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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 April 2011

Austerity measures take away the basics

Karen Seymour

Opened in 1983, Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centres, where I am training as an adviser, provide welfare rights and debt advice to some of Derbyshire's most deprived communities.

We get many enquiries about Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Some are about filling out the massively complicated forms, or, more commonly these days, appealing the decisions of Atos Origin, the company with a multi-million pound contract with the Department for Work and Pensions to provide 'work capability assessments (WCAs)'.

Mental health charity Mind's chief executive says that WCAs are "flawed" and that the stress of going through the process could exacerbate some people's mental health problems.

The sole reason for bringing in ESA seems to be to force people with health problems, often chronic and sometimes terminal, onto the far less generous Jobseeker's Allowance and the compulsion to find work which comes with that.

Governments (and it was New Labour who introduced ESA) say work is the route out of poverty, but do nothing about discriminating employers who won't give people with health problems a chance. Further, the right-wing media's demonisation of unemployed, ill and disabled people has created a situation where people are systematically impoverished, then blamed for their predicament.

Tory Derbyshire county council has now cut a quarter of our budget, around £33,000. This will mean fewer opening hours for some of our centres. Madness, when we can see the number of inquiries increase. For those who live in the communities we cover, the cuts will take away the basics. Our centres are a lifeline for people who have next to nothing. These cuts will wreck lives.

When told our funding has been slashed, some people seem genuinely scared, and say they don't know what they will do without us. Furthermore, despite the hardship some people face, our donations have increased, shaming councillors who want to cut our service to the bone.

As people begin to realise what 'austerity measures' mean for themselves and their families, they're looking for alternatives. The Socialist Party's message, that we will fight all cuts and all job losses, will resonate.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 6 April 2011:


Anti-cuts campaign

Cuts wreck people's lives

Tory health plans are sick

Bosses prepare for war on public sector workers

Labour Link won't save jobs and services

Housing benefit cuts start to bite

Bristol meeting - The battle of our lives has begun

On the move in London to fight the cuts

Fight the cuts with TUSC: more than just a 'protest vote'

Austerity measures take away the basics

Labour 'campaigning' - casework style

Fast news


Socialist history

1981 Brixton riots


International socialist news and analysis

Ireland's economy on the brink

Jordan: 'Reforms' fail to halt growing opposition


Socialist Party workplace news

Saltend lock-out - Solidarity strike spreads

Call for strikes to stop Ford attack on pensions

Birmingham prison officers determined to fight privatisation

Prison officers fight prison privatisation: Interview with POA assistant secretary, Joe Simpson

Teachers and council workers strike together in Tower Hamlets

Leeds Unison - fighting the cuts

Pay cuts provoke strike


Socialist Party youth and students

School students stage anti-cuts strike in Dundee

Leicester: still angry with Clegg

Save Hackney youth services!

Youth fast news


 

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Related links:

Health:

triangleNo trust in Tories to keep us safe

triangleTories hand cash to private health profiteers

triangleLow pay, stress and Covid drive: NHS staff crisis

triangleFree prescriptions? Maybe when you're older

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ESA:

trianglePCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

triangleEnd "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

triangleDWP to outsource more work to Capita

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Derbyshire:

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Cuts:

triangleBirmingham: Cuts consultations replaced by computer game

trianglePeople's Budget: We beat council cuts before, we will again

Employment and Support Allowance:

triangleUniversal Credit could trap women in violent relationships

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