Martin Hannan: Not even rain will dampen the rage

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They are praying for rain across the UK next summer. By “they” I mean the authorities who are charged with preserving law and order. The reason why they want rain is that people tend not to riot when the weather is bad. If it is a hot summer, I fear for the future of several inner-city areas in England in particular.

This nasty and mean coalition government is taking its war on the poor to the next step. Universal Credit is arriving across Britain – be afraid, be very afraid. For the more I learn about Universal Credit, the more worried I am that next year we will see serious riots, particularly in England, which will make the 2011 conflagrations seem like a Scouts’ bonfire party.

Universal Credit has been promoted by the Government as an adjustment to the welfare system that will make delivery of benefits more efficient and thus save money for the public purse.

It is much, much more than that. At a stroke, six benefits – housing benefit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credits and working tax credits – will be replaced with one monthly payment.

Sadly, a great many people who are on benefit are also unable to manage their lives properly – let’s face it, a lot of people who aren’t poor can’t do that either. Instead of a benefit payment system that may have creaked awfully at times but did at least work, the Government wants everyone to make their claims for Universal Credit through an online account.

To be fair to the Con-Dems, though I do not know why I am bothering, the Government says that if you can’t get online then there will be support to help you make a claim.

Crucially, however, Universal Credit will only be paid out once a month and will go into your bank account. Overspend and you’re in trouble, and emergency help will be limited.

Housing benefit will also go to the claimant, not direct to the landlord. That is just a recipe for disaster.

Many people who work to assist the poor and unemployed are genuinely fearful that Universal Credit will spark catastrophe. For if you take away from poor people the little that they have, what reason do they have to observe any rules?

In one of the four pilot areas, Tameside in Manchester, a whopping 78 per cent needed help to claim online, and emergency payouts are already happening there because people can’t cope.

All very predictable, and all very troubling.

Universal Credit starts in Scotland this month. All new claimants must go on Universal Credit, and the system will be rolled out across the UK to

everyone on benefit over the next three years. Next spring and summer, many parts of England’s inner city areas will see Universal Credit take effect. I believe that is when we will see the full horrendous effects of this “efficiency”.’

The Government has introduced a household cap on benefit payments, and a Bedroom Tax. But Universal Credit is in a whole new league of cruel and thoughtless action by posh gits who do not know what life on the breadline is really like.

So pray for rain. But it won’t put out the fires of protest.

Hand out brains with the tickets

SO the council makes £14 million a year from parking charges? Believe me, it could be a lot more, if only parking attendants had any brains.

Last week I saw an attendant give a ticket to a car in Randolph Place that was clearly foreign – the D on the number plate stands for Germany, in case you didn’t know. I’m not suggesting for one minute that tourists should get free parking – tow them away if they’re obstructing – but think about how much it costs to chase a German through their courts for a few quid. That’s why the council doesn’t bother.

Heated debate

Edinburgh City Council’s licensing sub-committee will meet next week to consider the saunas issue. Will members back

the police crackdown? Do geese fly south for winter?

Who is the real dishonest one?

As an SNP member I suppose I should be angry at Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont calling the Scottish Government dishonest and being forced to withdraw her remarks in parliament by Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick.

I’m just sad, however. If she really believed her statement and had the courage of her convictions, Lamont would not have withdrawn her remarks and suffered suspension from Holyrood as a result.

Any reasonable observer could therefore conclude that she was merely grandstanding on a point about a Scottish oil fund on which Labour have been intellectually and morally dishonest for decades – like the Tories, they spent oil taxes on benefits rather than Scotland’s future. Will the appalling Lamont admit that dishonesty, that theft from Scotland?

If you live here, you vote here

AFTER I wrote a fortnight ago about the 62 per cent of people in Scotland who think of themselves as “Scottish only”, a correspondent pointed out to me that nine per cent of the population consider themselves English. “Should the nine per cent get a vote in the referendum?” he asked. Yes, if they are resident in Scotland next September, I say.