationalising the railways, abolishing tuition fees, taxing the rich or nuclear disarmament (with the sole exception of immigration)…” they actually chime with public opinion; and, Unite that is right to stand up to fight against the ruinous neo-liberal policies so popular with Thatcher, then continued through Labour’s 13 years in office.

Maybe the tide is turning, but the only people who are resisting it are the King Canute-like members of the parliamentary Labour Party, the Blairites and co.

Segregation Lies

Remploy workers protest to save their jobs

Not satisfied with closing down the majority of its factories on the spurious grounds of cost, Remploy continues to denigrate its erstwhile manufacturing arm.

Recently a friend of mine visited Remploy’s Union Street, Waterloo, branch. This friend works in human resources for one of the country’s leading supermarkets which is looking to take on workers who come through Remploy Employment Services.

One of the visitors from another supermarket raised a question about the factory closures; curious as to why when disabled people found getting into work so difficult had the factories been closed.

The representative from Remploy replied that gender segregation was being practiced in the factories. Apparently men worked in one site and women on a separate site! Believe it or not there were a lot of tut tuts and shaking heads at this news.

Well, if you’re going to tell a lie make sure it’s a big one.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Unite, Democracy and Falkirk

“Reading this information about the Falkirk I can't help but wonder why if Unite was not trying to do something 'underhand' they are so angry at having been 'rumbled'. I love trade unionism at its best, but this doesn't appear to be its most shining hour.

I believe trade unions need to first and foremost look after the workplace issues of their membership. That is first and foremost what they pay there membership for, and optional political levy is a small part of this.

Whilst I admire thoroughly the passions of the trade union movement, and have always supported Labour in part because of the fantastic way political successes occur from sources generally perceived to be most unlikely, we do need to have an understanding of what is achievable with the resources we have. I am not convinced by some of the posts in this forum that this is always the case with admirably passionate members.

We live in a democracy, which if we cherish we need to understand individuals have a vote, not a mass movement with political ambition. Lets influence elections fairly, democratically, and impress on the Labour movement, the country and the world that trade unionist can be the most adequate, representative candidates, genuinely passionate about a progressive movement which can generate ideas that can responsibly be put into action.”

Unite isn’t angry at being ‘rumbled’ to use your indelicate phrase. Unite is angry that the party of the workers, the party of labour has so distanced itself from its core voters. We’re angry that we can barely distinguish Labour policy from that viciously imposed upon us by this ConDem crew. We’re angry at such a lack of policy imagination that forces Labour to cravenly announce that they will blithely follow ConDem social security measures if they come to power in 2015.

And we’re furious at Labour’s participation in the auctioning off of our NHS, and its passivity in countering what is obviously the ConDem’s plan to completely privatise the delivery of medical care in this country in as short a time span as possible.

Oh, and we’re angry that Labour doesn’t have a scintilla of the imagination possessed by Atlee’s post war government, who with a debt over 300% greater than the current deficit, still managed to create the NHS and build a welfare state.

Yes, we’re fucking angry, not at being ‘rumbled’ but because this shower that claim to represent working people are little better than the scum who are currently presiding over the corpse of our welfare state; and complicit in the impoverishing of hundreds of thousands of people.

Kirsty, democracy is but a word that describes various forms of corruption. From its earliest days in Ancient Greece democracy only served around 10% of the population of, say, Athens. The other 90% were slaves, women, children and ‘free’ citizens without the status to form part of the democracy.

So, yes we live in a democracy; and just as in ancient Greece, it is a democracy for the few. It is a club for the rich and powerful.

While we elect governments into office; the reality is that the worlds major business interests actually determine the real policy and running of the country. Don’t believe me. Look at Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. Take a look at some of those states in Central America, Christ look at Mexico! Democracy as some kind of egalitarian force for the good of the people is but a myth in these places as it is in the UK.

So Kirsty, you don’t think that trade unions have any place in politics, in shaping and influencing industrial, economic or social policy. Do you realise that your unstinting faith in the democratic process means that in fact you, hopefully unwillingly, support the right of big business to dictate how countries are run; because that is the reality.

Trade union involvement in politics is merely an attempt to create some kind of equilibrium between the neo-libs drive to drive down workers’ wages and Ts&Cs, using the false premise of austerity cuts coupled with rampant deregulation of industry and commerce, and the workers striving to earn a decent living and keep the social fabric of protection so hard fought for over decades.

Finally, you seem to have been lulled into the belief that this country is somehow short of resources. No, it isn’t. The greatest resource a country has is its people. Yet Cameron and his band of Yahoos ignore this and allow millions to languish out of work, while doing absolutely nothing about the hundreds of thousands of people who are unwillingly under-employed.

