“Punitive, mean-spirited and callous” UN investigator

Scrap the Tories’ Universal Credit now!

Cut tax scroungers, not benefits, photo Socialist Party Wales

Cut tax scroungers, not benefits, photo Socialist Party Wales   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Alistair Tice, Socialist Party national committee

New Tory Department for Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, of Windrush-scandal notoriety, hailed Universal Credit (UC) as a “tremendous force for good”. It’s been so good that in her constituency, food bank use went up by 87% in Hastings in the year following UC roll-out.

UC is the Tory-designed all-in-one means-tested benefit that combines administrative chaos and a minimum five-week wait for payment, along with £12 billion of benefit cuts.

Another Tory DWP minister has suggested that families struggling with the benefit cap should take in a lodger. Take in a lodger? Some of these are families with three children in one bedroom, how are they going to take in a lodger?

And there won’t be any festive cheer for 110,000 children this Christmas because new UC claims made after 20 November will not be paid until the New Year. The Trussell Trust foodbank charity expects to provide a record 1.5 million meals to struggling families over Christmas.

UN report

No wonder then that even the United Nations ‘special rapporteur’ on extreme poverty and human rights branded Tory welfare cuts as “punitive, mean-spirited and often callous”.

He said UC treated “claimants like guinea pigs”. 400,000 claims for UC have been rejected or stopped in the past year, with one in three people applying having their claim knocked back.

Even the Tory government has admitted that half of all single parents and two-thirds of working age couples with children are set to lose an average of £2,400 a year. Altogether, it is estimated that 3.2 million working families could lose on average £48 a week compared with the old system.

That’s why the Unite Community union has called a national day of action against Universal Credit on Saturday 1 December with protests in towns and cities around the country.

But if we are really going to turn UC into the another ‘poll-tax’ for the Tories, then this must be the start of a coordinated campaign reaching out from the trade unions to job centres, claimants, and housing estates.

Under pressure, the Tories have had to make some concessions and delay the full roll-out (for existing claimants), but we should demand the complete scrapping of Universal Credit and its replacement not with the old benefits system, but welfare which guarantees everyone a decent standard of living.