Open Letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

The Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists (ToryWorkers) have sent an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to urge him to reverse cuts to Universal Credit in the forthcoming budget. The letter has been signed by 126 member of ToryWorkers and supported by over 900 more. Over 1000 ToryWorkers actively urge the Chancellor to support workers who are doing the right thing by actively seeking work, finding work and staying in work. The full letter with named supporters is here (Open Letter to the Chancellor) and the text is as follows;

The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Rd
Westminster
London
SW1A 2HQ

 

Dear Mr Hammond,

As you know, the Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists are an affiliated group within the Conservative Party. Our aims and principles are to encourage, advise and warn on matters of Conservative Party Policy which impact on the millions of ordinary workers across the United Kingdom. Much of our work is carried out without the glare of public gaze but on matters of national importance to workers we feel compelled to bring public notice to our position on the implementation of Universal Credit and how this will negatively impact on ordinary workers who are striving to do the right thing, going out to work, often in unfulfilling jobs and in circumstances which blind any notion of work-life balance and family living.

The Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists fully support the broad principle of Universal Credit. Its structure, replacing six different benefits into one and being paid monthly replicates a monthly wage which makes transition into work smoother and when claiming UC whilst in work, compliments a working wage with receipt of benefits. We welcome the introduction of a taper to remove the immediate cut off threshold removing the absurdity of being better off on benefits than in work. It is right that benefits continue when work is found and they are only gradually phased out as wages rise.

We remember well the absolute debacle in the previous Labour administration of introducing tax credits in one year and the extreme angst and hardship of families which followed when they were unwittingly overpaid and faced demands for return of overpayments. We are pleased that the introduction of UC has been phased to avoid the problems faced over the rapid introduction of tax credits, problems which invariably have a negative impact on the recipient and are compounded on the worse off who have little or no resilience for financial shocks.

For this reason, the Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists call on you to reverse cuts made to the welfare budget in 2016 which we maintain are the only way to restore faith in the principle and policy of Universal Credit and properly reward workers for seeking work, getting work and staying in work. Rewarding hard work is at the heart of Conservative values and rewarding those who are in work and in most need is a priority for the Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists.

On its introduction in 2013 there was a great deal of goodwill amongst workers for the new benefit. With real confirmed cases now coming to light of recipients being worse off on UC and delays in payments this goodwill has evaporated.  Only a stimulus of an additional £2 billion into UC will revitalise its original principles, reignite goodwill in the policy and properly reward hard work.

Yours Sincerely

Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists

 

Open Letter to the Chancellor

The Workers are on to Corbyn

Polling earlier this year showed that the traditional working class are deserting Labour and voting Conservative. This appears to have given Labour a bit of jitters. Losses to Labour in their heartlands like Bolton and Wigan are the tangible evidence. My own campaigning in their coalfield strongholds where it was once deep red immovable Labour wards are now marginals.

As if to regain what they see as their demographic at the Unite Policy Conference earlier this year, Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage to talk about Labour ‘Being back as the voice of the working class’, conceding in one soundbite that Labour was indeed losing the workers’ vote.

Could it be that the considerable electoral might of the UK workers has found Jeremy out? He is on record as saying that it is the big corporations and the rich need to fear a Labour Government. Surely this would appeal to the worker? This was almost a clarion call at the 2017 General Election. But the ‘rich’ certainly won’t be in fear and there isn’t a worker in the land who wouldn’t say no at having a go at being better off.

What really irks the worker isn’t the mere presence of rich people but the ability for the biggest corporations, who have resources to more than match any civil service department, to mitigate the increased costs brought to them by a socialist Labour Government. Those that need to be in genuine fear of a Corbyn led Labour Government are the workers they claim to represent. Polling of the workers’ vote shows that they understand this and are deserting Corbyn. This core demographic is the necessity of any election victory. Workers on average wages, workers who work hard every day to make ends meet, workers simply cannot afford a Labour government.

Defining ‘the rich’ in last year’s General Election, the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonell, indicated that the rich will be those earning £70,000 or more a year. This is a good salary for anyone but it’s not a fat cat wage. £70,000 is the local school head teacher, the police superintendent and your own GP. What the ordinary workers need to fear is that this is only the starting point. A shallow minded and lazy tax and spend policy, so beloved of all previous Labour Governments, can only go so far. Previous Labour Governments have punitively targeted tax hikes to their definition of ‘the rich’ to cover their spending plans only to discover that two things happen.

