Vote Tory says Guardian duped by (ahem) ‘leak’ from DWP over Benefit Cap.

The reduced benefit cap will affect 90,000 new households says the Guardian.  Those households will have at least 3 children in each says the Guardian making a minimum of 270,000 children affected.

Yet the Guardian says and leads with the reduced benefit cap will:

  • affect just 40,000 children, and
  • only affects 40,000 children IF their parents don’t get off their lazy arses!

The Guardian has a leaked memo from the Tories which says all of this which the Guardian journalists swallow hook line and sinker  and without any regard whatsoever for basic arithmetic or a basic knowledge of how the benefit cap works.

obcguardian 40000

The incredulity of this beggars belief and is incredibly dangerous reporting from two journalists who have previously produced some highly creditable work in and around welfare reform issues. Just how the 270,000 minimum children the Guardian know and admits can become JUST 40,000 affected as all will be plunged into poverty can only be explained by one issue – the leaked memo – which the Guardian swallow hook line and sinker.

40,000 will be affected only IF their parents don’t work a few more hours?  That’s a huge conditional statement and in the most professional terms – a shitload of the shittiest crock of shit that only those with shit for brains could give any credence!

If the parents are in work then they will be in receipt of working tax credit which by definition EXEMPTS them from the benefit cap in the first place and they would not be part of the new 90,000 additional households affected would they!

As I always say numbers don’t and it is the numbers here that makes this story (as in story, story, Jackanory) decidedly dangerous in the perverse figure of just 40,000 or 8 times less damaging than the real number would appear, and the dangerous blame game saying if this happens it is because parents won’t get off their arse and are to blame for their children being in poverty.

This is not just a shitload of the shittiest crock of shit, that pungent odour jumps off the page.  If austerity means literally a dry bitter taste in the mouth this story, story, Jackanory gets right up my nose.

You can stop there reader but I am going on in some depth as to what is really happening here


After the opening and setting up of the story the article says:

But an internal government assessment, seen by the Guardian, shows that if parents are unable to find extra work the policy will put 40,000 more children on or below the official poverty line, on top of the 50,000 already affected under the current rate.

40,000 more children to add to the 50,000 children in poverty  is conflation of two very separate issues and another huge error by the Guardian.

In a piece on this by the Guardian 2 days  earlier it says an additional 90,000 households will be affected by the reduced benefit cap to add to the current 23,000 households affected making 113,000 households in all and then – in this piece of tosh – says the additional and new 90,000 households affected with the reduced cap  – which is an increase of 391% no less -will only have 40,000 children in them!

The current 23,000 households affected will have some 70,000 children already affected and

(i) all will be in poverty so where the 50,000 figure of children in poverty comes from is perverse in any case; and

(ii) increasing the benefit cap households by 391% from 23,000 to 113,000 will see pro rata this 70,000 become 274,000

The Guardian in suspending any form of analysis, rationality and common sense because they have a leaked memo somehow believe this will only be 40,000!

Yet what is most distasteful and thoroughly offensive in this is the Guardian journalists being the Patsy in the claim that the children’s poverty is caused by their parents being lazy and their fault their children are to be put in poverty.

Then the article takes perhaps the laziest Baldrickian attempt at John Le Carre ever witnessed in the history of the Guardian..

Marked “sensitive” and sent to the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, two weeks after the general election, the civil service memo forecasts that “around 40,000 more … children might in the absence of any behaviour change, find themselves in poverty as a result of reducing the cap to £23,000”. “If these families respond to the cap by making behaviour change, for example moving into work, they are likely to see themselves and their children move out of relative poverty,” the civil service author adds.  Commenting on the leak, the Department for Work and Pensions said: “As the document itself makes clear, these figures do not take into account a key impact of the cap: that it incentivises people to move into work and improve their lives.”

Not only is the ‘leak’ acknowledged by DWP it is commented upon – that is the leak which the Guardian portray as fact yet the same leak which says the number of children affected will be about 12% of the actual figure and only then conditional on those who are exempt from it working more hours!!

This is not the first time the Guardian has written dangerous errant nonsense about welfare reform as I was reminded of the piece by Polly Toynbee I tore apart in February 2013 in a piece called “Oh the ‘people’ are discussing this bedroom tax – I’d better write about it!

What I find particularly disconcerting is this piece has all the hallmarks of a placed story from the National Housing Federation seeking:

  1. to downplay both the massive impact the reduced benefit cap will have and
  2. their incredulously naive strategy of not challenging it, and
  3. their focus on challenging (ahem!) RTB for HAs on the strategy of RTB will hamper HAs developing

Earlier this week the David Orr  piece in the Guardian briefly alluded to my assertion that we are witnessing the end of the social housing model in which I say all the three issues above which as I knew would see the usual suspects in the housing world – the sycophantic how dare you have the temerity to criticise David Orr crowd and exponents of housing group think – squeal or more correctly baa like braying sheep to defend the position of David Orr and the national Housing Federation in not challenging the overall (housing) benefit cap.

