In the main I do agree with this article, but to further understand the problem, in-work needs to be further described. Over the years many good wage/salary jobs have been lost and while other jobs or employment prospects have been created, but just what are they. Many are on the Minimum Living Wage (MLW) or lower and for how many hours per day or week are these jobs for, as it may be they are only for a few hours per day or week. Then for some it is not even that, for they may be on zero hours contracts where there is no guarranteed hours and the persons may not have actual paid work for weeks.
For those who are on MLW what deductions do they have to suffer and other practices, to look at Sports Direct for example and there will be others.
So Theresa May you have a job on your hands, not counting all the other crises that are already about and others yet to come. To look after just the wealthy is not the answer, for we are all in the UK and everyone of us should be counted.
The single currency has driven down wages across the continent and hit workers in its leading economy the hardest
Nearly every discussion of the Greek fiasco is based on a morality play. Call it Naughty Greece versus Noble Europe. Those troublesome Greeks never belonged in the euro, runs this story. Once inside, they got themselves into a big fat mess – and now it’s up to Europe to sort it all out.
There’s just one problem with this story: like most morality tales, it shatters upon contact with hard reality. Athens is merely the worst outbreak of a much bigger disease within the euro project. Because the single currency isn’t working for ordinary Europeans, from the Ruhr valley to Rome.
On saying this, I don’t close my eyes to the endemic corruption and tax-dodging in Greece (nor indeed, does the outsiders’ movement Syriza, which came to power campaigning against just these vices). Nor am I about to don Farage-ist chalkstripes. My charge is much simpler: the euro project is not only failing to deliver on the promises of its originators, it’s doing the exact opposite – by eroding the living standards of ordinary Europeans. And as we’ll see, that’s true even for those living in the continent’s number one economy, Germany.
First, let’s remind ourselves of the noble pledges made for the euro project. Let’s play the grainy footage of Germany’s Helmut Schmidt and France’s Giscard d’Estaing, as they lay the foundations for Europe’s grand unifier. Most of all, let’s remind ourselves of what the true believers felt. Take this from Oskar Lafontaine, Germany’s minister of finance, on the very eve of the launch of the euro. He talked of “the vision of a united Europe, to be reached through the gradual convergence of living standards, the deepening of democracy, and the flowering of a truly European culture”.
We could quote a thousand other such stanzas of euro-poetry, but that single line from Lafontaine shows how far the single-currency project has fallen. Instead of raising living standards across Europe, monetary union is pushing them downwards. Rather than deepening democracy, it is undermining it. As for “a truly European culture”, when German journalists accuse Greek ministers of “psychosis”, that mythic agora of nations is a long way off.
Of all these three charges, the first is most important – because it explains how the entire union is being undermined. To see what’s happened to the living standards of ordinary Europeans, turn to some extraordinary research published this year by Heiner Flassbeck, former chief economist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and Costas Lapavitsas, an economics professor at Soas University of London turned Syriza MP.
In Against the Troika, the German and the Greek publish one chart that explodes the idea that the euro has raised living standards. What they look at is unit labour costs – how much you need to pay staff to make one unit of output: a widget, say, or a bit of software. And they map labour costs across the eurozone from 1999 to 2013. What they find is that German workers have barely seen wages rise for the 14-year stretch. In the short life of the euro, working Germans have fared worse than the French, Austrians, Italians and many across southern Europe.
Yes, we’re talking about the same Germany: the mightiest economy on the continent, the one even David Cameron regards with envy. Yet the people working there and making the country more prosperous have seen barely any reward for their efforts. And this is the model for a continent.
Perhaps you have an image of Deutschland as being a nation of highly skilled, highly rewarded workers in gleaming factories. That workforce and its unions still exist – but it’s shrinking fast. What’s replacing it, according to Germany’s leading expert on inequality, Gerhard Bosch, are crap jobs. The low-wage workforce has shot up and is now almost at US levels, he reckons.
Don’t blame this on the euro, but on the slow decline of German unions, and the trend of business towards outsourcing to cheaper eastern Europe. What the single currency has done is make Germany’s low-wage problems the ruin of an entire continent.
Workers in France, Italy, Spain and the rest of the eurozone are now being undercut by the epic wage freeze going on in the giant country in the middle. Flassbeck and Lapavitsas describe this as Germany’s “beggar thy neighbour” policy – “but only after beggaring its own people”.