While the wealth of this country is so unevenly distributed, working people will always be at the mercy of the whim of mega-rich men. The super rich, of whom some sit in the government’s cabinet, can play their ideological games; they have enough wealth to sit out the hard times knowing that what follows will reap greater benefits.

Falkirk Fuck-Up

As the Bullingdon bully boys make hay while the sun glares on the Falkirk furore, and the media misrepresent the affair with impunity, Labour languishes in the eyes of many of its natural supporters within the disability movement.
Lennie McCluskey, arch-Leftie with dastardly designs on getting Unite Labour Party members to join their CLPs and attempt to push through progressive policies that could win Labour the next election - what kind of person would perpetrate such a heinous plot!

Many within the disability movement feel that Labour betrayed them during their thirteen years in office. From taxing incapacity benefit in their first term to introducing the reviled work capability assessment in their last, with its awful attendant, ATOS, Labour is viewed by some to be just as bad as the Tories.

As Labour make greater attempts to distance themselves from the unions, and Len McCluskey in particular, ex-Blairite minister Blunkett throws in his poison pennyworth:

 "We don't want to go back to divisions and diversions of this sort. We are a broad church, we should be and we should be able to welcome and engage with a whole range of people. We shouldn't be afraid of ideas and policy. At the moment, if we are afraid of those and the idea of looking to the future and being radical then, I'm afraid, we'll be the party of the graveyard and none of us want that."     

Blunkett, this broad church you speak of has undergone a seismic sectarian shift over the past twenty years. Trade unionists are barely welcome amongst the high church congregation that many CLPs have become. In my own CLP if you don’t work in or around the Westminster village as a researcher, lobbyist or some other parliamentary affiliated job you’re ignored. Those who have the temerity to have a trade union connection are simply marginalised, so much for being able “…to welcome and engage with a whole range of people.”

Blunkett, your words hold as much credence today as they did when you were backing Blairs neo-liberal line; when you went along with his illegal wars for the sake of political expediency.

If as Blunkett claims Labour isn’t afraid of ideas and policies, why aren’t they listening to the trade unions on issues ranging from the economy to the NHS. After all there are over 7 million of us, many of whom belong to the Labour Party, and still, maybe tenuously, support Labour.

If the Labour Party is this broad church Blunkett claims it is, why then did Anne McGuire recently set up disability and poverty taskforce charged with looking into, amongst others, the failing WCA (a Labour initiative) and DWP’s Work Programme (another spectacular failure. Indeed so failed that it would have saved the tax payer money if the scheme had not gone ahead).

The six members of the commission are mostly on the right politically and many come from a Disability Rights UK (DRUK) and Scope background. Remember the CE of DRUK, Liz Sayce, was responsible for writing a report whose findings called for the closure of Remploy factories. Oh, and a couple of years later while a guest at the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee tried to distance herself from the closures claiming she no longer had any involvement with the report she wrote.

So, David Blunkett, don’t you think the Labour Party is being exclusive when it sets up a commission to look into the links between disability and poverty – oh by the way, you don’t need to look far to find the factors that form the link between disability and poverty, no further that is than many of New Labour’s social policies between 1997 and 2010.

What other organisation in this country represents 1.5 million members, of whom something in the region of around 250,000 are disabled people. Of course, the only other organisation with more members is the TUC, with over 6 million members, of whom perhaps over 1 million are disabled.

The TUC has by far the largest membership of disabled people in the country. The DRUKs, Scopes, RNIBs, Leonard Cheshires of the disability world have neither figures that can anywhere match those, or indeed, I doubt if they apply the kind of democratic discipline found in unions.

I say to you Mr Blunkett that the Labour Party itself and all too many of its CLPs are unwilling to welcome and engage trade unionists; they are afraid of our progressive ideas and policies; it adopts a sectarian and reactionary stance towards us rather than embracing the forward thinking we promote in areas such as disability, nuclear disarmament, green industry, and international relations.   

What Has DPAC Ever Done for US?

I had a sense of déjà vu reading this thread this morning. Since then I’ve been to work in a Direct Payments department of a voluntary sector org; attended a workshop on the best way to deliver training to DP’s PAs (some interesting takes on care packages); then fought my way home through the relentless droves of guerrilla cyclists and assorted ill-tempered drivers of Central London. Yes I know… I get all the good gigs.

Anyway, back to the thread that had me thinking in parallel universes. Someone asked, “What is DPAC doing to stop the cuts?”, only to attract an equally aggressively put“…give us a date for your planned revolution, and I’m sure those that are able will join you”.

