Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1036/28922

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 April 2019

End Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

Scrap Universal Credit now

Socialist Party members campaigning against Universal Credit in Wales, photo Socialist Party Wales

Socialist Party members campaigning against Universal Credit in Wales, photo Socialist Party Wales   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Reid

It's a cloudy March morning in Merthyr and there is a steady flow of people going about their business.

This town has received a bad press as the "benefit capital of Britain". The Mirror newspaper pointed out the average male life expectancy on one of the estates is lower than Haiti's. But it's a friendly town.

We set up our stall against Universal Credit. People start approaching as soon as our posters go up.

Lisa signs the petition straight away. She has a young child and, because her partner is working, doesn't get out-of-work benefits. She's worried that when Universal Credit hits they will lose tax credits. Her dad has been evicted because of Universal Credit.

"He's sofa surfing now" she says "59 and nowhere to live". He lost his flat because the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) held up his benefits for so long that the private landlord lost patience and turfed him out.

Sonya comes up to the stall questioning us. "Scrap Universal Credit?" she asks, "what will people live on?" We explain we want it replaced with benefits people can actually live on. "Right!" she says, and signs our petition.

It turns out Sonya has fallen foul of the strict rules on tax credits. She works for McDonald's and ensured she was contracted for 16 hours a week so she qualified for tax credits to top up her pay.

But then she got a letter from the DWP who had found out that she had a 15-minute unpaid break every day. So, technically, she did not work 16 hours but 13 and a half hours a week, and had therefore never qualified for tax credits. They demanded she return over £3,000 in overpayments. "I couldn't pay that back!" she said, so they settled for £10 a week for six years!

Then Gwyn comes up to sign: "they're cruel bastards" he says as he leans his stick on the stall. Gwyn has worked in Merthyr Vale colliery and then bricklaying after the pits closed. His knees are shot. The Welsh NHS sent him for a new knee to the Bupa hospital but it all went wrong and he has to have another one to replace it. Now the other knee has gone and that will have to be replaced as well.

But he says private company Capita found him fit to work - even though he can hardly walk. The DWP cut off his benefits and then an administrative error delayed his appeal so he had to resubmit it. He and his wife have not had a penny since October. They have held off eviction by the housing association so far, but can only live with their family helping out.

Gwyn is a tough but gentle man: "I'm not religious, but if there is a hell that's where Iain Duncan Smith is going", he says with unsmiling passion. "How can he treat people like this?"

The café owner comes out to clean the tables outside and offers us a cup of tea or coffee. "They're all talking about that inside" she says. "Everyone hates it." Sure enough, as the café empties, a queue forms at our stall. They approach, shaking their heads at the injustice of it all.

And we remind them that the Tories have given the rich nearly £20 billion a year in cuts to Corporation Tax alone, paid for by the suffering of the people at the bottom. They nod when I say the Tories are trying to drive us into the ground. All leave our stall with a copy of the Socialist.

While the Tories are in turmoil over Brexit we should never forget the cold cruelty with which they have had ruined the lives of millions of people. Nor the Blairites who refused to vote against the Welfare Act, or to put up a fight to defend local people in the council chamber.

Universal Credit must be scrapped and replaced with benefits that provide enough to live - paid to all those who need them. And there should be investment in a mass scheme of job creation - providing decent jobs to working-class people, with a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour.

These are policies Corbyn should be loudly championing amid the current parliamentary shambles. This misery must end.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 3 April 2019:


What we think

Corbyn and workers' movement must lead fight for general election and socialist alternative to EU bosses' club


International socialist news and analysis

Mueller report underlines Democrats' weakness

40 years after Three Mile Island disaster

Corporate capitalism jeopardises air safety


News

Cuts and chaos. Enough. General election now!

End Tory cold cruelty: life under austerity in Merthyr

Working families in poverty: fund homes and childcare

Toxic Grenfell fire residue threatens survivors

Poor doors, segregated playgrounds

Probation privatisation failure


Workplace news

Thousands of Honda workers march in Swindon

Greenwich Unite demands workers brought in-house

Well-supported strike against cuts at Bradfield school

Chesterfield hospital privatisation plans

Workplace news in brief


PCS elections

PCS elections: Support socialist candidates


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Socialist change not climate change

Vote for socialist mayor and council candidates

NHS marches in Yorkshire and London

Financing the fightback

Discussion and debate at Leeds Trans Pride

Socialists say we need a workers' Brexit at Young Labour debate

Reclaim the Game book launch


Opinion

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 3 April 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Universal Credit:

triangleLifting the mood

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleBuild a universal safety net - abolish Universal Credit!

triangleUniversal Credit disaster behind foodbank rise

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

Merthyr:

triangleAberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleWales: Corbyn's left surge refutes right-wing Labour doomsayers

triangleAberfan: a disaster that should never have happened

Austerity:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleBosses fear revolt against capitalism

triangleSequel to 'A Very British Coup' - workers' struggle, not bosses' EU and media, is route to socialism

Benefits:

triangleYoung and old, unite and fight!

triangleThem & us

Tax:

triangleTake the wealth off the super-rich

Tax credits:

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

DWP:

trianglePCS elections: Support socialist candidates

Welfare:

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

Wales:

triangleSwansea anti-far right protest

Brexit:

triangleWarning lights flashing for Corbynism

Iain Duncan Smith:

triangle'Vote Leave' fined: For a workers' Brexit

Minimum wage:

triangleUsdaw ADM 2019

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

24/5/19

Steel

Save steel jobs: Demand socialist nationalisation

23/5/19

Schools

4 June - Walk out against Trump! Climate criminal not welcome

22/5/19

Probation

Workers celebrate renationalisation

22/5/19

Birmingham

Home carers victory

22/5/19

Morrisons

Morrisons workers reject pay offer

22/5/19

Unite

Unite young members' conference

22/5/19

Accommodation

Domestic abuse accommodation: Tories shift - but safety is more than a bed

22/5/19

Haringey

Haringey: Socialists' stance fully vindicated

22/5/19

Devon

Anger and frustration at the establishment

22/5/19

Worcester

Worcester Tories stonewall action on climate change

22/5/19

National Education Union

Day of action against cuts to special needs education

22/5/19

Strike

Workplace news in brief

22/5/19

Woolwich

Woolwich ferry workers begin ten days of strike action

22/5/19

RMT

Fantastic RMT London Underground victory

22/5/19

Tyne and Wear

Lifting the mood

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999