Nel Regno Unito il 1 aprile si usa fare scherzi (April Fools' Day), come in Italia. Tuttavia quello servito dal governo britannico ai propri cittadini questo lunedì è un pesce che non fa ridere, ma puzza di classismo, di guerra ai più deboli ed ai più poveri, come scritto pochi giorni fa su questo blog e come ben descritto da Tom Clark su The Guardian il 31 Marzo.
Come illustrato nell'approfondimento. "The day Britain changes" pubblicato sulla prima pagina del quotidiano The Guardian lunedì 1 aprile e che riportiamo di seguito, la riforma (sarebbe più appropriato definirla stravolgimento) dello stato sociale creato e mantenuto negli ultimi settanta anni è di fatto un attacco alle fasce più deboli. La cosiddetta riforma comporterà tagli alle pensioni per i disabili, magicamente divenuti sani per decreto governativa, al sostegno per le spese legali per le classi medie e basse, ai sussidi di disoccupazione ed a quelli per la casa. Dal mese di aprile milioni di cittadini e di famiglie in difficoltà si troveranno ad affrontare ristrettezze economiche, quando non una vera e propria miseria, o costrette a cercarsi un'occupazione pur non avendo le capacita fisiche o mentali, mentre coloro che si trovano nella pare alta della scala sociale vedranno l'aliquota massima dell'imposta sul reddito ridotta. Tutto ciò nel nome di uno "sforzo collettivo" per ridurre il debito pubblico e per uscire dalla crisi economica, senza peraltro andare alla sua radice, ossia quel settore finanziario che nel 2008 le diede avvio. Nel pacchetto di riforme introdotte questa settimana, come nel resto degli atti del governo Cameron, non c'è traccia di una seria regolamentazione della finanza e delle banche che continuano a succhiare risorse all'economia reale come prima; l'abolizione della autorità di vigilanza sui servizi finanziari per introdurre un analogo ente di controllo all'interno della banca centrale inglese, la Bank of England, è una operazione degna de Il Gattopardo.
Al danno causato a milioni di cittadini immiseriti dalle modifiche allo stato sociale, si aggiunge la beffa nel volto del Ministro del Lavoro e della Previdenza, Ian Duncan Smith, che afferma sia possibile (soprav)vivere con £53 (circa €60) alla settimana, salvo guadagnare £1600 (circa €1880) alla settimana. Un tale insulto alla dignità ed all'intelligenza dei cittadini sarebbe costata la poltrona ad un personaggio con tanta faccia tosta in una democrazia vera, ma non in questo Paese, dove da tempo i politici e i giornalisti conservatori conducono una guerra ai poveri, stigmatizzati ed accusati di meritare il proprio status e dove l'opposizione laburista spesso balbetta, avendo abbracciato da quasi vent'anni il capitalismo senza regole come i propri avversari politici.
di Patrick Wintour
da The Guardian
A new world heaves into view this week with sweeping changes in the fields of welfare, justice, health and tax
Monday 1 April Bedroom tax introduced The aim is to tackle overcrowding and encourage a more efficient use of social housing. Working age housing benefit and unemployment claimants deemed to have one spare bedroom in social housing will lose 14% of their housing benefit and those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25%. An estimated 1m households with extra bedrooms are paid housing benefit. Critics say it is an inefficient policy as in the north of England, families with a spare rooms outnumber overcrowded families by three to one, so thousands will be hit with the tax when there is no local need for them to move. Two-thirds of the people hit by the bedroom tax are disabled. Savings: £465m a year. As many as 660,000 people in social housing will lose an average of £728 a year.
Monday 1 April Thousands lose access to legal aid Branded by Labour a "day of shame" for the legal aid system, the cutoff to claim legal aid will be a household income of £32,000, and those earning between £14,000 and £32,000 will have to take a means test. Family law cases including divorce, child custody, immigration and employment cases will be badly affected. Savings: a minimum £350m from £2.2bn legal aid bill.
Monday 1 April Council tax benefit passes into local control Council tax benefit, currently a single system administered by the Department for Work and Pensions, is being transferred to local councils with a reduction in funding of 10%. Council tax benefit is claimed by 5.9 million low-income families in the UK. The new onus on councils has come at a time when local government funding, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has fallen by 26.8% in two years in real terms. A Guardian survey of 81 councils last week found many claiming they face difficult cuts, with almost half saying they were reducing spending on care services for adults. This also comes at a time when 2.4m households will see a council tax rise. Savings: up to £480m a year, but depends on decisions of local councils.
Monday 1 April NHS commissioning changes for ever An NHS commissioning board and a total of 240 local commissioning groups made up of doctors, nurses and other professionals will take control of budgets to buy services for patients. They will buy from any service providers, including private ones so long as they meet NHS standards and costs. Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts disappear. Costs: £1.4bn, mainly in redundancies, followed by savings as high as £5bn in 2015 owing to fall in staff numbers.
Saturday 6 April 50p tax rate scrapped for high earners Announced in the 2012 budget. George Osborne said the 50p rate, introduced in April 2010, caused massive distortions in 2010-11 and raised only £1bn, rather than the £2.5bn forecast by Labour back in 2009. HMRC found £16bn was deliberately shifted into the previous tax year, largely by owner/directors of companies taking dividends in the previous year when the highest rate was still 40p. Labour claims 13,000 millionaires will get a £100,000 tax cut.
Monday 8 April Disability living allowance scrapped The personal independence payment (PIP) replaces the disability living allowance and, according to the DWP, is not based on your condition, but on how your condition affects you, so narrowing the gateway to the PIP. It will contain two elements: a daily living component and a mobility component. If you score sufficient points, a claim can be made. Assessments will be face-to-face rather than based on written submissions, starting in Bootle benefits centre, handling claims across the north-west and north-east.
Monday 8 April Benefit uprating begins For the first time in history welfare benefits and tax credits will not rise in line with inflation and will instead for the next three years rise by 1%. Had there been no change benefits would have risen by 2.2%. Disability benefits will continue to rise in line with inflation. Savings: £505m in the first year, rising to £2.3bn in 2015-16. Nearly 9.5 million families will be affected, including 7 million in work, by £165 a year.
Monday 15 April Welfare benefit cap The most popular of the welfare reforms will begin on 15 April in the London boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. The intention is that no welfare claimants will receive in total more than the average annual household income after tax and national insurance – estimated at £26,000. Other councils will start to introduce it from 15 July and it will be fully up and running by the end of September. Some estimate 80,000 households will be made homeless. The DWP says around 7,000 people who would have been affected by the cap have moved into work and a further 22,000 have accepted employment support to move into work. Households where someone is entitled to working tax credits will not be affected. Savings: £51m over three years.
28 April Universal credit introduced The new in- and out-of-work credit, which integrates six of the main out-of-work benefits, will start to be implemented this April in one jobcentre in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. The aim is to increase incentives to work for the unemployed and to encourage longer hours for those working part-time. It had been intended that four jobcentres would start the trial in April, but this has been delayed until July, and a national programme will start in September for new claimants. They will test the new sanctions regime and a new fortnightly job search trial, which aims to ensure all jobseeker's allowance and unemployment claimants are automatically signed onto Job Match, an internet-based job-search mechanism. Suspicion remains that the software is not ready.