Why the Tories’ “levelling up” won’t work

Instead of lifting up the people with the lowest incomes, the Tories feel that poor people need to be pushed down more in order to motivate them to stop being poor.

Picture someone putting bricks on the shoulders of the poor, the people who are sinking into the mud of a deep swamp.

Forcing people to make do with even less money – in terms of for example recently announced benefit sanctions – only pushes them deeper into the swamp, ensuring that they will remain stuck.

It also creates more otherisation and division in society.

Let me give you an example that shows you what I mean.

Imagine you have a cat. Imagine that stray cats visit your garden and you feed them. Maybe you are also feeding a few birds and a fox.

Now your income suddenly drops and you can no longer afford to do this.

What will you do? Will you toss your cat out onto the streets so that you can continue to feed the stray cats? Or will you keep your cat, continue to feed only your own cat and turn your back on the animals that frequent your garden?

This is where otherisation comes from, a feeling that there is not enough for everyone, not enough to go around. It forces people to look after those who are in their own in-group and ignore others, push them away, even. Otherisation can lead to hate and cruelty.

You do not level up society by making people poorer. You level up by providing a feeling of abundance and prosperity and you start with those who need it most. You raise benefits. You do not cut them.

You can currently do this via for example a monthly subsidy toward their energy bills. You could do this by liaising with the energy companies and arranging to lower the prepayment rates.

What Rishi Sunak apparently has promised, namely a LOAN of £200, more than half a year from now, to be paid back in five years by whoever happens to be “eligible” for this loan, has nothing to do with “levelling up”. It merely is a kick in the shins of those whose shins are already hurting. Cutting their benefits because employers aren’t usually looking for a plasterer when they need an electrician is more of the same. It has nothing to do with eradicating inequality. It reinforces it.

Rishi Sunak could give the funds that he plans to loan to the eligible poor in October to the energy companies and tell them to pay it back in the course of 5 years and use the money exclusively to lower prepayment rates.

The energy companies have such a monopoly that they don’t even inform prepaid customers WHEN they will cut off their power when the credit on the meter runs out and this varies from company to company. Some companies will cut it any time, some between 8am and 6 pm or 9 am and 8 pm or what have you. Some companies will cut power on any day, some won’t cut off power on Sundays, some won’t cut it off on Sundays and Saturdays, some will cut it off on Bank Holidays, some don’t. It’s a guessing game for customers. Sunak could also do something about that.

Imagine. Suddenly you’re in the dark and everything stops working and you do not know when that will be. It almost feels like an attack in a dark alley. You don’t see it coming.

“Under the plans set out by the chancellor last week customers will be given a £200 discount on their bills this October to help ease the cost of rising wholesale energy prices. The money will then be paid off in £40-a-year instalments, placed as an additional levy on bills beginning in April 2023.”


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