Over the past couple of years I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working alongside DPAC. Our relationship has been interesting; I think it’s fair to say. We’ve clashed on a number of occasions, sometimes methodology getting in the way; at other times, though we were heading to the top of the same mountain, we chose decidedly different paths to reach the summit.

Despite our differences, in the end it is that which we hold in common that unites us; and I hope to work alongside DPAC, and other progressive sister organisations as long as inequality and iniquity reign over my class.

So what have the Romans ever done for…sorry, what is DPAC doing to stop the cuts?

To start with:
  • they’re getting off their arses and targeting our tormentors ATOS.
  • individual DPAC members are assisting disabled people in challenging false DWP assessments; and helping them win appeals.
  • DPAC is challenging the DWP on rulings and the false information propagated by Iain Drunken-Smith.
  • since their inception they’ve carried out a number of high profile actions, such as occupying the DWP HQ and bringing London to a standstill on several occasions
  • offering solidarity to Remploy workers in struggle
  • putting disabled people and their issues in the spotlight in a way we’ve never before enjoyed.

For an outfit still in its infancy compared to some of old timers of the Left movement, DPAC punches well above its weight. While the cuts may still be with us, after all governments with vicious ideologies are not defeated overnight, I maintain that without groups such as DPAC, Black Triangle, UK Uncut as well as union influence from Unite and the TUC, this government would have pushed through much more vicious and faster cuts.

Fighting against any entrenched ideology, such as that displayed by this government, is a long term struggle; and it would be a far harder struggle without the likes of DPAC taking the fight to the very heart of power.

So, DPAC I offer you solidarity in the struggle and good luck with your London meeting on Saturday. We may not be quite ready for the revolution just yet. But I predict when we are I’ll be sitting shoulder to shoulder to with good Comrades from the trade union movement and DPAC!      

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Taking an axe to the social compact

Last week, during his spending review, a review that targeted benefits while slashing public service jobs  George Osborne spat out the following:
"And we’re going to introduce a new seven day wait before people       can claim benefits. Those first few days should be spent looking for    work, not looking to sign on."

George Osborne wielding the axe that will destroy our welfare state and chop our NHS into small pieces to be picked up by other Tory spivs and speculators
The Chancellor spoke with such contempt that one would be forgiven for thinking he was referring to some group of sociopaths  who had committed the most heinous of crimes, rather than of people whose only transgression was to lose their jobs; and this loss most likely as a result of an austerity cut made by this nasty piece of work, Osborne.
It's bad enough to lose your job at any time. But to lose it as a result of an austerity programme fuelled by Tory ideology and driven on a vehicle of neo-liberal policy intended to reduce workers T&Cs in order to maximise profits, is doubly disgraceful.
But, all that aside. What has happened to the compact between the state and workers. You know, the one that expects you to work, but during periods of unemployment one can fall back on the state for social security. We work; we pay our taxes and NI contributions; and from time to time we are entitled to call upon the state to make provision for hard times.
However contradicting himself, in the same speech, Osborne says something completely different about unemployed people when he concedes that
"Those who need it – who are old, who are vulnerable, who are      disabled, or have lost their job and who we as a compassionate society want to support."

Osborne decision to extend the wait for benefit entitlement to seven days clearly shows a total disregard to compassion. Instead he has all unemployed people, regardless of circumstances, booked down as scroungers and skivers.
In the same speech he attacks working people who claim tax credits and housing benefit (HB), especially those who aren't doing as all they can to increase the hours they work. So, people are now also a burden on the state because they earn so little they have to claim tax credits and HB.
Hold on Georgie, why aren't you attacking the root cause of tax credit and HB 'dependency', namely your own kind; the employer class who pay sweatshop wages, with the expectation that the state makes up the shortfall. What about them?
What about the Rackman landlords out there sub-dividing houses into pigeonholes which they then rent for extortionate rents paid for though housing benefits. What about them, Osborne?
Attack the chiselling employer. Create a minimum wage generous enough to dispense with working tax credits that force honest working people to be at the mercy of unreasonable government sanctions and demonization in the scum press.
Now, my grey-haired old Irish mum knows, my PA knows, and I know that if you put extra money into the pay packets of the poorest, of ordinary workers, that the extra money will go back into the local economy; they'll spend it. Give a tax break to the rich and they'll offshore it to maximise a return.
If we, none of whom has a qualification in either economics or political science, can work this out, then I'm guessing so can George Osborne. But to do something positive like this, to give the economy a kick-start would interfere with the ConDem ideology of demolishing the welfare state and driving the working classes back into a position of abject powerlessness, such as during the mid 1920s.