My criticism of David Orr in Point 3 above in challenging the RTB for HAs on the basis that it would not allow HA’s to develop is delusional I said and I still maintain that because Point 1, the huge financial impact the reduced cap will have on HA’s core business is so great that no HA will have the money to develop and will be fire-fighting like crazy just to allow HA’s to survive!

If you core business is at such great financial risk the last thing any company will do is seek to expand or develop and David Orr and the NHF in this placed article are seeking to (a) lower perceptions of the reduced benefit cap to them, and (b) doing so by deflecting attention to another story – child poverty – and away from the huge financial mess that housing associations and all other social landlords will be in due to the reduced cap.

The subtlety in the article is one of the sledgehammer  wielded in the usual NHF way by a man with no arms and blindfolded!

The NHF simple do not know how to run a campaign to save their lives as the recent Homes for Britain (HfB) campaign illustrates and proves; and the majority of HA’s are looking to David Orr and NHF to take the lead in taking up its members case, and those that adhere to the NHF position are precisely the HAs who will go bust and rest assured many housing associations will not survive this parliamentary term and that will not be down to the RTB policy, but entirely due to the reduced benefit cap.

That is the scale of the financial risk the OHBC – Overall HOUSING BENEFIT Cap – which is what the benefit cap is and more correctly called.  The ‘sector’ will not allow it to be portrayed this way and wrongly think they can adopt the tactics of the past such as mergers and takeovers and other ways to disguise landlord financial failure yet all due diligence of such takeovers and mergers hereonin either planned or as rescue acts like Cosmpolitan will need to include exposure to the reduced OHBC and will not go ahead.

The OHBC represents many financial crises for housing associations and all at significant levels and the National Housing (Asscociation) Federation led by David Orr is seeking to reduce awareness of that and downplay it as much as possible in case the money men HA’s are in hock to get spooked.  Yet in failing to challenge this cause – the OHBC – and only challenging a political symptom (RTB) and from an ever weakened core position due to the OHBC, that strategy is ridiculous and will only lead to more housing associations failing and going bust

Perfectly understandable at a very superficial level to downplay the OHBC impact, yet ignoring it and not challenging it is 100% business failure and madness and why David Orr and the NHF have this so wrong.

At least the article shows some in the sector as having the honesty and the brains to realise this :

Tony Stacey, chair of Placeshapers, a group of 115 housing associations, said: “Many associations, faced with an increased risk profile, may decide they can no longer take the chance of letting homes to larger families on benefits. “They may decide to stop developing larger homes. Placeshaper associations are committed to working with our local authority partners to find solutions. We do not want to turn our backs on the poor. And it’s not just us – private landlords will be similarly affected. The impact this will have on homelessness is truly worrying.”

Tony Stacey is correct in what the overall HOUSING benefit cap means for all social landlords, even council landlords, and uses the word ‘may’ cleverly as it means will as they have no choice in the matter.

All social landlords cannot afford to house the family with 3 or more children because of the reduced benefit cap.

He is also correct that social landlords do not want to turn their backs on the poor as they don’t yet this is precisely what they will have to do unless they can find solutions and not just with local authority partners as he mentions as there are some viable complex arrangements that can be made by housing associations working together.

David Orr and the NHF on the other hand wish to ignore and massively downplay the huge risk the reduced overall housing benefit cap (OHBC) causes to the core business of housing associations which in turn means they will not be looking to develop as they will be in no position to develop.

David Orr also sees a future for the Affordable (sic) Rent model too when none exists given the much higher rents it imposes meaning it is dead as the proverbial Dodo because of the reduced OHBC.  All those NHF members who have taken on the AR model are much more exposed as they have more properties to add to the 36% of housing association stock the OHBC makes financially toxic and, of course, anyone who still promotes or does not desist in promoting AR is a toxic leader who may as well be a card carrying member of the Tories.

In summary this leak, and remember the DWP commented on this ‘leak’ – a point the Guardian also missed as they never comment on leaks, – is nothing short of IDS black ops in seeking to deflect blame away from itself for the huge rise in evictions and in homeless children that will inevitably follow with the reduced OHBC for which (a) there has been no impact assessment from government which is outrageous; (b) the reduction is supported by the Labour Party which is also outrageous; (c) which David Orr incredulously and cravenly thinks is not something housing associations should be challenging; and (d) is all helped by the Guardian being duped with this leak and promoting the dangerous nonsense that the reduced OHBC may affect 40,000 more children whose parents wont get off their arse and who are to blame!



6 thoughts on “Vote Tory says Guardian duped by (ahem) ‘leak’ from DWP over Benefit Cap.

  1. Hi Joe I am a new vociferous campaigner against the benefit cap. I have been trying to get in touch with you by phone without success. My new blog doesn’t seem to appear in a google search, but I am a beginner!

    I am a great admirer of your work, but I’m not getting this particular article. When I read the guardian piece above, I agree that the numbers of kids involved are plainly absurd. But with regard to the increased number of households affected caused directly by the reduction of the cap from 26K to 23K, it seems to me that this is referring to those people who currently work between 0-15h per week, and, currently, are receiving between 23k and 26k in benefits. I agree that those working more than 16 h are on working tax credit and, as such, will remain exempt from the cap.

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