Work Must Pay: The Principle Behind Universal Credit

The principle behind the Universal Credit is simple. Its intention is to make work pay and to ensure that the transition to employment from unemployment is as smooth as possible. As it replaces six existing benefits, it will ultimately be an easier system to use. Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will all come into one payment. One of its main advantages is that it is withdrawn at a slower rate for those moving from unemployment to work, as of the last Budget at 63%, so that any form of work will make a claimant better off because for every pound earned thirty eight pence will be kept rather than being wiped out by the loss of benefits. It also mimics employment. Those who have salaries do not receive different payments from their employers for their housing costs, nor are there bills paid directly. Most firms pay monthly rather than weekly or fortnightly and do so directly into a bank account.

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The Playwright, The Lawyer and The Poet.

First, the playwright, Sean O'Casey, whose 'Juno and the Paycock' ends with: 'The whole world's in a terrible state of chassis.' So it remains.

In Washington, thanks to Donald Trump, the wheels are coming off the chassis. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, has described his boss as a fucking moron. With respect to Mr Tillerson, a lawyer once came up with something even more appropriate. This was F Lee Bailey, a notorious American trial advocate. While defending the Boston Strangler, a serial killer of yesteryear, he described his client as an uncontrollable vegetable. We now have a second such vegetable, as President of the United States.

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Sundry gropings- and a grown-up

The noise from the US mounts, with the gropings of Harvey Weinstein jostling with the news that Secretary of State Tillerson called President Trump ‘a fucking moron’. In Europe, the Dutch have finally formed a new coalition government after 208 days, a process that Germany will manage in shorter order, while breakaway Catalonia is engaged in a Goyaesque slugging match with the rest of Spain. Brexit continues to elude detailed definition.

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Kurds and Catalans

The British have a long history of sympathizing with underdogs. The Hungarian revolutionary Laslo (or Louis) Kossuth was feted when he visited Britain in 1851. By contrast, furious brewery workers pursued his nemesis, the Austrian general Haynau, along Borough High Street when he came to London a few years later.

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Conservatism is in crisis, on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet it has never been more needed. We need to argue the case for a thoughtful and realistic Conservatism as a means of delivering a strong economy, assisting the struggle for global stability - and adding to the sum of human happiness. That is why we are launching Provocateur.

Everything was supposed to be very different. By the early Nineties, It almost seemed as if Conservatives were entitled to relax into complacency. The Soviet Empire was collapsing. The ideological triumph of Reagan and Thatcher meant that the socialists' 'isms' had turned into wasms. Francis Fukuyama proclaimed the end of history.

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