Thursday, 24 April 2014

Clegg backs moves to cut benefits for rioters

The deputy prime minister has backed moves to withdraw benefits from rioters despite concern from his Liberal Democrat colleagues.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Nick Clegg said there is already ‘conditionality’ in the benefits system that could be extended to cover rioters.

‘We are going to take our time to look at this, but of course you need to be proportional, of course you need to be careful, or course you don’t want to create unintended consequences where actually the taxpayer ends up giving more, or we create more social problems of problems of law and order,’ he said.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith raised the prospect of benefit cuts for rioters in an interview with the BBC on Monday. ‘What we’re looking at is, for criminal charges, should we take the benefit? And the answer is “yes”, how would we do that, off individuals who got swept up in criminal behaviour?,’ he said.

Several Liberal Democrat MPs have spoken up against the plans, and expressed concern about moves to make it easier to evict social tenants who have been involved in riots. Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, told the Guardian: ‘Frankly, this all smacks of headline grabbing by Conservatives, not calm, rational policy making.’

At the press conference yesterday Mr Clegg announced the government will introduce community payback schemes in riot-hit areas.

He said ‘riot payback schemes’ will be set up in areas damaged by the unrest last week. ‘You will see people in visible orange clothing making up the damage done, repairing and improving the neighbourhoods affected,’ he said.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles and prime minister David Cameron are expected to announce a multi-million pound fund to help communities affected by the riots on a visit to Tottenham today.

Readers' comments (52)

  • Peter Wicks

    "Wot a plonker"..as Dell Boy would say..the man is the the millstone around the DibDems neck...

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  • Clegg says "We are going to take our time to look at this, but of course you need to be proportional, of course you need to be careful, or course you don’t want to create unintended consequences where actually the taxpayer ends up giving more, or we create more social problems of problems of law and order"

    This morning I sat in the public gallery of Ealing Magistrates Court listening to a case relating to the riots in Ealing. A 25yr old appeared on a video link from prison for shoplifting. He had a job as a dustman (pay slip produced) which was being kept vacant for him for a limited time. He had mild learning difficulties (supporting statement from his GP and LB Ealing) and no previous convictions. His solicitor argued quite forcefully that he was unlikely to committ further offences. His learning difficulties caused him to be easily led.

    The bench retired for 15 minutes to discuss the case. In the adjournement I heard the mother say to his solicitor to tell him that if he does get bail to wait at the prison as she will come and pick up from there.

    The Chair then said that after presiding over the case, the bench had decided against bail only because his offence was likely to result in custody. What an outrage.

    The tax payer will end up paying more. The man will lose his job, his family and perhaps housing. He had no previous convictions. All because of sentencing guidelines.

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    If having the right to vote every five-years is an example of freedom and a democratic voice then why did the Soviet Block residents need a revolution to achieve change - they had the right to vote and were told how to use it at least as often as we are.

    The impotent argument that we have the vote therefore dissent is not justified ignores the fact that so many feel dispossessed and unempowered that they do not participate even when the opportunity arises. For years politicians have made words about this, but so long as they were winning nothing changed.

    Disgarding the outcast is a mistake that we will pay dearly for.

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  • “Your conclusion that the system is not broken, and those pointing out the pressures heading to boiling point are worng seems a little out of touch with the reality of people on the street.”

    That all depends on whether you think the riots were a response to the government and policies of the day. I don’t. They were started by a few people protesting the shooting of suspect in relation to gun crime (police force; not Govt) and seem to have been hijacked by people with a different agenda. Throw in a few hundred locals swept up in the moment and you have the disaster we saw. What I didn’t see were any people carrying placards saying ‘down with the govt’ or ‘change your policies’. That’s not to say I don’t think the austerity measures didn’t have an impact, but it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a social revolution.

    “If having the right to vote every five-years is an example of freedom and a democratic voice then why did the Soviet Block residents need a revolution to achieve change - they had the right to vote and were told how to use it at least as often as we are.”

    I’m assuming you aren’t talking about 1917 here (They replaced an autocracy with a regime). And Glasnost in the late 80s was hardly a revolution – Mikhail Gorbachev was largely responsible for the end of the Soviet regime. As for being told how to vote… there’s an old saying in politics that if you have to explain something you’re losing the argument. Oh well.

    “The impotent argument that we have the vote therefore dissent is not justified ignores the fact that so many feel dispossessed and unempowered that they do not participate even when the opportunity arises. For years politicians have made words about this, but so long as they were winning nothing changed.”