Firstly, the higher rate tax base is tiny and dwarfed by the basic rate tax base. There is little to be gained and everything to lose by targeting a small section of society. The last time Labour attempted to tax their way out of economic crisis in 2008/09 they brought forward a tax rate of 45% for higher earners and increased it to 50%, they wanted to raise £2.5bn from this, but those being taxed changed their behaviour, such as bringing forward income, so it was paid before the new rate came into effect, this reduced the tax intake so much that it actually reduced the overall tax take for these higher earners by £1.8bn. (budget2012/excheq-income-tax-2042.pdf)

The long-term effect will always be speculative as when the Conservatives returned to power in coalition the 50% rate was reduced back to 45%. Labour attacked this move ferociously however it resulted in a tax revenue increase of £8bn. These basic economics a Labour government don’t understand. Had Labour remained in power, and based on their previous form, they would have increased the tax rate ever higher. We know this because that’s exactly what they did in the 1970’s. On gaining power in 1974 the top rate was hiked up to a stifling 83%.

This brings me on to the second consequence and one that all reasonable hard working low and average earners need to know and the narrative that needs to be hammered home. Even the most economically incompetent Labour Government can be made to understand that there is only so much to be extracted from higher earners before they are incentivised enough to up sticks and take their money away from taxation. Whether this is by fair means or foul the result is the same, less tax paid into the exchequer, less cash for public services.

Denis Healey always denied saying he’ll “Squeeze the rich until the pips squeak” but the this is certainly how he behaved. After failing to raise enough tax revenue from higher earners, the Labour Government targeted the lower paid ordinary workers. With a far larger tax base they increased the 30% basic tax on the lowest earners to 33% and didn’t stop there, they targeted the lower paid again with an eye watering 35%. No matter how loud the rhetoric about going after the corporations, the rich, the elite; Labour Governments always attack the very people they purport to represent. Even in recent history the last Labour Government attacked the very lowest earners by scrapping the lowest rate of 10%.

The ones to fear most of all from a Corbyn Labour Government are hard working low and average workers, and this is the message that needs to be pressed home, to every home, over and over and over again. To win any election the workers’ vote has always been absolutely essential, the narrative needs to be captured. Low and average workers cannot afford a Labour Government.

 

TFL Could Have Finished Off Workers’ Unfinished Business

London TaxiWorkers have unfinished business with Uber and other gig economy businesses. Getting workers recognised as people, rather than commodities, is a battle they are winning thanks to pressure being brought to bear by politicians, trade unions and campaigners. This ongoing struggle may well have been delivered a fatal body blow by the actions of Transport for London in refusing Uber and operator licence to trade as a private hire company. Their reasons are quite inexplicable in that they cite the actions of drivers as well as Uber itself. The licensing of drivers is completely separate to the licensing of operators and conflating the two is curious. Some are saying this is complicity with the long run and high-profile campaign by London’s black cab drivers. Whether complicity or naivety on behalf of TFL is another debate but either way the impact can be far reaching and very negative to works not just of Uber but in the wider London economy and maybe beyond if TFLs actions set a precedent for other cities.

Uber has been here before. They were challenged in the court over the use of its app, over commercial insurance and on the use of call centres. TFL fought them and lost. On one occasion TFL won against Uber, on the English-speaking requirements for private hire drivers, and even this has been given court permission for an appeal. The lesson here is that TFL’s record on challenging Uber is derisory which makes their latest move to refuse an operators’ licence not only high risk for TFL but just as high risk for workers.

As one of the world’s largest cities where it operates, Uber will stop at nothing to keep hold of this market and have already begun the appeal process and you don’t need a crystal ball to know that this appeals process will be exhausted until they have nowhere else to go or until they win. Based on previous experience they will take on TFL and they will win. In doing so the way they currently operate, for better or worse, will have a legal endorsement in the form of a judgement in their favour. It could be argued that with last year’s landmark ruling that Uber ‘partners’ are employees and not self-employed shows that workers have had far more success when fighting Uber in the courts. With the ruling the workers had a firm foundation to demand rights such as minimum wage, holiday and sick pay, pensions, etc. All this could now well be put at risk with TFLs actions. Workers for Uber are now under immediate risk of a severely reduced income meaning less for them and their families and more reliance in state benefits. Many Uber workers will also have their cars on finance which places yet more angst and worry on them.

Workers outside Uber are also placed at risk. London has an excellent public transport network but not everywhere within TFL boundaries are well served. Ordering a private hire taxi may well be the only means of getting to and from work for many workers in the Greater London area. Uber maybe the only affordable means of transport and is now under threat. Workers may opt to walk or use less secure means of transport.

Toryworkers would prefer TFL to have continued to talk with Uber to achieve the safeguards they need for both workers and passengers. By going for the all or nothing option Uber will have little option but to fight for the status quo in order to exist at all in London and this is not good for workers.