Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Abolish Universal Credit!

The May government is bringing in Universal Credit (UC) by stages. It replaces Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, ESA, Housing Benefit, Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits. At the moment there are 590,000 people on Universal Credit in England and Wales, with around 50,000 new claims each month.
The Tories have been planning this since the 2010 Election and have been slowly introducing Universal Credit since 2013
·        The Tories say it will encourage more people back to work
·        It will be more efficient than previous benefits
·        It will improve people’s lives and raise their incomes

·        More people back to work?- in minimum wage, zero hour contract or other unreliable jobs!
·        More efficient? You can only apply for Universal Credit online, and only get messages about UC online. But many don’t have the internet at home, and with the closing of many public libraries with free internet access, many a will be forced to pay to use a cybercaf√©.  Already, people have to wait six weeks or longer to receive their first UC payment. This causes hardship to many who have no savings to rely on.

Billions taken from the unemployed, the disabled, the needy

·        When fully implemented millions will be worse off. What this is really about is cutting the Social security
·        Housing subsidy will be cut creating more homeless
·        Disability elements cut or abolished completely
·        Some rates lower than current benefit rates
·        Support for child care massively cut
·        Easier sanctioning forcing people off UC to live on nothing
·        UC will be time-limited

·        Many have already turned to Citizens Advice already- one in ten of those already claiming UC
·        The six weeks already means referrals to food banks, many getting in arrears with their rent, and evictions. One foodbank has said that its referrals have doubled. Two south London boroughs have said that half of the claimants there have gone into further debt as a result.
·        “While the Universal Credit will in many cases increase the financial incentive for one person in couple households to move into some form of employment, incentives for many second earners will be weakened in comparison to the current situation…This will particularly affect women as they are more likely to be the second earners in households and they usually earn less than men and do more informal caring work. Worryingly, the Government finds ‘that any such risk of decreased work incentives for women in couples is justified.’ … this could mark the start of a return to a ‘male breadwinner model’ in which men do paid work and women stay at home to look after children and other dependants.” (Women’s Budget Group)

The Way Forward

Universal Credit could be the equivalent of the Poll Tax for the May regime. The Thatcher government’s very unpopular Poll Tax resulted in mass non-payment, riots and the eventual resignation of Thatcher.

This government is weak and fragile and mass resistance could topple it. But we have to turn the despair at worsening conditions into a positive anger and a determination to resist. But don’t rely on the Labour Party to help. All they can offer is not abolition of UC but a tinkering with it.

Already the Tories have been forced to climb down over the 55p a minute Universal Credit helpline charge. As well as that, twelve back bench Tory MPs are worried about a Poll Tax style scenario and about their seats and asked the Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke to pause the roll out back in September 2017.

The message has to be NO! We won’t pay for your crisis!

London Anarchist Communists

Text of leaflet for Universal Credit this Saturday Jan 27th at 1pm, Trafalgar Square 

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