In the last century, the other countries in the eurozone could have become more competitive by devaluing their national currencies – just as the UK has done since the banking meltdown. But now they’re all part of the same club, the only post-crash solution has been to pay workers less.
That is expressly what the European commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF are telling Greece: make workers redundant, pay those still in a job much less, and slash pensions for the elderly. But it’s not just in Greece. Nearly every meeting of the Wise Folk in Brussels and Strasbourg comes up with the same communique for “reform” of the labour market and social-security entitlements across the continent: a not-so-coded call for attacking ordinary people’s living standards.
This is what the noble European project is turning into: a grim march to the bottom. This isn’t about creating a deeper democracy, but deeper markets – and the two are increasingly incompatible. Germany’s Angela Merkel has shown no compunction about meddling in the democratic affairs of other European countries – tacitly warning Greeks against voting for Syriza for instance, or forcing the Spanish socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to rip up the spending commitments that had won him an election.
The diplomatic beatings administered to Syriza since it came to power this year can only be seen as Europe trying to set an example to any Spanish voters who might be tempted to support its sister movement Podemos. Go too far left, runs the message, and you’ll get the same treatment.
Whatever the founding ideals of the eurozone, they don’t match up to the grim reality in 2015. This is Thatcher’s revolution, or Reagan’s – but now on a continental scale. And as then, it is accompanied by the idea that There Is No Alternative either to running an economy, or even to which kind of government voters get to choose.
The fact that this entire show is being brought in by agreeable-looking Wise Folk often claiming to be social democratic doesn’t render the project any nicer or gentler. It just lends the entire thing a nasty tang of hypocrisy.
All persons should be able to expect a reasonable standard of living and a social life, while for most of us, this will be reliant on ourselves to fund all of this by gaining employment and then organising our spending budget accordingly.
But there are persons within all communities for whom this is impossible or extremely difficult. Here I am referring to persons with a disability for whom the prospects of employment are not possible, or can only be gained by some considerable effort. For many persons, their only or main knowledge or involvement with people with a disability, will be academics who are disabled like Stephen Hawkins or the athletes who are disabled like in the Para-Olympics.
But, I am afraid these people are in the minority, there are many disabled persons for whom, none of the above is possible, even some basic employment may not be possible. The only income these people with disabilities will have, come from State Benefits, provided they are lucky to live in a country which provides these benefits. I say lucky and perhaps, this is not the correct word, because no matter how it is reported in local and national media regarding benefit fraud, State Disability Benefits are not easy to obtain, especially in the current financial climate. Please also bear in mind that these benefits are only to provide a reasonable standard of living, what ever reasonable means. Is reasonable another way of saying standard or average?
Apply to become an appointee for someone claiming benefits – how to apply, stop being an appointee
But DLA is for 16-64 years olds, to be replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from April 2013 for new claimants, with existing DLA claimants being contacted over the next 2-3 years.
To some extent, PIP is being introduced to ensure only genuine claimants will be entitled to it, but at the same time the eligibility criteria is being made more restrictive. So this will mean some genuine claimants receiving DLA, will not get PIP or their rate will be reduced.
But as stated above, if your only income is State Benefits and these are cut, this is bound to affect your standard of living. If, this was only reasonable to start with, then what will it be called. If reasonable is standard or average, then is this bringing the funding down to provide a sub-standard of living or below average?
If you feel this is unreasonable you can contact your MP by following the link
In addition to the State Benefits, a person with a disability may be entitled or may be in receipt of a care package from their Local Authority from funding provided by Central Government. This will be in the form of Direct Payments from a Personal Individualised Budget. An individual will be expected to make a contribution from their own income towards their budget. These Direct Payments are not additional general income, but are there to pay for the costs of care, which have been shown to be required from the Assessment of Need and the resulting Support Plan. The Assessment of Need will be undertaken by an assigned Social Worker and the Support Plan from information in the Assessment will be prepared by either the assigned Social Worker or an assigned Support Planner. The Support Planner could be either employed by the Local Authority or from an independent organisation.
But due to the current financial crisis in the World and especially the UK, all Local Authorities have been directed by Central Government to make savings from their spending. This is not only for this year, but from the last few years and also for some years to come. All persons in receipt of a service from a Local Authority are effected, not only those receiving benefits. So, not only could your sole income of State Benefits be cut, but Local Authorities will also be tightening their own eligibility criteria for entitlement to Direct Payments. This will further affect your standard of living.
Should this essential spending, even be subject to cuts?