    In part I can see what you’re saying, but I disagree that it’s an impotent argument. As I said in my other post – change can come from anywhere. One fruit seller has irrevocably changed the face of the middle east through his protest in December/January. What makes the difference is how much you care. “Nothing ever changes” is the same as “I don’t have time”. They are excuses perpetuated by people who are unwilling to admit they simply don’t care enough to do something about it.

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    It must be embarrassing though to have posted that Julie was wrong within hours of all hell breaking lose on our streets Deacon - why not show a little grace and admit Julie had the better understanding on this one?

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  • Chris,

    How on earth do you think what I wrote on 5th and what I wrote today are incompatible? I agree with Julie’s article no more today than I did then. Where exactly was my critique of her diatribe wrong then?

    So no. Not embarrassed at all.

    Deac.

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    Where Deacon - in between you first and last words, I believe!

    In case others have not a clue what the reference to Julie is, have a look at what has turned out to be a timely critique, and almost prediction, of recent events:

    http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/what’s-new?/6517084.article?MsgId=33767#MsgId_33767

    The government errors causing pressures likely to cause social unrest are clearly stated and rejected respectively.

    I look forward to Julie doing a follow up, in anticipation that rather than the deserved 'I told you so' it can be, 'and here's an idea that the government would do well to heed'.

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  • Did someone just mention the Soviet Block and our current system in the same breath?!

    If anyone thinks that the vast majority of those people who were out rioting were doing so as a result of the current government then they want their head tested - it can have a negative impact on people, but not cause mass violent shoplifting and arson. "It's because of cuts" - half of the cuts (a number of which are necessary) suggested haven't even taken place yet. Nobody picked up the Comprehensive Spending Review and thought to themselves "blimey this is a disgrace, I'm off to smash up JJB to nick some trainers, that'll teach them." Half of them were doing it because they thought they wouldnt get more than a slap on the wrist if they were caught, and the others did it as it looked a laugh and their mates were doing it. End of story

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  • Chris – it’s interesting to see that you can’t actually find anything that I’ve written that supports your rather glib assertion. A few points for you to consider:

    Not once has anyone provided any evidence that the riots were in response to the Government's policies (either current or past), least of all you.

    I’ve said at least twice today that I don’t think the riots were politically motivated, so why on earth would I suddenly accept that Julie’s poorly written and badly researched conspiracy diatribe was any more relevant today than it was 2 weeks ago? Where’s your evidence? Where’s hers?

    That she closed her article with the words ‘vive la revolution’ does not mean that her rather negative world view was suddenly borne out in the Tottenham riots. Do you actually know why the riots started? How exactly is Mark Duggan’s shooting relevant to her theories of working class suppression? How does common thievery demonstrate that the under classes are rising up to change the system?

    Last, but not least, you’re clearly one for over the top emotive language. In your posts you regularly talk about the government as if we live in a police state and enjoy no freedoms whatsoever. I can see I’m not really getting through to you on this point, so perhaps someone who has faced a genuine police state might make a difference. If you get the time, you might want to read a book called ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi; it opened my eyes, I hope it’ll do the same for you.

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    Deacon - do you not watch the news where leading politicians have noted how one or another's policies are contributory factors. Boris has even apologised for any blame on his part, graciously recognising that such failure can only be laid at the door of leaders whilst at the same time committing himself to building solutions.

    Even today, the Prime Minister implies government cause (although of course his view is that previous governments are to blame) when he states: in his speech today that he will: "review every aspect of our work to mend our broken society, on schools, welfare, families, parenting, addiction, communities, on the cultural, legal, bureaucratic problems in our society too; from the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights that has undermined personal responsibility, to the obsession with health and safety that has eroded people's willingness to act according to common sense - and consider whether our plans and programmes are big enough and bold enough to deliver the change that I feel this country now wants to see. "We must fight back against the attitudes and assumptions that have brought parts of our society to this shocking state. "We know what's gone wrong: the question is, do we have the determination to put it right? Do we have the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations."

    No doubt as with Julie, you will say that none of these people know what they are talking about.

    In terms of Clegg - he has supported your view that he is not to blame, in any way, shape, or form.

    Perhaps if we were to sleepwalk into a police state Deacon, you might then open your eyes. Myself, I'd rather act now to prevent that happening.

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