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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 October 2018

Universal Credit could trap women in violent relationships

Universal credit is the latest in a series of general attacks on the working class causing mass anger, photo Judy Beishon

Universal credit is the latest in a series of general attacks on the working class causing mass anger, photo Judy Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

Helen Pattison, London Socialist Party

The introduction of Universal Credit, under which families can lose 200 a month, has rightly provoked outrage.

Among its possible impacts, this week even the home affairs select committee - a body itself made up of pro-cuts politicians - raised fears that Universal Credit would represent a "retrograde and backward step" in tackling domestic abuse.

This was down to the potential for the (often already limited) financial independence of women trapped in violent or controlling relationships to be removed.

Child benefit, which up until now has been paid directly to the primary carer for children (usually a woman), will be included in Universal Credit.

Women are often forced into financial dependence on partners because women's unequal pay as well as high childcare costs can make it cheaper for women not to work, whether they choose to or not.

Under the new scheme, one single payment will be made per household.

That means that, if the claim is made by a couple, only one partner will receive any money. This also applies to Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit. In abusive relationships this can be dangerous.

Trade union pressure

The precursor to child benefit, family allowance, was created under the pressure of the trade union and labour movement - particularly from working-class women - as part of the creation of the welfare state.

It was paid directly to the "individual citizens who were undertaking the rearing of the citizens of the future". This universal payment, made to anyone caring for children, gave some important financial independence to many women. The payment was also made directly to single mothers.

In the decades since its introduction campaigners have repeatedly had to fight to defend these payments.

The Con-Dem government introduced means testing for Child Benefit in 2013 for the first time, meaning it is no longer universal. And, thanks to Universal Credit, it will also no longer be automatically paid to the person mainly responsible for caring for children.

With two in five Universal Credit recipients set to lose as much as 52 a week, this attack isn't just limited to the question of how benefits are paid. It's about driving people further and further into poverty - itself a major barrier to people being able to flee violence and abuse.

The Socialist Party stands for the immediate scrapping of Universal Credit. We say no to the Tories' vicious 'two child' policy, which limits payment of child tax credit or Universal Credit to a family's first two children.

What we say

We demand council house building so that every family can afford a roof over its head. We say benefits should provide enough money to live on. What's more, we call for free or low-cost childcare, the scrapping of zero-hour contracts and a minimum wage of at least 10 an hour - as a step towards a real living wage.

This would lay the basis for the ending of the disgrace of child poverty and help prevent women and children from being trapped by abuse.

All of these issues are being discussed across the women's and workers' movements because years of austerity have gutted the services that have been hard won, such as domestic violence refuges.

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In The Socialist 24 October 2018:


What we think

'People's vote' should be a general election


Workplace news

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Glasgow council workers - historic strike for equal pay

3aaa collapses - 4,500 apprentices left guessing their futures

PCS legal win - build further pressure from below to defeat the Tories

Ladywood Primary school strike


News

Universal Credit could trap women in violent relationships

Blairites plan to expand their very own academy chain

Tories ensured Carillion meltdown went unchecked

MPs revel in 2m worth of free foreign trips

Them & Us


Wales

Welsh Labour leadership election: 'Corbyn candidate' must pledge end to austerity


Refugees

Join the fight for refugee rights


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Can you donate to the Socialism 2018 appeal?

Enthusiastic response to new podcast

Students and workers march for increased college funding

Joining the Socialist Party has helped me understand the world and how we can change it

Health services in meltdown - fight to save our NHS

Newcastle Utd fans' campaign against owner Mike Ashley continues


International socialist news and analysis

Germany: Bavarian elections and huge anti-racist demonstration mark an historic weekend


Opinion

1821 Cinderloo uprising: "The crowd thought it had nothing else to lose"

The Socialist Inbox


 

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Related links:

Universal Credit:

triangleReal life on Universal Credit: "As soon as I get billed for my electric, I'm finished"

triangleEnd Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

triangleCuts and chaos. Enough. General election now!

triangleUniversal Credit forces women into 'survival sex': scrap it now!

triangleTories out. Scrap Universal Credit. Fight for living wages and welfare!

Women:

triangleGender pay gap widening

triangleWirral Socialist Party: The Bolshevik Party and Women

triangleUnited working-class struggle needed to fight for trans and women's rights

triangleStop cuts to women's services in Leicester

Children:

triangleLabour councils must act now to save our schools!

trianglePoor doors, segregated playgrounds

triangleWorking families in poverty: fund homes and childcare

Family:

triangleA socialist programme to end women's oppression

triangleIn defence of socialist feminism

Benefits:

triangleThem & us

Childcare:

triangleInterview with a shop worker

Welfare state:

triangle75,000 kids in foster care - and counting: end cuts and for-profit care

Housing benefit:

triangleHousing arrears double, suicide risk soars - scrap Universal Credit!

Domestic violence:

triangleProtests say stop cuts to save domestic violence services

Employment and Support Allowance:

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

Cuts:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Corbyn, Labour and the struggle for an anti-cuts alternative

Child poverty:

triangle250,000 families in "non-decent" homes

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