'Bit of a PR Stunt': UK Austerity End is 'Really No More Than Lip Service'

© AP Photo / Matt DunhamOne of the new British 10 pound notes is posed for photographs outside the Bank of England in the City of London, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.
One of the new British 10 pound notes is posed for photographs outside the Bank of England in the City of London, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. - Sputnik International
The Work and Pensions Secretary, Ester McVey, has announced that waiting times for millions of people claiming universal credit payments have been slashed to three weeks, as part of measures to ease pressure on the troubled welfare scheme.

With more on this story, Sputnik spoke to Alex Tiffin, a former universal credit sufferer and now the Evolve Politics Social Affairs Correspondent, who told Sputnik that these changes do not go far enough.

Sputnik: Does this represent a change in policy from Government? Is three weeks waiting time still too long?

Alex Tiffin: It is a slight change in policy but it’s only because they were forced back down by the committee that gave them the recommendations, but still doesn’t go that far enough.

Three weeks is too long because if you’re starting with nothing, you are still going to have to rely on the DWP’s much lorded advance, which automatically puts you into debt. That has a knock on effect because they will be taken repayments for that advance for 6 to 12 months but it will push more people into hardship.

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Three weeks if you’re starting with nothing, you are still going have to buy food and pay your bills for the first three weeks; it’s not really much of a change but its taken three weeks off which will make a difference but you’ve still got those three weeks to feed yourself on nothing.

Sputnik: Could we see this waiting time slashed further as an ongoing UN investigation into British poverty rules government policy unsuitable?

Alex Tiffin: The UN investigation is significant as it, there’s been five now and each time the Conservative government has blasted the report as wrong and misleading; the last time the last UN rapporteur that came here for disabilities they blasted the rapporteur as a loony lefty.

They’ve always seem to have an answer when one of these UN reports comes out blasting the government. No matter how bad this report will be, I don’t think that it will have a direct impact on the government’s decision making itself.

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Sputnik: We’ve seen both Theresa May and Philip Hammond state that the end of austerity is near, is this true and are they committed to investing more money into public services?

Alex Tiffin: No. We’ve got unprecedented cuts for social security that kick in next year from George Osbourne’s 2015 budget which will see real time cuts of 1.7Bn to working families across the country.

The police are taking the Home Secretary to court because they refused to give them the pay rise they were recommended, the NHS is facing cuts, so the line that austerity is over is really no more than lip service and a bit of a PR stunt really.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Alex Tiffin and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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